In this article, Daren Bakst analyzes the constitutional, financial, and practical issues surrounding North Carolina’s Judicial Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which instituted taxpayer-financed judicial campaigns in the state. Although the article details the constitutional issues inherent in the program’s “rescue funds” provision, which is now unconstitutional as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, it also goes in depth to disprove the philosophical and practical arguments of the program’s proponents. Ultimately, Bakst argues that, for a variety of reasons, North Carolina’s taxpayer-funded judicial campaign program should be repealed. Even more significantly, this article is instructive in summarizing many of the problems with judicial tax-financing programs and with tax-financing programs in general.
A Goldwater Institute published by Allison Hayward about Arizona’s taxpayer financed elections.
For the first part of this study, the authors examine Maine and Arizona, the states that have already enacted “clean election” laws, or taxpayer financed campaigns. They ask the questions: “Does public financing work?” and “Does it achieve the goals that are put forth as justification?” The authors also analyze the four arguments advocates of public financing often rely on. The authors first explain why public funding would work, in theory; followed by why it does not fully work. They do this by addressing the congressional reports, campaign finance legislation and data on electoral competition.
Does Cleanliness Lead to Competitiveness? The Failure of Maine’s Experiment with Taxpayer Financing of Campaigns
On November 5, 1996, voters passed the Maine Clean Election Act by ballot initiative. That was the first piece of state or federal legislation to offer taxpayer financing to state-level candidates who voluntarily accept spending limits and refuse private contributions. The legislation applied to state senate and house candidates beginning with the 2000 primary and […]
Filed Under: Research, Tax Financed Campaigns Research, Tax-Financing, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Cato Institute, Maine Clean Election Act, Martin Zelder, Patrick Basham, Taxpayer Financed Campaigns, Maine
In this policy briefing, John Samples argues against the notions that taxpayer financed campaigns would increase the integrity of elections and lawmaking, political equality, and electoral competitiveness. One of the popular arguments in support of government financed campaigns is that they will reduce the incidence of corruption. Samples opines that taxpayer financed campaigns are themselves corrupt, as public funds are used to serve private interests. He also rebukes the argument that the public favors the rhetorically-challenged message of “clean elections” and “reform.” Ultimately, Samples’ analysis demonstrates why the efforts of the “reformers” are likely to fail.
This report analyzes the effects of the Citizens Clean Elections Act after its first election cycle to determine its impact on the competitiveness of legislative races in 2000. The report also explores whether accepting public subsidies caused legislators to vote differently from legislators who continued to accept private support. Finally, this report comments on the concerns that are raised by an expansion of campaign finance regulation and subsidies like the Clean Elections Act. The author concludes that given the program’s negligible impact, its cost, and its infringement of First Amendment rights, the Clean Elections system should be repealed.