WA: Senate bill would require judges to recuse from cases if they receive $50 in campaign contributions; House member wanted $1,000 threshold

I mentioned last fall a plan circulating by a Republican member of Washington House to require state supreme court justices recuse for receiving $1,000 in campaign contributions (news reports here). That effort came after the state’s supreme court ruled in a case involving charter schools; several members of the supreme court received campaign money from the Washington Education Association who was a plaintiff in the case.

Now it appears a modified version of the bill has been introduced with only a $50 threshold by 11 Senate Republicans including the Majority Leader joined with 1 Democrat.

SB 6255 as written would amend the section of Washington law (chapter RCW 2.64) dealing with the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Under the bill the Commission would be required to discipline any judge

  1. For failure to recuse when the judge finds out that a party, lawyer, or law firm gave $50 in the previous 3 years to the judge’s election.
  2. For failure to disclose any such $50 contributions. “The requirement to disclose shall continue from the time the judge begins a campaign until one hundred eighty days after the judge’s election.”

SB 6255 is set for a hearing this Thursday (Jan. 21)