Today's Fayetteville Observer published this letter to the editor I wrote regarding taxpayer-financed campaigns.
Josh Glasser thinks he has found a silver bullet for all that ails today’s
political landscape: forcing taxpayers to finance political campaigns (“Clean
elections restore democracy,” May 3).
Unfortunately, Glasser’s solution has been tried before and the promised
benefits never materialize, while taxpayers suffer a severe blow to their right
to free speech and political expression.
For instance, Glasser believes taxpayer-financed campaigns will encourage
more people to run for elected office. Not true. Arizona implemented this system
in 2000 for statewide elections, and from 2002 to 2004, the number of statewide
candidates fell from 39 to seven.*
Glasser also seems concerned about the “money explosion” involved in
campaigns. But how is it fair to force taxpayers to finance highly paid
political consultants? That’s what Glasser prefers. At a time of economic
recession and swelling deficits for local governments across the state, would
you rather see your tax dollars going toward more police and schools, or to
finance a political ad with which you disagree?
People who oppose taxpayer-financed campaigns don’t do so because we “feel
the current system works just fine.” We oppose them because, as history has
shown, they don’t produce the promised results and, more importantly, they erode
Glasser claims to support self-determination while advocating a bill that
would force taxpayers to finance political campaigns of candidates with whom
they completely disagree. When you strip away the fairy-tale promises that never
materialize, “clean elections” are downright dirty politics.
On a related note, the Locke Foundation's Daren Bakst writes about Senate Bill 336 – an important bill with major implications regarding North Carolina's welfare for politicians program that is scheduled for a Senate committee today.
Judiciary I Committee is scheduled to hear SB
336, a bill that would repeal the matching fund provisions in North
Carolina's taxpayer campaign financing programs. Senator
Phil Berger (R-Guilford, Rockingham) is the primary sponsor of this very
As I have written, it is unconstitutional for the
government to punish candidates who spend beyond a threshold amount of money by
providing matching funds to their opponents.
*A reader from Arizona alerted me that statewide offices in AZ are four-year terms with a few minor exeptions, so a comparison between 2002 and 2004 for such races is not a very good indicator. I should have instead mentioned that the number of primary legislative candidates in AZ dropped from 208 in 2002 to 188 from in 2004, down from 223 in 2000 (the first year of "clean elections").