The two campaign reform proposals
The most recent effort at campaign finance reform was a farce. It was designed to be ruled unconstitutional by the courts. With the caucus scandals at the forefront, politicians had to have “something” to face the voters with, even if later declared unconstitutional. So they designed a system that would fail in the courts after the November elections, and fail it did.
In the coming months you’ll see two distinct reform proposals:
Comparison of Clean Money Clean Elections Proposal (AB 295/SB 137)
Ellis Proposal (Senate Amendment 1 TO SB 12)
How Clean Money Elections Work : Arizona Web Site
45% public financing, 55% private (SB12 by Sen. Mike Ellis)
100% Clean Money Clean Elections (like those in Maine and Arizon
|Clean Money 100%
|Percent Public Financing
|Except for qualifying and seed contributions, 100% public financing
|45% public, 55% private
|The Clean Money reform frees candidates from the money chase and levels the playing field.The Ellis bill rewards candidates who can raise money and who know contributors who write large checks. Over 80% of better-funded candidates win under current system.
|Specific number of contribution of $5. Number is dependent on the office.
|Must raise 5% of the total spending limit for that office in contributions of $100 or less. Only half of those contributions must be from within the district.
|The purpose of the Clean Money qualifying funds is to demonstrate constituent support within the district.The Ellis plan rewards candidates who can collect $100 contributions inside and outside of the district. It demonstrates fund raising ability more than constituent support within the district.
|For Clean Money candidates, no contributions over $100 and up to a specific total amount – such as $1,500 for State Senate.
|Current limits are retained. Those running for statewide office (e.g., Governor, Justice) can accept contributions up to $10,000 even if they accept a public grant. Limits “spending” amount but does not limit “raised” amount.
|A major purpose of the Clean Money reform is to reduce the influence of special interests and restore the voice of ordinary people to the political system. Thus, it limits contributions both in size and number.The Ellis bill rewards incumbents and candidates who can attract the few who write large checks. While it does not allow contributions from PACs — thus placing labor at a disadvantage relative to business donors — it still allows special interests to make their voices heard loudly. Unlimited amounts of contributions allow development of large war chests that can be used to influence other candidates and the party.
|Sources of Contributions
|Clean Money candidates can accept contributions only from individuals. All qualifying contributions must be from within the district. Additional seed money can be from anywhere.
|Those applying for grants can accept contributions from individuals or political party committees. Half of the qualifying contributions must come from individuals from within the district.
|The Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional the restriction that all campaign contributions come from within a district. Clean Money reform separates qualifying contributions from seed money for an important reason. Qualifying funds demonstrate political support. Additional seed money provides the basics a campaign needs to get started.The Ellis proposal provides an unsatisfactory combination. Half of qualifying funds can come from any location – and therefore do not demonstrate constituent support from within the district. By allowing contributions from Political Party Committees, it encourages the large contributors to donate to those committees and political leaders decide who will receive Party money. This bill merely shifts the problem; it does not eliminate it.
|Timing of Contributions
|A Clean Money candidate can accept no contributions after receiving the grant.
|Incumbents cannot solicit funds during the legislative session prior to the Budget being enacted. Otherwise, candidates can raise funds throughout the campaign.
|One goal of the Clean Money reform was to provide a system whereby candidates could focus on citizens’ concerns – not fundraising. By eliminating fundraising after receiving the grants, it does this.The Ellis bill acknowledges one aspect of the need for campaign finance reform – the blatant give-to-get system that occurs during the budget process. It does not acknowledge the ongoing issue of candidates spending time on fund raising and the relationships that develop with large contributors.
|Candidates receive grants for primaries. Upon winning a primary, they receive additional funds for the general electionOnce qualified, grants for primaries are one-third of the total grant. The total grant for a State Senate race is $120,000. One-third, or $36,000 would be granted for the primary.
|Candidates receive 10 percent of their grant for a primary, over and above the 5% qualifying dollars.
|In the vast majority of legislative races, the primary is the main election, since a district may be overwhelmingly for one party. The Clean Money reform recognizes this and encourages competition for the seat by providing funding in the primaries.Ellis acknowledges the importance of primaries, but provides only a minimal amount of funding, thereby rewarding incumbents and candidates with access to money (and can actually force the raising of private dollars to stay in the race). It does not do much for an otherwise qualified candidate who does not have access to big contributors.
|Currently, General Purpose Revenue, but other funding sources can be developed.
