U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Release of Campaign Matching Funds

Goldwater Institute News Release

PHOENIX – In a major victory for free speech, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning blocked the use of taxpayer money as campaign “matching funds.” The Court will decide whether to review a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“This ruling vindicates the right of traditionally funded candidates to run their campaigns without the heavy hand of government helping their opponents,” said Nick Dranias, the Goldwater Institute’s lead attorney in the case known as McComish v. Bennett.
Under the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act, candidates who run with public campaign subsidies receive an almost dollar-for-dollar match each time a privately funded opponent raises money above a certain amount, and additional matches when independent expenditures are made against the subsidized candidate.
Today, the Supreme Court restored an injunction against the use of matching funds ordered earlier this year by U.S. District Judge Roslyn O. Silver.
“In a time of soaring budget deficits, the last thing taxpayers should be paying for are politicians’ campaigns,” said Darcy Olsen, president and CEO of the Goldwater Institute.
The Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represents John McComish, Nancy McClain and Tony Bouie, candidates for the Arizona Legislature whose campaigns are funded by private donations. All three are running against taxpayer-funded candidates who will receive a dollar-for-dollar match from the government for every dollar they privately raise.
In January 2010, Judge Silver ruled that matching funds discourage traditionally funded candidates from raising or spending their donations so they can avoid triggering more taxpayer-funded campaign money for their opponents. Judge Silver determined matching funds are an unconstitutional burden on the election speech of privately funded candidates.
A three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit disagreed in May, and issued an opinion stating the damage to free speech is minimal.
The Goldwater Institute requested that the Supreme Court intervene before the state started to hand out this year’s first round of matching funds on June 22, 2010. In a filing before the Court on Monday, June 7, the Goldwater Institute emphasized that publicly subsidized candidates were first warned by Judge Silver more than 18 months ago that matching funds were unconstitutional. Judge Silver issued her final ruling in late January, but delayed her order so the state could appeal. The Supreme Court’s action today ended that delay and put Judge Silver’s order into effect immediately.
Read more about this and other Goldwater lawsuits to protect individual rights and keep government within its constitutional limits at www.goldwaterinstitute.org/litigation. The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog supported by people who are committed to expanding free enterprise and liberty.


  1. obamanation says

    Well, $20,000,000 (what this year’s CLEC pot amounts to) divided up amongst 130 politicians is about $154,000 a person. Hardly chump change, more like funding 130 CEO’s. I for one want to see if some of these political wannabes can actually get a contribution when they have to actually CONVINCE SOMEONE ELSE THAT THEY A VIABLE CANDIDATE. I’m not thrilled with Buz Mills either, he is an opportunist wanting to buy the election, but in a recession I’d say many people have better programs and things to spend $20,000,000 on.

  2. Veritas Vincit says

    Daddy big bucks, Buz Mills is running a misleading ad against Brewer in which he refers to CCEC funds as “taxpayer money” which it is not.

    In fact, CCEC at the end of the year actually deposits funds into the state general fund. A fact their opponents seem to ignore.

    He also refers to the “Brewer Tax” which if I recall correctly was voted on by the citizens.

    Buz Mills is yet one example of deep pockets buying an election.

    The solution is simple; CCEC should be available for first time candidates. This way it isn’t the party machine or the corporate interests who determine the candidate pool available to the voters.

    However, CCEC funding should not be available to candidates with a voting record such as 3rd time incumbents who can raise funds on their own merit.

    If you take the $20M in CCEC that is a voluntary contribution – then you have to remove all contribution boxes from the income tax form including school tax credits.

    Did you bother to think about that “Obamanation” or are you simply knee jerking and goose stepping with the rest of the political Nazis?

