Testifying on NJ’s “Clean Elections” Experiment

Center for Competitive Politics president Sean Parnell will testify to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission this morning at 11:00 AM concerning New Jersey’s "Clean Elections Pilot Project."

The Commission is gathering public input as it prepares a report for the New Jersey legislature on the pilot project.

In his prepared testimony, Parnell cites research that indicates that "clean elections" programs do not improve public confidence in government or change legislative outcomes.

"Forcing taxpayers to subsidize the campaigns of politicians is not an effective way to improve citizens’ views of their government," says Parnell.  "Legislators funded with taxpayer dollars voted no differently from legislators who accepted private contributions."

Parnell’s testimony also notes that "clean elections" do not increase electoral competitiveness and do little, if anything, to reduce the influence and effectiveness of lobbyists and interest groups. 

Taxpayer-financed campaigns "have little impact on the number of competitive campaigns," states Parnell.  And interest groups "are ideally situated to aid candidates in collecting the required number of signatures and small donations." 

"Arizona Governor Janet Napalitano…relied on labor union to collect nearly one quarter of the signatures and $5 contributions required for her to qualify for millions of dollars in "clean election’ funding," explains Parnell.  "It’s difficult to imagine that Governor Napolitano is any less grateful to Arizona’s labor unions for this support than if they had just written her a check."

Parnell’s testimony concludes by highlighting that "clean elections" programs are based on a "fundamentally anti-democratic premise." 

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.