W.Va. court hears 'rescue' funding arguments

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Whether West Virginia Supreme Court candidate Allen Loughry receives additional public funds for his campaign hinges on whether the U.S. Supreme Court sees a difference between elections for the judiciary and races for other political posts, the state court was told during a hearing Tuesday.

Adam Skaggs, lawyer for the Republican hopeful, argued that legislative and executive branch officeholders are expected to favor agendas and interest groups that helped them win. But judges are supposed to harbor no bias, and West Virginia created the public financing pilot program amid concerns about campaign cash influencing the judiciary, said Skaggs, an official with the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school.

"The state has compelling interests in the context of judicial elections that are absent from any other type of election," Skaggs told the court.

The point is crucial to Loughry's pursuit of "rescue" funds, normally triggered by spending by a traditionally financed candidate or outside group. With two, 12-year terms up on the court this year, Loughry alone among the four Supreme Court candidates has sought and received funding through the pilot program. Provided $350,000 for the general election, Loughry is seeking another $144,500 or so in matching funds.

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