by Max Brantley
Jason Tolbert notes a fund-raising event for Karen Baker, who piled up almost $290,000 in debt in her successful race for Arkansas Supreme Court. He laments:
Seriously Arkansas — we have got to come up with a better way of choosing our judges.
Baker isn't unusual, I should say. It's a rare judge who doesn't solicit money for campaign expenses and, when they do, they depend on lawyers to pay most of the freight. It follows that those lawyers with practice before the judge seeking money feel most pressure to give. In theory, judges are not supposed to be aware of the activities of their campaign fnance committees. In theory.
Baker was singled out by Tolbert because of a scheduled fund-raising event, but her defeated opponent, Tim Fox, remains a sitting circuit judge and that gives him some edge should he decide to reach out for campaign help in a post-election fund-raiser to clear debt. He loaned his campaign $100,000, unpaid at last report with a campaign balance of about $13,000.
Plug in the name of any judge on this page to find campaign finance reports.