Supreme Court Blocks Arizona Matching Funds

     (CN) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday barred Arizona officials from distributing matching funds to state candidates who agree to spend only public money on their campaigns.

     The justices vacated the 9th Circuit’s stay of an order barring enforcement of Arizona’s Clean Elections Act, which aims to dilute the political influence of private-interest groups.
     The law’s opponents, including traditional Republican candidates, said the law chills their political speech, because it forces them to limit how much they spend on their own campaigns to avoid triggering additional matching funds for their Clean Elections opponents.
     A week ago, the high court refused to block enforcement of the law, but said opponents could renew their application “if the parties represent that they intend to file a timely petition for a writ of certiorari.”
     The parties have done so, and the high court has effectively killed matching funds until it either rules on the case or declines to hear it.
     The Clean Elections law, approved by voters in 1998, allows candidates who collect a certain number of $5 donations from constituents to receive a lump sum of public money if they agree not to accept private donations. They can then qualify for more public money if an opponent running as a traditional candidate spends more money on his or her campaign than the publicly funded candidate initially received.
     Tuesday’s order limits publicly funded candidates Jan Brewer and Dean Martin to the $707,440 they initially received for their Republican primary battle.
     Their opponent, Buz Mills, who is financing his own campaign, has already spent close to $2.3 million, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.
     Brewer and Martin had counted on getting about $2.1 million under the law, but are now restricted to the base amount.

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