The Kentucky Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee recently received a complaint from a judicial candidate alleging improper campaign activity on the part of an opponent which involved the creation and maintenance of a website, or the creation of an email with a link to the site.
The KJCCC is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan group of interested citizens from all over Kentucky. It includes people from both political parties and various walks of life, including civic leaders, attorneys, non-lawyers and retired judges. The committee encourages judicial candidates to sign a pledge to avoid false or misleading advertising and other campaign tactics that impugn the integrity of the judicial system, the integrity of a candidate, or erode public trust and confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. A list of members is here.
In accordance with our rules of procedure, our committee inquired of the candidate against whom the complaint was made. After fully considering the response, in which the candidate denied any involvement, and being unable to determine ownership of the website because it is hosted on a commercial server, the KJCCC has insufficient evidence to support a finding that the respondent had any knowledge of the creation and maintenance of the website.
Since the committee finds no evidence of improper campaign activity on the part of a judicial candidate, it is not disclosing the names of either party in this complaint. Both candidates signed a Campaign Agreement with the Committee pledging to campaign according to the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct and disavow advertising that uses false or misleading information or accusations to impugn the integrity of a candidate, or erode public trust and confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
Since the complaint is a matter of first impression for the committee, we do take this opportunity to discourage strongly any attempt by judicial candidates to be involved anonymously in the use of entities that are represented as independent but are connected to the candidate. While fully supportive of free and open elections, the KJCCC urges judicial candidates to conduct campaigns that are committed to upholding the integrity of the judiciary.