This article originally provided by WV Metro News

March 2, 2009

WV SUPCO Race to be Publicly Funded?


The Senate Judiciary Committee is the first stop for a bill that would create a pilot program for public financing for the 2012 campaign for the state Supreme Court.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Jeff Kessler is one of the sponsors of the bill. "I think the judges do a great job, truthfully," says Senator Kessler.

"I think the biggest problem is there is a lack of confidence in the judiciary. I think the perception and lack of confidence in the judiciary is due to the fact that folks think it's still the best justice money can buy."

The proposed bill would establish a 2012 Public Campaign Financing Fund for the Supreme Court race. A million dollars would be transferred from the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund to pay for it.

"By raising 400, getting 400 folks to give $25 contributions, you would be eligible for public financing of your campaign by taking some money out of the Unclaimed Property Fund of the state, so you're not taking it off of anybody, you're not taxing anybody," Senator Kessler says.

Right now, the money from that fund ultimately goes to the general revenue fund.

"You would be using that money to create another method where folks could go out and run for office, for the next Supreme Court race, without having to be beholden to any particular special interest."

As part of the proposal, candidates who take the public financing would agree to restrictions on campaign contributions from private sources and limits on campaign spending. "I think we can try to take the (private) money out of the system," Kessler says.

If it's approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it will have to go to the Senate Finance Committee before the full Senate can address.


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