Archives

Judge Ola Lewis; Source, Judgepedia.org

A campaign website for a judge running for the state’s highest judicial seat posted an N.C. Policy Watch reporter’s article without attribution, leaving the false impression the article had been written by the judge.

Judge Ola Lewis, a Brunswick County Superior Court judge running to be the next chief justice at the N.C. Supreme Court, said a member of her campaign staff made a mistake in posting the article without proper attribution.

The Sept. 25 article, “Discretion at the Supreme Court” was written by Sharon McCloskey, N.C. Policy Watch’s courts and law reporter.

The entire text of McCloskey’s article about how cases comes before the state Supreme Court appeared on Lewis’ campaign website under a June 18th entry that stated (falsely) it was written by Lewis.

A click on the link brought up the text of McCloskey’s article, but with no mention that McCloskey – and not Lewis – had authored the piece.

Screen grab of Lewis' campaign website

Screen grab of Lewis’ campaign website

A second article by McCloskey titled “Business as usual at the Supreme Court” also appeared on Lewis’ website without any attribution. That piece (click here) was originally published in June 2013 on N.C. Policy Watch.

Read More

In case you missed it over the weekend, the Charlotte Observer featured an excellent (if sobering) editorial about how the end of public financing and the massive of influx of dark money is transforming the North Carolina Supreme Court into an institution that’s literally for sale to the highest bidder.

“North Carolinians got their first glimpse of big-money Supreme Court races in 2012. Outside groups funneled about $2.3 million into the state to help incumbent Paul Newby, the conservative in the nonpartisan race. That money swamped the $300,000 or so in outside money aimed at helping opponent Sam Ervin IV.

That was the most outside money of any race in the state other than governor. Newby, buoyed by corny banjo-playing TV actors, won 52 percent to 48 percent. That let conservatives maintain a 4-3 majority on the bench.

Special interests could have even more influence this year thanks to at least three changes in the law: Read More

Supreme CourtA new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics finds that North Carolina’s recently repealed system of providing public financing for judicial campaigns had been doing what it was designed to do — namely, to  reduce the influence of special interest money and the need for candidates to be rich (or beg money from others who are). Here’s the overview:

“On August 12, 2013, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a controversial voter identification bill into law. The bill included a measure repealing the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund, a system of publicly financing candidates for election to the state’s supreme and appellate courts.

To determine what impact the repeal of the Fund may have on financing future judicial elections in the Tar Heel State, Read More

Outside groups that spent more than $2 million in last year’s heated N.C. Supreme Court justice race were highlighted this week in a report about the increasing role of Washington money in state judicial races.

As part of an article looking at how national political funders are getting involved in local judicial races, the Center for Public Integrity focused on $1.2 million from the Republican State Leadership Council. The money flowed through to an ad featuring a banjo-strumming narrator singing about how N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby is tough on crime, according to the report.

(Newby, of course, ended up defeating challenger Sam Ervin IV, a N.C. Court of appeal judge, in the November election.)

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative news organization, found that “North Carolina’s Supreme Court election was arguably decided by groups like Justice for All — secretive nonprofits, unaffiliated with a candidate, whose money came from out of state,”

Read More

Here’s an update from a post I wrote Aug. 31 about N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby’s re-election campaign.

Justice Newby

At the time, Newby’s campaign filled out the required profession and employer information for 15 percent of his campaign contributors, a distinction that set him apart from his opponent N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin and six others running for appellate seats in the non-partisan, statewide races.

The information has since been updated, and nearly all the information for 700-plus campaign donations Newby got in 2011 is now available through the N.C. Board of Elections.