Mailers attacking Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson and supporting challenger David Sterling for her court seat have begun hitting Arkansas mailboxes.

It’s the work of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s Judicial Fairness Initiative. They get real upset when you call their spending dark money because they file  reports with the IRS about contributors — the malicious U.S. Chamber of Commerce and tobacco companies among them. But they don’t differentiate by political office. There’s little by the way of specific disclosure in Arkansas of the source of the dollars sliming Goodson, just total sums put into the race.


I’ve written about this race and this slimy outside money before. Sterling, who draws a six-figure state salary courtesy of the Hutchinson administration while campaigning almost exclusively at Republican events, benefitted from almost $750,000 in spending by this Republican-aligned group in the primary. I emphasize “Republican” because judicial candidates are theoretically non-partisan. Thanks to opaque corporate money, Republican-approved candidates are attempting court takeovers at every level in Arkansas and around the country — matched sets to go with corporate-interest-funded Republican attorneys general.

The ads against Goodson? It’s the same material used by dark money outfits to beat her two years ago in her race for chief justice. Yes, her husband gave her some gifts (disclosed by her) before they were married. Yes, they included a trip to Italy on a private yacht owned by John Tyson, courtesy of a lawyer who was a friend of the future Mr. (John) Goodson, also a lawyer. And, yes, the Arkansas Supreme Court as a group sought a pay raise from the independent citizens’ commission, but not Goodson individually.


Anyway, if you’re looking for a  tool of special interests, don’t be fooled by the mailers into looking away from Sterling. There’s a reason the chamber money goes to his like. And it’s not to protect the people with carpal tunnel syndrome on the Tyson chicken-plucking line.

Sterling the ethical choice? Running essentially as a declared Republican? No sale.


We shouldn’t be electing judges.