  3. obamanation says

    Veritas, I’m simply tired of the whining that has ensued over the rights of some to take money with no effort on their own. I don’t see a change in the makeup of the typical candidate with the advent of CCEC. I see people in a hurry to spend their funding on parties, bikes, laptops, and just yesterday some jerk who paid himself Clean Elections money for rent. Doug Quelland, poster boy of CCEC’s problems, spits in CCEC’s face for fraudulently spending $15K extra of his own money (in his local race he only should have had 15K from CCEC so he basically doubled his funding) and gets funded again even as his office is being taken away. So no, I’m not a fan of this broken system. But I’m content to see what SCOTUS has to rule.

    Prop 100 voted by the people? Hard to go up against the big money that was laid out to support that whale. I like how the commercials were neatly laid out in prime time while the “No to 100” crowd had little to no financial support because they were “regular” people without large contributions from education lobbyists. I agree, people voted for it but if you were so much into “truth” it was pretty obvious they had a huge pocketbook. Kind of like Buz Mill’s 800 lb ape approach. If your opponent has no cash, you can overwhelm them with the b.s. That’s my view on Prop 100.

  4. In the clouds says

    Obamanation types are my favorite. They cNt even tell when they are being rediculous.

    In your own post you point to Buz as the 800lb gorilla but fail to recognize that after $2.2 million Buz is still under 20%. Explain to me Obamanation how the voters were smart enough to do away with Payday loans when they were grossly outspent. OR in the same cycle, how voters rejected “reforms” to the Employer Sanctions Law despite a clobbering in the money category.
    Your argument will forever suck and be lame.

  5. obamanation says

    And you will be forever saying “Would you like fries with that, sir?” Please learn to proofread before you butcher your statement, In the Clouds. It’s “ridiculous”, learn to spell :)No one can explain the public’s fickle nature but commercials that decry school spending and teachers losing jobs makes most people sympathetic, so that may explain why you get all maudlin and support a bill that has big money all over it. Do the logic, sweetie, if big unions are behind this Prop you can guess who’s benefiting. Or are you too stupid to learn how to look at the major supporters list for Prop 100? I’m totally for teachers getting the fair wages they deserve, I’m NOT for the layered administration that leaches all the money for their sparkling School Board Buildings. Perhaps they will be smarter with our money this time, but I doubt it.

  6. Yeah, right. says

    Great, just hand the election to Goddard.

    What a bunch of maroons.

    Buzzkill Mills is a disaster for the party.

  7. Now you are all aware that with matching funds going away, the favorite in the general election becomes Buz Mills because he’s allowed to outspend Goddard, right?

    I don’t care who you prefer, I prefer to win.

  8. In the clouds says

    Posting from a phone no spell check.

    Big business was a big benefactor in the immigration prop and again it failed big time. As I pointed out, your logic is completely failed.

  9. In the clouds says

    Gop100 I’m not sure where that logic comes from. Buz has spent over $2 million and barely moved an inch. You think the Dems won’t point out that the Republicans are buying the election?

  10. Pretty Peeved says

    Clouds, not sure what polls you’re reading but you’d have to see a poll before he spent and then after. Does such a measurement exist?

    The anti Brewer sentiment is huge among R primary voters.

  11. In the clouds says

    Look at the polls. Went from 2% to 18% after first million. Went from 18% to 19%. That was before Prop 100 passed with 63%.

  12. Pretty Peeved says

    Yep, apples and pomegranites. Prop 100 was a general election. An R primary is different.

  13. obamanation says

    Head Stuck In the Clouds must be a “failure” as a stats class flunky. You can’t spell to save your life. At least learn to use better grammar before you post! “Your logic is failed” is something an idiot would write. You are a excellent example of the “failing” school system you are trying to buoy in your arguments for Prop 100.

  14. In the clouds says

    When an argument is weak, it’s common for desperate people to resort to name calling.

    Spin Prop 100 all you want-you are all ignorant fools if you pretend Republicans didn’t vote for the tax. We turned out in higher numbers then the Dems and it passed big time in very high Republican precincts. You don’t get to 63% without major Republican support.

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