Watchdogs up in Connecticut are apparently worried that the state’s “Clean Elections” fund may run dry by the next election cycle in 2014 due to budget cutbacks and several fiscal “raids” on the fund, totaling nearly $59 million, as the state struggles to manage its finances. According to this report by CT Mirror: “The combination [...]
John McCain: Free speech is worse than forcible castration, internment on the basis of race, separate but equal, and slavery. Really, John?
You know, I would never dream of telling John McCain how to fly a fighter plane. Just once, I wish Senator McCain would return the favor and quit pretending he knows anything about campaign finance reform. Senator McCain was on the Tonight Show last week, talking about campaign finance reform, and virtually every sentence that [...]
It’s Time To Bring Some Sanity To Campaign Finance Laws By Academic Advisor David Primo This past election when Dina Galassini emailed some friends urging them to join her in opposing a ballot initiative proposing $30 million in bonds for the town of Fountain Hills, Ariz., she thought she was doing what Americans have done [...]
On June 27, 2011 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett that the election policies of several states were unconstitutional. Specifically, the Court declared the use of “matching funds,” whereby a privately-financed candidate for political office would be forced to trigger state-granted matching funds for any publicly-funded opponent if he or she spent above a certain threshold, were an unconstitutional demand on a candidate whose speech would be chilled by the mandate.
Don’t Feed the Alligators: Government Funding of Political Speech and the Unyielding Vigilance of the First Amendment
Academic Advisor Joel M. Gora analyzes the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club Pac v. Bennet, 131 S. Ct. 2806 (2011), which struck down the Arizona program for providing government “triggered” matching funds in political campaigns. Under that scheme, a publicly funded candidate, whose campaign is almost wholly funded by [...]
Filed Under: Jurisprudence & Litigation, Research, Tax-Financing, Tax-Financing Research, Tax-Financing State, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Arizona
Doug Kendall, writing in the Huffington Post, attempts a defense of Arizona’s flawed tax financing system—without ever addressing the system itself.
As Kendall sees it, state Sen. John McComish (R-Ariz.) has two problems. First, he’s the plaintiff in McComish v. Bennett, the constitutional challenge to an Arizona law that rescues tax-funded candidates from being outspent by their traditionally-funded opponents. Second, Sen. McComish “was forced to file an amended financial disclosure report, acknowledging that he had accepted from Fiesta Bowl officials a gift of more than $500 in value involving a trip to the Big 12 Championship in Dallas in 2009, and had not disclosed this fact as required by Arizona law.”
Of course, these two things have nothing to do with each other. There are laws regulating campaign finances, and there are separate laws regulating gifts to sitting legislators. Sen. McComish’s transgression has nothing to do with campaign finance law, or the case currently before the Supreme Court. Moreover, other members of the Arizona Legislature committed the same offense despite having availed themsleves of public financing. (You can find a sortable list of legislators who accepted tax funding here.)
CCP Chairman Brad Smith has this op-ed in tomorrow’s edition of the Wall Street Journal:
Should the government choose sides in elections? That is the core question at stake today when the Supreme Court hears oral argument in McComish v. Bennett, challenging Arizona’s tax financing system for political candidates.
Historically, the government’s role in elections was limited to managing the process of voting in a neutral, nonpartisan way. From an early date virtually every state and the federal government enacted laws prohibiting the use of state resources for campaigning.
In the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo, however, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of government directly funding candidate campaigns, so long as candidates remained free not to participate. Under these programs, candidates received a lump sum from the government in exchange for limiting their own fundraising and spending.
In recent years, Arizona and a handful of other jurisdictions have gone far beyond what was approved in Buckley by offering candidates “rescue” funds. In this scheme, if a tax-subsidized candidate is outspent by an unsubsidized candidate, the government gives additional money to the participating candidate—usually enough to match the amounts raised by the non-participating candidate. And if a group of citizens, such as MoveOn.org or the Club for Growth, spends money to criticize a participating candidate, the government gives still more “rescue” money to that candidate.
Read the whole thing at the WSJ.
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.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear arguments in Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett. Observers expect the court to hear arguments in March and render a decision by the end of June.
The Institute for Justice, which represents independent political groups in the case, issued a press release. The Goldwater Institute, which represents traditionally funded Arizona candidates, also issued a statement.
The Center for Competitive Politics plans to file a friend-of-the-court brief in this case in advance of oral arguments. CCP filed a brief in June of 2009 at the U.S. District Court level supporting the plaintiffs and a brief this September in support of the group’s cert petition.