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FTC Asks That Colorado Judge Who Donated to Federal Campaign Be Admonished

Image result for images judge william j martinezFix the Court is calling on the chief judge of the District of Colorado to admonish a colleague for donating to a U.S. Senate campaign.

According to an article last week in CQ Roll Call, the judge in question, William J. Martinez (right), donated $365 to the 2016 Senate campaign of Deborah Ross in North Carolina. Ross lost to Sen. Richard Burr that year and this November is running for a U.S. House seat against Rep. George Holding.

Canon 5(a)(3) of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges states that a federal judge may not “make a contribution to a political organization or candidate.”

The FTC letter points out that the other judge who was found by CQ to have given money to a federal candidate, Colin Bruce of the Central District of Illinois, has since been refunded his donation.

FTC is asking that Martinez do the same as Judge Bruce – i.e., try to get a refund – and, more importantly, commit to not donating to candidates in the future. Our letter to D. Colo. Chief Judge Philip Brimmer is below.

(You may recall that Brimmer sits on the Tenth Circuit Judicial Council, the very body that last year wrote the deeply misleading report on Judge Carlos Murguia’s harassment.)

Dear Chief Judge Brimmer,

My name is Gabe Roth, and I am the executive director of Fix the Court, a national nonpartisan organization that advocates for greater transparency in the federal judiciary.

According to a March 3, 2020, article in CQ Roll Call, Judge William Martinez of the District of Colorado and Judge Colin Bruce of the Central District of Illinois were found to have made donations to candidates for federal office in violation of Canon 5(a)(3) of the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges.

Judge Bruce has since been refunded for his donations to Sen. Richard Durbin, but Judge Martinez, to my knowledge, has not. According to the story, Judge Martinez donated $365 to Deborah Ross’ 2016 U.S. Senate campaign in North Carolina.

I understand there are ways to file a formal complaint under 28 U.S.C. §351, et seq., but I believe that this error calls for a more informal solution. I hope you will ask Judge Martinez to request a refund for the donations – Ross is now running for U.S. House so likely has retained some of her earlier campaign apparatus – with the all important confirmation that the judge not do this again.

I look forward to your thoughts in this matter.

Gabe Roth

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