Clean Elections & Scandal: Case studies from Maine, Arizona & New York City

Clean Elections and Scandal: Case Studies from Maine, Arizona and New York City

On June 27, 2011 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett that the election policies of several states were unconstitutional. Specifically, the Court declared the use of “matching funds,” whereby a privately-financed candidate for political office would be forced to trigger state-granted matching funds for any publicly-funded opponent if he or she spent above a certain threshold, were an unconstitutional demand on a candidate whose speech would be chilled by the mandate.

The ruling was greeted with horror by a number of pro-regulation reform groups such as Common Cause. The presumption, however, that “clean election” (i.e. taxpayer funded) systems have been an effective firewall against corrupting influences in the political process has little basis in fact. The reality, as will be shown here, is that “clean elections” laws often favor corrupt incumbents against upstart challengers and creates a number of new problems within the electoral system that are anything but “clean.”

This report will show how a number of candidates and their associates, in New York City, Maine and Arizona willfully abuse the campaign finance system, exploit loopholes ensuring they can keep much of their donation money off the books, and once in office, often further abuse public funds and even find themselves under investigation for criminal conduct. The abuse of public funds is so severe and the record of corrupt practices and other misdeeds are so rampant, particularly in the city of New York, that such a system cannot possibly live up to the “clean” moniker that has been assigned to it by proponents.



  1. […] went unnoticed but a court in Nebraska has decided to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, a decision that was greeted with horror by reformers in 2011 because it declared “the use of […]

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