One Illinois Supreme Court Justice is in hot water over millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Justice Lloyd Karmeier won a seat on the court in 2004 in the most expensive court race in Illinois history but a group of attorneys say he was bought by insurance giant State Farm. The company contributed up to four-million dollars to Karmeier's campaign. Once seated, Karmeier sided with the majority in overturning a billion dollar claim against the company. Political Scientist Kent Redfield says wide open campaign contribution laws don't prevent this type of activity in Illinois. So even though there's the appearance of corruption, Karmeier didn't do anything illegal by taking the money.
[audio:rddKarm4.mp3]A Word From Redfield[/audio]
Redfield says these types of problems won't end so long as judges are allowed to accept campaign contributions.
[audio:rddKarm3.mp3]A Word From Redfield[/audio]
Whitney Woodward with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform says this case highlights the need for stricter guidlines within the courts.
[audio:rddKarm1.mp3]A Word From Woodward[/audio]
Woodward believes there's no room for this type of perceived corrruption in Illinois.
[audio:rddKarm2.mp3]A Word From Woodward[/audio]
Karmeier was asked to recuse himself when the State Farm case was decided but he declined to do so. Now the plaintiffs want the state Supreme Court to reconsider the claim without Karmeier's opinion. Redfield says judges currently recuse themselves at their own discretion and changing that system means asking the court to police themselves. He says the legislative branch can't set rules for the judicial branch. But there have been some contribution limits set in place since the Karmeier election. Corporations and individuals can now give a 20-thousand dollar maximum to candidates but third party donors can still give without limits.