How Clean Money Elections works
Candidates must first qualify by showing community support. The grant money they receive can only be spent on authorized campaign expenses, and they must agree not to spend private money — even their own — beyond the primary.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Clean Money fund.
- 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.
Importantly, Clean Money Elections are alive and well in both Maine and Arizona, and in both states they have survived court challenges (because it is a voluntary system).