by Jack E. Lohman
Well, it’d still have opponents. Their arguments go like this:
It’s a “free speech” issue! If you limit funding by capping the campaign’s expenditures, it violates the Federal Constitution’s guarantee of free speech.
- But it doesn’t apply here.
- are voluntary on the part of the candidate, who may choose to accept limits and refuse outside funding or decline and take special interest cash. Believe it or not, some candidates rise to high ethical standards and do not want to be corrupted by outside cash. The Arizona system has been challenged in the courts on this, and the moneyed interests lost.
It’s a taxpayer funding issue! “I don’t want my taxes used to fund campaigns, especially those of candidates I don’t support.”
- It doesn’t have to cost the taxpayers a penny. In the case of Arizona, the campaigns are funded by a surcharge on criminal fines. If you don’t want to contribute, don’t speed!
- But as well, under today’s system, the taxpayers
- funding the campaigns through the back door, and at hundreds of times more than if we simply funded them up front with taxpayer dollars. We are even funding competitive candidates.
When politicians repay their campaign funders with favored legislation, it costs the state about $1300 per taxpayer per year. Thus even if we did have it taxpayer funded, as in Maine, the cost would be less than $5 per taxpayer per year. Quite a savings.
It puts candidates at great disadvantage when WMC, WEAC or other special interests unload on issue ads against “clean” candidates.
- Not under a properly designed system (like Arizona and Maine). They provide candidates with enough funds to run a credible campaign, buy sufficient advertising, plus they add matching funds when attacks are made by outside sources. That reduces the incentives for such attacks and leaves the candidates to debate among themselves. As well, it actually increases debate by making sure that all candidates are properly funded.
I don’t want my candidates selected by my government!
- Well, they aren’t. They are selected by the constituents in the district. If the candidate cannot muster enough signatures to show community support, they keep their day job. Fringe candidates can be filtered out by requiring a $5 tax-deductible contribution on 80% of the signatures. It’s fair all around.
But… but… I still don’t like it!
Yeah, and that’s a problem. A politician problem. They don’t like it because it levels the playing field, and incumbents don’t like level playing fields. They don’t like “fair,” because that requires too much big money to offset, and that makes them look bad! And they don’t want to be labeled the “moneyed” candidate running against the “clean” candidate.
It’s a tough life, but they can choose the other side. I don’t mean the other party, I mean the folks they are going to represent.
Public funding of campaigns will eventually pass, but it will take a lot of pressure from the voters. It is currently opposed by the incumbents who deserve to be voted out of office, which is all of the Republicans and most of the Democrats. The nine legislators in the first column deserve re-election. The rest have to go.