Who would want to drop six figures into the campaign of a guy who had less than $100 just a month ago? Why, someone who wants all the judges in the state capital to be Republicans, of course!
A month ago, Missouri GOP prosecutor Brian Stumpe had less than $100 on hand in his campaign to unseat Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Joyce, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Now, just a few weeks later, he has received $100,000 -- all of it funneled into his campaign by a national group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has spent a total of $200,000 so far in this race for a single state judgeship.
So just what the heck is going on? Democrats and liberals on the ground in Missouri would tell you that somebody is trying to purchase the judgeship, and they have some suspicions about some Koch-esque Missouri multi-millionaires who might be behind the RSLC's interest in the race.
Why would they do that? Because Cole County, home to 75,000 people, contains Jefferson City, the Missouri state capital. So in most cases where somebody is suing the state government, those cases are heard in the Cole County Circuit Court. It is similar to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals at the federal level, in that case an appellate court with an outsized influence.
"If you sue the state of Missouri, if there's a lawsuit in which you're bringing a constitutional question or challenging ballot language or a fiscal note by a state auditor, those cases are directed to the Cole County Circuit Court," Roy Temple, chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party, told TPM. "It is a judgeship that has statewide importance."
Joyce is the only Democratic judge at the Cole County Circuit Court; her two colleagues are Republican. So ousting her would, in theory, be a significant win for Republicans looking to influence the outcome of the kind of cases Temple described. That helps explain why the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is currently chaired by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and formerly chaired by Virginia GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie, would take an interest.
The RSLC is understandably tight-lipped about who might be donating those megabucks to buy the judge, but my first guess would be Missouri Republican billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who likes to own all of the things he can, including teachers and legislators.
TPM speculates that it could also be the Humphreys family, who is also joined at the hip with the Kochs and donates big bucks to campaigns, too.
This isn't the first time big money has been laid down to buy a local office. The Kochs and associated corporate entities also forked over big bucks to buy a North Carolina Supreme Court candidate earlier this year.
When they are successful, states end up with corrupt judges like Wisconsin Judge Randa, who does their bidding at the expense of the people and justice.
If they keep this up, they'll own all the courthouses. If it were Monopoly we were playing, that would mean they owned all the property, the police force, and the statehouse. It wouldn't be long until they ousted the Banker, too.