Clean Break

Proposition 200: This Proposal For Publicly Financed Elections Will Make The System Worse, Not Better.


WE HERE AT the Tucson Weekly admire the City of Tucson's method of funding campaigns with public dollars. And we're repelled by the way national politics are driven by the millions of dollars poured into campaigns and political parties.

That said, for several reasons, we can't bring ourselves to support Proposition 200, the Citizens Clean Election Act, which would provide public funding for state campaigns.

Currents For starters, unlike Tucson's system, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match for the money candidates raise, Prop 200 creates a program which gives candidates a complete campaign war chest once they've crossed a fund-raising threshold. Candidates for the state Legislature would get $25,000 if they were able to get 200 $5 contributions, while gubernatorial hopefuls would get $950,000 if they were able to get 4,000 $5 contributions. Sure, it puts candidates on a level playing field. But do we really want perennial nutbags like Joe Sweeney on a level playing field with legitimate candidates? For that matter, do we want Joe Sweeney eligible for $25,000 in taxpayer dollars under any circumstances?

Even more troubling, only half of that money would be available for candidates during the primary election, even though many races are decided in the primary.

Worst of all, however, is the creation of a committee that would be charged with overseeing campaigns and "educating" voters. The five members of this committee, who would earn $200 a day plus expenses whenever they meet, are granted the power to monitor candidates and enforce campaign law. How long before the committee decides to censor the "wrong" form of political speech?

There's no question that the political arena is messy. But trying to magically clean it up with a group of appointed mandarins is no solution. We could be persuaded to support public financing of campaigns, but this proposal falls short. Vote NO. TW

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