Federal District Court Judge Rudolph Randa, who recently ruled that the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v FEC decision invalidated a Wisconsin John Doe investigation into illegal campaign coordination, is a frequent recipient of all-expenses paid “judicial junkets” funded by right wing organizations, including the Charles G. Koch Foundation.
An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. (The 2013 disclosure form has been requested but has not yet been publicly posted).
The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical. Many of these interests have long opposed limits on money in politics, although it is not known whether campaign finance reform was a topic at the seminars Randa attended.
The seminars amount to a privately-funded all-expenses paid trip for judges, with conference sponsors picking up the costs of a judge’s flights, hotel rooms, and meals. One seminar Judge Randa attended was in La Jolla, California, a swanky San Diego suburb that is home to both great golfing and Mitt Romney; the location of other seminars Randa attended is unknown. The content of the seminars has a decidedly pro-corporate bent, and the expensive gifts raise concerns about improper influence when corporate sponsors have a stake in a case before a judge. (Some reports have directly connected the trips to judge’s decisions).
No other federal district judges in Wisconsin attended the privately-funded George Mason seminars, according to the Center for Media and Democracy’s review of publicly available financial disclosure documents.
Of course, the whole point of giving federal judges so many nice trips, and indoctrinating them in so much corporate propaganda, is so that they will tend to render exactly these kinds of verdicts. If you think that Judge Randa’s decisions do not represent a long-term strategy by the right, then you have not been paying attention.