Clean Election's Dirty Secrets


Interesting observations on the insanity of Arizona's "clean election" campaign reform laws and how they stymie candidates who want to run their campaign without stealing money from state taxpayers, via Arizona's branch of the Institute for Justice, which has sued to kill the law. It is discussing Matt Salmon, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who chose not to take public funding.

The Clean Elections system…hampered Salmon again when it paid his opponents the gross amount of contributions he received after the primary. President Bush came to Arizona and raised $750,000 for Salmon; the event cost Salmon $250,000, leaving a net gain of $500,000. Napolitano and Mahoney each received $750,000 from the State?the amount of Salmon?s gross receipts?resulting in $1.5 million being paid out by taxpayers, and a net loss of $1 million for Salmon. Only in Arizona could a fundraising visit from the President of the United States amount to a $1 million deficit for the intended beneficiary. Under these circumstances, only the foolish, the hopelessly principled, and the fabulously wealthy will run privately funded campaigns in the future.

To run for office without public subsidies in Arizona these days, traditional candidates like Salmon must spend lots of time and resources complying with a stringent daily reporting regime?just so their government-funded opponents can be showered with more taxpayer cash. Between July 1 and Election Day, privately funded candidates must file no less than 37 special reports. Government-funded candidates must file only three reports in the same period. This makes no sense: the candidate who refuses government subsidies is subject to more regulation than those who take them.

More details from Institute for Justice against Arizona's campaign finance law here.