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Supreme Court Ad Spending Tops $500K

Supreme Court Ad Spending Tops $500K

By Phil Williams. CREATED Jul 25, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Spending on all those TV ads for the state Supreme Court campaign continues to set new records in Tennessee politics, now topping $500,000.

New figures, from the watchdog group Justice At Stake, show TV spending is about evenly split between those campaigning to keep three incumbent justices and those who want them replaced.

That comes with almost two weeks to go before the August election.

Here's the breakdown:

The lead opposition group, the Tennessee Forum, has spent at least $246,475 dollars on TV ads. It is not clear who is funding that campaign. The group's most recent financial disclosure showed it had just $19,000 in the bank.

A joint campaign for the three justices, known as Keep Tennessee Courts Fair, has shelled out at least $209,955. Critics have blasted the campaign for raising money from attorneys who must appear before those justices.

The campaign for Chief Justice Gary Wade has also spent at least $40,365.

Tennesseans for Fair Courts, a political action committee started by a Hendersonville trial lawyer, has spent at least $11,425 in support of retention of the incumbent justices.

Likewise, the State Government Leadership Foundation -- an out-of-state group with ties to the Republican State Leadership Committee and whose funders have included major corporations -- has spent at least $10,418. That group favors replacing the justices.

Those spending totals were obtained by Justice At Stake from public disclosures required by the Federal Communications Commission.

Both sides have also engaged in substantial direct mail campaigns, which are not reflected in the Justice at Stake numbers.

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Phil Williams

Phil Williams

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Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team. His investigations have earned him journalism's highest honors.