Arizona's Clean Election law - It's Unconstitutional!!!!!! The sad thing is it took 12 years to rule the law ways unconstitutional. Proof the system doesn't work!
Federal judge strikes down Ariz. matching funds
by Alia Beard Rau and Mary Jo Pitzl - Jan. 21, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
A U.S. District Court judge has declared a portion of an Arizona program that gives candidates public money for their campaigns unconstitutional - and she has given the system's defenders 10 days to convince a higher court otherwise.
Judge Roslyn Silver ruled Wednesday that a portion of the state's 12-year-old Clean Elections system should be shut down. But her 10-day delay in implementing the ruling gives the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission time to appeal.
Unless the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issues a delay of its own, the ruling could throw races now under way for 2010 elections into chaos.
Silver said a portion of the Clean Elections system that gives participating candidates extra public funds to match funds raised by their competitors violates the First Amendment, because it causes other candidates to limit their own campaigning, fundraising and the spending of their own money.
Attorney Grant Davis-Denny, who represents the state commission in the case, said he will ask the court to allow the system to continue unchanged through this year's elections.
"The rules of the game should not be changed once the election cycle has begun," he said.
Arizona voters approved the Clean Elections system in 1998. It gives a lump sum of public funds to participating candidates who get a required number of $5 donations and agree not to accept money from special-interest groups. If the non-participating opponents of a Clean Elections candidate collect more - through private donations or from their own money - than what the Clean Elections candidate was allocated, the Clean Elections candidate gets a matching amount of public funds.
It is those matching funds that became the focus of the lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of several Republican candidates, including state Treasurer Dean Martin, Sen. Robert Burns of Peoria, Rep. John McComish of Ahwatukee Foothills and Rep. Nancy McLain of Bullhead City. The candidates argued they limited their own campaigns to avoid triggering additional public contributions to opponents.
Martin, who is running for governor, has filed as a Clean Elections candidate.
Gov. Jan Brewer is among the 70 candidates that have so far raised the required number of $5 donations and been verified as a Clean Elections candidate in this election cycle. Her campaign spokesman, Doug Cole, said the court's ruling will not change how Brewer runs her election campaign.
"This is far from over," he said. "We will continue to operate our campaign as we have planned, and I'm certain other publicly funded candidates will do the same."
John Munger, who is also running for governor, released a statement late Wednesday.
"I am confident that the Court of Appeals, and if necessary, the Supreme Court, will agree with this decision and that it will be upheld in every respect," he said.
Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who is running for re-election as a Clean Elections candidate, released a statement saying that the ruling may have "dire consequences" for program participants.
"While I share some of Judge Silver's concerns regarding the fairness of matching provisions under the Clean Elections system, I am disappointed at her granting of an injunction at this late date in the election cycle," he said.
Lawmakers who are running with public financing offered varying responses to the ruling.
Sen. Rebecca Rios, D-Apache Junction, said she's sticking with her plans to use public financing, at least for now.
If her opponents appear to have access to deep pockets, which could provide more money than the Clean Elections system does, Rios said she might need to switch to private financing.
"I think everybody's going to go through the same process," she said, adding that it "throws a monkey wrench into people's campaigns."
Rep. Steve Court, R-Mesa, said he'll stick with public financing because it should be sufficient to win re-election in his heavily Republican west-central Mesa district.
"In my district, it won't make a difference," he said.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said that she decided to run with private financing in her state Senate bid this fall because she anticipated the drawn-out court battle. [Wow! The biggest socialist in the state of Arizona - Kyrsten Sinema decides to dump clean elections! But don't worry she has lots of special interest groups she passes laws for, mainly cops and firefighters who will give her lots of money in exchange for government handouts. ]
Citizens Clean Elections Commission Executive Director Todd Lang said he is confident that an appeal will be successful and prevent any disruption to this election cycle.
"Statewide candidates have been running for months," he said. "Changing the rules in the middle would be a disservice to the candidates, the voters and the integrity of the results." [ ie - who cares if the law is unconstitutional, we want the money from the elected official welfare program ]
Rep. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria, predicted that even a ruling by the 9th Circuit won't be the end of the Clean Elections debate.
"I suspect that whichever side wins, it won't be over until the (U.S.) Supreme Court rules."