Our Opinion: Local race attracts $100,000 from D.C.

News Tribune editorial

The money has an unpleasant aroma.

Brian Stumpe, a candidate for Cole County circuit judge, has received a $100,000 campaign contribution from the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), based in Washington, D.C.

Stumpe, now Jefferson City's municipal prosecutor, is the GOP candidate challenging Democratic incumbent Pat Joyce, who is seeking her third six-year term.

Joyce's campaign treasurer, attorney Dale Doerhoff, characterized the donation as "illegal." The legality of the contribution is a matter for lawyers to argue and, ironically, for courts to settle.

Doerhoff cited a provision in Missouri's Campaign Finance Disclosure Law, which reads: "No contribution shall be made or accepted and no expenditure shall be made or incurred, directly or indirectly, in a fictitious name, in the name of another person, or by or through another person" in any way that conceals "the identity of the actual source of the contribution or the actual recipient and purpose of the expenditure."

Doerhoff contends: "It is clear that this $100,000 contribution has been earmarked by a secret contributor for the Citizens for Stumpe campaign to keep the contributor's identity hidden."

In response to the question: "do you know the donor behind the donation?" Stumpe replied, "the RSLC has thousands of donors and spends millions every election helping to elect conservative Republican candidates."

Although speculation abounds regarding the source of the contribution, no link has been established.

In addition, questions abound - specifically, why is a Washington, D.C.-based group interested in a local judicial race, to the tune of $100,000?

The group's web site defines its mission "to elect down-ballot, state-level Republican officeholders. Since 2002, the RSLC has been working to elect candidates to the office of lieutenant governor, secretary of state and state legislator." This year, the RSLC launched what it calls its Judicial Fairness Initiaitive.

We believe circuit judge elections should be decided not on the basis of political parties or campaign contributions, but on which candidate is most knowledgeable, deliberative and fair in dispensing justice.


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