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Update: Maggio's campaign funds linked to past defendant

Posted: March 11, 2014 - 7:50pm

Final p.m. update:

 

Campaign contributions recently reported by embattled Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio can be linked to a nursing home negligence defendant the judge dropped from a case last year. 

Michael Morton, who is president or stockholder in networks of dozens of nursing and rehabilitation centers in the south, was originally a defendant in the case of the estate of Martha Bull.

Bull died in Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which Morton owns, along with several other local centers, in what was considered to be a case of negligence that was linked to her death.

Maggio ruled over proceedings last year and greatly reduced the family's award from the jury from $5.2 million to $1 million, siding with the defense's motion to reduce the "excessive" figure on grounds the award was "so great that it shocks the conscience of the court."

Maggio’s ruling in favor of the remaining defendant in the Bull case, Central Arkansas Nursing Centers, the umbrella corporation over Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation that is also owned by Morton, came on July 11, 2013. 

Just three days before Maggio reduced the nursing home’s payout, six political action committees were formed with an initial sole contribution of $3,000 each that would eventually fund Maggio’s campaign for Court of Appeals. 

Behind the contributions are entities that can all be traced back to Morton using a financial interest disclosure statement Morton had to file after receiving a governor’s appointment to the Health Services Permit Commission, and other Secretary of State business reporting forms. 

Maggio reported in January and February of this year about $10,000 in contributions from Morton’s political action committees.

The reports (attached below) are included in Maggio's campaign finance documents filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State, along with expenditures and other documents pertaining to his campaign for Court of Appeals. 

The committees linked to Morton and listed as contributors to Maggio’s campaign are: Go Good Government PAC, Conservative Persons In PAC, Citizens for Information Technology PAC, Taxpayers for Change PAC, Thomas Group In PAC and Judicial Reform PAC.

All six of the political action committees were formed on July 8, three days before Maggio’s ruling reduced Morton’s payout, with the sole contribution of $3,000 given by entities linked to Morton. 

Go Good Government PAC's monetary contribution comes from Sherwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Inc., owned by Morton. 

Conservative Persons In PAC's monetary contribution comes from Michael Morton. 

Citizens for Information Technology PAC's monetary contribution comes from Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, owned by Morton. 

Thomas Group In PAC's monetary contribution comes from MSM Properties, Inc., owned by Morton. 

Judicial Reform PAC's monetary contribution comes from Quapaw Care and Rehabilitation Center, owned by Morton. 

Taxpayers for Change PAC's monetary contribution comes from Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Good Shepherd, LLC, owned by Morton. 

Money given to Maggio’s campaign from Go Good Government PAC reported in December is listed as $2,000, which Arkansas Code section 7-6-203 states is the maximum contribution that may be given by an individual or entity in one election cycle.

The PAC is listed again on Maggio’s reporting documents filed in January as contributing another $250, which would be considered in excess of the law.

Thomas Group In PAC is also listed as contributing another $250 in January after it was recorded in December that the group had given Maggio $2,000.

Arkansas Ethics Commission Director Graham Sloan explained, speaking in general terms, that an additional contribution reported after an entity reaches the $2,000 limit would be considered in excess of the campaign financing law.

The Ethics Commission found Maggio in violation of the same law in 2010, when a final action order fined the judge $500 and issued a warning when he took campaign funds as personal income and did not provide records for how the money was spent on his election for Circuit Court. 

The counselor for the family represented in the estate of Martha Bull, Thomas Buchanan, said Wednesday he has talked with his clients and has been authorized to look into possible new legal action. 

“We’re very concerned and we’re going to explore all avenues to make sure justice is truly done,” Buchanan said of the Bull case. “What’s troubling to me in general is that a lot of the public has lost confidence in our legislators due to corporate contributions and money coming from the rich and powerful.”

Buchanan said he believes the judiciary branch of the government is to act “impartially and fairly, without influence or the appearance of impropriety,” and said the recent reports are “concerning to me, to my clients, and it should be concerning to every individual.”

