Crowder fundraiser to be held at Lewis & Clark Community College

Sarah Zavala Mar. 15, 2012, 3:49am


Madison County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Crowder's campaign committee is hosting a fund-raiser at the Lewis & Clark Community College on March 28.

The Friends of Barbara Crowder will be charging $50 per ticket, or more, for anyone wanting to show support for the judge seeking retention in November.

Lori Artis, vice president of Media and Foundation Relations at Lewis & Clark, said the college does not have a policy against renting its facilities for campaign fund-raisers.

"We rent to anyone in the community," Artis said, adding that the college does not discriminate against any group.

Artis said renting its facilities is a revenue builder for the college. She also said the college has a history of renting rooms for campaign fundraisers.

A few months ago, Crowder's fund-raising prompted intense scrutiny as well as led to her removal as head of Madison County's asbestos docket.

Last December she received $30,000 in campaign contributions from lawyers at Madison County's three largest asbestos firms days after ruling favorably for them.

She received the donations on Dec. 5 and 6 from lawyers at Simmons law firm of Alton, as well as lawyers from the Goldenberg and Gori and Julian firms of Edwardsville.

Chief Judge Ann Callis reassigned Crowder on Dec. 12 to oversee eminent domain, chancery and miscellaneous remedies cases.

Crowder later returned those contributions. She also denied any connection between her ruling that granted the three firms 82 percent of all asbestos trial slots for 2013 and the donations.

Until recently, online records available at the Illinois State Board of Elections website showed no fund-raising activity for Friends of Barbara Crowder. But on March 14, the Iron Workers Local 392 of East St. Louis contributed $1,000 to Crowder's campaign.

Her March 28 fundraiser will be held in the LeClaire Room at Lewis & Clark and lasts from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bella Milano will be catering appetizers.

"It's a wonderful vicinity and a perfect size room for an event such as this," said Rick Stamer, chairman of the Friends of Barbara Crowder.

Stamer said a very good judge is running for retention and everyone knows money needs to be raised to pay for ads and signs.

It's a good way to show support, Stamer said.

Stamer replaced Lawrence Taliana, Crowder's husband, as chairman after heightened media attention on the asbestos firms' contributions to Friends of Barbara Crowder.

Sponsorship levels for Crowder's fundraiser are: Gold $2,500, Silver $1,000, and Bronze $500.

Crowder isn't the only Third Judicial Circuit judge running for retention.

Callis, as well as Circuit Judges Dave Hylla and John Knight are seeking to be retained to six-year terms.

To be retained, a judge must receive 60 percent of the electorate's "Yes" vote.

Callis established a campaign committee, Citizens for Callis, in February showing $10,000 in available funds. Retired Illinois Supreme Court Justice Phillip Rarick is her campaign chairman.

Hylla and Knight have not established committees under their names.

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