Arizona Clean Elections Matching Funds Unconstitutional

Yellow Sheets is reporting that a US Judge will rule Arizona’s Clean Elections matching funds provision unconstitutional in tomorrow’s decision. What is yet to be determined is how the ruling will affect the 2010 election cycle.

As a co-plaintiff on this suit, this has been a long fought battle to eliminate this hybridized form of taxpayer-funded campaigns. But I will also admit that I have mixed feelings over eliminating a law that has been effectively used by conservatives to strengthen our numbers in the legislature. In fact, many political consultants rely on clean elections money as an almost guaranteed revenue stream.

In the old days, a Republican candidate would have to go begging amongst the business community and chamber of commerce crowd to raise money. Socially conservative candidates were often viewed as “too controversial” to support by the business community who just wanted a candidate to talk fiscal issues and avoid controversy.

Clean Elections allowed conservative, grassroots, populist candidates to do an end-run around these business folks and avoid having to “kiss the ring” of these donors.

If the matching funds provision goes away with in the ruling tomorrow, many campaigns will have to re-think their strategy to win in August and November. Gaming the system will be more difficult but at the same time, organizations like mine (Arizona Taxpayer’s Action Committee) won’t have to compete against the State of Arizona using taxpayer monies when we voice our opinion.

Times are a changin’


  1. A necessary evil is still evil. If this report is true, I’m glad to see it go. I will be interested, however, to see the text of the opinion.

  2. You can already read the opinion of the US Supreme Court in the Davis v. FEC case.

  3. I think the matching funds will go but a stay of the matching funds for this election cycle will be in effect since candidates did have a “reasonable expectation” of receiving matching funds.

    2010 Best Election Year Ever !!

  4. Candidates who can’t raise the money to run, or who can’t fund their own campaigns to run, probably shouldn’t be running.

    Similarly, taxpayers who don’t support specific candidates, shouldn’t be watching their tax dollars do to those exact same candidates they’d never vote for, just because they were able to gather some signatures and get a few cousins and neighbors to donate seed money.

    And, lastly, right now, the last thing state government needs to be funding with taxpayer dollars is campaign ads and, ultimately, political consultants and lawyers. Refund the money instead. Or give it to a school, hospital, library or even soup kitchen.

  5. Gopher clean elections funds don’t come from the general fund. They come from surcharges etc on court fines and other.

  6. PCbutnotPC says

    I think CE has been a great tool, however, it has one major flaw – it allows for unlimited PAC money intrusion into any race. Candidates get matched to a certain level, but the 2008 race proved that when a party (Dems) have funds, they can pummel into a race beyond the matching funds and push their candidate or agenda forward. They may have had losses (or lack of gains) in ’08, but they also achieved some continuance of footholds – in Phoenix area LDs, for example.
    If you think LD races are expensive, look at the seismic costs of the city council races in any of the major cities across the Valley.
    The business community does not represent the grass roots, but the grass roots needs the business community – and I challenge that the business community does need the grass roots or they will find themselves without customers. If the Tea Party types go to the next level, and it is an easy step for them, boycott of targeted businesses would cause them misery, maybe not total damage, but in tough economic times can they afford the misery?
    CE is a great idea, but allowing the PACs to play unrestricted is wrong – and is constitutionally problematic because they would fight to exercise their “freedom of speech.” Unfortunatley, that exercise of “freedom of speech” is not always exercised judiciously with the hearts and minds of the grass roots in mind.
    As to who constitutes the “grass roots” is another debate.

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