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>

The on-again, off-again investigation to determine if gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon was late in reporting expenses that trigger public matching funds to his primary election foes revolves around the following question:

"Does a candidate not taking public money have to report an expense when it is actually incurred or when he pays the tab? In other words, does the candidate report the cost of printing a campaign leaflet when the bill is paid or when the order is placed?

The two leading candidates for governor have found common ground. Both agree with Gov. Jane Hull's latest directive to address the state's budget crisis.

Republican Matt Salmon and Democrat Janet Napolitano are the only candidates who fully support 10 percent cuts at nearly every state agency to reduce a projected $400 million budget deficit this year.

Those who attended a candidates' debate in Tucson last night said the event was invaluable for voters as they try to decide who should be Arizona's next governor.

"It's important to hear from their mouths how they feel, their views and how well they can relate to the questions and how much they know about the issues," said Jane Rhee, 20, a Tucsonan who studies government at Harvard University.

"The interplay between political parties was very interesting. I've never seen so many viewpoints expressed all at once."

Now that the Arizona Court of Appeals has exposed one of the many dirty little secrets of the "Clean Elections" system - that its main funding source is unconstitutional - the public soon may have to decide whether it's worth keeping.

Public funding of political campaigns seems to have grown in acceptance and popularity since the law narrowly passed in 1998. But it's relatively easy to politically support something that others are financially supporting - like the Clean Elections system.

JOHN FUND'S POLITICAL DIARY

Politicians make a grab for political cash.

Wednesday, February 6, 2002 12:01 a.m. EST

PHOENIX--Would you like it if every time you paid a parking ticket, 10% of the fine went directly to the political campaign of someone you planned to vote against?

In February, a Tucson-area physicians group argued before the Ninth Circuit that Arizona's Clean Elections system is unconstitutional, and a decision is expected this summer. Several Arizona policymakers, including State Treasurer Dean Martin, argued that the current system of financing campaigns restricts free speech.

Proposition 200 would bribe people uninterested in voting to vote anyway by giving them a chance to win a $1 million lottery. What could be a greater insult to American values?

Our right to self-government - the vote - has been paid for over the years with the sacrifice of heroes. Americans today can be justifiably proud of our universal suffrage, where every citizen in good standing has a right to vote without undue impediments.

Last week I wrote that the Ninth Circuit got it wrong when it put Arizona's voter ID law on hold. My hope:  that the Supreme Court would put the Ninth Circuit judges in their place and overturn the decision.  On Friday, put them in their place they did.  Like Sir Winston Churchill once observed, when the "eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."  This time, the Supreme Court brought the Ninth Circuit's jabbering to a quick end.

This fall, voters around the nation face a wide selection of citizen initiatives.  Of particular note is "Amendment 3" in Florida.  This is a counter-initiative that would make it more difficult to amend the Florida Constitution.  That may be a good thing. 

Prop. 202, the minimum wage initiative, would raise the statewide minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour. Proponents don't talk much about the other provisions in the proposition, which is understandable. There's some pretty nasty stuff in the fine print.

This proposition exemplifies an unfortunate new trend in Arizona politics. Initiative writers with a popular cause have come to realize they can include stealth provisions in their text that will escape public notice - until the election is over and it's too late.

Pages