Our friends at the Institute for Justice have produced this video explaining the twisted logic behind “clean elections” schemes in states such as Arizona, Maine and Florida:
IJ notes that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to hear their challenge to the systems Nov. 23. The court already prevented Arizona from distributing so-called matching funds to participating candidates in Arizona. The funds would have been doled out by the government to candidates based on the spending of their non-participating opponents and independent groups, punishing speakers by subsidizing their political opponents.
Arizona’s “Clean Elections” Act gives public money to politicians to run for office and squelches the free speech of independent groups, as well as candidates who choose to forgo taxpayer dollars and instead raise their own funds for their campaigns. For every dollar an independent group opposing a publicly financed candidate or a traditionally funded candidate spends above a certain amount, the government hands taxpayer dollars over to the publicly financed candidates in the race. This allows the government-subsidized candidate to “match” the spending-and thus the speech-of the independent group or privately funded candidate opposing him. The harder an independent group or traditionally financed candidate works, the more the government-subsidized candidate benefits. The Act curbs speech, discourages participation and limits what voters will hear about politics.
Institute for Justice President and General Counsel Chip Mellor warned, “Government funding of campaigns ultimately means government control over how much speech occurs in those campaigns. It is not the government’s place to decide which politicians should get a bigger megaphone. Under our Constitution, the public, and not the government, decides whose message is worth supporting.”