System “skewed toward candidates who accept taxpayer’s subsidies”
U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver has ruled that a key provision of Arizona’s public campaign financing system violates constitutional free speech rights.
Judge Silver issued the ruling Friday in a suit filed last week by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of six Republican legislative candidates.
The suit asked the judge to bar the state Clean Elections Commission from paying so-called “matching funds” to candidates who are outspent by opponents who don’t sign up for state financing.
The Rocky Mountain News reports that Judge Silver refused to grant a temporary restraining order blocking the state from issuing matching funds, which could affect Tuesday’s primary election. She wrote that the late challenge to the law hasn’t given either side time to present evidence.
Silver set a hearing for Wednesday to consider issuing a preliminary injunction or to hold further hearings.
Still, the ruling could have a major impact in November’s general election. If Silver issues a preliminary injunction, candidates who opted not to take public financing could spend as much as they want without worrying that their opponents would get a supplemental cash infusion from the state.
“We think yesterday’s ruling was a victory for free speech rights,” said Goldwater Institute attorney Clint Bolick. The so-called “Clean Elections” system creates a playing field that is skewed toward candidates that accept taxpayer’s subsidies and against those who raise voluntary contributions. We are cautiously optimistic that the matching funds provision will be invalidated in the near future,” Bolick said.
The heavy-handed system is plagued with inequities, and voices have rightfully been raised against it since its inception in 1998, when it was passed by Arizona voters.
However, there is a strange and unifying whiff emanating from some of the plaintiffs in the case. Those who sued include incumbent Republican state Reps. John McComish of Phoenix and Nancy McLain of Bullhead City.
But others are new GOP legislative candidates Frank Antenori, Tony Bouie, Kevin Gibbons, and Doug Sposito. At least some (check the links) of these candidates are on the receiving end of large donations from those who oppose Arizona’s Fair and Legal Employment Act, commonly referred to as the employer sanctions law.
The deep-pocket donors, business entities who rely on a steady stream of exploitable illegal laborers, clearly do not want conservative candidates enacting laws to secure the border. Neither do they want such candidates to benefit from their generous cash infusions into the campaign coffers of their business-as-usual hopefuls.