Madison - St. Clair Record

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Fund-raising reports for Democratic Fifth District contenders show a favorite among some Metro-East attorneys

By Ann Maher | Jan 12, 2016


Fund-raising efforts for two Democratic contenders seeking seats at the Fifth District Appellate Court tell different stories.

According to financial disclosure statements filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections, Metro-East personal injury firms or attorneys contributed approximately one-fourth of the $30,200 in itemized individual contributions received by the campaign committee of Jo Beth Weber of Mount Vernon.

Weber's report filed Jan. 5 shows that 17 firms or attorneys who practice in Madison and St. Clair counties contributed $7,350 of that amount. 

In all, Weber brought in $42,571.54 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. 

Asbestos firm Gori Julian of Edwardsville contributed $1,000; Brown and Crouppen of St. Louis contributed $600. Contributions of $500 came from Brad Badgley, Joseph Bartholomew, Bruce R. Cook, Bruce N. Cook and Gregory Shevlin, all of Belleville. The Goldenberg firm in Edwardsville and the Driscoll firm in St. Louis also gave Weber's committee $500.

Seven labor organizations contributed a total of $7,400 to Weber. The IBEW PAC Voluntary Fund of Washington, D.C. gave $5,000 of that total.

Weber, serving as resident circuit judge in Jefferson County, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat vacated by James Wexstten in January 2014.

She was elected circuit judge to the Second Judicial Circuit in 2012 and her current term expires in December of 2018.

Weber's campaign is being managed by former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Philip Rarick of Troy.

In the fall, when Weber announced her decision to run, she said she wanted to ensure that all citizens of the Fifth District - which includes the state's 37 southern-most counties - are treated "fairly and impartially" and that their cases be handled in an expeditious manner.

Williamson County native, Judge James "Randy" Moore, is seeking the Republican nomination for the Wexstten vacancy.

As of Jan. 12, Moore had not yet filed financial disclosure statements with the State Board of Elections. Reports are due Jan. 15.

Moore presently serves by appointment rather than election to the Fifth District. The Illinois Supreme Court appointed him in January 2015 to replace Justice Stephen Spomer, who retired.

He first served on the bench in 2007 when he was appointed to the First Judicial Circuit Court based in Marion. He then successfully ran for election in 2008 and was retained again in 2014.

State Sen. David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) will serve as Moore's campaign chairman.

Stewart vacancy: Bleyer and Barberis

In another open seat race at the Fifth District, fund-raising has not been as robust.

Brad Bleyer, First Judicial Circuit Judge in Carbondale, received $7,475 in campaign contributions from donors only in southern points of the 37-county district.

Bleyer is seeking the seat being vacated by Justice Bruce Stewart.

He filed a fourth quarter fund-raising report on Monday, which showed that $6,000 was raised through 12 individual itemized contributions. Another $1,475 was raised through non-itemized contributions.

Bleyer's largest financial support came from attorney Dale Aschemann of Carterville with a $1,500 contribution; Justice Stewart and his wife Marleigh contributed $1,000, as did the law firm Brandon & Schmidt of Carbondale.

Bleyer was first appointed to his circuit seat in 2004. He was retained in 2012 to a six year term that expires in 2018.

His campaign is being chaired by retired federal judge G. Patrick Murphy of Carbondale.

Bleyer will face Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis, Jr. who will be running as a Republican candidate.

Barberis, first elected in November 2014, said in a previous interview that he is interested in a seat on the appellate court because it has a “profound impact on everyone in southern Illinois.”

“It’s a good opportunity to help facilitate a good reputation for the Fifth District with sound reasoning and good judgment,” he said. “That’s not a criticism of the Fifth District. This is more an opportunity to ensure that it continues.”

Barberis said that judicial elections, unlike other elections, typically only happen when someone retires. Given that appellate court terms are 10 years, it is particularly unusual that two open seats at the Fifth District are happening at once, he said.

He had not filed a fourth quarter fund-raising report as of Jan. 12.

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