Saturday, February 5, 2011

Voter Action Act

Two bills have been introduced that alter the state's public campaign financing system.

SB32, introduced by Sen Dede Feldman, makes a few minor alterations requested by the former Secretary of State. Unfortunately, it includes a provision that extends the period that the Secretary's office has to certify candidates and distribute funds to candidates.

This creates an enormous obstacle for candidates, who by law would be forbidden from spending any money for a ten day period. This is especially onerous for minor party candidates, as the ten day period includes the fourth of July holiday period.

Because of this defect, we have to oppose SB 32.

On the other hand, SB 294, introduced by Sen Eric Griego, does two important things. First, it expands the Voter Action Act to include all executive and legislative offices. And second, it addresses a key element of the legislation that was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court last year.

Using terribly flawed reasoning, the Supremes determined that the matching fund provision of Arizona's public campaign financing system "chilled" the free spending rights of nonparticipating candidates, because their spending could benefit participating candidates who would receive matching funds.

The new legislation eliminates matching funds based on nonparticipating candidates' spending, and replaces them with matching funds based on the participating candidates ability to raise private funds in small amounts (not more than $100 per contributor).

While we prefer the current system, it is better to alter it than to risk having the whole system thrown out in court. We support SB 294, which unfortunately as been sentenced to three committees, Senate Rules, Judiciary, and Finance.

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