A new poll commissioned by the Center for American Progress and conducted by Harstad Strategic Research found that 80 percent of voters support stronger disclosure laws for judicial campaigns, and this level of support is consistent among Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Voters across the political spectrum want to know who is paying for ads that attack judicial candidates, but in many states, disclosure laws do not apply to some ads that criticize candidates during an election.
The 2012 election saw record-breaking spending, as special interests poured billions of dollars into super PACs and secretive nonprofits that ran ads supporting or attacking candidates. At the state level, a record $29.7 million was spent to influence judicial elections across the country, according to estimates released by Justice at Stake and the Brennan Center for Justice in December 2012. Half of this money was spent by nonprofit organizations that often do not disclose their donors. In the wake of this surge in campaign cash, some states are looking to reform their judicial elections to minimize the influence of campaign cash or at least shed some light on secret campaign contributions.
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