Monday, January 7, 2013

Locke Foundation, Gov. McCrory in lock-step?

It seems the John Locke Foundation might have the inside track on policy moves to come from the N.C.governor's office now that Republican Pat McCrory is at the helm.

How else to explain the "coincidence" of McCrory's first executive order restoring the governor's sole authority to fill vacant judgeships on the same day Locke Foundation head John Hood publishes a column entitled "Reform Judicial Elections."

The column ends with an imperative for lawmakers to either "repeal the government-funding system entirely and restore party labels to our statewide judicial races" or "submit a constitutional amendment to voter referendum that emulates the federal model by having governors appoint the judges, subject to legislative confirmation and perhaps a subsequent retention election by voters."

The coincidence isn't all that surprising. The Locke Foundation has been funded primarily by Art Pope, the conservative philanthropist and activist who McCrory tapped to be his budget guru. Pope long controlled the foundation's agenda. Now, is he getting to make that agenda the state's and the governor's too? We're just asking.

McCrory signed a repeal of an order from Democratic predecessor Bev Perdue in 2011 creating a
state commission to nominate new judges. Perdue's goal was to remove politics from the process by selecting appeals and superior court judges from candidates nominated by the non-partisan commission.

McCrory said he was also concerned about the potential for politics to influence judicial appointments, but he says Perdue's order simply didn't work.

Perdue of course subverted her own strategy by failing to get a panel up and running, and at the end of her term bypassing the process to appoint her own choices to have them in place before McCrory took office -a move that brought her deserved criticism for hypocrisy.

The Observer editorial board has advocated for judicial appointments using a bipartisan panel to recommend nominees to the governor, followed by retention elections in which the citizens have a say in whether a judge stays on. So we agree with parts of the Locke Foundation suggestions. But we contend that the bipartisan, merit selections panel and the retention elections are key components, not options.

Hood's urging that lawmakers abandon public financing for judicial elections raises more concerns.  The state saw clearly the impact of monied interests on judgeship races last year in the N.C. Supreme Court race where nearly $2 million was spent. The race was targeted for big money because the outcome dictated the balance on the court - 4-3 right leaning or 4-3 left leaning. And because controversial laws the Republican-led legislature passed over the last couple of years could wind up before the high court, the balance could matter. Hood argues the current system attracts super PACs - such as the ones that got involved in ad buys in the state high court race - and other independent expenditure groups because public financing rules restrict candidates from running "real campaigns" and appealing to partisan voters with their political affiliation. But it's a stretch to think that by relinquishing the one restraining influence on special interests - public financing - that those monied interests would have less influence not more.

But the campaign to end public financing is clearly under way. Where does McCrory stand? Maybe John Hood and the Locke Foundation are giving us a clue.

Posted by Fannie Flono


John said...


What about YOUR precious Gov. Purdue who herself violated her own executive order on judge appointments when it suited her?

You obsolete hypocrite!

Ettolrahc said...

Rattle the liberal sabers observer, it makes you look like a real news paper.

Garth Vader said...


Yesterday's New York Times reports that insurance companies are foisting double-digit premium hikes on consumers and small businesses.

And OpenSecrets reports that in 2008 Barack Obama got $20,000,000.00 from the healthcare industry - three times as much as they gave John McCain.

I look forward to your next column that shows concern for "monied interests."

WashuOtaku said...

Oh Fannie, I anticipate many, many more anti-McCrory o-pinions and columns from you. You simply cannot accept anyone that doesn't follow the liberal doctrine to the letter or its allies.

The day you write a positive piece is probably the day after you leave the CO.

Skippy said...

And the adult diaper wearing David Brock at Media Matters sends President Libya Cover Up and his corrupt DOJ talking points on daily basis which is factual and not specualitive.

Ettolrahc said...

It looks like the liberal posters abandoned this site when they had to start paying for the content.

Oh sorry for my silly post, I am just stating the obvious, they would never pay for anything anyway.

kantstanzya said...

What..another editorial exposing that a GOP governor would actually appoint conservatives and listen to the ideas of a conservative think tank. Shocking! As it is everytime the Observer points it out.

Ms. Flono's own paper pointed out just yesterday that Perdue ended up appointing liberal Democrat flacks to her "non partisan panel" on judicial appointments.

There is no such thing as a non partisan human being. Everyone has their bias. The left continues to push for judicial recommendations and/or appointments from Bar Associations and other legal groups which are decidedly aligned with the Democrat Party to whom they owe much of the laws they make their living from. They disguise this as "merit" selections.

And what would we gain from the Dems appointing one liberal judge even if the people could vote them out in a retention election? They would just replace them with another like minded person.

Voting for judges is not a perfect system...just as voting for any office is not. But it is better than the alternative. Instead of the sham of some "non partisan", "merit" panel appointment/recommendation system I would even prefer just letting the governor appoint some of them. At least we voted for the governor and he/she is accountable to the voters.

John Hood said...

Fannie, thanks for reading and everything, but did you mean for this post to be taken seriously? If I had known about Gov. McCrory's executive order, why wouldn't I have passed the tip along to the Carolina Journal staff and publish a scoop? What really happened here is that I needed an "evergreen" topic to write a Monday column about way ahead of time — because I was gone all last week on my honeymoon. Oh, and neither Art Pope nor any other donor has ever "controlled the foundation's agenda." JLF has maintained editorial independence since its inception in 1989. That will continue. I'm sure it won't take long for me or one of my staff to criticize something the McCrory administration does, at which point I assume you will note that prominently.

Elvis Chainsaw said...

Since the CO apparently has the emails, provide a link to them so readers can make up their own minds regarding context. The stated desire by the CO for Jones to be fired is clearly an editorial bias. Share all of the info instead of excerpts with commentary.