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Judicial Lobbying Raises Ethical Questions




Like a lot of ex-politicians, former Columbia, S.C. mayor Bob Coble has landed a sweet gig as a lobbyist – advocating on behalf of government-subsidized corporations like Boeing and taxpayer-funded agencies like the S.C. Judicial Department.

Which leads us to today’s story …

For those of you who haven’t been following the headlines, there’s a battle brewing at the S.C. State House between South Carolina’s chief justice Jean Toal (a.k.a. “Queen Jean”) and associate justice Costa Pleicones over the top spot on the Palmetto State’s highest court.

Toal had initially planned to step down and let Pleicones serve as chief justice briefly prior to his retirement, but then abruptly changed her mind.  Pleicones was livid – and immediately began laying the groundwork to challenge Toal.

In South Carolina, judges are elected by the S.C. General Assembly (which also hand picks the candidates).  And with lawmakers back in session this week, Toal has been furiously pressing the flesh in an effort to line up support.

At her side throughout this effort (and reportedly lobbying lawmakers directly on her behalf)?  Coble …

Which raises an interesting point: How exactly is Coble – a taxpayer-funded lobbyist on behalf of the entire judicial branch of government – able to lobby for one Supreme Court justice and against another?

Isn’t that unethical?

This website has repeatedly argued against taxpayer-funded lobbying, which perpetuates the growth of government and breeds corruption among bureaucrat and legislators.  The judicial branch of government – like any other state agency – should not employ taxpayer-funded lobbyists.

But if taxpayers are shelling out money so that one Supreme Court justice can troll for votes at the expense of another, that’s taking things to another level of shady …