Arizona Campaign Finance (First Challenge) - Release: 4-18-2002

Court of Appeals Grants Special Action Petition, Prompt Ruling Expected On Clean Election Act Validity

WEB RELEASE: April 18, 2002
CONTACT: John Kramer
(703) 682-9320

[First Amendment]


Washington, D.C.—The Arizona Court of Appeals today granted a special action petition that should lead to a prompt decision on the constitutionality of the Clean Elections Act, just as the 2002 statewide elections are shifting into high gear.

The petition was filed by the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter, which asked the court to expedite a ruling on the constitutionality of a 10-percent surcharge on civil and criminal fines that provides more than two-thirds of the funding for the campaign subsidy program.

"This law is a sham," declared Clint Bolick, Institute for Justice vice president and national director of state chapters. "In a free society, political contributions should be voluntary, not compelled by the state."

The court heard arguments over the law’s constitutionality only yesterday. The order granting the special action petition was signed by Judge Sheldon H. Weisberg.

"This decision affects not only the upcoming elections, but the right of all Arizonans to be free from having their political contributions dictated by the state," said Thomas Liddy, director of the Arizona chapter. "We’re pleased that the Court is prepared to act swiftly to resolve the important constitutional issues."

The Institute represents State Rep. Steve May, who received a parking ticket containing a 10-percent surcharge for political contributions. May accepts only voluntary contributions for his own campaigns, and doesn’t want his money used to finance his opponents or other candidates he does not support.

The Institute won a decision earlier this year when a Superior Court judge struck down a fee on certain lobbyists to fund the Clean Elections Act. The remainder of the political subsidy fund comes from taxpayers.

 

 

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