The firm of a former Supreme Court justice who serves as co-chairman of Justice Barbara Pariente’s retention campaign has taken another case set to be heard by the high court. White & Case LLP, the law firm of former Justice Raoul Cantero, has signed up to represent the state in the appeal of a circuit court decision barring the state from requiring most state employees to contribute 3 percent of their income toward their retirement funds. Cantero argued for the Legislature in its defense of a second draft of state Senate maps, which were approved by the court, and is representing Florida Power & Light in a over how to pay for nuclear power plants. Cantero has said there is nothing wrong with representing clients and working for Pariente’s campaign at the same time.
Cantero may be jeopardizing Pariente’s retention bid, according to Jack Thompson, a reader who emailed me to say:
Put simply, Cantero, in bundling what is already $150,000 for Pariente, has thereby put himself under the microscrope as to whether he is trying to buy influence with her, which if shown would be worth more powerful in the efforts to oust her than any cash donated to any campaign to do so.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that if a state supreme court justice (or any state judge) gets money the purpose of which is to keep him/her in office, then that raises the question: Is that justice’s impartiality reasonably questioned in a case that brings before it those who gave the justice the money?
It is the case of Caperton v. Massey, and a fine discussion of it is found here at Wikipedia:
Cantero facilely states that there is no issue here. He says that because he knows there is, and he is quite afraid of it.
Pariente now, under Capterton, has to recuse herself from any case in which Cantero, who is the head of her well-funded retention campaign, is a part.
Follow the money: It leads, ironically, now to Pariente’s likely demise.