Two big names among Supreme Court contributors

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Novelist John Grisham may be the most famous contributor to this year’s Supreme Court race in north Mississippi.
But Koch Industries Inc., one of the nation’s largest companies, may be the most famous political player in the race.
Grisham, originally a Southaven attorney and former Oxford resident, lives in Virginia and gave $5,000 to the campaign of Flip Phillips of Batesville.
Phillips’ opponent, Josiah Coleman, received $1,000 from Kansas-based Koch, the largest privately owned energy company in the U.S. Its owners – brothers Charles and David Koch – are widely recognized as major financial supporters of the Tea Party.
Phillips, 65, and 39-year-old Oxford attorney Coleman square off Nov. 6 for the seat being vacated when Justice George Carlson retires at year’s end.
Both campaigns filed their final pre-election financial reports Tuesday.
With less than a week to go, Coleman reports raising a total $252,047 with $21,646 on hand, while Phillips raised $415,031 and reports $31,527 cash.
In the past two weeks, the race’s television and radio ads have increased in more biting tones:
• A Virginia-based group continues to slam Phillips as likely to enrich “his greedy trial lawyer friends,” if he wins.
• Phillips counters, calling that ad “a lie,” and urges voters “to defeat the special interests” by voting for him.
The Phillips campaign also launched another new ad comparing his 40-year legal career and community service to Coleman, whom it says “never tried a case” in court.
Coleman admits he’s never been the lead attorney on a case, but says “I have tried cases” and points to his 13-year experience in research and brief writing.
His ads tout his view that judges should not make law.
Coleman’s latest financial report lists 98 contributors with few occupation descriptions, although some are recognizable as business- or medical-related.
He also continues to rely on political action committees.
Phillips’ report shows 87 contributions, 68 from lawyers, although previous reports reflect more balance from business and financial industry contributors.
The full extent of spending isn’t likely to be known, even after the candidates’ final reports in January.
Campaign disclosure laws for outside interest groups are still murky and enforcement is spotty for political committees or nonprofit 501(c)3 issues groups advocating for or against candidates.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com