Monday, December 20, 2010

Latest Republican attack on Clean Elections under the guise of "free speech"

From the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) -
Arizona’s Clean Elections system may rise from the dead just long enough to slap the people who are dancing on its grave.

Rep. Ted Vogt, a Tucson Republican, plans to introduce a bill that would drastically raise the campaign contribution limits for privately funded candidates. But the voter-approved law that created the Clean Elections system may require a three-fourths vote in the Legislature to change the contribution limits, which could slam the door on a proposal that’s certain to face stiff opposition.
Vogt wants to raise the campaign contribution limits for statewide and legislative candidates to match the limits for federal offices (currently $4800/year for humans; unlimited for corporations), but the law approved by the voters that created Clean Elections is standing in the way.  It ties funding limits for "traditionally" financed candidates to the Clean Elections law, which cannot be changed unless passed by a 3/4 vote of the legislature and only if any changes further the intent of the voters.

Given that the Rs despise Clean Elections and want to destroy it, that last seems unlikely to occur.

Lest one thinks that traditionally-financed candidates have taken vows of campaign poverty, consider these numbers, courtesy the AZ Secretary of State's website:

House Speaker Kirk Adams (R-LD19) raised over $190K for his 2010 race

Rep.-elect Ben Arredondo (D-LD17) raised $115K

House candidate Shawnna Bolick (R-LD10) raised $100K

Senate candidate Cheryl Cage (D-LD26) raised $124K

Sen.-elect Adam Driggs (R-LD11) raised $109K

Senate candidate Justin Johnson (D-LD10) raised $137K

Senate candidate Bill Konopnicki (R-LD5) raised $131K

Rep. Eric Meyer (D-LD11) raised $105K

Sen.-elect Michele Reagan (R-LD8) raised $125K

Rep. Nancy Young Wright (D-LD26) raised $120K

There were also a number of candidates who raised between $80K and $100K, but in the interests of brevity, I'm not going to list them all here.  Most of the candidates who raised less than that were either Clean Elections-funded candidates or were unopposed.

In the Cap Times article, Vogt and a talking head from the Goldwater Institute try to portray this as a matter of free speech and Clean Elections and current contribution limits as acting to suppress free speech.

Well, they are entitled to have and express their opinions, but no one that I've spoken to can find the part of the Constitution that protects one's "right" to buy and sell candidates for public office, or the right of candidates to sell themselves to the highest bidder.

And after a careful reading, I can't find such a protection either.

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