Big checks continue flowing on both sides of Kilbride retention bid

Retention-seeking Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride and his opponents reported receiving tens of thousands of dollars over the last three days.

Prominent Kilbride opponent JUSTPAC, the committee of the Illinois Civil Justice League, reported receiving an additional $80,000 from the American Justice Partnership. (JUSTPAC reported receiving $100,000 from the Partnership, last week.) The Partnership was founded by the National Association of Manufacturers and does not disclose the source of its funds.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, which tracks campaign contributions nationally, has identified AJP as a group which traditionally advocates for Republican judges. In that sense, it's not surprising that the group would seek to kick Kilbride, who was elected in 2000 as a Democrat, off the state's high court.

And this isn't the AJP's first venture in Illinois judicial campaigns. In 2006, State Board of Elections data shows that AJP contributed $305,000 directly to Illinois Appellate Court Republican incumbent Steve McGlynn, as part of a campaign that established a new bar for appellate court campaign funding. In addition to the money AJP sent directly to the candidate, the group gave JUSTPAC $300,000 and to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce's PAC, $100,000.

Kilbride's political committee disclosed receiving $25,000 from the Illinois Labors' Legislative Committee, and $40,000 from the Illinois Political Action Committee for Education on Oct. 15. Another report shows the Illinois Federation of Teachers has supported the justice's retention bid with a $1,059 worth of campaign assistance.

The education community's significant involvement in a judicial election is pretty curious.

A more comprehensive picture of the pro- and anti-Kilbride groups' supporters is just around the corner. By midnight today, committees must complete their pre-election reports, which covers campaign activity since the last report July 1 and Oct. 3.

Please check back with the blog tomorrow for an updates on the Kilbride election and other top state campaigns.