Just two days before the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments over the legislative redistricting maps enacted by the Legislature, the law firm of Freidin & Dobrinsky donated the maximum allowable contribution of $500 to three Supreme Court justices, Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. The contributions from Freidin & Dobrinsky follow a pattern of major donors to the Fair Districts effort contributing heavily to the retention efforts of Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince.
The name Freidin of Freidin & Dobrinsky may sound to those who have followed the debate over redistricting?
That’s because it’s the same last name of Ellen Freidin, the chairwoman of Fair Districts Now, the organization that championed the redistricting amendments at the heart of the issue that was before the Supreme Court on Feb. 29 — two days after the contributions were made to the Supreme Court justices.
Ellen Freidin is married to Phillip Freidin, the name partner of Freidin & Dobrinsky.
Justices Lewis, Pariente and Peggy Quince face merit retention this November, a process by which voters decide in a yes or no vote if they should remain on the bench. Each of the justices was appointed by former Gov. Lawton Chiles (Quince was co-appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush).
The fundraising efforts of the Supreme Court justices up for retention are facing increased scrutiny this election cycle as they face “being targeted by opposition groups that swoop in with last-minute campaigns attempting to oust them from the bench.”
Receiving campaign checks from law firms connected to one of the most high-profile cases before the Court is certainly one way to bring further scrutiny to the political activity of the supposedly impartial justices.
In fact, a review of the fundraising reports of Fair Districts Now and those of Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince show considerable overlap in terms of who is donating to the redistricting effort and the justices who will determine the fate of the issue.
Donors who contributed as much as $30,250 to Justice Lewis, $31,250 to Justice Pariente and $31,650 to Justice Quince also contributed $314,188 to Fair Districts Now, which is not bound by the same campaign finance limitations as the justices’ retention efforts.
A complete listing of the donors who have contributed to both Fair Districts Now and the retention campaigns of Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince can be found below.
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Material from the Miami Herald was used in this report.