Campaign Finance & Election

Campaigns should be open and free, not prone to manipulation through government financing schemes. And now the U.S. Supreme Court agrees.

<p>Campaigns should be open and free, not prone to manipulation through government financing schemes. And now the U.S. Supreme Court agrees.</p>

Phoenix -- Last week Arizona became the first state to challenge a particularly egregious overreach of federal power: Washington's current interpretation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Enacted in 1965, the Voting Rights Act ensures equal access to the ballot regardless of race.

Can the government play favorites when it comes to freedom of speech? The Goldwater Institute didn’t think so, and challenged Arizona's system of public campaign financing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The resulting victory struck down similar provisions in states across the U.S., preventing governments from gaming the political system in favor of government-funded candidates, and keeping elections free and open.


PHOENIX-Having lost the White House, Arizona businesses are launching a state initiative designed to preempt federal legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize.

The measure, launched early last week would constitutionally guarantee the right of Arizonans to have a secret ballot. That already is protected in Arizona in voting for candidates for public office and on ballot measures. The real aim is to extend that to elections by employees to decide if they want to unionize.

A new lawsuit seeks to stop Arizona's decade-old Clean Elections Law in its tracks.

If successful, the suit filed Friday by the Goldwater Institute could affect the outcome of this year's Sept. 2 primary election, where early voting has already started.

The 1998 law allows candidates for statewide and legislative office to get public funding. Voters approved the measure despite objections from several business groups that traditionally financed campaigns through personal donations of executives and political action committees.

A federal judge late Friday voided a key provision of the state's system of publicly financed elections.

Judge Roslyn Silver said it is unconstitutional for the government to provide matching funds to candidates who campaign with state dollars when their privately financed foes spend more.

She said the system can be "manipulated" in ways that financially harm those who decline to take government dollars.

Lawmakers reacted with shock and awe when the Clean Elections Commission, which provides a way for candidates to run for office without lobbyist contributions, hired a lobbyist for $7,500 a month.

"I didn't think it was appropriate," Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, said in an understatement.

Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, had a more pointed reaction: She quickly penned legislation that would ban any public agency or government from sending a lobbyist to the Legislature. advertisement

With the Tucson metropolitan area now home to more than 1 million people, it might stand to reason Southern Arizona would see its political clout mount.

But as Tucson flexes its new muscles, other Arizona cities and towns are downing steroids. As much as Tucson has grown, and continues to, other parts of the state are growing faster.

Mainstream America is learning that Latinos hold a wide spectrum of political beliefs

Mainstream America is slowly absorbing the concept that Latinos hold dear a wide spectrum of political beliefs, from far left to rock-solid conservative.

This diversity is not lost on the leaders of the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank based in Phoenix, which is planning an outreach to Hispanics next year.

SANTA CLARITA - Residents fed up with ballooning campaign spending will ask local officials to follow lawmakers in Los Angeles and Sacramento who are considering public campaign finance plans. Even if the City Council embraces the measure, it would be too late for the April 11 City Council election, where three seats are up for grabs.

"I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" is a gag line that's been around as long as bureaucrats. So we often wonder at the public's continued gullibility when it comes to politicians' promises to make our lives better. 

After all, isn't making our lives better primarily our own responsibility as individuals? 

That's why we've long been skeptical of