Phoenix, AZ -- Goldwater Institute scholar Robert Franciosi applauds the unanimous decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals, which ruled yesterday that coercive public funding of campaigns is unconstitutional. Franciosi, who directs the Institute's work on electoral reform, also congratulates Rep. Steve May (R-Paradise Valley) and the Institute for Justice on an important victory in their two-year fight against coerced funding of political speech.
"In a free state," says Franciosi, "citizens should not be forced to finance politicians' campaigns for office."
The Clean Elections Commission plans to spend $17 million this year to subsidize campaigns. Says Franciosi, "An estimated $11 million was taken from residents through fines, forfeitures, and penalties. In keeping with the spirit of the ruling, the state should return that ill-gotten money to the people from whom it was taken."
Although he expresses satisfaction with the Court of Appeals' decision, Franciosi says the ruling leaves reformers with much unfinished business. "The Court did its job, which is to uphold the liberties of the people," he says. "But the people of Arizona should go further, and repeal the Clean Elections Act. Public subsidies for politicians are wrong."
Clean Elections continues to tap into the state's general fund through the $5 tax check-off promoted by the Commission's "$5 Bill" campaign. Franciosi sees Clean Elections as wasteful and ineffective. In a Goldwater Institute study released last year, he found that publicly subsidized candidates voted no differently than those who had received private support.
"Instead of trying to use a complicated system of tax incentives to invigorate campaigns," Franciosi says, "we should lift the existing campaign contribution caps and allow individuals and corporations to spend what they want on who they want."
For a copy of the Goldwater Institute's study on candidate voting patterns, contact Tom Jenney at (602) 744-9603. The study is also available on the Goldwater Institute website.