Anti-Gay Activists Spent $833K on Iowa Judge Retention Vote
Activist organizations spent $833,000 in Iowa last year trying to influence voters deciding whether to keep an Iowa Supreme Court judge, according to a new report that analyzed spending by special-interest groups and political parties.
The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, the National Institute on Money in State Politics and Justice at Stake released the report Thursday. In it, they concluded outside influence has turned judicial elections into a special-interest battleground and contributes to the perception that justice is for sale, The Des Moines Register reported.
The researchers tracked spending on advertisements targeted at judicial votes in Iowa and elsewhere.
For example, one TV ad said Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins had imposed gay marriage on Iowa residents and legislated from the bench. That "vote no" spot aired 145 times last year for a cost of $86,000, according to the report, called "The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2011-12: How New Waves of Special Interest Spending Raised the Stakes for Fair Courts."
Voters opted to keep Wiggins, among the Iowa Supreme Court justices who unanimously ruled in 2009 that the Iowa Constitution makes it unlawful to block same-sex couples from marrying.
Three other justices were up for retention votes in 2010, and all three were ousted. About $1.4 million was spent on influencing voters that year, the report says.