Judge needs to rule quickly on election law
Even though a federal judge says Arizona "clean elections" candidates have a potentially unfair - and unconstitutional - advantage over privately-funded opponents, she has so far declined to correct the situation.
Judge Roslyn Silver said last week she may still ban use of a funding provision in the Arizona Clean Elections law for the November election, but will first hear arguments from the state and opponents. She could decide by the end of the month.
The dispute is the result of a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute against a matching fund provision of Arizona's 1998 clean elections law. Under that provision, publicly-funded clean elections candidates get additional money if their privately-funded opponent spends more that they do, so they can match the opponent's spending.
The Institute pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that this kind of matching system violates the First Amendment of the Constitution which protects free speech. Specifically, the high court said this happens when "the vigorous exercise of the right to use personal funds to finance campaign speech produces fundraising advantages for opponents in the competitive context of the electoral process."
Clearly that is what the clean elections provision does, yet the state continues to want to defend it. We hope the judge quickly hears the arguments and rules to prohibit use of this provision.
The general election process is already underway and early balloting will begin in October. Each day that passes increases the potential harm that could result from this provision, as well as lending uncertainty to the election process.
Our hope is that eventually the Supreme Court will rule all public campaign financing unconstitutional. Fundraising by candidates for elections should be a private matter. They should be able to raise and spend as much or as little as they choose, without arbitrary rules of "fairness" being imposed by the government.