Stumpe, RSLC comment on large campaign donation

In Cole County judicial race

Republican Brian Stumpe said late Monday his campaign received a $100,000 contribution this weekend because "my conservative record is in line with the type of candidates" the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee supports.

And RSLC spokeswoman Jill Bader said the committee's "Judicial Fairness Initiative" was launched this year "to elect down ballot, state-level justices across the country whose backgrounds and philosophies best reflect the will of the voters."

Stumpe, currently Jefferson City's municipal prosecutor, is the Republican challenger to incumbent Presiding Circuit Judge Pat Joyce, a Democrat seeking her third six-year term in the office.

As reported Monday on the Missouri Ethics Commission's website, Stumpe's "Citizens for Stumpe" campaign committee received the donation Saturday, from the RSLC-Missouri PAC - one day after the Missouri political action committee received a $100,000 donation from the RSLC.

That transaction had Dale Doerhoff, Joyce's campaign treasurer, arguing Monday afternoon that the donation likely violated a state law that prohibits contributions that in any way conceal "the identity of the actual source of the contribution or the actual recipient and purpose of the expenditure."

Stumpe and Bader disagreed.

"We neither accept nor provide earmarked funds," Bader said.

Stumpe said: "The RSLC has thousands of donors and spends millions every election helping to elect conservative Republican candidates.

"I am pleased they see the importance of this race and have chosen to support my campaign."

Although it's a local county race, judges on Cole County's circuit court make decisions with statewide impact because state government is located here.

In addition to the civil and criminal cases that go before circuit courts throughout the state, nearly all lawsuits challenging Missouri governnment and its agencies, laws, constitutional challenges and ballot proposals must be filed in the local courts.

And, because Cole County is not covered by Missouri's Nonpartisan Court Plan, the contests for circuit judge are waged in partisan, political races.

"We are compelled to engage in Missouri because Joyce's rulings are out of touch with the people in Missouri, and voters have a right to know, period," Bader said in an email Tuesday morning.

When asked to be more specific about the cases Joyce has decided that would support the RSLC's argument, Bader later said, "Patricia Joyce consistently rules on the side of liberal special interests and environmental activists instead of listening to the will of hard working people of Missouri."

In his Monday night email, Stumpe said: "The Choices in this race are clear.

"I am the only conservative Republican in the race and if elected, I will bring the experience and integrity that Cole County deserves."

Neither Joyce nor Doerhoff responded to Bader's or Stumpe's comments.

However, Joyce said, in an email: "I am inviting Mr. Stumpe to discuss these matters and his qualifications for circuit judge in an open, public forum where both candidates can be questioned by the voters."

She noted Stumpe didn't attend last week's candidates' forum sponsored by the Cole County Bar.

"Because he did not appear previously, he should make himself available at another public forum as soon as possible," she said.

Previous coverage:

Stumpe gets $100,000 from national GOP group

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