A Justice for Sale in Austin?

A Republican candidate for the Third Court of Appeals in Austin is stretching what are traditionally considered the limits for appropriate campaigning.  Mike Toth a card carrying Tea Party member and protégé of embattled AG Ken Paxton is embracing Donald Trump and conservative identity politics in his campaign for a seat on the influential Austin Court of Appeals.  Despite being in Austin, the Court is firmly in Republican hands because it covers a 28 county area stretching all the way to San Angelo.  Toth is also accepting contributions in excess of the standard $5000 limit.  Judicial candidates in Texas typically pledge to not accept contributions over $5000 as anything more than that gives the appearance of buying justice.  Toth is apparently blowing through that limit and accepting gifts of money for the education of his children from a Florida lawyer, as well as embracing our Realty TV Show President.  The Texas Tribune has more.

Candidate Michael Toth, a special counsel in the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton, has pulled in $151,000 so far in the 3rd Court of Appeals GOP primary contest, and more than a third of it comes from out of state, records show.

[O]ne of Toth’s major non-Texas donors, former hedge fund manager John Thaler of Greenwich, Connecticut, has notified the Texas Ethics Commission that he plans to exceed a $5,000 expenditure cap the candidates agreed to; that allows Toth’s opponents to ignore donation and expenditure limits.

Toth isn’t shy about touting his Tea Party bonafides and running on the same issues that non-judicial candidates use to attract Republican primary voters. In one mailer, Toth brags that he fought for “tougher border security, defended President Trump’s travel ban, sued to crack down on sanctuary cities” and “supported extreme vetting of refugees.”

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Tom Phillips, a Republican, said he’d “never seen anything quite like” the mailer Toth sent out.

“I’m concerned anytime a judicial candidate suggests, even indirectly, that his or her election will lead to a particular policy outcome,” Phillips said. “To conduct a campaign based on your view of hot-button political issues confuses rather than than enlightens the electorate.”

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