Goldwater Scholar Expresses Support for Lawsuit Challenging Clean Elections, Calls Campaign Subsidies an Attack on Free Speech

Posted on January 29, 2004 | Type: Press Release
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PHOENIX-Goldwater Institute constitutional studies director Mark Brnovich expressed support for a lawsuit filed today in federal court challenging Arizona's system of taxpayer-financed political campaigns. The lawsuit, filed by the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter, challenges the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act (CCEA) on First Amendment and equal protection grounds. "The CCEA seeks to make political campaigns a wholly owned subsidiary of the government," Brnovich said. "When the government undermines people's ability to participate in the political process, it attacks our constitutional freedom of speech."

"The CCEA abridges freedom of speech by limiting the ability of individuals to freely contribute to candidates of their choosing," Brnovich said. By using taxpayer funds to neutralize the speech of nonparticipating candidates, he argues, the CCEA creates a chilling effect among would-be campaign supporters. "The law is clearly an unconstitutional violation of the free speech guarantees in both the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions," Brnovich stated.

Further, Brnovich argues, the CCEA is designed to deter candidates from opting out of the system and imposes numerous restrictions on candidates who do not take taxpayer money. Those restrictions include expenditure matching provisions, the payment of funds based on gross contributions to nonparticipating candidates, and daily campaign finance reporting requirements. Brnovich points out that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a similar Minnesota law because it chilled speech and favored the speech of participating candidates.

A review of voting records published by the Goldwater Institute revealed no difference between the voting patterns of taxpayer-funded politicians and politicians who raised their money through voluntary donations. "If you're a Democratic legislator, and you take taxpayer subsidies, you're likely to vote like Democratic legislators who do not take subsidies," Brnovich said. "The same goes for Republicans."

The lawsuit, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons v. Brewer, was filed with the United States District Court, District of Arizona.

Contact: Mark Brnovich, Director, Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Studies, (602) 462-5000 x 232

Press Contact: Tom Jenney, Director of Communications, Goldwater Institute, (602) 712-1257

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