Sunday, 10 September 2006

"Exquisite Hypocrisy"

That's how Noemie Maxwell captioned the photo of unqualified Washington State Supreme Court candidate John Groen in her excellent article, Buying Justice & Lying About It over at Washblog.
This [Groen] is the man who touts his "eighteen years (of) experience before the Washington Supreme Court, advocating for property rights," He's raised, $276,061.56 for this race, according to Washington's Public Disclosure Commission records. Much of it's from from lumber, construction, and development interests. Scads of it was poured into the campaign right before a June deadline that made such contributions illegal. SDS Company, for example, which provided $25,000 right before that deadline, is a lumber company from Klickitat County. Then we've got $25,000 from the principals of another development company, Sundquist Homes. And so on.

Gerry Alexander, our current chief justice, known as a moderate, adhered to the letter and spirit of Washington's law and has raised only $47,581.60. Alexander, according to King County Bar Association, is exceptionally well qualified.

We have only a week to expose the hypocrisy of those attempting to buy justice for their narrow well-moneyed interests. I fear Susan Owens is in particular trouble in her race against a better qualified (better qualified than Groen is faint praise) property-rights ideologue, Stephen Johnson who has secured several more media endorsements in his attempt to unseat the incumbent, who bravely sided with the minority in the recent high profile case on gay marriage. Hopefully, nutcase Jeanette Burrage's reputation will keep her from unseating the outstanding sitting justice Tom Chambers.

In the long term, we need to get our state to revisit a system which allows a primary vote to be the final determinant for these important offices, but all we can do now is to make sure our friends and acquaintances are informed and don't let the real "activist judges" take over the court for the building industry.

Resources include
Voting for Judges
Public Disclosure Commission


Steve Zemke said...

A closer look at the finances of the Alexander/Groen race shows that Groen and his so called independent supporters like the Building Industry Association of Washington have now raised over $1.3 million dollars. I have posted a more detailed analysis at

The Groen race is literally an attempt by narrow special interests to buy this election by flooding the airwaves and what ever else they can to get votes.

An out of state right wing PAC called Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse in Alexandra, VA has just pumped in $320,000 for TV ads supporting Groen and opposing Alexander.

You can help by spreding the word, asking people to not let the BIAW and others buy this election. Urge them to vote for Justice Gerry Alexander.This election will be decided in the primary on Sept 19, 2006.

You can also help Justice Gerry Alexander with a contribution to help him reach voters. Go to:

Osculatrix said...

Walker, what would be the 'fix' so that these elections would not be decided in the primary?


Walker said...

Thanks Steve for those further financial details.


The simplest fix would be to go back to the way that I think we used to do it here, which was that even in instances where a primary candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two votegetters in the primary both appear on the general election ballot. In that case the primary becomes what people often dub "a beauty contest" when only 2 candidates are competing. The state may have figured they save a little money (though surely it's pretty negligible) in declaring races over at the primary, but especially with the new primary system in which some independents are led to believe there's no point in voting in the primary, I think it is important for these races to be finally decided in the general election. I'm OK with the primary continuing to function as a winnowing election in cases where there are more than two candidates.

Steve Zemke said...

In the interests of fairness and open democracy, it makes sense that general election voters decide judicial races rather than primary voters. Primary voters represent a smaller segment of the voting population and fewer people pay attention to the primary.

If there is only one Democrat and one Republican running for a legislative seat in the primary they still go on to the general election despite the fact that one will get more votes than the other. This was so even before we picked aparty in the primary.