Political Money Monitor
Free Choice for a Free People
* Public Campaign Funding Found
Lacking in Arizona
This past election was the first in Arizona to be conducted under the Clean Elections Act. A ballot initiative passed in 1998, the Act provides public funding for candidates. Attorney Clint Bolick contends the new guidelines "proved to be anything but clean or divested of special interest pressures."
Bolick wrote in the Weekly Standard that the Clean Elections Act "skews the political playing field sharply in favor of subsidized candidates." Beneficiaries must only raise a token amount to qualify. Taxpayers are induced to transfer $5 of their tax payment to the Clean Elections fund to get a $5 tax rebate ("it bribes taxpayers to check the box, and each check-off costs the state $10"). Additional funds were raised through a $100 tax on for-profit lobbyists and a ten percent surcharge on civil and criminal fines. Publicly funded candidates are given set amounts, but are matched dollar-for-dollar if a challenger who is not receiving public funds raises more than that amount.
In the 2002 Arizona gubernatorial race, Bolick said the Clean Elections Act was integral in Democrat Janet Napolitano's victory in a state with a three-to-two Republican advantage in voter registration. Republican Matt Salmon refused to accept public funding. Napolitano did, and was aided by labor unions in raising the 4,000 $5 donation necessary to qualify. Salmon faced two primary opponents who drained his campaign coffers and gave Napolitano time to launch negative attacks against him. Napolitano received an additional $200,000 to match an independent expenditure for Salmon by the state Republican Party, but a $700,000 negative campaign against Salmon by state Democrats did not count against Napolitano. In the end, Napolitano outspent Salmon by $1 million - and won by 11,819 votes.
Clean Election Act rules were criticized for their complexity, and campaigns misused their public funds. The Institute for Justice, which Bolick serves as vice president, challenged the lobbyist tax and fine surcharges as violations of the First Amendment's protection from coerced political speech. The lobbyist tax was struck down, but the surcharge was upheld in the Arizona Supreme Court. It will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court early next year. Additionally, U.S. Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) says he will sponsor an initiative in 2004 to repeal the Clean Election Act altogether.
New campaign restrictions that were passed
by Congress and signed into law this past spring, and just went
into force on November 6, have already been challenged and had
their day in court. The constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold
rules - which, among other things, ban unlimited soft money donations
to political parties and place restrictions on political advertising
- were debated in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on December
4. Opponents contend that the new rules violate the First Amendment's
guarantee of unfettered political speech and that they infringe
on state election laws. The three-judge panel is expected to issue
a ruling by early next year. It is widely believed that any decision
will be immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ohio Union Grudgingly Refunds Dues for Religious Reasons
After the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that the National Education Association and its Ohio affiliate discriminated against religious objectors, the Ohio Education Association grudgingly redirected the portion of Kathleen Klamut's union dues not spent on collective bargaining to the American Cancer Society. Klamut objected to her dues aiding the union's pro-abortion political agenda.
Michigan Residents Support Paycheck Protection, Right to Work
A recent poll of Michigan residents commissioned by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy found 73 percent support for legislation requiring financial disclosure reports from public employee unions. 63 percent of everyone surveyed (and 49 percent of those from union households) supported "paycheck protection" requiring a member's approval before dues can be spent on politics.
Hillary No Friend of Campaign Regulation
Don't count Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) as a true believer in campaign finance regulation. Although she voted for the McCain-Feingold restrictions, the Associated Press reported that Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) identified her as one of several Democratic colleagues searching for ways around the bill's ban on unrestricted soft money donations to political parties. During an argument with Feingold, Clinton reportedly screamed, "you're not living in the real world!" Feingold later responded: "I don't know how they think they're going to get away with, in a closed room, trying to figure out every way they can to keep raising soft money, and then publicly act like they're getting rid of it. It's going to sound phony."