Tax Financed Campaigns Federal

New studies detail failings of Citizens’ Election Program

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) released preliminary results of a study today showing that state legislators who accepted taxpayer funds for their campaigns in 2008 did not reduce their pattern of voting with interest groups after the program was implemented. In many cases, lawmakers voted more often with the most powerful lobbying groups in Connecticut.

The Connecticut legislature is examining changes to the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) after a federal court ruled the program unconstitutional. Backers of the CEP offered several rationales for pushing the program, prominently claiming that the system limited the influence of interest groups.

“The only ‘fix’ that legislators should impose on the Citizens’ Election Program is its dismantling,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Taxpayer financed campaigns have failed to mute the influence of interest groups in Connecticut and research across the spectrum shows that politicians are raising money from the same people as before.”

In the report, “Meet the New Legislature, Same as the Old Legislature,” CCP studied the voting records of 121 state representatives and senators who served in the 2007-2008 legislature, participated in the CEP in 2008, and served in the 2009 legislature. CCP compared their records to the legislative positions of four interest groups; The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), Connecticut Hospital Association, and the Connecticut Association of Health Plans. Each of these groups has ranked among the top ten in lobbying expenditures in the past three years.

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CCP files brief in Conn. taxpayer financed campaigns case

The Center for Competitive Politics has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with a federal appeals court in a challenge to Connecticut’s taxpayer financed campaigns system.

A federal judge ruled in August that the program discriminated against minor parties and infringed on the free speech rights of non-participating candidates. The ruling is stayed pending the state’s appeal

“Government does not further the interests of the First Amendment by razing the speech of some to amplify the voices of others,” said Center for Competitive Politics attorney Benjamin Barr, the brief’s author. “Connecticut’s innovative, but flawed, system of campaign finance reform runs head-on against the protection of the First Amendment, itself being historically hostile to any content-based regulation of speech.”

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CCP files lawsuit challenging Wis. taxpayer financed judicial campaigns

Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Randy Koschnick filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s recently passed bill enacting taxpayer funded campaigns for state Supreme Court.

Koschnick is represented by James R. Troupis of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP and Stephen M. Hoersting of the Center for Competitive Politics. The case is Koschnick v. Doyle, 3:09-cv-00767.

“Schemes that give the government power to penalize candidates for exercising their First Amendment rights have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and two federal courts,” said Center for Competitive Politics Vice President Stephen M. Hoersting. “A candidate who decides to not accept government welfare in a state Supreme Court race should not be forced to, in effect, reward his opponent’s campaign by simply speaking out.”

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CCP sends letter to Conn. lawmakers on campaign finance fix

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) sent a letter to Connecticut legislators today following Gov. Jodi Rell’s announcement of a special session Dec. 15 to revamp the state’s Citizens’ Election Program and deal with a budget shortfall.

A federal judge struck down the program as unconstitutional in August, but the ruling is stayed pending the state’s appeal.

“The problem of this unconstitutional program of taxpayer subsidies to political candidates has an easy fix,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Connecticut lawmakers should end this failed experiment and return to a system of voluntary contributions.”

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CCP sends letter to Gov. Doyle on constitutionality of judicial campaign finance bill

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) sent a letter today to Gov. Jim Doyle and legislative leaders explaining concerns that a recently-passed bill enacting taxpayer financed campaigns for judges is unconstitutional. Doyle’s office said he favors the legislation, Senate Bill 40.

“Similar taxpayer financing programs that provide rescue funds to participating candidates, penalizing those who opt out and exercise their First Amendment rights, have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and federal courts in Arizona and Connecticut,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell.

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CCP: Wis. taxpayer financing bill unconstitutional

The Center for Competitive Politics criticized as a proven failure and unconstitutional the recently-passed bill to implement taxpayer financed judicial campaigns in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin state legislature passed the bill Thursday and Gov. Jim Doyle is expected to sign the measure.

“This program will do nothing to reduce money spent in campaigns for the Supreme Court, while penalizing the free speech of candidates who decide not to accept a government handout,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear in its rulings that giving advantages to some candidates based on the free exercise of the First Amendment by others is not permissible.”

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Judge shuts down taxpayer funded campaigns in Connecticut

A federal judge ruled Connecticut’s system of taxpayer financed campaigns unconstitutional late Thursday, immediately shutting down a flawed program which proponents held up as a national model.

“Connecticut’s failed experiment with taxpayer financed campaigns is thankfully over,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “The paradox of ‘clean elections’ is that incumbent politicians write the laws to either shut out minor candidates and challengers or make it too easy to grab taxpayer cash. It’s time to return to a true system of voluntary campaign funding – donations from citizens to candidates they support.”

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CCP releases FENA analysis, Smith to testify at House hearing Thursday

The Center for Competitive Politics released a report today analyzing the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA), a bill that would implement taxpayer funded congressional campaigns.

“Supporters of government-subsidized campaigns claim their scheme would usher in bold ‘reform’ but can’t point to actual successes beyond platitudes,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith, who will testify Thursday at a House Administration Committee hearing on the proposal. “Congress should examine the record of these failed programs not flowery rhetoric promising reduced corruption, decreased influence of organized interests and more competitive campaigns.”

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CCP files brief challenging ‘matching funds’ provisions in Arizona

The Center for Competitive Politics today filed a friend-of-the-court brief that challenges the constitutionality of the “matching funds” provisions in Arizona’s taxpayer financed campaigns. The brief was filed in McComish v. Bennett, a case pending in the federal district court in Phoenix.

“It’s long past time to end this unconstitutional program allowing the government to punish candidates who decide not to rely on taxpayer money to run their campaigns,” said Reid Cox, the legal director of the Center for Competitive Politics and counsel of record for the brief.

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Van Hollen intervenes in support of failed campaign finance restriction

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has filed papers to join the legal battle over the ‘soft money’ ban in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), raising the stakes in an effort by congressional supporters to defend their failed law restricting political speech.

"The federal government doesn’t have the power to regulate the financing of state and local elections," said Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC Chairman. "It shouldn’t be able to tell the national political parties they can raise only limited funds for state and local purposes. The court will have the opportunity to examine the flawed decision that national party spending on non-federal campaigns can be restricted to remedy a vague and unjustified corruption concern connected to federal politicians."

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