Faulkner County Circuit Judge Mike Maggio is subject of another investigation by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, the group confirmed Monday.
David Sachar, CDDC executive director, said via email Monday that this investigation’s focus is on the “general allegations concerning campaign contributions to Circuit Judge Mike Maggio’s race for the Court of Appeals,” from which Maggio formally withdrew March 5.
The Second Division Judge of the 20th Judicial District left the race for the higher seat after the Commission launched an investigation into Maggio for his controversial comments made under the pseudonym “geauxjudge” on an LSU fan forum website about sex, race and sexual orientation, which were brought to light by bluehogreport.com, a blogging website.
One of the comments alluded to celebrity actress Charlize Theron’s sealed adoption proceedings in the court system where Maggio sits.
The investigation the Commission confirmed Monday focuses on Maggio’s campaign contributions, which include about $10,000 from six political action committees (PACs) that were funded by the defendant in a past nursing home negligence case.
A Faulkner County jury awarded the family of Martha Bull an impressive $5.2 million, but Maggio, ruling in favor of a defense motion, reduced the award to $1 million, saving the defendant $4.2 million.
The timing of the PACs, formed the day Maggio reviewed the ruling to greatly reduce the defendant’s payout, made them suspect.
The apparent one-time use PACs were not directly linked to the defendant, Central Arkansas Nursing Centers, owned by nursing home Tycoon Michael Morton, but were funded through entities Morton owns or claims financial interest.
The PACs were formed July 8 of last year, and Maggio ruled in favor of the defense on July 11.
The initial sole contributions would eventually fund Maggio’s campaign for Court of Appeals.
Bull’s family filed a complaint with the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Thursday, and an investigation into contributions was announced just two days later.
Bull died as a resident at Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in 2008 in what was found by a Faulkner County jury to be a case of negligence.
Another possible piece of the investigation announced Monday might be an excess of contributions from a single entity.
A review of Maggio’s January and February campaign contribution reports shows some of the PACs formed with Morton’s corporate donations gave more than what campaign finance law allows under Arkansas Code section 7-6-203.
Maggio was fined $500 and issued a warning for violating the same section in 2010, 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.
Sachar said Maggio will have full due process rights during the agency’s investigation.
Procedural rules of the JDDC will determine the timing of the events in this case, Sachar said, including when more information is released.
Sachar said his office does not anticipate issuing further public statement on the case until it concludes in dismissal, agreed resolution or public charges.
The Commission has the power to suspend, remove or involuntarily retire or censure judges.
For scope, the JDDC received 257 complaints in 2012 and disposed of 236.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)