Ramsey gives $425K to anti-Supremes effort, justices top $1M in fundraising

Money race intensifies in battle over the bench

Three months after insisting he wouldn’t reach into his or others’ pockets to support a bid to unseat three Supreme Court justices, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey changed his mind and spent $425,000 on that political effort.

Ramsey, one of the state’s most powerful Republicans, contributed more than 95 percent of the funds the Tennessee Forum has raised to convince voters to replace three justices in this month’s primary election.

“I cannot in good conscience sit on the sidelines while Obama operatives distort the record of this liberal Supreme Court and attack the reputations of those who oppose them,” Ramsey said in an email to supporters Friday morning explaining why he’s getting financially involved.

Latest campaign finance figures show Ramsey’s political action committee, RAAMPAC, cut checks for $200,000 and $250,000 within a week of each other last month, giving the money to Tennessee Forum, a conservative group critical of the justices.

The forum raised almost $427,000 from July 1 to July 28, and close to $20,000 earlier in the year. Combined, Ramsey’s contribution amounts to 95 percent of the group’s funding to take out the justices.

Ramsey said in May he wasn’t planning to “raise a dime” for the campaign, but rather work to spread the message that justices should be replaced. 

“I’m just giving the information out there. I’m not making a contribution out of my PAC, I’m not making a contribution out of my campaign account. It’s up to other people to decide, ‘He’s got a good point here, let’s look into this and see what we want to do.’”

He told reporters at the time no campaign can succeed without money.

Ramsey has argued Justices Sharon Lee, Cornelia Clark and Chief Justice Wade, who were appointed by then Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen are soft on crime and bad for business, claims that often haven't withstood scrutiny.    

The justices have collectively raised over $1 million to defend themselves, largely from the legal community. Wade raked in $462,000 and Clark raised $295,500. Lee counts $305,400 after cutting herself an $18,000 check to help the campaign.