NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 27, 2006

A recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned Vermont's strict campaign finance laws points the way to a possible solution that seems to be gaining political traction: public financing of campaigns, says USA Today. 

Seven states now give candidates for some state offices the option of rejecting private donations and accepting a fixed amount of public money.  If candidates choose private donations, the amounts are publicly reported and exposed to voter scrutiny and debate.

Best of all, this method has withstood court challenges, and it works, says USA Today:

  • In Maine, where the movement started in 1996, 80 percent of the winning legislative candidates in 2004 chose public financing.
  • In North Carolina, a dozen judicial candidates rejected private donations in 2004, and four of the five winners were publicly financed.
  • In Arizona, where the option came into play after the 1998 election, nearly 50 percent more women and minorities were running for office by 2004.

Of course, taxpayers have to provide the money for public financing, but they're already paying far more for the favors that politicians dole out with public funds to attract the money they need to stay in office, says USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "Give candidates option of public financing for races," USA Today, June 27, 2006

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