Of course they do.
By Gaddis, Kin, Herd & Craw, P.C. | November 29, 2018
We would all like to believe that “buying judges” is not a problem in real life. It only happens in the movies, right? And, who would suspect an auto insurance company of fixing an election in America? A recent settlement, reported in the November 2018 ABA Journal, seems to prove that both of these events can, and do happen – even in the USA.
The ABA Journal reports that State Farm Insurance paid $250 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged State Farm manipulated an election in Illinois. It claimed that State Farm and its in-house attorneys recruited a specific candidate for the election of a new Justice to the Illinois Supreme Court. State Farm picked its man, got him on the ballot, and then used political action committees to send their candidate lots of “dark money,” or political contributions that do not reveal the origin of the money. In fact, so much money was involved that it was the most expensive election of any judge in Illinois history.
Why Does State Farm Care About Judicial Candidates?
The ABA article provides some interesting, additional information about how this scenario pans out. There was a particular motive for State Farm picking and secretly backing the campaign to elect this Judge. It turns out that the $250 million State Farm paid was just a “drop in the bucket” for what it got in return. With the financial support of State Farm, its chosen candidate won the election and became a member of the Illinois Supreme Court. There, he voted to overturn a $1 billion judgment against State Farm that was being reviewed on appeal in the Supreme Court.
When insurance companies get hit with a big judgment, they typically blame it on “runaway juries.” They tell the public that “frivolous law suits” and “runaway juries” are what drives up their insurance rates. But this case did not involve a “runaway jury” verdict. It was not a case that was even decided by a jury or a judge. The decision to pay $250 million was made entirely by State Farm, who also even gave up their ability to appeal the $250 million judgment.
Is Pulling Electoral Strings a Criminal Violation?
Was State Farm’s behind-the-scenes intervention in the Illinois Supreme Court election a crime or an act of fraud? Or, was it just a business investment of the insurance company? Did anyone from State Farm involved in this scheme get arrested, get charged, or go to jail?
Not unexpectedly, State Farm has denied any wrongdoing in the case, and says the allegations of manipulating elections and/or buying judges allegiance are without merit. But when is the last time you heard about an insurance company agreeing to pay $250 million when it did nothing wrong? Or, when there was no merit to such outrageous allegations of misconduct? Even the greenest sleuths can smell something fishy here.