State Capitol News
9:04 am
Fri January 22, 2010

Overturning laws will affect state campaigns

Phoenix, AZ – The high court said federal laws limiting how corporations and
unions can spend money to convince voters to support one
candidate or oppose another violate the First Amendment. State
elections director Amy Bjelland that makes Arizona's similar laws
unenforceable. Jim Haynes of the Behavior Research Center said
many corporations will stay out of races for fear of offending
customers or shareholders, concerns unions won't have. But
Rebekah Friend of the state AFL-CIO disagreed.

(The reality is, it doesn't level the playing field because they
can outspend us 20-1, 30-1, whatever the numbers are.)

Thursday decision has an amplified effect in Arizona, coming a
day after a federal judge ruled the state cannot provide matching
funds to publicly financed candidates when privately funded foes
-- or outside groups trying to elect them -- spend more than
their allocation. Todd Lang, director of the Citizens Clean
Elections Commission, said all that empowers special interests.

(Companies like Exxon, Enron can spend as much money as they want
endorsing candidates of their choice, which means for Arizona,
matching funds are all that more important.)

He said if the matching funds ruling isn't overturned,
well-heeled corporations could financially bury those publicly
funded candidates they oppose knowing the contenders will lack
the cash to respond in kind. For Arizona Public Radio this is
Howard Fischer.