The federal judge set to issue one of the first decisions on the Obama administration's health care law has financial ties to both the attorney general who is challenging the law and to a powerhouse conservative law firm whose clients include prominent Republican officials and critics of reform.
This week, District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson is likely to render a procedural verdict on the Virginia Attorney General's lawsuit which contends that the federal health care overhaul is unconstitutional. The Bush appointee has been hearing oral arguments in his Richmond courtroom dating back to March. His verdict could serve as an important template for more than a dozen other states following Virginia's lead.
But with power comes scrutiny. And as judgment day approaches, a Democratic source sends over judicial disclosure forms Hudson filed that could raise questions about his impartiality. From 2003 through 2008, Hudson has been receiving "dividends" from Campaign Solutions Inc., among other investments. In 2008, he reported income of between $5,000 and $15,000 from the firm. (Data from 2009 was not available at the Judicial Watch database.)
A powerhouse Republican online communications firm, Campaign Solutions, has done work for a host of prominent Republican clients and health care reform critics, including the RNC and NRCC (both of which have called, to varying degrees, for health care reform's repeal). The president of the firm, Becki Donatelli, is the wife of longtime GOP hand Frank Donatelli, and is an adviser toformer Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, among others.
Another firm client is Ken Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia and the man who is bringing the lawsuit in front of Hudson's court. In 2010, records show, Cuccinelli spent nearly $9,000 for Campaign Solutions services.
Campaign Solutions did not immediately return a request for information on the judge's relationship with the company.
The nexus between the chief lawyer and the judge spurs questions about judicial objectivity. At the very least, it shows how tightly connected the legal and political worlds can be and how difficult it is to remove the partisan threads from the heath care related lawsuits.
UPDATE: Campaign Solutions, Inc. sent over the following statement detailing Hudson's investment in the firm.
Judge Hudson has owned stock in Campaign Solutions going back 13 years to the founding of the company or well before he became a federal judge. Since joining the federal bench, he has fully disclosed his stock ownership in the company. He is a passive investor only, has no knowledge of the day to day operations of the firm, and has never discussed any aspect of the business with any official of the company.