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Money becoming a factor in Kilbride retention

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2020

* Greg Hinz writes about the Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride retention race

Now, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce has called a press conference for tomorrow to urge a “no” vote. In a preview phone call, chamber CEO Todd Maisch said Kilbride “has been a consistent supporter of organized labor and trial lawyers,” to the detriment of the state’s economy. “The state would have been much better served to have a more even-handed justice.” […]

Maisch said he wouldn’t “tip my hand” and indicate whether the chamber will open its wallet in the race. But in the last few days, several other big donors have, contributing heavily to a group urging a “no” vote run by former downstate GOP Rep. Jim Nowlan.

The biggest donor is Wisconsin businessman Dick Uihlein, a frequent giver to conservative causes and candidates, who gave $250,000. Just behind him is the Judicial Fairness Project, a dark-money group that does not disclose its own donors and gave $200,000 to Nowlan’s group, Citizens for Judicial Fairness.

The Chamber doesn’t currently have much of a wallet to open. Its PAC reported having $9,560.52 on hand at the end of June. Since then, it’s reported raising about $7500.

But Nowlan’s PAC has raised about half a million dollars so far, half of which came from Dick Uihlein.

Justice Kilbride’s committee has reported about three times that amount so far, $1.496 million. But the opponents don’t have to “win.” They just have to keep him from reaching 60 percent.

* More on Kilbride’s money

Tom Keefe’s firm in Swansea and John Simmons’s firm in Alton each contributed $100,000 to retention of Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride after he removed the limit on his contributors.

The Gori firm of Edwardsville added $82,500 to a stream of contributions that topped $1 million in a week.

Less than one percent of it came from the Third District where Kilbride and his voters live.

* And a bit of oppo from the ILGOP…

• Kilbride was the only justice to support allowing a man to sue an ambulance driver that he hit. A six-justice majority ruled that a hospital was not liable under the Local Governmental And Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act and set aside the jury verdict, but Kilbride was the only justice to agree with the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) – which had submitted an amicus brief – that a man should be allowed to sue after he was injured when he hit an ambulance responding to an emergency call. (Opinion, Harris v. Thompson, Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #112525, 6/21/12)
• Kilbride was the only justice to argue a Mississippi man who was injured in Mississippi and never worked in Illinois should be allowed to sue in Illinois. A six-justice majority ruled that St. Clair County was not an appropriate venue for an asbestos exposure case where the plaintiff lived in Mississippi, had worked in Mississippi, and had never been to Illinois beyond one month of engineering school in Homewood. Kilbride was the only justice to agree with an amicus brief filed by the ITLA that the plaintiff’s choice of forum should be given deference. (Opinion, Fennell v. Illinois Central R.R. Co., Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #113812, 12/28/12)
• Kilbride was the only justice to support giving workers compensation to a man who was injured on his own time driving to work. A six-justice majority ruled that a plumber who had taken a job 200 miles from his permanent residence was not entitled to workers compensation for injuries he sustained while commuting to work. Kilbride was the only justice to agree with an amicus brief by the ITLA that the plumber should be considered a traveling employee even though the employer did not direct his travel in any way or reimburse him for travel expenses. (Opinion, The Venture—Newberg-Perini, Stone & Webster v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Comm’n, Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #115728 12/19/13)
• Kilbride was the only justice to agree that CSX railroad could be sued after a child trespassed on CSX’s railyard and injured himself while trying to jump onto a moving train. The Court initially unanimously ruled that a moving train was indeed an obvious danger and thus the railroads did not owe the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care, but Kilbride later changed his mind and said the railroad owed a duty of reasonable care to the child. (Opinion, Choate v. Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. Co., Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #112948, 11/26/12)
• Kilbride was the only justice to support allowing a personal injury suit against a dead man to proceed, despite the plaintiff failing to notify the decedent’s estate of her lawsuit and instead having her lawyer’s secretary appointed as a “special representative” for the estate. A six-justice majority ruled the lawsuit was time-barred because it was filed after the statute of limitations period, but Kilbride was the only justice to agree with an amicus brief by the ITLA that the plaintiff should be permitted to continue her lawsuit. (Opinion, Relf v. Shatayeva, Illinois Supreme Court, Docket #114925, 10/18/13)

* From the Kilbride campaign…

Republican law enforcement officials, judges and legal professionals warned against the influence of a shadowy dark money group that has funneled more than a half of million dollars into the state in an attempt to influence the retention campaign of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride.

Republicans including past Chief Judge Steve Kouri and former Kankakee State’s Attorney and retired Chief Judge Michael Kick joined prominent Peoria attorney Tim Bertschy, a past president of the Illinois State Bar Association, to decry the influx of out-of-state money being spent on false attacks by special interest groups attempting to influence Illinois’ highest court. It should be noted that donors from Washington, D.C and the state of Georgia are contributing to the shadowy dark money group, which begs the questions who is really behind this organization and why?

“Tom Kilbride has participated in over 1,800 cases while on the Supreme Court. His partisan critics can only point to a few decisions they don’t like, and these are cases which the Court decided unanimously or where Justice Kilbride was only one vote in a majority decision. I have known Tom Kilbride for over thirty years. He is a man of unquestioned integrity and honesty, both personally and professionally. He has a reputation for treating fairly all people and companies before him. He is non-partisan. He is independent. That is why even former Republican colleagues on the court support his re-election and why so many other people and organizations – of both political parties and independents – support him,” said Tim Bertschy, Peoria attorney and past president of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).