David Sachar, executive director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, the group investigating Maggio on a previous complaint, said he could not comment on if a complaint had been filed regarding Maggio’s recent reports of contributions linked to Morton. 

Maggio,  currently the Second Division circuit judge of the 20th Judicial District, formally left the race for Court of Appeals last week amid controversy over comments he made on an LSU fan forum website that revealed questionable stances on sex, race, and sexual orientation, and that alluded to celebrity actress Charlize Theron's sealed adoption proceedings in the court system where Maggio sits.

The story of the LSU fan forum postings was brought to light by www.bluehogreport.com.

Maggio did not return a telephone message seeking comment Tuesday evening. 

Michael Morton did not return a telephone message seeking comment Wednesday. Related documents: GO Good Government PAC Quarterly ReportCitizens for Judicial Reform PAC Quarterly ReportThomas Group In PAC Quarterly ReportCitizens for Information Technology PAC Quarterly ReportTaxpayers for Change PAC Quarterly ReportConservative Persons In PAC Quarterly ReportMichael Morton's Statement of Financial InterestMaggio's Campaign Contribution Report for JanuaryMaggio's Campaign Contribution Report for February   

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4hogfans
388
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4hogfans 03/11/14 - 08:17 pm
3
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Smart Move for Maggio

He should RESIGN NOW before all his trash is made public and his children humiliated further. He needs to pack his bags and head to LA which he thinks is the better place to live (and take his live-in girlfriend with him). Kudos to LCD for investigative reporting!

well....
656
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well.... 03/11/14 - 08:29 pm
5
2
Agree.....

Maggio needs to go.

But, don't give kudos to LCD for the investigation. Thank the Blue Hog Report. LCD's is leaving it up to others for their investigative reporting.

http://www.bluehogreport.com/2014/03/11/mike-maggios-conscience-offers-g...

4hogfans
388
Points
4hogfans 03/11/14 - 08:33 pm
4
5
Thanks!

I didn't realize that, thanks for setting it straight! After all their great reporting on the City Council's emergency expenditure, no other bids, way overpriced faulty tree, I should've known better than to think that!

Pinky and The Brain
15
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Pinky and The Brain 03/11/14 - 09:39 pm
1
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...And the rains came down and the floods came up...

...And the house on the sand went SPLAT!

Courtney Spradlin
3593
Points
Courtney Spradlin 03/11/14 - 09:57 pm
6
3
I want to set the record

I want to set the record straight that we had been following Maggio's campaign reporting since the Martha Bull case.
We also have the same source as Blue Hog and had already begun our report when it was brought to our attention that Mr. Campbell had written his.
We've spoken with him, and he confirmed this as well. He set the record straight on Twitter, so I'm sharing that here.

conwaygerl
5464
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conwaygerl 03/12/14 - 06:43 am
3
1
So

He confirmed you all were writing a report?

justoffcenter
729
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justoffcenter 03/12/14 - 08:51 am
1
3
If you knew...

Why wait for someone else to report the issue. This is unrelated to the comments made on line. Just the good ol' boy system and LDC watching who is out of favor before reporting.

Courtney Spradlin
3593
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Courtney Spradlin 03/12/14 - 10:15 am
6
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"Talk around the campfire" as

"Talk around the campfire" as Joe calls it, spurred me to call a certain person who we had talked with about this before. The pieces were finally connected thanks to the diligence of someone who cares. That person just doesn't want to be named, but I am thankful to them for working so long to find the connection. Good people out there.

conwaygerl
5464
Points
conwaygerl 03/12/14 - 03:09 pm
3
2
Is Joe

Going to take credit for bringing down Maggio single-handed? A la pranksters?

Courtney Spradlin
3593
Points
Courtney Spradlin 03/11/14 - 10:08 pm
7
1
Oh, and Blue Hog's doing

Oh, and Blue Hog's doing great work over there.

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