Sunday, November 6, 2016

ICYMI: Here's Why You Should Care About the Tech and Finance Billionaires Trying to Influence State Judicial Races - Slog - The Stranger

ICYMI: Here's Why You Should Care About the Tech and Finance Billionaires Trying to Influence State Judicial Races - Slog - The Stranger:

ICYMI: Here's Why You Should Care About the Tech and Finance Billionaires Trying to Influence State Judicial Races



Last week, the Seattle Times published a deep-dive into independent expenditures against sitting state Supreme Court Justice Charlie Wiggins. You might not normally care about judicial races, but here's why you should: There's a troubling dynamic playing out in Washington State, where tech and finance billionaires are using large amounts of their own money in an attempt to change the judicial and educational systems.
Wiggins's opponent, Dave Larson, has been the beneficiary of more than half a million dollars in independent expenditures from the state GOP and the political action committee "Citizens for Working Courts," which is supported by a handful of rich tech donors. In addition, Citizens for Working Courts and another PAC, "Judicial Integrity WA," has spent $412,000 against Wiggins—a sum that manifested in attack ads against Wiggins for overturning a man's child pornography possession conviction.
Wiggins's campaign has raised just 60 percent of the sum of money being spent against him. Public campaign disclosure records show that no one has raised a cent in independent expenditures against Larson.
So who are the main people behind Citizens for Working Courts and Judicial Integrity WA?
• Bill Gates, who gave $200,000 to Citizens for Working Courts
• Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc., which gave $300,000 to Citizens for Working Courts
• Steve and Connie Ballmer, of Microsoft fame, who gave $25,000 to Citizens for Working Courts
• Microsoft president Brad Smith and his wife Kathy Surace-Smith, who gave $14,000 to Citizens for Working Courts
• Ken Fisher, investment billionaire, who gave $350,000 to Judicial Integrity WA
• Anti-light rail developer Kemper Freeman's Kemper Holdings, which gave $50,000 to Judicial Integrity WA
• Wireless industry billionaire and Microsoft board member John Stanton, who gave $50,000 to Judicial Integrity WA
You might be asking yourself why this particular group of Washington's tech and finance billionaires would spend so much on a single judicial race. Is it really that all of these billionaires are upset about an overturned child pornography conviction? (Citing a judge's decisions on kiddie porn seems to be a common campaign tactic that usually masks other political aims; take for example the tobacco industry's attack ads on Mississippi state Supreme Court Justice Jim Kitchens.)



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