Watch John Oliver Tackle One Of the Biggest—And Least Talked About—Problems in US Politics

“When you have a system where judges are serenaded with banjos…you have a problem.”


On Sunday, HBO’s John Oliver took aim at one of American politics’ biggest—and least talked about—problems: judicial elections. As the Last Week Tonight host points out, putting judges in the position of soliciting campaign donations—often from people who may appear in their courtrooms—greatly reduces the appearance of impartiality (at best), and stacks the deck in favor of those with more money (at worst).

Mother Jones examined this issue in depth last fall, discovering that judges themselves aren’t all that thrilled that spending on judicial elections has more than doubled over the last two decades, with much of that growth in form of often unaccountable outside spending.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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