‘Clean elections’ makes top ten worst ideas list in Ariz.

The Phoenix New Times published its list of the “10 Worst Ideas of the Decade” over the holiday break, and — no surprise — Arizona’s system of taxpayer handouts to political candidates makes the list:

8. Clean Elections. Okay, so voters approved this “reform” in the late 90s. But it’s only in this decade that publicly funded elections have taken root here. And boy, have the results been lousy. Nearly $15 million in surcharges and court fees go into this fund every year — and the best we have to show for it are a bunch of morons down at the Capitol. Sigh.

A lawsuit challenging the system is still pending in federal court, but a judge has preliminarily ruled that the “rescue funds” provision of the program is unconstitutional. The Center for Competitive Politics filed an amicus brief in the case, McComish v. Bennett.

Filed Under: Blog, Arizona

Justice O’Connor against judicial democracy?

The New York Times published a pretty balanced story last month examining an effort by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and other judges to abolish judicial elections in favor of an appointment system.


Of course, O’Connor was elected as a county judge in 1975, and the process apparently never corrupted her. Justice O’Connor has often commented on the challenges and discrimination she faced as a pathbreaking woman in the profession. For that very reason it seems likely that the existence of judicial elections in Arizona gave her a better opportunity than relying on the entrenched establishment for an appointment. Indeed, she might never have become a U.S. Supreme Court justice if not for judicial elections launching her career as a jurist.

Filed Under: Blog, Arizona

The Big Bopper challenges San Diego campaign finance laws

Campaign finance super-lawyer James Bopp, Jr. filed a federal lawsuit just before Christmas, waging a multi-pronged challenge to the campaign finance laws of the city of San Diego.

Here’s the release, available on the website of the James Madison Center for Free Speech:

Last week, a coalition of plaintiffs asked a federal court to grant a preliminary injunction to keep  San Diego from enforcing campaign finance laws that violate the First Amendment.

Filed Under: Blog, California

Anecdotal consequences of Obama’s war on lobbyists

National Journal‘s Sara Jerome has a piece today detailing a new firm that has explicitly formed in response to the Obama Administrations broad regulations on the lobbying industry.

Citing what its founders call a “volatile climate for lobbyists,” K Street Research opened shop today in hopes of helping clients with policy and research needs while lowering their lobbying disclosure numbers…

“We don’t have to wear the ‘Scarlet L’ anymore,” Bonneville said. “A number of corporations have needs outside of lobbying and we wanted to exploit that.”

Maybe that’s what the Dec. 1 Congressional Research Service report, meant when it “concluded,” as National Journal columnist Eliza Newlin Carney writes, “that the administration’s restrictions ‘have already changed the relationship between lobbyists and covered executive branch officials.’”

Filed Under: Blog

You can’t square a circle

Brad’s latest post on National Journal‘s Under the Influence Experts’ blog, responding to the question, “What Will Be The Most Lobbied Issues In 2010?”:

I can’t say what will be the most lobbied issue, but I can say this — we will see more lobbying than ever before. Why? Because big government and big lobbying go hand in hand. The current administration and congressional majority are both eager to expand the size and scope of government. As these efforts move forward, many of the same organizations that generally favor this expansion of government — Common Cause, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, etc. — will release breathless reports about the need to further restrict lobbying and political speech through the use of … more government.

Read the whole thing here.

Filed Under: Blog

The Lonely Death of Public Campaign Financing

This Article argues that the game of reform, having been the victim of two major campaign finance decisions of the Roberts Court, is over. The Supreme Court’s decision in Davis v. FEC will prove to be fatal to most, if not all, asymmetrical public financing schemes, and the Court’s treatment of expenditures for issue advocacy announced in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL II) will leave most forms of independent expenditures beyond effective limitation. The combination may render public financing systems effectively futile. But the principles underlying WRTL II and Davis have a longstanding pedigree in that jurisprudence. Ultimately, expenditures differ from contributions. It is not the role of the state to level the political playing field. Recognizing the implication of these principles may remind us that democracy may be better served by competition than by control.

Filed Under: Faulty Assumptions, Research (Contribution Limits), Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Expenditure, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Expenditure, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns