Newly-elected Madison County judge told to repay “improper” campaign contribution

Judicial committee found donation violated Code of Judicial Conduct, state law

Newly-elected Madison County judge told to repay “improper” campaign contribution
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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Documents obtained by 3 On Your Side show two Madison County judges involved in improper campaign contributions from the November election.

The documents show nearly $19,000 passed from a sitting judge to a candidate for judge as a campaign contribution.

Campaign finance documents from the Secretary of State’s office show the Committee to Elect William E. Chapman, III donated $18,814.20 to the Friends of Dewey Arthur committee on October 5.

That committee failed to mention receiving the donation in two campaign finance filings until the November 1 report, which was filed one week late.

That delay means state election officials didn’t know about the contribution until one month after it was made.

While Jackson Jambalaya first broke news of the improper donation, 3 On Your Side first learned of Arthur failing to make campaign finance deadlines nearly a month ago.

Chapman serves as the incumbent circuit court judge for the 20th district who decided not to seek re-election.

Arthur ran to fill Chapman’s seat -- and won.

The Special Committee on Judicial Campaign Intervention addressed the issue and, while members didn’t disclose the names of the judges involved, the campaign contribution mentioned in the committee’s report matches the exact amount Chapman’s group gave.

The Special Committee states both judges violated the Code of Judicial Conduct: Chapman for making the contribution because it’s considered engaging “in political activity," Arthur for accepting a contribution from the committee of another judicial candidate.

The committee also said the two judges violated state law because the amount exceeds Mississippi’s campaign contribution limit. In this case, that limit would be $2,500 for a circuit court judge’s race, according to statute.

Friends of Dewey Arthur responded to that claim by the Special Committee, saying Chapman’s contribution “was not governed by those limits because it was not from an individual, political action committee or a corporation.”

While the Special Committee admits it doesn’t have jurisdiction over Chapman, it plans to report this case to the Commission on Judicial Performance for further consideration.

In addition, the Special Committee said Arthur’s committee must pay the $18,814 donation back to Chapman by January 15.

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