Opponents of Arizona’s Clean Elections system won a big round in court last week when federal Judge Roslyn Silver said that the campaign-finance program’s matching-funds provision could be unconstitutional.
In a case brought by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of various GOP candidates, Silver didn’t rule against the Clean Elections system itself, which provides qualifying candidates for state office with campaign dollars.
But Silver said the Goldwater Institute folks have a point when they say that giving some candidates more money if their privately funded opponents break certain spending limits could violate the First Amendment.
For example, most candidates for the Arizona Legislature get $12,921 if they can collect 220 $5 contributions for residents of their district. But if a traditionally funded candidate spends more money than that, then Clean Election gives participating candidates a dollar-for-dollar match. The match tops out at three times the original Clean Elections funding for the campaign.
That leads to some privately funded candidates getting hosed. We’ve reported in recent week on the twists in the four-way GOP primary in Legislative District 30, which pitted two Clean Elections candidates, Sharon Collins and David Gowan, against two candidates who were raising money from private contributors—Doug Sposito and Frank Antenori.
By raising a respectable amount of money and lending his campaign $12,000, Sposito was able to spend Continue reading