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Fair Districts backers aid justices

Posted Apr 20, 2012 by William March

Updated Apr 20, 2012 at 01:24 PM

With Florida’s legislative redistricting plans now before the state Supreme Court, proponents of the Florida Fair Districts Amendments are donating heavily to help three justices who may face conservative challenges in their merit retention elections in November.

The same conservative forces targeted two justices in 2010, resulting in comparatively narrow merit retention votes for the two, James Perry and Jorge LaBarga. They’re now targeting Fred Lewis,
Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente.

Pariente and Lewis are appointees of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, and Quince was appointed by agreement between Chiles and his Republican successor, Jeb Bush.

The three have raised unusual amounts of money for Florida judges in merit retention campaigns—$161,000 for Lewis, $158,000 for Pariente and $156,000 for Quince, as of March 31.

That included a maximum $500 each from the Miami law firm Freidin & Dobrinsky given on Feb. 27, just two days before the court heard arguments on the districting plans.

Phil Freidin of that firm is the husband of Ellen Freidin, who was head of the Fair Districts Florida campaign.

Peter Schorsch of St. Petersblog has crunched some numbers and figured out that about 80 donors who gave a total of $314,000 to the 2010 Fair Districts campaign have also contributed more than $90,000 to the three justices – about $30,000 for each justice.

The challenge to the justices is coming from Restore Justice 2012, a group headed by Orlando tea party activist Jesse Phillips and aided by former state Sen. Carey Baker of Eustis.

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