And Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There: Illinois Justice Accused Of Receiving Massive Financial Support From State Farm Before Vote In Favor of Company

Illinois Associate Justice Lloyd Karmeier is under fire this week after a petition was filed with the court detailing what is alleged to be previously undisclosed support from State Farm Insurance Company before Karmeier voted in favor of its side in a dispute. Previously, State Farm told the court that it had given $350,000 to Karmeier. Now plaintiffs lawyers, including former Sen. Fred Thompson, allege that he actually received between $2.4 million and $4 million from State Farm sources.

In 2005, Karmeier voted with State Farm after securing his seat with the help of large amounts of contributions from the company. Now the attorneys are alleging the company lied and asking the court to reconsider a $1 billion verdict against State Farm. The former FBI agent Michael Reece hired by the plaintiffs states “The bottom line of my investigation is that State Farm used the Illinois Civil Justice League to elect Judge Karmeier and Judge Karmeier knew it.” Reece stated in his affidavit that accompanied the petition.

Karmeier was asked but had declined to recuse himself from the class-action case against State Farm.

In the 2009 opinion in Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co., the Supreme Court held that a West Virginia appellate judge should have recused himself from a case where Charleston lawyer Brent Benjamin received $3 million in campaign contributions before his election. he then voted to overturn a verdict against a contributor due to the “serious risk of actual bias.” Justice Kennedy wrote that “[t]he inquiry centers on the contribution’s relative size in comparison to the total amount of money contributed to the campaign, the total amount spent in the election, and the apparent effect such contribution had on the outcome of the election.”

In this case, you have the added allegation that both company lawyers and Karmeier himself knew the earlier representation to the Court was false. It is also highly disturbing to see a company putting out this level of support for a judicial officer. Insurance companies are not known to be cavalier about their money. Giving millions to a single state judicial officer’s campaign is presumably done in anticipation of a positive return on the investment.

Source: Tribune as first seen on ABA Journal

19 thoughts on “And Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There: Illinois Justice Accused Of Receiving Massive Financial Support From State Farm Before Vote In Favor of Company”

  1. My husband has been a State Farm Agent for 44 years, he is of course an A-3 and you would not believe how they are pushing him to retire, Seven Months ago he was diagnosed with 2nd stage alzheimers, We have three girls working but with the economy it has been so hard ;to keep our head above waterm Last year we had 11 people living with us, our children and grandchildren,they had lost their jobs or companies had down sized, All we want to do is go for 2 more years, but the way things are going I doubt it With the new aggressive agents and the way the AFO worms into your business This would be like Joe Patreno Death by a BROKEN HEART BECAUSE THIS IS THIS MANS LOVE, thank you

  2. Thanks Oro Lee, yes, you just know that Admin costs and payroll/expense’s and who knows what is just pushing money and influence around to the likely suspects in those S/Pacs. I got into the wrong business 🙂

  3. Where does the $$$ go? Depends on the jurisdiction. Almost never goes directly to the candidate. If raised by party apparatus, usually goes back to the party. Can often be directed to other candidates. Most times, however, it goes to a 501(c)(3) . . . like some kind of think tank or educational institution . . . that usually has a place on its board of director or among its faculty for a former office holder, or the wife of a office holder . . .yada yada. You can fill in the rest with assorted you scratch my back type of shenanigans.

  4. TomDarch: “Also, where do these millions in campaign contributions for judicial races go?”

    That’s an excellent question. If a campaign has money left over do the candidates get to keep it? I recall hearing that they did but there was seldom an issue because most campaigns didn’t make a “profit” but ended up in the hole. I read that with PAC’s and SuperPAC’s the money can’t go to a candidate but is retained by the S/PAC for further issue oriented activity. Does anyone here know the rules?

  5. Like raff, I don’t understand why the response was, “Oh, only $350,000? Well that’s just fine then. No appearance of bias when it’s such a small amount!” Baloney! Gov. Perry may or may not be buyable for $5k, but even a presidential candidate is going to be aware of, and thus potentially influenced by a $350,000 donation.

    Also, where do these millions in campaign contributions for judicial races go? Maybe it’s because I’m dead center in the very expensive Chicago media market, but I don’t recall seeing a lot of IL Supreme Court ads. With millions in the campaign war chest, I’d think that one would want to have his/her spouse set up a political campaign consulting firm and hire that spouse, er, firm to advise the campaign to the tune of a million or so…

    Yes, Justice Karmeier is identified as a Republican (surprising, I know!) In testing my “Right wing politics is a money making scam” hypothesis, this case would seem to be evidence for the “true” pile….

    So what moneyed interest is paying Fred Thompson to be involved in this case? (Particularly when he’s being paid to expose the corporate corruption of a fellow Republican?)

  6. This judge should be doing the perp walk if the allegations are true. I am surprised that the initial $350,000 figure wasn’t enough to raise some eyebrows. Of course, when I see former Rep. Sen. Fred Thompson making this claim that the judge was bought by a corporation, the allegation loses a lot in my eyes.

  7. I haven’t dealth with State Farm since the 1970s. I once had bumperstickers that said:

    If you have State Farm,
    please don’t hit me.

  8. Blouise,

    If they have collected it before going to Jail….Don’t they still get to keep the money?

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