Last minute personal smears by radical pro-choice group funded by big money contributions and backed by Rahm Emanuel's Democratic machine carries the day for Illinois Supreme Court justice.
Never heard of Fred Eychaner? Then you need to read this post in With Both Hands, a blog by a genuine Chicagoan, Pat Hickey. Eychaner is the Daddy Warbucks of the "progressive movement," that funds radical political groups such as Illinois Personal PAC.
The "winners" reference in the headline is to the Democratic primary race for Illinois Supreme Court justice. In that race, Mary Jane Theis won the easy nomination for a 10-year seat on the high court, easily beating a field of contenders and an expected closer race. One of her opponents was Aurelia Pucinski, an appellate court judge, former Cook County Circuit Court clerk and daughter of the legendary northwest side alderman and congressman, Roman Pucinski.
Judge Aurelia's mistake in this campaign was that she wasn't bought by the big money, the powers that be and the "progressive" ministry. Just a week before the primary, Marvin Aspen, a federal judge appointed by Democrat Jimmy Carter, struck down a recently enacted Illinois election finance law that limited how much an individual can contribute to a Super PAC, (political action committee), which can spend money to support a candidate, but not coordinate with the candidate. I suppose Aspen had to, following U.S. Supreme Court precedent opening up contributions to Super PACAs.
But the timing of the decision was interesting, since it was highly favorable to Personal PAC, which had filed the suit. It allowed the group to engulf Pucinski in a well-funded and hateful campaign. Also interesting is the fact that suit had been brought by Personal PAC, which indisputably falls on the far left of the political spectrum, from which the loudest denunciations of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision are sounded. Funny how the left hasn't condemned Aspen's decision with any vigor. In fact, the left didn't appear to criticize it at all.
John Presta of the Chicago Examiner, who endorsed Pucinski, said of the Personal PAC rhetoric:
I am a little puzzled by the vicious, personal attacks by the Personal PAC against Aurie. Judges that run for bench are not allowed to discuss cases that may come before them. I do not know Aurie's position on many social issues, but I also don't know the other opponent's positions. Candidates for judge are not allowed to discuss issues that may come before them.
As the Tribune reported:
In the waning days of the campaign, Pucinski had tried to label Theis the "big money" candidate being pushed by the mayor and his Rolodex. Theis brought in more than $1 million during the campaign, state records show, and Emanuel raised about $100,000 for her at a fall fundraiser at a Loop restaurant.
Theis also had enjoyed support from groups of lawyers at some of the city's most prestigious law firms, including more than $65,000 from lawyers at the notable firm of Kirkland and Ellis, where Theis' daughter-in-law practices.
Pucinski this week also had attempted to call attention to the involvement of Personal PAC, an organization that supports candidates it believes are protective of abortion rights. The group had sent three mailers supporting Theis and calling Pucinski unqualified.
Personal PAC called Pucinski "anti-choice"--terminology reserved for those allegedly conducting a "war against women." By way of explanation, Capitol Fax quoted Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin:
Candidate Mary Jane Theis — an incumbent, appointed Supreme Court justice — has attracted the most money, $1,141,385.36, and endorsements from the Democratic Party and Rahm Emanuel. But, until a recent TV ad blitz, she’s been a virtual unknown.
Opponent Aurelia Pucinski, an appellate court justice, has the least — $33,529.68, but huge name recognition.
The mailer, while silent on Theis’ stand on abortion, lists endorsements by pro-choice organizations along with the highest endorsements by bar associations.
Pucinski plans a news conference Wednesday to address the Personal Pac issue. A Pucinski spokesman responded to the mailing by reiterating the ethical canon that judges may not assert a position on issues that may come before them.
Don't misunderstand. Theis is rated by bar associations as highly qualified and was endorsed from a sterling field of candidates by the Chicago Tribune. I'm not saying that Pucinski is better qualified. The conduct that I'm questioning is the influence of big money--a favorite bogey man of the left--and that of Personal PAC, in injecting a highly emotional issue into a campaign in which the candidates should be judged on their objectively, command of the law, experience, judicial temperament and so forth. Turning the selection into a one-issue race does not serve the commonweal well.