► Columbus Dispatch - 10/12/04 - Chief Justice Moyer's report didn't reveal link to judges Print E-mail


Moyer’s report didn’t reveal link to judges
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Jon Craig
Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer has disclosed at least $3,725 in campaign contributions this year from 11 retired judges who he appointed to hear cases.
The financial disclosure, which came three days after a monthly reporting deadline, was made Friday in a letter to the secretary of state’s office.
"For a supposed advocate of more disclosure, the chief justice should at least follow the current law," Dennis L. White, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said yesterday. "It might be embarrassing to reveal that you receive contributions from people counting on you for work, but it is the law."
Moyer responded, "It’s not law. It’s our rule. They’re right. Somebody missed it. . . . We made an oversight and we caught it."
The Dispatch reported several of the contributions from retired judges on Wednesday.
Moyer explained that in past campaigns, when he filed reports on paper, his treasurer included an asterisk to denote the names of appointed judges.
"I absolutely don’t require assigned judges to make contributions and there are a lot of Democrats on that list," he said.
As chief justice, Moyer has exclusive authority to allow retired judges to sit by assignment. The Supreme Court canons require that a contribution from an appointee can be accepted only if the name, address, occupation and employer of the appointee is identified on a campaign-finance report.
Moyer’s original fund-raising report indicated contributors by name with an occupation of "retired" — without disclosing every assigned judge’s relationship with the Supreme Court.
For instance, Moyer received $750 from Thomas Curran of Shaker Heights. Curran lost his bid for re-election in November 2002 to Michael Russo.
Court guidelines do not permit Moyer to appoint defeated judges to sit by assignment.
But Moyer facilitated an appointment of Curran by Gov. Bob Taft to the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals for five days, which allowed Curran to retire as a judge and be eligible for assignment.
A Sept. 15 complaint filed by watchdog Dave Palmer with Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel Jonathan E. Coughlan alleged Moyer violated the canons by accepting numerous contributions from retired judges he appointed for several years.
After issue-advocacy groups spent millions on negative ad campaigns in the 2000 and 2002 Supreme Court campaigns, Moyer called for greater disclosure of their contributions. Only one chamber of the Republican-led General Assembly has passed legislation containing Moyer’s proposals.
"The chief justice’s hypocrisy is not going to help get better disclosure laws and rid this state of misleading attack ads on our judges," White said.
He is calling for a quick and thorough investigation by the court’s disciplinary body so that voters know before the Nov. 2 election the full extent of the number of judges donating to Moyer and the amount he received from them.

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