Background

 

The Judicial Confirmation Network Was Founded In 2004 As A “Judicial Advocacy Outfit” And Drummed Up Support For Eventual Supreme Court Justices John Roberts And Samuel Alito Jr. According to Open Secrets, “As it happened, the bash coincided with the birth of a new judicial advocacy outfit that Corkery was instrumental in launching, and Arkley in funding, according to conservative sources familiar with the events. The Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN), set up as a 501(c)(4) ‘social welfare’ group that doesn’t disclose its donors, would prove to be a crucial player in drumming up support for Bush Supreme Court nominees John Roberts Jr. and Samuel Alito Jr. — eventual allies for Scalia on the Court’s right flank.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

After President Obama Was Elected The Group Changed Its Name To The Judicial Crisis Network. According to Open Secrets, “In the years since, JCN’s modus operandi and battlegrounds have shifted — particularly since Barack Obama won the White House, which prompted the group to sound the alarm and change its name to the Judicial Crisis Network.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

The JCN “Fought To Block Obama’s Nominees” And “Spent Millions To Sway State Judicial And Attorneys General Races” To Uphold Conservative Backed Laws. According to Open Secrets, “In the ensuing years, not only has it fought to block Obama’s nominees to the high court, but it has spent millions to sway state judicial elections and attorneys general races, helping to uphold state laws backed by conservatives, nurture like-minded talent in the states, and advance pro-business, limited-government legal agendas aligned with its donors’ leanings.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

Prior To The Obama Election, JCN Ran A Campaign “Calling On Senators To Oppose The Obstruction Of Judicial Nominees, To Denounce The ‘Fear And Smear’ Campaigns Led By Extremist Groups Against Nominees, And Recognize The Right Of Every Nominee Sent To The Full Senate To Receive A Full And Fair Up-Or-Down Vote.” According to a press release from the Judicial Confirmation Network, “Additionally, JCN will be releasing an “Enough is Enough JCN Activist Tool Kit” and membership drive via e-mail that includes: […] 3. An online petition calling on Senators to oppose the obstruction of judicial nominees, to denounce the “fear and smear” campaigns led by extremist groups against nominees, and recognize the right of every nominee sent to the full Senate to receive a full and fair up-or-down vote.” [Judicial Confirmation Network Press Release, 10/1/08]

 

Koch Connection

 

JCN Relied On Funding, Totaling Nearly $4 Million, From The Koch Founded Wellspring Committee. According to Open Secrets, “To fill its own coffers, JCN has increasingly relied on funding — to the tune of nearly $4 million, according to IRS documents — from another non-disclosing group, the Wellspring Committee, that’s run by Corkery and was founded seven years ago with the help of conservative donors in the network led by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Corkery’s entree to that rarefied network came via JCN supporter Arkley, an early attendee of their famed retreats. And Ann Corkery and her husband, Neil — who is JCN’s treasurer — are central figures in a cluster of other nonprofits, IRS filings show.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

  • Wellspring Contributed More Than $3.6 Million To JCN From 2010 – 2012. According to Open Secrets, “In 2010, Wellspring began sending money directly to JCN, giving it and a related organization, the Judicial Education Project, $400,000; an additional $306,000 came in 2011, then $1.5 million in 2012 and $1.4 million the next year.”

JCN Founder Ann Corkey And Key Underwriter Robin Arkley Went To Fundraising And Policy Retreats Held By The Koch Brothers. According to Open Secrets, “Robin Arkley, the president and CEO of Security National Corp. who had tapped Corkery to be his political liaison and senior advisor, became a key underwriter of JCN’s operations, to the tune of the high six or low seven figures, sources say. The pair went to some of the early fundraising and policy retreats held by the Kochs — events that now draw a glittering cast of wealthy allies and conservative stars to raise millions for the brothers’ network of politically active groups. Arkley was also a financial backer of the Federalist Society.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

In 2008, Corkey Was Given Control Of The Wellspring Committee, A “Dark Money Conduit That Began Pumping Funds To Other Dark Money Koch-Backed Groups Like Americans For Prosperity.” According to Open Secrets, “Corkery had a breakthrough year in 2008. Koch operatives gave her the reins to their fledgling Wellspring Committee, a dark money conduit that began pumping funds to other dark money Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity. At the same time, Corkery served as a finance vice chair for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

The American Future Fund “Received $750,000 From The Judicial Crisis Network,” And “Promptly Gave $670,000 To The Republican Attorneys General Association.” According to the Huffington Post, “In Iowa, the American Future Fund continues to operate as a front for whomever has the funds. It received $750,000 from the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group promoting a right-wing judiciary and supporting Republican candidates in state attorney general races, and promptly gave $670,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, according to IRS documents.” [Huffington Post, 9/12/14]

 

