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Lloyd Karmeier was sworn in as chief justice earlier this year. 0

Justice’s comments about PAC money create a stir

December 27th, 2016

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier wove humor and good research in a speech headlining the recent Illinois State Bar Association dinner.

Along with talking about the history of the event that brings together lawyers and judges, he addressed political action committees.

That got tongues wagging given his campaign contributions are being questioned in an ongoing court case.

The Illinois justice said the Campaign for 2016 political action committee “jeopardized” the integrity of the judiciary when it tried to unseat him in 2014. He accused the PAC of waging an “unjust” and expensive campaign for “personal, political or financial interests,” according to a copy of the speech.

Bob Clifford took issue with the comments, saying he and others don’t hide from their support of organizations they care about. He says that can’t be said of Karmeier, whose campaign got “dark money” from the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee. That PAC funneled nearly $1 million into Karmeier’s campaign, helping him stay in his job by the barest of margins.

“Interesting that he doesn’t address that,” Clifford said of Karmeier’s PAC support. “You can’t have it both ways.”

A court spokesman said Karmeier had no comment.

Clifford represents plaintiffs in a long-running case involving, not so coincidentally, Karmeier’s campaign funding.

In 2004, customers of State Farm Insurance filed suit claiming Karmeier took campaign cash from the insurance firm to get elected to the state’s highest court.

Their class action complaint says that in exchange for that support, Karmeier voted against upholding a $1 billion verdict that required State Farm to pay 4.7 million policy holders for using cheap auto parts when making repairs.

No trial date has been set in the long-running case.

Last year, Karmeier made news for writing the lengthy decision that struck down pension reform, ruling it unconstitutional.

 

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