JUSTICE COURTNEY GOODSON: Unfairly attacked, says watchdog group.

A volunteer group established to police campaigns for judicial elections is blasting a Republican group’s advertising aimed at supporting David Sterling’s attempt to unseat Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson.

Said a notice to news media:

The Rapid Response Team, charged by the Arkansas Judicial Campaign Conduct and Education Committee, Inc., has issued the attached press release concerning a cease-and-desist letter it sent October 19, 2018, to the Republican State Leadership Committee – Judicial Fairness Initiative, regarding a campaign mailing.

We found that the mailing makes false and misleading allegations about Justice Courtney Goodson, a candidate for a seat on the state Supreme Court. Our acknowledgement of the complaint filed by the Goodson campaign, our letter to the RSLC detailing our findings and requesting voluntary withdrawal of the ad in question, the RSLC response, our cease-and-desist letter, and our rules and procedures can all be found on the following website, www.arkansasjudges.org under the Rapid Response Team tab.

Hal Bass
Vice Chair, Rapid Response Team

The Republican State Leadership Committee Judicial Fairness Initiative — funded by major corporate sources including the United States Chamber of Commerce (a leading advocate of dark money in politics and particularly in judicial races) — has no intention of backing off. It spent $750,000 in the primary on Sterling, who’s running for the nonpartisan job as a declared Republican, and has said it will spend “multiple six figures) in the runoff.

Here’s the watchdog group’s letter that insists the claims made in the ads against Goodson are “false and misleading.” They parrot ads run by another dark money group, the Judicial Crisis Network, against Goodson when she ran unsuccessfully against Dan Kemp for chief justice in 2016. The letter notes that the Republican group has responded that its claims are true or “rhetorical.” Among others, the ad suggests Goodson asked for a pay raise. She made no individual request. Kemp testified in support of a Supreme Court pay raise before the independent state commission that sets salaries. The ad also suggests Goodson gave benefits to trial lawyers on account of a trip she received from a friend of her husband. She recuses from cases connected to that lawyer, the watchdog noted.

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I’ll say again: Arkansas should not be electing judges. But we are. And the dirty, dark and/or opaque money of the special interests is making a mockery of fair elections. The result will be a mockery of impartial justice — see partisan David Sterling.