According to new reports, key players in Arkansas’s nursing home industry have donated tens of thousands of dollars to a number of Arkansas judges and judicial candidates in recent months. The Arkansas Times reported that substantial contributions were made to the campaigns of Rhonda Wood, Karen Barker, Robin Wynne, and Mike Maggio by people associated with the state’s nursing home industry.
Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Rhonda Wood is running unopposed for a seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court. According to her first campaign report, Judge Wood has received around $70,000 in campaign contributions from members of the nursing home industry. This accounts for over half of her total campaign funding. Similarly, Justice Karen Baker of the Arkansas Supreme Court, who is running unopposed for a second term, received $20,000 of a total $27,000 in campaign donations from the nursing home industry, per her first campaign report. Judge Robin Wynne’s Arkansas Supreme Court campaign has also received donations from the nursing home industry-two thirds of the donations listed in his first report came from the nursing home industry.
Circuit Judge Mike Maggio is another recipient of nursing home industry money. He received donations from seven political action committees (PACs) associated with the nursing home industry in December of 2013 and in January of this year. Interestingly, the particular PACs that donated to Maggio’s campaign are all linked to the same benefactor-Michael Morton. Morton is the same contributor who donated to the Wood, Baker, and Wynn campaigns. More interestingly, each of these seven PACs received a $3000 donation on July 8, 2013 from Michael Morton or a Morton-owned entity. July 8, 2013 also happened to be the day that Judge Maggio granted a motion for a remittitur hearing (which allows the judge to reduce an excessive jury verdict) in a case involving a $5.2 million verdict against a Morton-managed nursing home.
Mike Maggio has since withdrawn from the Court of Appeals race. His withdrawal was related to the publication of a number of homophobic, sexist, and racist comments posted by him on an online message board, as well as to his leaking of details concerning confidential adoption proceedings involving actress Charlize Theron. Since the allegations of improper campaign financing have come to light, Maggio’s circuit court caseload has been reassigned.
Based on the preceding stories, it seems that nursing home litigation plaintiffs might have a hard time finding a fair fight. The Higgins Firm is, however, committed to leveling the playing field. Our Nursing Home Litigation attorneys are dedicated to protecting the interests of nursing home abuse victims across the state.