Jul 30 2012
In 1995 the Texas legislature passed the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act. It was enacted
due to too many scandals and too much money in Texas Supreme Court elections. The Act “imposes mandatory caps on contributions and voluntary limits on expenditures in judicial races.” The voluntary provision is thought to be effective because of peer pressure, and because if one candidate does not comply, the other need not comply.
According to an article in the Texas Tribune the act is being put to the test by a Republican runoff election for a district court seat in Marshall, Texas. Brad Morin is running against incumbent Judge William Hughey. Brad Morin “told the Texas Ethics Commission he would reject the voluntary limits when he named his treasurer for the race in August 2011.” This has caused both candidates to file lawsuits, ethics complaints and counterclaims against each other.
If more candidates follow in Brad Morrin’s footsteps and choose noncompliance of the voluntary limits, Tom “Smitty” Smith, the Texas director of the political watchdog group Public Citizen stated it could be “disastrous to the independence of our judiciary.” Morrin’s actions have not only drawn attention from a political watchdog organization, but also from state senator Rodney Ellis. Ellis wrote,
Tags: contributions, Judicial Campaign Fairness Act, Texas
I am very concerned that we will see a flood of money that further erodes Texans belief in a fair and equitable justice system, . . . We’re moving back towards a Wild Wild West election system and that is not a good thing.”