“All Illinoisans should be deeply concerned about anonymous special interests attacking Justice Tom Kilbride and an independent judiciary. As a judge, who was elected as a Republican, I reject in the strongest possible terms unfair attacks financed anonymously against Justice Kilbride and ask voters to send a message that our courts are not for sale. Vote YES to retain Justice Tom Kilbride,” said past Chief Judge Steve Kouri, 10th Judicial Circuit.

“As a former Kankakee County state’s attorney and judge, I’ve seen all aspects of our court system and have the highest confidence in Justice Tom Kilbride to fairly administer the law and treat everyone equally. The anonymous, big-money special interests that are distorting Justice Kilbride’s record and trying to mislead voters should be ashamed of themselves. Money can buy a lot of things, but it shouldn’t be used to buy our courts. Justice Tom Kilbride deserves a YES vote for retention on the Illinois Supreme Court,” said former Kankakee State’s Attorney and retired Chief Judge Michael Kick, 21st Judicial Circuit (representing Iroquois and Kankakee counties).

While dark money groups try and politicize the state’s highest court, the state’s top legal professional organization, three U.S. Attorneys, two former Chief Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court, a former Illinois Attorney General and more than two dozen law enforcement officials thought the 3rd Appellate District are supporting Kilbride. Additional endorsements can be found at www.kilbride2020.com.

* Nexstar

Former Congressman Ray LaHood said the [anti-Kilbride] committee will shine a light on the impacts on Central Illinois communities.

“His decisions regarding pensions have made it very difficult for communities like Peoria to meet their pension liabilities. His decision about pensions have now rendered every city in Illinois bankrupt because we can’t meet the pension liabilities,” said LaHood.

Kilbride responded Monday saying, “Ray LaHood, who enjoys a reported $125,000 annual tax-payer funded pension, has his facts wrong. The court’s 2015 pension decision was authored by a justice elected as a republican and was unanimous.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments »
  1. - Not a Billionaire - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    I have seen only pro Kilbride ads and have not seen any vote no ads recently either.


  2. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:09 pm:

    The Darin apple doesn’t fall far from the Ray tree.

    So rich that Ray’s knocking down a sweet government pension far above what any teacher or highway maintenance worker might get and he’s complaining about other people’s government pensions.

    Not to mention, after he left congress Ray went to cash in as a “consultant” - not a lobbyist, mind you - but as a “senior policy advisor” at a global law firm.


  3. - City Zen - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:32 pm:

    If I’m against Kilbride, I’m on Uihlein’s side. But if I’m for Kilbride, I’m on the side of injury lawyers. Is there an option C?


  4. - dbk - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:38 pm:

    Dear former Congressman LaHood:

    Re: “His decision about pensions have (sic) now rendered every city in Illinois bankrupt because we can’t meet the pension liabilities.”

    Er, no. Every city in Illinois will (probably) go bankrupt in the next two-three years because the U.S. Senate refused to provide Covid relief funds to states and municipalities.

    W/r/t Peoria in particular: Also there’s that pesky matter of the Civic Center, which (a) was too big for Peoria in the first place and couldn’t manage to turn anything but a symbolic profit in the best of times, and (b) now in a time of pandemic, the City is going to have to borrow $4 million just to keep the Civic Center maintained, barely. Could that perhaps have anything to do with Peoria’s imminent bankruptcy, ya think?

    Have you been speaking with your son a lot lately?


  5. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:39 pm:

    ===and (b) now in a time of pandemic, the City is going to have to borrow $4 million just to keep the Civic Center maintained, barely===

    And short-changed the fire department.


  6. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 12:47 pm:

    What is wrong with trial lawyers? They represent people in need. They do not decide a case and damages or sentences. That is what judges and juries do. Then they are double and triple checked at appellate or Supreme Court level
    Everyone hates lawyers till they need one.


  7. - Scott - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:07 pm:

    I got a mailer from Kilbride’s group a week or so ago. Before receiving it, I probably would have just put “yes”, but after reading it, I changed my vote to a “no”. I don’t think that was the intent of the pro-Kilbride mailer, but that’s the effect it had on me.


  8. - The Old Man - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    This is not good for Government. Be for something, not against!


  9. - Steve Rogers - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:32 pm:

    Kilbride had to fight off these same outside attacks in 2010 for retention. Last Week Tonight had a great segment on judicial elections in general and featured Kilbride attack ads. Watch the whole thing, but the Kilbride part is 5:50 to 6:50.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poL7l-Uk3I8


  10. - Leigh John-Ella - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:50 pm:

    For as good a guy and great a leader as Bob Michel was, if only he’d made a better hiring decision we all could have been spared the LaHood family.


  11. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    ==More on Kilbride’s money==

    The Madison County Record has never been a fan of trial lawyers or Kilbride, so let’s be careful with some of their figures. Most of the itemized pro-Kilbride money has come from PACs, and while the PACs may be headquartered in Springfield or Chicago, there’s no telling where their members live. To say that less than 1% of the pro-Kilbride money is in-district is a stretch.


  12. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    ==For as good a guy and great a leader as Bob Michel was, if only he’d made a better hiring decision we all could have been spared the LaHood family.==

    Co-sign. Alternatively, had he made a better *retiring* decision, we might’ve never known a LaHood (and he also might’ve been Speaker)


  13. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 3:22 pm:

    If Kilbride loses, Democrats in the legislature should use their supermajority to expand the court by at least one additional seat, and simultaneously amend the law so that justices run for retention statewide. It’s only fair if they’re going to make law for the whole state. And with Republicans playing hardball to seize control of the federal courts, there’s no reason Democrats shouldn’t return the favor at the state level.


  14. - Jeremy Rosen - Wednesday, Sep 30, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    Judicial elections - such a terrible idea.


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