Supreme Bribery

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It's a day that ends in Y this week, so someone must be getting indicted.

The Justice Department has charged former New York Supreme Court Justice Thomas Spargo with attempted extortion and federal program bribery.

According to the indictment, Spargo allegedly solicited $10,000 from a New York attorney who had cases before the court. Spargo was removed from office a few years ago for other indisgressions. The thing is, he got money in similar amounts when he was running for office--it just came in as campaign contributions.

According to an analysis of records at the New York Board of Elections, the "Friends of Thomas Spargo" committee raised nearly $80,000 in 2001 and 2002. While the attorney isn't named in the indictment, several of them gave campaign contributions to Spargo.

That's the problem with electing judges. It's hard to look the other way when the person standing before you donated money to your campaign. What is the general public supposed to think if a judge rules in favor of a campaign contributor?

As North Carolina has shown, there's a better way: public financing of judicial elections.