ASU’s Cronkite News reports on the novel ways some of the 107 candidates who received public monies to run for the state legislature in 2010, spent the combined $3.2 million they collected from the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission — via Arizona citizens.
Arizona voters passed the public-financing scheme in 1998 after being convinced that “Clean Elections” meant that there was a taint to free speech, which rendered it “dirty.”
In return for collecting 220 $5 contributions, candidates receive money from the Clean Elections Commission. The amounts vary depending on the office sought, with statewide offices paying out substantial amounts. After the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the controversial matching funds provision this past summer, primary gubernatorial candidates received $707,000, rather than approximately $2.1 million — though hardly chump change. Previously, “participating” candidates got additional money to match the spending by their opponents who were raising private funds from a supportive constituency.
For a comprehensive overview, read what the Institute for Justice has to say regarding the restrictions on free speech the plan imposes. But while free speech took a beating, free spending obviously does not.