“I am asking for your help. It is my understanding that my opponent is spending over $75,000.00 to defeat me in this election. I am not in a position to do that. I am asking you to help me by circulating my name and website. I am glad to respond to any questions you may have, simply respond to this email.”
A blog from the trenches of those closely watching San Diego’s surprisingly dramatic judicial elections scheduled for June 3 has intercepted an email from Judge Lisa Schall showing Schall may have been caught flat-footed by the early momentum of an upstart challenger from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Carla Keehn. The email from Judge Schall herself indicates she’s hitting her personal and professional network–including apparently a raft of fellow government employees–to ask, not for votes, but money.
“Money. Votes. Same thing in politics” you might wisely respond. But not so fast. Judicial elections in San Diego County are rarely serious contests, and perhaps that explains why Lisa Schall’s campaign war chest is apparently unprepared. In the March 8, 2014 email quoted above from Schall to an anonymous mailing list of her own, Judge Schall casts her bid for favor. Her friends list must be quite impressive; $75,000 is not the kind of money just anyone is able to drop in the plate for a county judicial seat election. We sure couldn’t–seems like some malicious divorce attorneys and reckless judges took care of that for a lot of us. Pity. Maybe she can organize a cocktail reception near her office. Strike that–at her home. Driving and drinking can, well, no reason to beat a dead horse.
While it may be true that in America money and politics are frequent bedfellows, if you’re a regular in county courts this marriage might be a convenient quickie. While it’s understandable that Schall would have grown accustomed to the lack of accountability for her less-than-prudential discipline record, or relaxed by past voter apathy in cruising to unchallenged re-elections, it should be a bit disconcerting that her extended absence from voter accountability has sent her begging from her network for campaign dollars. Her email notes that she is hitting up friends who know her “professionally” and “socially.” In other words her friends and co-workers. Friends and co-workers, that is, who regularly appear in her court.
“What’s wrong with asking friends for campaign support?” those innocent enough to believe money wont’ influence a judge’s decision-making might ask. Not a thing wrong with it of course—influence is regularly bought and sold in America. Indeed we’ve recently established that it’s an American right to buy elections. In fact, if you’re a wise lawyer, you’d be thrilled to receive an email from Judge Schall asking for money–and would stupid not to respond with the obvious question right away: “Dear Lisa: (since we’re friends now), Where can I sent my check for a few thousand dollars please??!!” Money well-spent since you’ll know who to bring your victims—er—cases to next time you find yourself in Superior Court.
For the rest of us who don’t seek relief in court regularly, perhaps we don’t need to care. But just lets make sure we know who Lisa’s friends are. We wouldn’t want to cross anyone who knows her, or her friends, or her co-workers, or colleagues, or their friends. In fact, to be safe let’s just scratch off offending, crossing, challenging, or even not smiling as hard as we can toward anyone in government. Lisa’s scrounging for dollars today, but tomorrow she’ll have some favors to repay…
Elections work not only to get good ones in, but also to keep the bad ones out, and the rest in suspense should their name be next.
We say San Diego Superior Court deserves a replacement apple and a good suspense novel. Send them what they need–a very short suspense novel on a very short one page ballot on June 3, 2014–a page-turner they’ll be remembering for many years to come.