Kentucky Circuit Judge Daniel Ballou, of Williamsburg, has been charged with contributing money to John McCainâ€™s campaign and sending out information relating to the candidacy of U.S. Sen. Rand Paulâ€”both alleged violations of judicial canons.
The canons say that a judge must refrain from inappropriate political activity, including soliciting funds or making contributions to a candidate or publicly endorsing a candidate.
In papers released last week, the Judicial Conduct Commission said that Ballou had contributed $562 to McCainâ€™s campaign and sent an email in January 2010 about Rand Paulâ€™s stance on the Second Amendment. The email was sent to dozens of people, including other judges.
In his defense, Ballou said that he bought several items with McCainâ€™s likeness on the Internet. He didnâ€™t know the purchases would be considered a donation, he said in court documents released by the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The e-mail, he said, was informational and not endorsing a stance. He wrote that he forwarded the e-mail â€œfrom his personal computer to a limited number of fellow judges, none of whom could be reasonably expected to be subject to improper political persuasion or influence.â€
Ballou also argued that he has a First Amendment right to express his opinion. No hearing date has been set.
Ballou is a colorful figure who was deployed to Iraq as a Marine shortly after being elected to the bench in 2007. In one case, two alleged burglars appeared in his courtroom, accused of stealing from the county office building. One of the stolen items was a pocket knife that said Marines that he had given to his wife, a parole officer, who worked there. He exploded when they appeared in his courtroom and said he couldnâ€™t hear the case and asked for his knife back.
Ballou said he bought the McCain souvenirs when he was in Iraq. His wife, Angela, was a county chair for Rand Paulâ€™s campaign.