Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Arizona Clean Elections: The Solution

It was announced that the United States Supreme Court has chosen to hear the Arizona Clean Elections case (Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett (10-238) and McComish, et al., v. Bennett (10-239)) in specific regards to the "equalization provision" of the voter approved law.

The "equalization provision" provides matching funds to publicly funded candidates for any amount spent by a candidate who is not publicly funded above and beyond the publicly funded candidate's allotted funding.  Simply put, if Candidate X is publicly funded to the tune of $500,000 and Candidate Y is not publicly funded and spends $600,000, then Candidate X will receive an additional $100,000 to match the non-publicly funded candidate's spending.  The ultra conservative Goldwater Institute claims this equalization unconstitutionally infringes on the non-publicly funded candidate's (NPFC) political speech by effectively forcing the NPFC to "limit" how much money they spend in order not to trigger the equalization provision.

First off, I call bull shit on the Goldwater Institute and their conservative allies.  Just because a candidate is wealthy or can raise a heap of cash does not mean they get more speech than one who isn't or can't.

Second, I believe I have a solution that I think will pass constitutional muster: Require that all candidates running for state level and below office receive public financing.  There would also be a limited shared pool of monies available for each elected office.  Let's say that there are 5 candidates running for Arizona governor.  Each would share equally in the limited fund to finance their respective campaigns.  These funds are the only funds a candidate can use in their campaign for office.

Now, of course, my solution doesn't eliminate special interest groups or corporations from running their own ads during the election cycle, but it does eliminate the "equalization" provision under current law and truly levels the playing field in a way that I feel would pass constitutional muster.

Problem is, my solution will never be implemented.  There isn't the political will in Arizona to do so and the current make up of the United States Supreme Court appears pretty hellbent on destroying any and all vestiges of public financing or campaign financing limits.

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