For Immediate Release
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736
BUYING TIME 2004: Judicial Campaign Ad Spending Hits $19 Million
Five States Break Million-Dollar Barrier
New York, NY—During the 2004 election season, the Brennan Center for Justice is releasing weekly real-time reports on television advertising in state Supreme Court elections. These reports, to be released every Wednesday through November 10, will analyze campaign advertising by candidates, political parties, and interest groups.
This report includes information from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia. The report provides information about who is advertising and how often, the estimated cost of the airtime, and the tone and content of those advertisements.
Cumulative Report Through October 31, 2004
Total Spending Reaches All-Time High: Total spending on television advertising in state Supreme Court elections now exceeds $19 million, a 77% increase over the $10.7 million spent in 2000, and well over twice the $8.4 million spent in 2002. A record amount for a single week more than $7 million was spent from Oct. 25 to Oct. 31. As of Oct. 31, more than $1 million had been spent in 5 of the 15 states with Supreme Court television advertisements: Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia. In 2000, only one state broke the million-dollar barrier, and two states hit $1 million in 2002.
Ohio is the Top-Spending State: For the third election cycle in a row, Ohio leads the pack in expenditures on televised Supreme Court advertising. With two days left in the campaign season, spending reached $6.2 million, breaking the states own previous record of $5.4 million in 2002. Illinois was a close second as of Oct. 31, with $5 million spent on airtime 15 times the total spending in 2002. Media buys in both of those states increased by approximately $2 million over the previous week. Six states Michigan, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington doubled their cumulative spending in the week of Oct. 25–31.
Ads Accuse Special Interests of buying Seats on state Supreme Courts: Ads in Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, and now in Mississippi claim that special interests are trying to buy judicial influence by supporting candidates expected to rule in their favor. In Illinois, ads by the Justice for All PAC attack multi-national corporations, HMOs, and the insurance industry for spending million to buy Lloyd Karmeier a seat on the Supreme Court, while Illinois Republican Party ads allege that trial lawyers are desperately trying to elect Gordon Maag. Similarly, ads in West Virginia label challenger Brent Benjamin as the man out-of-state corporate bosses want on our Supreme Court, and other ads say that [trial] lawyers give [incumbent Justice Warren] McGraw thousands of campaign dollars . . . then [he] rules for them. In Mississippi, Bill Skinner declares that he is unbought and unbossed because he is the only [state] Supreme Court candidate whos never taken one dime of trial lawyer money, or out-of-state special interest money. These ads feed public concerns about bias in the justice system, which is already tainted by the surge of special interest money in Supreme Court campaigns, said Deborah Goldberg, Director of the Brennan Centers Democracy Program. States should use the post-campaign season to explore systemic reforms, such as public financing and full disclosure.
Reports (Data Current Through October 31, 2004)
The Brennan Centers analyses of television advertising in state Supreme Court elections use data obtained from a commercial firm that records each ad via satellite. The firm provides information about the location, dates, frequency, and estimated costs of each ad. Brennan Center researchers use the storyboards video captures of the ad at four-second intervals, with complete audio text to code the ads, documenting the content, tone, and other relevant information. Cost estimates are revised by the firm when it receives updated data, resulting in some fluctuations in the reported costs. The calculation does not include the costs of design and production, so cost estimates substantially understate the actual cost of advertising.
For More Information
Buying Time 2004 reports, including links to the storyboards, are available at: http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/buying-time-2004. The reports will also be included in the Justice at Stake 2004 Supreme Court Elections Real Time Tracking Project (www.justiceatstake.org) along with information about candidate fundraising and special interest activity.
For more information, please contact Natalia Kennedy at the Brennan Center at 212–998–6736 or visit http://www.brennancenter.org/. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law develops and implements a non-partisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.
For additional information about the Center’s work to promote fair and impartial courts, please visit:
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, founded in 1995, unites thinkers and advocates in pursuit of a vision of inclusive and effective democracy. Its mission is to develop and implement an innovative, nonpartisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms.
Please visit http://www.brennancenter.org/.