by Justin Moore

In 2002, North Carolina passed the Judicial Campaign Reform Act (JCRA). A major part of this law created a system for the public financing of all statewide judicial races in North Carolina. The fund is paid for by a combination of state bar licensing fees and a voluntary income tax check off. By agreeing to very low “qualifying contribution limits” from donors (generally $500 per person and about $80,000 overall), statewide judicial candidates can qualify for public funds. If they raise around $40,000 from 350 or more North Carolina residents between the filing deadline and the primary election, they receive about $165,000 to $240,000 (depending on the office sought) in campaign funds from the state. If an opponent or opposition groups spends more than the amount given by the fund, candidates are entitled to receive rescue funds of up to double the amount they initially received. The availability of these “rescue funds” most notably played a pivotal role in assisting the current Chief Justice Sarah Parker win her 2006 re-election campaign against a challenger who did not take public financing. Continue reading