Clean elections and N.J. – not perfect together

The Record ran an op-ed cowritten by CCP president Sean Parnell on the failure of New Jersey’s experiment with taxpayer-financed political campaigns.

In the op-ed, Parnell writes:

"Candidates who managed to get on the government dole found that taxpayer-financed campaigns did not end negative campaigning and did not eliminate outside money from being spent in political campaigns.

Senate candidates in the 14th District in Central Jersey accused each other of conducting unfair or dirty campaigns, while an independent advocacy group called "Common Sense America" spent considerable sums of money running negative advertisements against two candidates in the district…

Welfare for politicians also did not increase electoral competitiveness. Every incumbents relying on taxpayer dollars for their campaigns won reelection. Victory margins in the strongly Republican and strongly Democratic districts increased from four years ago under the pilot project – the opposite of what would be expected if taxpayer-funded campaigns led to increased competitiveness.

The 2007 election results show no concrete correlation between "clean elections" and increased voter turnout. Compared to the 2003 election, voter turnout in two out of the three pilot districts either was unchanged or increased slightly. Turnout in the Bergen County district actually plummeted.

Taxpayer funding of campaigns did not reduce campaign spending. The 14th District race was the fourth most expensive race in the state, and spending increased in another of the participating districts.

But the most telling failure of New Jersey’s welfare-for-politicians scheme will not be evident for some time. Taxpayer-financed political campaigns will not end any perceived "undue influence" of special interests or reduce "corruption," despite the claims of their advocates."

Click HERE to read the entire piece.

Editorial Note: This op-ed may have mistakenly left the impression that a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts concluded that "many of the best-governed states in the nation have the least restrictive campaign finance laws." The Pew study only measured what they considered to be the "best-governed" states.
The Center for Competitive Politics took Pew’s study and compared their findings with each state’s campaign finance laws. We found that several of the best governed states, including Virginia and Utah, are among those relatively free of many burdensome campaign finance regulations. Therefore, we were able to assert that there is no correlation between well-governed states and the state’s campaign finance laws. We’ve contacted The Record to clarify that the conclusion is ours, not Pew’s.

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