The first six-figure contribution in the high-profile retention campaign of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride has been reported.
JUSTPAC, the political committee of the Illinois Civil Justice League, reported receiving $100,000 from the American Justice Partnership. JUSTPAC is seeking to knock Kilbride off the Supreme Court. The Democratic justice needs 60 percent of voters in the 3rd Judicial District, which runs along I-80 and includes Joliet and Rock Island, to vote “yes” on the November ballot in order for him to receive another 10-year term.
The American Justice Partnership is an arm of the National Association of Manufacturers, although the group’s site doesn’t appear to make any reference to this relationship. It appears to have often supported Republicans.
On the Partnership’s website, it identifies its allies in Illinois as the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Civil Justice League, and the Illinois Manufacturers Association. There, AJP lists among its successes, that in 2004 a “pro-reform candidate prevailed in the most expensive supreme court election in history” – a reference to current Illinois Supreme Court Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier’s victory over Democrat Gordon Maag.
The Manufacturers-supported group has a history of judicial campaign involvement. This election season, the Brennan Center for Justice has noted the American Justice Partnership is active currently in Supreme Court elections in at least one other Midwest state – Michigan – where the group is opposing a Democratic justice.
State law requires committees to disclose within two business days any contributions of more than $500 that they receive in the 30 days before an election. That period began Oct. 4.
Two committees supporting the justice’s retention bid (Kilbride's committee and another backing his bid) have reported receiving some large contributions, as illustrated in those $500+ A-1 reports, but nothing to this degree. Still, the Kilbride campaign has paid for several advertisements, and it’s unclear at this point from where all the money needed to put those ads. We should have a better picture Monday, Oct. 18, the deadline for all active committees to file more comprehensive disclosure reports.)
For more information on the Kilbride campaign and Illinois Supreme Court retention elections, please visit ICPR's Judicial Retention Watch page.