CCP files brief in Ariz. campaign finance case

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in McComish v. Bennett, the federal campaign finance case involving the constitutionality of Arizona’s taxpayer financing system for political candidates.

Federal judge Roslyn Silver ruled Arizona’s system of providing “matching funds” to candidates based on the speech of nonparticipating candidates and independent groups unconstitutional. The state appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which put the decision on hold while it considers the case. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 12.

“The matching funds provision of Arizona’s ‘clean elections’ program burdens the First Amendment rights of traditional candidates who decline to accept a government handout and instead wish to fully and freely exercise their First Amendment rights,” said CCP Vice President Steve Hoersting, who authored the brief. “They should be able to raise and spend campaign contributions without artificial caps or rewarding their opponents by speaking.”

The U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency motion by the Goldwater Institute to lift the stay on Judge Silver’s ruling, but the Court invited the Institute to re-file the emergency motion if the Ninth Circuit does not act by June 1. The state could begin handing out matching funds June 22.