State Capitol News
10:54 am
Fri January 15, 2010

Federal judge poised to throw out key provision of state's system of public funding of elections

Phoenix, AZ – The Clean Elections Act approved by voters in 1998 allows
candidates for statewide and legislative office to get public
dollars if they don't take outside cash. It also says these
candidates get a dollar-for-dollar match if their privately
funded foes spend more. That provoked a lawsuit from some
candidates running with private dollars. In a preliminary order
late Thursday, Judge Roslyn Silver said it's unconstitutional for
the government to do that kind of equalization in the name of
fairness. Silver is set to make a final ruling today. If her
order stands, the decision could leave dozens of candidates who
have already decided to accept public funding at a severe
financial disadvantage. That includes three high-profile
Republican candidates for governor: incumbent Jan Brewer and
challengers Dean Martin and Vernon Parker. All three had agreed
to run their races with the approximately $700,000 allocation for
the primary based on the promise they would get additional cash
if any of their privately funded opponents spent more. The
chances of that happening are good: Buz Mills, a Northern Arizona
business owner, already has deposited close to $2.1 million of
his own cash into his campaign for the GOP nomination. His
publicly funded opponents do not get matching dollars, though,
until he spends it. And if Silver signs her order as written,
there will be no match at all. For Arizona Public Radio this is
Howard Fischer.