In 1998, Arizona enacted the “Clean Elections Act” via ballot initiative. The law is a statewide tax financing program for political candidates. This case challenges the “matching funds” aspect of the Act. Under “matching funds,” a candidate who opts into the tax financing system will receive extra government subsidies if they face a privately-funded opponent who spends beyond a certain “trigger.” Independent spending in a race outside the control of candidates also triggers additional government subsidies.
Petitioners challenge the case under Davis v. Federal Election Commission, where the Supreme Court held that campaign finance schemes designed to level the playing field between candidates did not serve a compelling state interest.