Gavel Grab

N.C. House Votes to Kill Public Financing for Judicial Elections

A legislator sponsored this week an amendment to save North Carolina’s embattled public financing program for judicial elections, then withdrew it after a conversation with state budget director Art Pope. The House then “voted to kill” the program, a (Raleigh) News & Observer political blog reported.

Republican Rep. Jonathan Jordan’s amendment would have funded the program only through attorneys fees, eliminating another funding stream, from a check-off on state income tax forms.

Gov. Pat McCrory had pursued elimination of the popular public financing program in his own budget plan, and Art Pope, his budget director, “was seen lobbying state Rep. Jonathan Jordan outside the House chambers Tuesday afternoon,” the blog reported. Shortly afterward, Jordan withdrew his proposal. The House voted for a budget plan that would have the effect of terminating the program.

In the blog, reporter Rob Christensen relied on an account by Melissa Price Kromm, director of North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections, who had observed the conversation. The headline for the blog post asked, “Did Art Pope kill judicial public financing?” The post said Pope has long opposed the public financing program, and he and his family have donated campaign money in support of Jordan, as have three groups associated with Pope.

N.C. Voters for Clean Elections, Justice at Stake and The Piper Fund recently commissioned a poll that showed strong popular support for the state’s public financing program for appellate court candidates (see Gavel Grab).

At the website of the Institute for Southern Studies, a commentary by Chris Kromm was headlined, “How Art Pope killed clean elections for judges in North Carolina.” He is Melissa Kromm’s husband.

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