Recently, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sat down with professor Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine School of Law. In their conversation, they discussed voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and campaign finance. The result was an illuminating look at how the diverging perspectives of a populist socialist and a legal expert arrive at common policy […]
Filed Under: Blog, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Issues, Money in Politics, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax Financed Campaigns Press Release/In the News/Blog, Tax-Financing, Bernie Sanders, Buckley v. Valeo, Rick Hasen
Alexandria, Va. — The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) is pleased to learn that the Supreme Court today decided to strike down the “matching funds” provision of the Arizona Clean Elections Act.
The court released the decision this morning after three months of deliberation. The decision ruled that the “matching funds” provision chilled First Amendment rights in campaigns by imposing a burden on the speech of privately-funded candidates and independent groups.
Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell released a statement today, saying: “The Supreme Court today struck down yet another so-called ‘reform’ measure that stifled free and unfettered political speech. In doing so the Court continued its streak of showing greater deference to the plain meaning of the First Amendment and less interest in schemes to suppress some speech in the interest of favoring the speech of others.”
Alexandria, Va. — Today, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC et al. v Bennett (also known as McComish v. Bennett) striking down key provisions of the Arizona Clean Elections Act (ACEA). The Act created tax-financed campaigns for those participating in the state-run program, and was challenged on the grounds that its “matching funds” provision ultimately chilled free speech and was in violation of the First Amendment.
The ruling is consistent with similar Supreme Court rulings over the past several years. In 2008, the Court ruled in Davis v. FEC that “leveling the playing field” for candidates did not justify asymmetrical contribution limits triggered by one candidate’s spending their own funds in support of their campaign.
“The Supreme Court got it right today – it is not the state’s business to favor some candidates by giving them additional money when they risk being criticized or outspent,” said Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward. “Keeping campaign and state separate is vital if our system of government is to flourish, and this ruling moves us closer to that ideal.”
Arizona’s matching funds provision was found to chill free speech because the state allocates additional funds to candidates based on the spending of their opponents or independent groups. Candidates and independent groups were effectively punished by the state for spending money to get their message out to the voting public.
“These programs of tax financed political campaigns have failed to achieve their goals wherever they’ve been implemented,” said Sean Parnell, president of CCP. “This latest ruling by the Court is one more nail in the coffin of so-called ‘reformers’ efforts to have government-managed political speech, something wholly contrary to the First Amendment.”
The implications of this decision will be felt in other states as well. Connecticut, Maine, West Virginia, and Wisconsin also have “matching funds” provisions similar to Arizona’s.
“We are excited to see these unjust, unfair programs that stifle speech be struck down,” said Parnell. “This is an important victory for our democracy.”
Comments of CCP President Sean Parnell to the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights
CCP President Sean Parnell submitted comments to an April 12, 2011 hearing of the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, on the subject of S. 750, the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA). If passed, FENA would institute taxpayer financed elections for candidates to federally-elected offices. In our comments, CCP noted that FENA relies upon false premises and flawed analysis and would almost exclusively benefit entrenched incumbents and other political insiders without providing any noticeable benefits to the public.
Filed Under: Blog, External Relations Comments and Testimony, External Relations Sub-Pages, Federal, Federal Comments and Testimony, Tax Financed Campaigns Comments, Tax Financed Campaigns Federal, Tax-Financing, Fair elections, FENA, public funding, tax financing, Comments and Testimony
The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) urged U.S. Senators to support a bill to scrap the presidential tax financing system, a subsidy program for politicians that taxpayers have increasingly abandoned.
The House voted to abolish the program in late January on a bipartisan 239-160 vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promptly introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will block a vote on bill. However, opponents of tax financing could attach the repeal language to another Senate bill under consideration.
“The American people deserve an up-or-down vote on this flawed subsidy scheme,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Barely seven percent of taxpayers volunteer a portion of their tax return to this program. Virtually the only people that will miss it are Washington insiders disappointed that the taxpayer-funded open bar at party conventions will run dry.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the failed presidential tax financing program Wednesday afternoon on a bipartisan 239-160 vote.
“Today’s vote is a win for common sense, as supporters of this political pyramid scheme could offer no compelling reason to continue wasting taxpayers’ dollars,” said Center for Competitive Politics President Sean Parnell. “Hopefully, the Senate will follow up with a vote to end these unnecessary subsidies for would-be presidents.”
The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will block consideration of the bill. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a companion bill in the Senate soon after the House vote, S. 194. If that’s unsuccessful, at least one Senator plans to move the measure forward by attaching it to another piece of legislation.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill to repeal the presidential tax financing system. The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) strongly urges a vote to abolish the antiquated system of government welfare for politicians.
“Presidential tax financing is an politico-religious construct of the Washington elite with no demonstrated benefits,” said CCP Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “In an era of austerity, this pet ideological project of self-anointed reformers needs to hit the chopping block.”
A Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday estimated that eliminating the program would save American taxpayers $617 million over the next ten years. Assuming that this $617 million represents money that would otherwise have to be borrowed, eliminating the program would also save in excess of $854 million in interest payments, saving taxpayers more than $1.4 billion. Even that underestimates the true cost of junking the program, as bureaucrat labor and candidate compliance costs are not considered.
The Center for Competitive Politics filed a friend of the court brief in a case before the Supreme Court that will determine the fate of the “matching funds” subsidy in Arizona’s tax financing system for political campaigns as well as similar programs in Connecticut, Maine, and Wisconsin.
The brief, authored by CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward, argues that Arizona must prove a state interest to support government intervention in political campaigns on behalf of particular candidates.
“The Supreme Court should question the assumption that ‘clean elections’ laws serve any legitimate governmental purpose,” Hayward said. “When the court considers neutral academic studies of tax financing laws, the lack of evidence of any real benefits and the larger problems inherent with state subsidization of political activity, we’re confident the court will conclude that Arizona’s program violates the First Amendment.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a First Amendment challenge to Arizona’s tax financing program for political campaigns, according to a brief announcement from the Court today.
The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom PAC v. Bennett.
“Arizona’s system of tax financing for political candidates has serious constitutional defects,” said CCP Vice President of Policy Allison Hayward, the author of the brief. “Beyond that, the program’s incentive, a speech-punishing subsidy to participating candidates, has no basis in sound public policy.”
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The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in McComish v. Bennett, the federal campaign finance case involving the constitutionality of Arizona’s taxpayer financing system for political candidates.
Federal judge Roslyn Silver ruled Arizona’s system of providing “matching funds” to candidates based on the speech of nonparticipating candidates and independent groups unconstitutional. The state appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which put the decision on hold while it considers the case. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 12.
“The matching funds provision of Arizona’s ‘clean elections’ program burdens the First Amendment rights of traditional candidates who decline to accept a government handout and instead wish to fully and freely exercise their First Amendment rights,” said CCP Vice President Steve Hoersting, who authored the brief. “They should be able to raise and spend campaign contributions without artificial caps or rewarding their opponents by speaking.”
The U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency motion by the Goldwater Institute to lift the stay on Judge Silver’s ruling, but the Court invited the Institute to re-file the emergency motion if the Ninth Circuit does not act by June 1. The state could begin handing out matching funds June 22.