Commentary: ‘Pay-to-Play’ Court Race Perception in N.C.?

A recent report documenting surging special interest spending on judicial elections, coauthored by Justice at Stake, continues to get news media coverage in high-spending states — including in less populated areas.

In North Carolina, a commentary by Patrick Gannon of the Capitol Press Association, about what Gannon called the corrupting influence of money on judicial races, was published in The Greenville Daily Reflector and The Salisbury Post.

Gannon sums up what Bankrolling the Bench: The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2013-14 identifies as trends in the big-spending 2014 North Carolina Supreme Court election, and he comes away worried. Also coauthoring the report were The Brennan Center for Justice and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

“As we’ve seen in recent media reports,” Gannon writes, “contributions to political candidates in North Carolina can leave a perception — if not a reality — that politicians are making decisions to help well-heeled donors, so-called ‘pay-to-play’ politics.

“And such a perception, when it comes to the courts, shouldn’t be tolerated at any level.”