JCN Ran Ads Urging The Senate To Block Obama’s Nomination Of A Supreme Court Justice

 

USA Today: “The Conservative Judicial Crisis Network Announced… That It Is Spending At Least $1 Million On A Radio, TV And Digital Advertising Campaign That Urges The Senate To Block Anyone President Obama Nominates” To The Supreme Court. According to USA Today, “The conservative Judicial Crisis Network announced Thursday that it is spending at least $1 million on a radio, TV and digital advertising campaign that urges the Senate to block anyone President Obama nominates to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death last week has roiled the political world.” [USAToday, 2/18/16]

The Ad Praised Senators Including Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, And Rob Portman “Who Have Sided With Top Republicans And Say The Vacancy Should Be Filled By The Next President.” According to USA Today, “The campaign, dubbed ‘Let the People Decide,’ praises several senators who have sided with top Republicans and say the vacancy should be filled by the next president. Among them: Republicans facing tough re-election fights this year in battleground states, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.” [USA Today, 2/18/16]

The Ads Additionally Targeted Sens. John McCain, Pat Toomey, And Chuck Grassley & Ran In The Senators’ Home Markets And In Washington, DC. According to the Washington Post, “The members targeted are Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John McCain (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Pat Toomey (Pa.). A 30-second television ad titled ‘Let the People Decide’ will run in Washington, D.C. during the Sunday political talk shows and in senators’ home media markets, the group announced. The ad buy includes radio and digital campaigns in addition to TV content.” [Washington Post, 2/18/16]

Organizations

 

Republican Attorneys General Association

 

2014: JCN Contributed $1 Million In Secret Money To The Republican Attorneys General Association And Became Its Third-Biggest Contributor. According to Open Secrets, “JCN heightened its focus on AG races last year when it pumped $1 million in secret money into the Republican Attorneys General Association, making it the third-biggest contributor to RAGA and helping the GOP pick up three new slots so that it now controls the majority of state AG posts.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

 

Republican State Leadership Committee

 

Over Two Years, JCN Contributed A Minimum Of About $2 Million To Groups Involved In 2014 State Judicial Elections Including The Republican State Leadership Committee. According to Open Secrets, “And over the last two years, the organization contributed a minimum of about $2 million to groups that were involved in 2014 state judicial elections and efforts to influence how judges are chosen. Recipients of JCN checks included the many-tentacled Republican State Leadership Committee, which for the first time invested in court races around the country, spending more on them than any other outside group.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

 

Attorney Generals

 

JCN Policy Director And Chief Counsel Carrie Severino: Attorney Generals Are “Emerging As Key Leaders In The Battle For Limited Constitutional Government.” According to Open Secrets, “State attorneys general had been moving higher on JCN’s political radar. Policy director and chief counsel Carrie Severino, who succeeded Wendy Long as JCN’s counsel in 2010 and, like her, once clerked for Justice Thomas, wrote in National Review right before the 2012 elections that conservative AGs are ‘emerging as key leaders in the battle for limited constitutional government.’ Many of them, she noted, had joined the challenge to Obamacare, and a number were also fighting the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul and EPA regulations.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

  • JCN Policy Director And Chief Counsel Carrie Severino: Attorney Generals Are “Emerging As Key Leaders In The Battle For Limited Constitutional Government.” According to an op-ed by JCN Policy Director And Chief Counsel Carrie Severino for the National Review, “In short, one can argue that conservative AGs are emerging as key leaders in the battle for limited, constitutional government.” [Carrie Severino – National Review, 10/6/12]

2014: JCN Contributed $1 Million In Secret Money To The Republican Attorneys General Association And Became Its Third-Biggest Contributor. According to Open Secrets, “JCN heightened its focus on AG races last year when it pumped $1 million in secret money into the Republican Attorneys General Association, making it the third-biggest contributor to RAGA and helping the GOP pick up three new slots so that it now controls the majority of state AG posts.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

JCN Sent $750,000 To American Future Fund, Which Started Its Own Attorney General Project Between 2012 – 2013, And AFF In Turn Sent $680,000 To The Republican Attorney General Association. According to Open Secrets, “On top of that, JCN sent $750,000 to the Iowa-based American Future Fund, which started its own AG project between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, tax filings show — JCN’s largest grant of that fiscal year. In turn, AFF chipped in $680,000 to RAGA last year.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

 

Michigan

 

2012: JCN Contributed More Than $2 Million On Michigan Court Races. According to Open Secrets, “JCN’s pivotal part in the surge of spending on court elections has received scant attention. But in 2012, it dished out more than $2 million in court races in Michigan alone — half of that in a single down-ticket state circuit contest, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

