Keep Arizona Elections Clean!

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The New York Times yesterday published a great editorial standing up for Arizona's Clean Election system, part of which is currently being debated in the Courts. According to the Times:

A group of recent Arizona candidates is challenging the triggered funds by arguing that the system violates their First Amendment right to free speech. They say that the prospect of matching funds for opponents deterred them from exercising their right: the fear of triggering funds led them to delay or refrain from raising and spending money and so to censor themselves.

This claim is ludicrous. The First Amendment gives all candidates the right to express their views, not to have the floor to themselves. The Supreme Court lets them raise as much as they can — or spend as much of their own money as they want. The Arizona law lets them use that money to full effect.

The public financing system was designed to clean up a monumental scandal. The chairman of the Arizona House Judiciary Committee was caught on videotape jovially stuffing a gym bag with $55,000 in cash, a blatant bribe for his vote. In that era of outlandish wrongdoing, almost one out of 10 of the Arizona Legislature was charged with political corruption. The governor was removed for acting corruptly. So was his successor.

Clean Elections in Arizona remains popular with voters--and elected officials. In fact, Gov. Jan Brewer ran and won using the system this November. The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case this spring--let's hope they side with the people and not the special interests.