From the Washington Post -
The Supreme Court yesterday ruled for the first time that excessive campaign contributions to a judge create an unconstitutional threat to a fair trial, a decision that could have a nationwide impact on whether judges must recuse themselves in cases involving their political benefactors.
The case in question is Caperton v. Massey. West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin didn't recuse himself from a case involving Massey Coal, a company owned by someone who contributed $3 million to the judge's election campaign.
The judge, and the WV Supremes Court, overturned a $50 million judgement against the contributor's company.
That raised a few eyebrows (Really?? But why?? :) )
Now, the case above doesn't seem to apply directly to the Keegan/Mecum situation, as least it isn't as spectacularly lucrative for Keegan, but there are some similarities -
- Keegan is a partisanly elected public official who's married to Lisa Graham Keegan, a well-connected GOP official/candidate/operative;
- Mecum is Executive Director of the Arizona Republican Party;
- and just in his last campaign, Keegan accepted contributions from Paul Senseman (longtime Republican operative and current spokesman for Governor Jan Brewer) and Stan Barnes (President of Copperstate Consulting, a Republican lobbying firm).
Given the dynamics of the Mecum case, Keegan should have considered kicking the case up to a court overseen by a non-elected judge, if only to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
I'm not saying that Keegan showed favoritism to Mecum in this case, because Keegan is noted for, correctly or not, dismissing all similarly-issued photo citations.
Those dismissals may be incorrect (I'm not a legal scholar, so I can't even make a guess there), but he is consistent.
For all that, it still looks bad (you know, "appears to be improper"). Keegan should have recused himself from the case.
Especially in light of today's U.S. Supreme Court decision.