The United States Supreme Court is one step closer to taking a case involving Arizona’s campaign finance law. On June 8, 2010 the high court issued an order directing the Citizen’s Clean Elections Commission to not distribute matching funds. That order is actually a stay of a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year which allowed the funds to be given to qualifying candidates.
The case challenging Arizona’s public campaign finance law was brought by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank based in Phoenix. Nick Dranius, is the lead attorney on the case for the Goldwater Institute, following the Supreme Court’s order he said that he was pleased with the decision because it protected the First Amendment rights of his client. The Goldwater Institute says that by allowing candidates who participate in Clean Elections to receive matching funds it means that the privately funded candidates do not benefit if they can raise more money. Officials with the Citizen’s Clean Elections Commission disagree. They say it is important to give everyone a fair chance by taking uneven spending out of the equation.
The most high profile race that the stay from the Supreme Court effects is this year’s race for Governor. Republican Buz Mills, has put millions of his own dollars into the race. That meant that Governor Jan Brewer, who is running as a Clean Elections candidate was in line to receive millions in matching funds. She now will not receive that money. Treasurer Dean Martin who is also running for governor on the Republican ticket has announced despite his opposition to Clean Elections he will turn in the necessary paperwork to get the public financing. He made that announcement despite the order from the Supreme Court. It should be noted that Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is running for Governor, is also a Clean Elections candidate.
The Supreme Court is not expected to hear the case before the fall, which means that unless it rules rule very quickly, matching funds from Clean Elections is out for this election cycle.