A ruling by a federal judge struck a blow to North Carolina’s system of taxpayer-funded political campaigns.
A federal judge struck down part of North Carolina’s public campaign financing system, following in the footsteps of other cases that link political money to free speech.
U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan issued her ruling Friday after the N.C. Right to Life Committee challenged a state law that gives judicial candidates “rescue funds” when outside political groups spend a certain amount against them.
“The North Carolina matching funds statutes (impose) a substantial burden on the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups,” the ruling states.
North Carolina has a similar financing program for Council of State candidates (but the funds for that program are drying up).
Under NC’s program of taxpayer-funded campaigns, “rescue funds” are triggered when a candidate relying solely on voluntary contributions – who is running against a candidate taking taxpayer dollars – raises more money than the taxpayer funded candidate has received from the public campaign fund. The rescue funds are intended to ensure that both candidates have an equal amount of money.
In such a situation, however, if you donate money to candidate X who is relying only on voluntary contributions, that triggers the rescue funds (taxpayer dollars) to his opponent. In short, your donation not only helps the candidate of your preference but also the candidate you oppose.
The court was right to strike down the rescue funds portion of this scheme – and this decision will go a long way toward ridding NC of the unjust practice of using taxpayer dollars to finance political campaigns.
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