Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, was poised on Tuesday to begin running TV ads across Florida critical of three state Supreme Court justices up for retention election.
The TV advertising takes aim at the justices’ joining a court ruling that removed from the ballot in 2010 a legislatively introduced measure intended to derail federal health care legislation.
The Americans for Prosperity involvement follows another recent development raising the profile of the election; the Republican Party of Florida announced its opposition to the justices’ retention (see Gavel Grab).
Justice R. Fred Lewis, one of the justices targeted, said the GOP announcement shifted a low-profile ouster campaign into an outright front assault, according to a Bradenton Herald article.
“The idea was to vote out all three justices so Gov. [Rick] Scott could replace them,’’ he said. Scott is a Republican.
“There is an entire branch of government to protect and defend. We cannot sacrifice fairness and impartiality and the court system to political whims,” he said at an appearance before a bar group.
Alex Villalobos, a former state senator and president of Democracy at Stake, a group working to back the justices, said the Americans for Prosperity ad was misleading.
“They blame the court for the decision but where’s the commercial that blames the Legislature for having done it wrong in the first place?” he asked.
“We’re not advocating for the election or defeat of any of the justices. What we’re attempting to do is call more attention to them advocating from the bench,’’ AFP of Florida president Slade O’Brien said.