Corporations, Pro-Business Nonprofits Foot Bill for Judicial Seminars
In some instances judges rulings favored the donors in cases after the seminars.
Conservative foundations, multinational oil companies and a prescription drug maker were the most frequent sponsors of more than 100 expense-paid educational seminars attended by federal judges over a 4 1/2-year period, according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation.
Among the seminar titles were “The Moral Foundations of Capitalism,” “Corporations and the Limits of Criminal Law” and “Terrorism, Climate & Central Planning: Challenges to Liberty & the Rule of Law.”
Leading the list of sponsors of the 109 seminars identified by the Center were the conservative Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, The Searle Freedom Trust, also a supporter of conservative causes, ExxonMobil Corp., Shell Oil Co., pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and State Farm Insurance Cos. Each were sponsors of 54 seminars.
Other top sponsors included the conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (51), Dow Chemical Co. (47), AT&T Inc. (45) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (46), according to the Center’s analysis.
Sponsors pick up the cost of judges’ expenses, which often include air fare, hotel stays and meals. The seminars in the Center’s investigation took place from July 2008 through 2012.
The Center identified 185 federal district and appeals court judges who reported attending one or more of the seminars over the period, according to disclosure forms, or about 11 percent of the more than 1,700 federal judges in the United States.