Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

No response from Democratic Fifth District Appellate Court candidates on Fair Courts Now campaign; 41 percent of Judge Weber’s contributions from same firms

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 31, 2016

Law money 09

It’s been two weeks since the Fair Courts Now committee was formed to run attack ads against Republican candidates for the Fifth District Appellate Court, and Democratic candidates have yet to provide a response to the negative campaign.

Ironically, Fair Courts Now is a Political Action Committee that’s raised more than $1 million mostly from asbestos firms to oppose Justice James “Randy” Moore and Circuit Judge John Barberis.

Williamson County Circuit Judge Brad Bleyer and his campaign chairman G. Patrick Murphy could not be reached for comment.

When attempting to reach Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jo Beth Weber for comment, Weber requested she not be contacted while at work and directed the Record to use her committee’s contact information.

However, requests for comment from Weber’s campaign committee went unanswered.

Furthermore, neither candidate addressed the Fair Courts Now media campaign at the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Council’s appellate judge forum on Oct. 25.

So far, the anti-Moore and anti-Barberis committee has raised $1,060,000.

The biggest contributions have come from local asbestos firms, which don’t typically spend much time in the appellate court. Those contributions include $235,000 from Gori Julian of Edwardsville, $250,000 from Maune Raichle of St. Louis and $250,000 from the Simmons Firm of Alton.

Several other local plaintiff firms, Texas firms and court reporters also contributed to the campaign.

As a PAC, Fair Courts Now isn’t working directly with the Democratic candidates.

However, four of the firms that have contributed to the committee have also contributed to Weber’s campaign.

Attorneys with the Simmons Firm have contributed a total of $31,600 to Weber’s campaign; Maune Raichle attorneys contributed $32,400; and Gori Julian attorneys contributed $15,050.

Cooney & Conway also contributed $15,000 to Fair Courts Now and $5,000 to Weber’s campaign.

Weber has raised a total of $84,050 from attorneys at firms that funded the negative ads by Fair Courts Now.

There were also three contributions from individuals with the same last name as Simmons and Gori Julian attorneys, who are assumed to be spouses of the attorneys. The three additional contributions totaled $7,400.

Including the three assumed spouses, contributions from the four firms amount to 41 percent of Weber’s total $223,000 raised.

In addition to the million-dollar PAC, Bleyer has raised $100,000 for his campaign while Weber raised $223,000.

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Organizations in this Story

Cooney & ConwayIllinois Fifth District Appellate CourtThe Gori Law FirmSimmons Hanly ConroyMaune, Raichle, Hartley, French and Mudd