Gathering dust

The Center for Competitive Politics released this week its third study on the impact that taxpayer-financed political campaigns have had in Arizona and Maine.  The results should be troubling for advocates of these political entitlement programs.

Supporters of so-called "clean elections" program claim that taxpayer-financed political campaigns are necessary to ensure a diverse legislature and one that is free of lobbyist and special interest influence. Unfortunately, for advocates of these welfare-for-politicians schemes, the claim is more rhetoric than reality.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Alaskans reject taxpayer-financed political campaigns

Continues trend of voters rejecting such proposals at the ballot box

Alaskan voters soundly rejected a proposal to enact a system of taxpayer-financed political campaigns in yesterday’s statewide primary.

"Alaskans spoke loud and clear, they do not want their tax dollars spent funding political campaigns and they do not want government in charge of political speech," said Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics and no relation to Alaska’s lieutenant governor.

With nearly 98 percent of precincts reporting, Ballot Measure 3 trails 35.44 percent to 64.56 percent.  The failed effort to bring publicly-financed campaigns to Alaska marks the second time in two years that proponents of government-financed elections have been resoundingly rebuffed at the ballot box.  In 2006, California voters rejected Proposition 89, which would have established a taxpayer-financed election system, 74.3 percent to 25.7 percent.

"Alaskans saw through the false promises of so-called "reformers" and recognized that recent political scandals in Alaska had little if anything to do with campaign contributions," Parnell observed. "Forcing taxpayers to pay for the campaigns of candidates they oppose was a backward step the Alaskans wisely rejected."

"These results should send a message to supporters of government-financed campaigns in other states," Parnell concluded.  "Voters do not want taxpayer-financed political campaigns."

Filed Under: Blog

“Clean Elections” Scrubbed in Alaska

Alaska, the site of numerous corruption scandals in the last two years involving the energy company VECO and extending all the way to the state’s long-time U.S. Senator, Ted Stevens, yesterday resoundingly defeated a proposal to implement a "clean elections" law to implement taxpayer funding of political campaigns.

Proponents of the law were well-funded, had the endorsements of all the state’s major newspapers and popular former governors Walter Hickel and Tony Knowles, support from the unions and the American Association of Retired Persons, and we expect when all is said and done, vastly outspent any opposition.  In fact, through August 16 Alaskans for Clean Elections had already spent over $140,000, while no organization at all existed in opposition to the measure.  Proponents attempted to parley the VECO scandals – which deal with allegations of outright bribery and laws already on the books – as a reason for placing more restrictions on private political participation and for hitting the taxpayer to pay for campaigns. 

It was, one might say, the "perfect storm" in which to pass a "clean elections" law.  Yet the voters saw through the malarky, and slammed the measure, 65-35.  Once again, the reform that dare not speak its name, that hides behind the misnomer "clean elections," proves not to be so popular in practice.  Congratulations to the voters of Alaska for preserving their tax dollars and their freedoms.

Filed Under: Blog

Do ‘Clean Elections’ increase the number of female legislators?

The Center for Competitive Politics released today an issue analysis refuting the myth that taxpayer-financed political campaigns increase gender diversity in state legislatures.

"The claim that taxpayer-financed campaigns make a difference in the number of women elected to office is false," said Sean Parnell, president of the Center for Competitive Politics.  "Welfare for politicians continues to show itself to be a poor use of taxpayer dollars with few discernable positive outcomes."

The study examines Arizona and Maine, the only two states with full government-financing programs for state legislative races.  Both states first implemented taxpayer-financed campaigns in the 2000 election cycle.

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) review of the Maine and Arizona legislatures shows little change in the gender makeup of members of the legislature between 1991 and 2008.   In fact, since the inception of taxpayer-financed political campaigns, the number of women legislators in Arizona and Maine has decreased slightly.

More after the jump. 

Filed Under: Blog

American Issues Project Ads Raise More Questions Than Probably Intended

 A relatively new group (perhaps so new it doesn’t even, technically, exist yet) called American Issues Project has begun airing ads critical of Senator Obama and his connections to Bill Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist who helped to found the Weather Underground, a group active in the U.S. in the 60’s and 70’s (now largely defunct due to incarceration and a lack of reasonable workplace safety procedures in their bombmaking operations).

The Obama campaign is not amused. A great deal of their reaction is what we at CCP would call "vigorous and robust exercise of the First Amendment," such as a letter challenging some aspects of the AIP ad, and a response ad from the Obama campaign.

Other aspects of this story are far more troubling, and indicate just how far down the road of speech regulation and suppression we’ve come since the Founding Father’s first wrote "Congress shall make no law…"

To read more, click on the headline above.

Filed Under: Blog

CCP chairman Brad Smith on TV

Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith should be featured in a Dan Rather Reports piece about convention fundraising set to air tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on HDNet.

Check your local listing to see if HDNet is available in your area.

Filed Under: Blog

Election 2008 Free Speech Project

CCP looks at the campaign finance issues surrounding independent advocacy efforts in the build-up to the 2008 election.

Filed Under: Research

Required to ask ‘Mother, may I?’

The lead news from the Federal Election Commission meeting last Thursday, as reported by the Associated Press , was that the six commissioners "voted unanimously … to belatedly approve Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s withdrawal from public financing for the primaries."  And, while that certainly was the newsworthy result, for those of us who were in attendance and follow election law, perhaps the more important discussion (and decision) was buried as a stand-alone sentence that appeared in the middle of the story.

More after the jump. 

Filed Under: Blog

An American tradition

The art of "negative" campaigning is often said to have taken off with Lee Atwater’s provocative "Willie Horton" television advertisement.

But Mental Floss magazine reminds us that "negative" campaigning his been around since the nation’s founding and will undoubtedly continue no matter what "regulatory" efforts are made to "clean up" campaigns.

Mental Floss gives the presidential campaign featuring Thomas Jefferson aandt John Adams the distinction of begetting negative campaigns.

More after the jump.

Filed Under: Blog

Arizona “clean elections” program challenged

The Goldwater Institute announced on Friday a lawsuit challenging the matching funds provision of Arizona’s Clean Elections Act.

The challenge can be found HERE.

Filed Under: Blog

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