Opinion: How to Fix Dark Money in Judicial Races? With Disclosure

In an era of big-spending judicial elections, “dark money” election spending poses a real threat to fair and impartial courts and must be remedied with rigorous disclosure by litigants and lawyers whose spending has supported a judge, a Chicago Tribune op-ed says.

The op-ed was written by Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Litigants (and their lawyers) should be required to disclose their contributions to influence any judicial election. This is a straightforward rule that would apply to trial lawyers and corporate defendants, and everyone else before the bar,” Weissman contends. Once disclosure occurs, then a litigant will know when to ask a judge to recuse, he suggests.

Weissman cites the Supreme Court’s landmark Caperton v. Massey ruling, about runaway special interest spending in judicial elections, in making his case.

“Mega-spending on judicial elections creates problems that are not easily solved,” Weissman concludes. “But there is a simple solution to the problem of undue influence from secret spending in judicial elections: End the secrecy by making litigants disclose.” The op-ed is available by searching through Google.