Opponents Of ‘Dark Money’ In Judicial Races Rally At Capitol
LITTLE ROCK – Fort Smith lawyer Joey McCutohen used a red Radio Flyer wagon as a prop Thursday at a rally at the state Capitol.
McCutchen said the wagon symbolized “the future of our children,” a future that he said will be less free if the American judicial System iS undermined by the influence of “dark money” being funneled into judicial races, including one in Arkansas.
“Judges pledge to be impartial, and all this money pouring in seems to undermine that,” he said. standing on the Capitol steps with the wagon at his side and a Crowd of ralliers behind him.
“Where is this money oo ming from? Who are these people? Who has this type of money? That’s the type of questions that we need to be asking,” MCCutChen Said.
The rally was a response to an ad campaign by the Law Enforcement Alliance of America, a 501(C)(4) group, targeting Tim Cullen of Maumelle, who is running against state Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne of Fordyce for the state Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Donald Corbin.A50‘l(c)(4) group does not have to identify its donors.
The ad1 which began airing on Arkansas television stations late last week, alleges that Cullen believes child pornography is a victimless crime. The claim is based on an argument Cullen once made in a brief that a client’s sentence for attempted enticement of a minor and possession of child pornography should be reduced because the person he attempted to entice into having sex was in reality an adult law officer posing online as an underage girl.
Cullen said at the rally that the ad is “a lie” and that the Law Enforcement Alliance spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the ad “to smear my good name for doing the job that I was ethically obligated to do.”
The Law Enforcement Alliance said in a statement Thursday that it has posted Cullen’s brief to its website and that “we encourage the public to examine all the facts and make their own decision.”
Justin Isley, president of the Arkansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said at the rally the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that a person accused of a crime has the right to defense counsel.
“This means a zealous advocate advocating on the accuseds behalf,” Isley said. “To quote our United State Supreme Court, the very premise of our adversary system of criminal justice is that partisan advocacy on both sides of a case will best promote the ultimate objective. That objective is that the guilty will be convicted and the innocent will go tree.’l
Former state Supreme Court Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck said at the rally that she hoped recommendations made last year by a state task force on judicial reforms would be adopted.
Those recommendations included the creation of a group to educate the public on judicial races; the creation of a team to fact-check ads and call for the removal of false ads; and a pledge that judicial candidates could voluntarily sign to abide by the letter and spirit of the rules of judicial conduct and not make false statements.
Wynne’s campaign consultant, Linda Napper, said Thursday in a Statement:
“Neither Judge Wynne nor his campaign had any knowledge or involvement with this purchase or the subject matter of the commercials. We had produced our own campaign commercial that began running on the first day of early voting. Our commercial focuses on Judge Wynne’s experience and qualifications. We have run a positive campaign and will continue to do so.”