Commentary Urges Transparency in Funding Illinois Court Races

In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, lawyer Robert A. Clifford says he and other attorneys who contributed heavily to oppose the retention of Illinois Justice Lloyd Karmeier did so with public disclosure, whereas those who bankrolled Karmeier in 2004 and this year were cloaked in secrecy.

“Insurance companies and large corporations have funneled money through organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce so that the specific identities of the donors remain anonymous. Voters can’t find out who funneled money to the organizations for those purposes,” Clifford writes.

“How can voters make an informed decision about who should be on the Illinois courts if they don’t have all of the facts?”

A day ago, Gavel Grab mentioned Clifford’s efforts to depose Justice Karmeier in connection with a racketeering lawsuit against State Farm. The lawsuit contends that the insurance company funded a multimillion-dollar campaign a decade ago to elect Karmeier to the Supreme Court.

Justice Karmeier narrowly won retention in November. Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said in October about judicial selection in Illinois, “The system for picking judges in Illinois is breaking down. Interest groups are trying to buy courts, judges are raising money from parties who appear before them, and potential conflicts of interest are multiplying. It’s no wonder that the public believes that justice is for sale.”

Clifford’s op-ed is entitled “Who bankrolls the Illinois Supreme Court?” It is available through Google.