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State of Mississippi

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Mississippi

Campaign Financing

Legislation passed in 1999 limited individual and PAC contributions to candidates for the supreme court and court of appeals to $5,000 and limited contributions to candidates for all other courts to $2,500. Contributions from corporations are capped at $1,000. The 1999 legislation also mandated more extensive disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures.

The campaign finance regulations enacted in 1999 have had little impact on money in judicial races. In 2000, ten candidates for four seats raised $3.4 million. The 2002 election saw the most expensive campaign in the state’s history for a single seat on the Mississippi Supreme Court, with three candidates raising $1.8 million. In addition, the 1999 legislation could not curb independent spending by special interest groups. In 2000, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent nearly $1 million on television advertising favoring four Mississippi Supreme Court candidates. Expenditures by trial lawyer groups brought the total in “soft” money in the 2000 judicial elections to an estimated $1.5 million. In the 2002 elections, the Chamber itself did not sponsor any advertisements, but some commentators speculate that it financed the more than $500,000 worth of television ads presented by a group called the Law Enforcement Alliance of America. Nine other groups also ran ads in 2002, most of them devoted to tort reform advocacy or opposition.

In 2002, the supreme court amended the code of judicial conduct to allow a party to file a motion to recuse a judge when an opposing party or attorney is a “major donor” to the judge’s election campaign. A “major donor” is defined as someone who, in the judge’s most recent election campaign, contributed more than $2,000 in the case of appellate judges or more than $1,000 for other judges.

See below for National Institute on Money in State Politics data on contributions to state high court candidates.

Amounts raised by each candidate at the most recent election cycle:

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