June 27, 2011
U.S. Supreme Court Again Sides With Big Money in Politics; But Public Financing of Elections Remains Firmly Intact
Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen
In yet another disappointing decision by a slim majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices have invalidated the “trigger provision” of Arizona’s campaign finance law. The trigger provision provides qualified candidates with additional public funds to match excessive spending by wealthy opponents.
While Public Citizen is disappointed with the ruling in Arizona’s Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, we are heartened by the fact that the court did not attack the concept of public financing of elections. Those who brought the case against Arizona’s public financing program had hoped the Supreme Court would invalidate public financing itself, but the justices refused.
That means public financing programs – without a trigger threshold – remain firmly intact. The Fair Elections Now Act, legislation that would enhance small contributions with a robust public financing matching program in federal elections, is now the model for reducing the potentially corrupting influence of big money in politics. We heartily endorse this model and again express our appreciation to its key sponsors, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.).