  • About Half The Money Went To Defeating Bridget McCormack And Included An Ad Accusing McCormack Of Volunteering To Represent Terrorists. According to Open Secrets, “While turning, and keeping, the Wisconsin court conservative was a high priority for JCN and others on the right, the group didn’t spend much cash there directly. But the opposite was true in neighboring Michigan, where JCN laid out more than $2 million on two 2012 court races. About half the money went to an effort to keep law professor Bridget McCormack from sitting on the state Supreme Court, including a last-minute ad accusing McCormack of volunteering to represent terrorists, featuring the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. (McCormack did volunteer one of her law school clinics to represent a Guantanamo detainee, though he was released before the students communicated with him.)” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]
  • JCN Spent $1 Million On Unseating Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Phyllis McMillen. According to Open Secrets, “The other $1 million, though, was spent attempting to kick an Oakland County Circuit Court judge off the bench — and JCN’s spending in that race was matched by Americans for Job Security, which had earlier benefited from Wellspring largesse. Such staggering spending on a lower court contest may be unprecedented, and it was far from clear why the groups were interested. One possible explanation: a funder with an ax to grind. […] A 2012 case before Circuit Judge Phyllis McMillen may shed light on the origins of the campaign against her. [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]
  • McCormack Is Now A Supreme Court Justice And McMillen Won Her 2012 Contest. According to Open Secrets, “In any case, JCN’s Wolverine State crusades didn’t work out too well. McCormack is now a Supreme Court justice and McMillen won her contest, too. In early 2013, she ruled against Bhargava.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

 

Tennessee

 

2013 – 2014: JCN Gave $528,000 To Organizations That Spent Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars On Judicial Elections In Wisconsin And Tennessee. According to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice, “The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group originally founded to support President George W. Bush’s U.S. Supreme Court nominees, with reported financial ties to the Koch brothers, and whose founders also played prominent roles in the influential conservative legal association The Federalist Society. The Judicial Crisis Network gave $528,000 to organizations that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on judicial elections in Wisconsin and Tennessee.” [Brennan Center for Justice – New Politics of Judicial Elections, 10/15]

 

Wisconsin

 

The Judicial Crisis Network Has Contributed At Least $900,000 To The Wisconsin Club For Growth

 

JCN Contributed More Than $500,000 To Wisconsin Club For Growth From 2012 – 2013. According to Open Secrets, “Wisconsin Club for Growth was also aided by JCN to the tune of more than half-a-million dollars from mid-2012 to mid-2013 as JCN began to function as a dark money conduit like Wellspring.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

2011: JCN Contributed $400,000 To The Wisconsin Club For Growth And Helped Insure The State’s Shift To A Conservative Supreme Court Majority. According to Open Secrets, “Big grants also went to other organizations playing in judicial politics — including $400,000 in 2011 for Wisconsin Club for Growth, a major actor in that state’s shift to a conservative Supreme Court majority.” [OpenSecrets.org, 3/23/15]

View Financial Record
#
Year
Assets
Revenue
Grants In
Grants Out
Total Expenses
Link
12013$40,752$4,990,000$4,990,000$2,979,000$5,486,556View 990
22012$537,308$800,000$800,000$239,000$490,848View 990
32011$228,156$382,453$382,453$0$448,819View 990
42010$294,522$410,350$410,350$0$867,633View 990
52009$751,806$2,099,199$2,098,605$0$1,405,553View 990
62008$58,160$100,000$100,000$80,000$98,069View 990
72007$99,600$111,000$111,000$0$61,200View 990
82006$9,681$670,340$670,340$0$673,187View 990
92005$12,528$827,106$827,170$0$814,642View 990

13 transactions on record as a donor.

Ordered By: Year (Newer to Older)

#
Donor
Recipient
Amount
Year
Link
1Judicial Crisis NetworkMI State Republican Party$500,0002013+
2Judicial Crisis NetworkState Govt Leadership Foundation$281,0002013+
3Judicial Crisis NetworkAmerican Future Fund$750,0002013+
4Judicial Crisis NetworkRepublican State Leadership Committee$225,0002013+
5Judicial Crisis NetworkConservative Leadership Project$100,0002013+
6Judicial Crisis NetworkWisconsin Club For Growth$503,0002013+
7Judicial Crisis NetworkBetter Courts Missouri$170,0002013+
8Judicial Crisis NetworkKansas Legislative Ed & Res$5,0002013+
9Judicial Crisis NetworkMain Street Growth Project$300,0002013+
10Judicial Crisis NetworkTN for Economic Opportunity$70,0002013+
11Judicial Crisis NetworkCivitas Action$75,0002013+
12Judicial Crisis NetworkBetter Courts Missouri$215,0002012+
13Judicial Crisis NetworkFamily Action of Tennessee$24,0002012+
Contributions from private foundations and other nonprofit entities are based on a review of publicly available Forms 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service. For more information about our methodology, visit our about page.