Senate Bill 20
Expand Taxpayer-Financed Campaigns
Thomas Jefferson once declared, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
Yet it is this sort of activity that the North Carolina General Assembly is seeking to expand. Senate Bill 20 would force taxpayers to finance the campaigns of candidates for state treasurer – even those candidates you may disagree with. SB 20 would add the state treasurer’s race to a 2007 bill (HB 1517) that initiated taxpayer-financed campaigns for three Council of State offices (Auditor, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Commissioner of Insurance) to use tax dollars to finance their campaigns.
Advocates of taxpayer-financed campaigns believe it will eliminate the corrupting influence of special interest groups, encourage more candidates to run for public office, and help citizens feel that their vote matters.
Experience proves these expected results never materialize. In fact, this system may very well increase the influence of special interests. Certain organizations, such as unions, could simply mine their membership rolls for the numerous small donations required to qualify their chosen candidate for the “voter-owned elections” funds. In other words, a limited amount of special interest money could leverage hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars toward their chosen candidate’s campaign. In the end, the candidate is still beholden to the union, and the union has more dollars to funnel to 527 groups to advocate for their chosen candidate. The result is that even more money is entered into the campaign process, special interest influence is magnified, and taxpayers see the erosion of their liberty.
As a 2003 op-ed article in the Arizona Republic (Arizona implemented taxpayer-financed campaigns in 2000) concluded: “Here’s the bottom line (with taxpayer-financed elections)… We’re left with a system that limits free speech, unfairly favors certain candidates, keeps powerful special interests in the game and drains funds from state priorities.”