Gavel Grab

Reports Spotlight NRA Efforts to Elect Sympathetic Judges

Working to elect sympathetic judges, the National Rifle Association has provided extensive financial support to a group called the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, Bloomberg reported.

Between 2004 and 2010, LEAA received at least $2 million in support from the NRA, Bloomberg said, relying on a report released by the Center for American Progress.

Justice at Stake, in a series of “New Politics of Judicial Elections” reports with partner groups, has identified LEAA spending to influence these judicial contests, among others:

  • In Michigan, the nation’s highest judicial election spending state in 2009-2010, LEAA bought $803,000 worth of TV ads supporting two Republican candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court. One ad scored a Democratic candidate as “as “soft on crime for rappers, lawyers, and child pornographers” (see Gavel Grab).
  • LEAA bought air time in Mississippi in 2002 and 2008. One of its 2008 Mississippi ads, accusing then-Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. of “voting for” killers and rapists in various cases, was pulled from the air by some stations after a state-run campaign conduct committee cried foul.

The Center for the American Progress report included Justice at Stake and a partner group, the Brennan Center for Justice, among its sources for data. The report said the LEAA got results with its efforts:

“By funding the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, the NRA has helped purchase ads supporting pro-gun candidates for state supreme courts and state attorneys general. Like other interest groups that have funded judicial candidates whose views conform to their agendas, the values of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America and the NRA have been reflected in many of the rulings from these judges and prosecutors.”

The NRA’s role in working to influence not only elections for lawmakers, but also to influence selection of  judges, was thrust into a spotlight after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting and the subsequent debate over gun restrictions.

At Salon, a news article was headlined, “NRA uses shady law enforcement group to target judges.”

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