|A $5 check off on income tax forms and sum sufficient GPR
|The basic requirement is that funding be stable and sufficient. The current $1 check off produces only slightly more that $300,000 per year, thus additional funding is required in either case. However, Clean Money would virtually eliminate special interest influence and offset the investment, whereas Ellis would not (and may indeed increase it).
|Opponents who do not accept public grants
|Clean Money candidates who have opponents who do not accept public grants and who raise more than the stated spending limits will receive additional matching grants up to 3 times the amount of the original grant.
|Candidates who have opponents who do not accept public grants but who spend more than the stated spending limits will receive additional matching grants up to 3 times the amount of the original grant.
|Both plans address the problem in approximately the same way. It reduces the advantage currently held by candidates who are wealthy and pay for their own campaign or who have access to large numbers of big contributors.
|Addressing Independent Spending
|Organizations that run ads (electronic or print media) using the name or likeness of a candidate must register and report their disbursements. If a Clean Money candidate is the target of such ads, the candidate receives matching funds up to 3 times the amount of the original grant.
|Same, except candidates who are targets and take grant money receive matching grants to match the total expenditure of such ads.
|While the approach is similar in both bills, the lack of a cap on matching funds in the Ellis proposal could increase the financial liability for the state.On the other hand, Ellis’s limitless matching funds could provide a greater disincentive for those intent on “breaking the bank,” and could result in fewer such efforts.
|Changes for Non-Publicly funded candidates
|None. Candidates are free to choose to run under the current privately funded system or the Clean Money System.
|Changes are made in regulating PACs, conduits, legislative campaign committees, and political parties as well as banning the solicitation of funds while the budget is being formulated.
|The changes offered under the Ellis bill strengthen the role of Political Parties and affect most those candidates who rely on Political Action Committees as opposed to large individual donors.
|Because candidates can opt in or out of the Clean Money system, it passes constitutional muster (and has survived challenges at both state and federal Appeals Court levels).
|Since candidates may also opt out of the public grant and run under the current system, Ellis is also believed to pass constitutional muster.
|The U.S. Supreme Court’s Buckley v. Veleo decision specifically supports voluntary systems.
|A Chamberlin Research poll demonstrated 76.2% public support for 100% public funding of campaigns.
|The same poll showed only 51.5% support of partial public funding of campaigns.
|In the 2000 referendum, over 90% of the public supported campaign finance reform.
|About $5 per taxpayer per year
|Probably about the same or slightly less.
|Though roughly the same cost, Clean Money’s significant reduction in special interest influence would eliminate most of the corporate welfare that currently costs taxpayers about $240 per year. These interests would still have influence under the Ellis bill.The cost of the Clean Money reform would be about $5 per eligible voter. Ellis would be roughly the same cost to the taxpayer without the benefits of financial separation between private interests and public leaders.
|It’s working great in two states! In Maine, 77% of the state senate and 55% of the state house are made up of candidates who ran “clean.” The Arizona state house will be 45% “clean,” as will 17% of the state senate. Overall, 152 out of 287 state elected officials in the two states, or 53%, will have participated in Clean Elections.
|While partial public financing in Minnesota has made it easier for candidates to run, it has not decreased special interest influence in the Legislature. Thus that state’s budget deficit remains twice that of Wisconsin’s.
|SB12 is similar to Minnesota but adds matching funds when candidates receiving public grants are opposed with issue ads.
|Voter turnout in Arizona increased by 10%
|No experience yet
|With private money still 55% in control, minimal effect on voter turnout is expected under the Ellis bill (if at all).
How Clean Money Campaign Reform (CMCR) works:
1) Qualifying: Candidates must collect a prescribed number of signatures and minimum $5 qualifying contributions from registered voters in their district. To cover minor costs during the qualifying period, candidates are permitted to raise a limited amount of seed money from private sources in amounts not exceeding $100 per contributor.
2) Primary funding: Candidates who meet the qualifying requirements and agree not to raise or spend private money during the primary and general election campaign periods receive a set amount of money (up to 1/3 of the total grant) from the Clean Money fund.
3) General election funding – Candidates who win their party primaries and qualifying independent candidates who agree to the voluntary restrictions receive a set amount of general election funding from the CMCR fund.
4) In order to maintain a financially level playing field, Clean Money candidates who are outspent by privately financed opponents, or targeted by independent expenditures or issue ads, are entitled to a limited amount of matching funds.
More can be found at: http://www.publicampaign.org/cleanmoney.html