February 1, 2008
Clean Elections Update
This has been an exciting week at the Capitol! On Tuesday, an unexpected debate took place on the Senate floor about public financing for judicial candidates. The fact that clean elections was mentioned as a possible solution shows that we are gaining attention and awareness!
The discussion was no doubt sparked by the negative publicity our state has been getting at the national level. First, we had the photos of Judge Maynard and Massey Energy’s Don Blankenship in the New York Times. Then on NPR, John Grisham mentioned West Virginia as an example of a state having a situation like the plot in his new novel – in which an industrial magnate decides to “buy” himself a Judge. Although our bill currently does not include judicial offices, Senators obviously recognize that such a proposal could be crafted. We have supplied Senator Kessler with a copy of the North Carolina and Wisconsin judicial bills. Here’s hoping the discussion invites legislators to take a closer look at our bills S240 and H4050! (Links to related newspaper articles appear below.)
Julie Archer (CAG), Todd Garland (Catholic Conference), House Lead Sponsor Del. John Doyle, and I met with House Judiciary Chair Carrie Webster on Monday. She was very positive, and interested in helping us answer some questions about how the bill could be financed, and what it would take to put those mechanisms in place. Del. Doyle was a real asset in the conversation, as he, too, is able to anticipate questions and possible objections from his fellow Delegates. We left with a number of tasks on which we can move forward. Sponsor Richard Browning is aiding us in obtaining a meeting with the Treasurer.
Julie and I have been talking to House members in general this week, and continue to find supporters we did not know about! You can help us by contacting your Delegate and members of the Judiciary and Finance Committees and asking for their support for public financing.
Plans are proceeding well for our fundraising event on February 28 to honor the work of Senator Jon Hunter. Invitations should be sent out soon. We will also send our supporters electronic copies of the invitation so you can share with your members and community. We are asking that people RSVP to CAG (346-5891) so we have an idea how many attendees to expect.