Gavel Grab

Local Merit Vote Explodes Into National Campaign


A local election in Greene County, Missouri, on whether to adopt merit selection of trial judges-the kind of decision that would have occurred in obscurity 10 years ago-has morphed into a national campaign by opponents of the move.

Former  U.S. Attorney General (and Missouri Governor) John Ashcroft, who hails from Greene County, appeared in a television ad urging voters to reject Question 1, which would replace competitive elections for judges with a system of nonpartisan appointments and retention elections.

Most of the funding for the opposition group, Greene Countians Against Question 1, is coming from Missourians for Open and Accountable Judicial Selection. The Jefferson City, Mo., group, whose ultimate revenue source is unknown, has invested $135,000 in the campaign, including this $110,000 donation reported to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office.

Today, a Wall Street Journal editorial mentioned the Greene County election as part of a larger attack on trial lawyers and merit selection.

Funding and organization of the Greene County initiative has been spearheaded at the local level, with support from the bar and business groups such as the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

A pro-merit television ad features local businessman Jack Stack, while a radio ad features Doug Pitt, president of the local Chamber of Commerce and brother of actor Brad Pitt. More on the pro-merit side is available at

 The Greene County election also is the subject of an Associated Press article.

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9 Comments so far

  1. Larry Russell October 30th, 2008 2:29 pm

    Mr. Hall:
    As the treasurer of Greene Countians Against Question 1, I take issue with your post. Our financing for the first month of our formation was solely from Greene Countians. I was asking any and all who I spoke to for help. We got some great help from other parts of the state.
    Your description of the proponents of the Question 1 is biased. They have been less than transparent about the real reasons for this and about who is behind it.
    How about your site, Who funds you? Why not be transparent? Please list all donors including and especially the links to left-wing groups like Soros and Let me know when you do this.
    Listen, you all should stay out of our county and I will stay out of yours. John Ashcroft still counts Greene County as his residence (and votes here). Soros and his ilk don’t.
    Larry Russell
    Springfield, Missouri

  2. Allison October 30th, 2008 2:41 pm

    Justice is at stake here, and it has the ultimate sketchy funder: George Soros…

  3. Luke October 30th, 2008 2:49 pm

    Is George Soros from Greene County and I missed it? I have to think that would be out of state funding…

  4. Tom K October 30th, 2008 2:52 pm

    Soros is a funder of Justice at Stake, a sponsor here, to the tune of $2,500,000.

  5. Justice Scalia October 30th, 2008 2:54 pm

    As long as we’re talking about who is getting funding from where, let’s remember that Justice at Stake has taken $2.5 million dollars from George Soros, the leftist billionaire currency manipulator.

    There’s nothing good that can come of George Soros. In a party of rich white leftist extremists, George Sorors is where all the money comes from! No wonder the Democrats are so messed up!

    All they think about is money!

  6. $oros October 30th, 2008 3:02 pm

    Soros contributes millions of dollars to left-wing groups dedicated to getting money out of politics, but cuts million dollar checks to groups like Justice at Stake, which in turn decry the negative influence of money as part of the campaign process.

  7. Buckley Williams October 30th, 2008 4:32 pm

    Justice at Stake:

    If you’re so committed to openness about who is funding what, why did you file for an extension on your 990 form for the IRS? And when you finally did file it, why did you say you had 10 board members but then only list 5? And what’s up with the mention of impeachment in III.b.?
    Here’s my proof:

  8. […] anti-merit ad blitz featured no less a figure than John Ashcroft, former Missouri governor and U.S. attorney general, […]

  9. chip sheppard November 7th, 2008 11:07 am

    Larry Russell still hasn’t disclosed who funds “Missourians for Open and Accountable Judicial Selection”. It gave 90% of the money to Russell’s circus of misinformation, $315,000, while Russell’s mantra was “this is a local issue” continued to the end of his failed attempt to hoodwink Greene County voters. This outside money came from someone he doesn’t want us to know about.

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