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Arizona "Clean Elections" press conference

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Uploaded on Apr 1, 2011

The Institute for Justice and the Goldwater Institute have teamed up to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a decision of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Arizona's punitive system of funding campaigns with taxpayer money. The consolidated cases, Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett (No. 10-238) and McComish v. Bennett (No. 10-239), which the Supreme Court will hear argued on March 28, 2011, involve the "matching funds" provision of Arizona's so-called "Clean Elections" Act. The cases seek to vindicate the rights of independent political groups and candidates who do not take taxpayer funds to speak freely during political campaigns without having the government attempt to "level the playing field." Under the Arizona law, if a group makes an independent expenditure in favor a privately financed candidate, the unelected bureaucrats at the Clean Elections Commission dole out an almost dollar-for-dollar amount of "matching funds" to the publicly funded candidate. That means that for every dollar a group or individual spends to support the candidate of their choice, over the publicly funded candidate's initial government subsidy, the government pays an equal amount of money to the political competition. The Ninth Circuit, in conflict with controlling Supreme Court precedent and contrary to decisions from other federal appellate courts, found this system to be constitutional. IJ and Goldwater are now asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit's decision and hold that the Constitution does not permit the government to place its thumb on the scales in favor of taxpayer financed candidates in elections. The Supreme Court has already taken the unusual step of staying the Ninth Circuit's decision while it considers the case.

To learn more about the case, please visit: http://www.ij.org/azcleanelections

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