Organization behind TN justices’ retention makes subtle website changes

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A formal ethics complaint that filed against three Tennessee Supreme Court justices up for retention may have something do with pro-retention activists making a few subtle changes to their official websites.

But the people behind Keep Tennessee’s Supreme Court Fair, who are also said to work directly for the justices’ retention campaigns, weren’t immediately available Friday to discuss changes on their main website and Facebook page.

On its main website, KTSCF has a disclaimer that it didn’t appear to have June 17, proclaiming it’s not an endorsement of the justices, nor are the justices endorsing one another.

Is this a response to activist George Scoville’s complaint, previously cited in Tennessee Watchdog, that justices Gary Wade, Sharon Lee and Connie Clark are violating the law by appearing with and campaigning for one another?

Is it also a response to concerns that KTSCF is composed of openly partisan Democratic activists, at least one of whom appears to have worked directly for Barack Obama?

Judge Timothy Easter is vice chair of Tennessee’s Board of Judicial Conduct. The second website change appears to involve a photograph of him that KTSCF suddenly removed from its official Facebook page.

Scoville, in his official complaint, includes a KTSCF Facebook photo of Easter at a campaign event with Justice Clark, an apparent endorsement.

EASTER DRESS-UP: A photograph of Judge TImothy Easter at an event with Justice Connie Clark. Keep Tennessee’s Supreme Court Fair has since removed it from its Facebook page, possibly in response to an official complaint.

“Judge Easter’s behavior demonstrates his capacity for exercising poor judgment, in light of the guidance, published with the canon,” Scoville wrote in his complaint.

Easter’s appearance at the event jeopardizes the BOJC’s credibility, Scoville wrote in his complaint, adding Easter should recuse himself from investigating his complaint. Scoville even wrote that the BOJC should formally and publicly sanction Easter for his behavior as judges may not publicly endorse a candidate for office.

Tennessee Watchdog left a message seeking comment with Easter’s office Friday, but no one immediately responded.

Administrative Office of the Courts spokeswoman Michele Wojciechowski said Friday she was referring Tennessee Watchdog’s inquiry to BOJC Chairman Chris Craft.

As previously reported, an organization funded by left-wing activist George Soros is working to help retain the justices, as are trial lawyers with a possible interest in overturning tort reform laws.

If voters choose not to retain even one justice, Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, likely will appoint another Republican, shifting the political balance of the five-member majority Democrat court.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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