A campaign committee created to oppose Republican candidates for the Fifth District Appellate Court spent a half million dollars on Friday for broadcast and digital media.
By contrast, the targeted Republican candidates, Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis and sitting Fifth District Justice James "Randy" Moore, have raised a combined $64,000 to date.
Fair Courts Now, which is supported in large part by asbestos firms that do business in Madison County, was created four weeks before the election on Oct. 11
The Simmons firm of Alton and Maune Raichle of St. Louis each contributed $250,000.
Other firms that contributed to Fair Courts Now include Madison County asbestos filers SWMK Law of St. Louis, which contributed $50,000 and the Flint firm of Glen Carbon which contributed $25,000.
A structured settlement company from Buffalo, N.Y., US Periodic Payment Assignment Co., contributed $10,000.
In response to the newly created PAC, Barberis wrote the following on his campaign's Facebook page on Friday:
"I was wondering if the big money, power broker, Democrat plaintiffs firms would try and influence/buy the 5th District Appellate Court. Guess I don't have to wonder any more.
"Do we want to allow these morally bankrupt fat cat firms to decide which of their hand picked judges sit in judgment of all of us? The fine folks I have met throughout the 37 counties I have been campaigning in for the last 14 months don't seem the type to allow people like these political bosses to make decisions like this for them. Help me and Justice Moore send a message to these clowns that their money can't influence you as a voter or Justice Moore and myself as judges deciding their cases. Remember, they are not donating to their hand picked candidates they are INVESTING in the outcome of their future cases."
Barberis was first elected circuit judge in Madison County in 2014, having spent $5,000 of his own money without establishing a committee to accept donations on his behalf in that cycle. He created a committee in his bid for the appellate court and has raised nearly $12,000.
Moore's campaign has raised approximately $52,000.
Fair Courts Now is chaired by Bobby Green, showing an address of 1538 N. Church in Belleville, and treasurer is JoLee Siener who lists an email address at the Simmons firm.
Democrat candidates Jo Beth Weber, a circuit judge from Jefferson County, and Brad Bleyer, a circuit judge from Williamson County, already had raised more money than their opponents Moore and Barberis through their individual campaign committees.
Weber has raised approximately $223,000 and Bleyer has raised approximately $101,000.