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Michigan Campaign Finance Network: Taylor substantially outspent Hathaway

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN), attempting to secure greater transparency in fund-raising for judicial elections, published its findings on the 2008 Michigan Supreme Court race this week.  Justice Taylor, the conservative Republican who had been appointed by Governor Engler and who was considered the poster-boy for "tort reform" favoring insurers, was defeated despite raising $4.8 million dollars.  His campaign outspent his opponent's by $1.93 million to $750,000.00, and including outside interests, $4.8 million was spent on his behalf, compared to $2.7 million spent in total for Hathaway. 

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce directly spent $1.67 million on ads against Hathaway, but the MCFN could not trace all contributions back to their source, so the sources for much of the total $7.5 million spent cannot be identified.  As a result, the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, holding that a judge must recuse himself from pending cases involving major contributors, holds no meaning for States like Michigan where campaign finance disclosures are inadequate. 

The far right of the Republican Party maintains that campaign donations are an expression of "free speech" which may not be regulated. Even a U.S. Supreme Court with a 6-3 Republican majority did not accept this argument, although a right-wing minority argues that imposing limitations on judicial contributions from pending litigants will impair judges' credibility with the public.  You got that right.  These guys argue that giving huge sums to judges while you have a case before them doesn't impair a judge's credibility, but making those donations illegal would. Go figure.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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