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Anti-abortion groups challenge NC public campaign funding

Posted September 13, 2011

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— Two political-action committees affiliated with an anti-abortion group have filed a federal lawsuit to challenge North Carolina's law allowing public funding of judicial campaigns.

North Carolina Right to Life PAC and North Carolina Right to Life Committee Fund for Independent Political Expenditures want the law declared unconstitutional, claiming that it violates their free speech rights.

Under the Voter-Owned Elections Act, judicial candidates who apply for public financing cannot obtain large contributions from individuals or special-interest groups. Whenever donations to a candidate who chooses to seek private contributions top a specified threshold, the state releases matching funds to the candidate's opponents who have signed up for public financing.

"This matching funds scheme imposes a substantial burden on the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups while releasing all publicly financed candidates from their agreed-to expenditure limits," the two groups said in their suit.

The groups tried to overturn the law five years ago, but both federal district and appellate courts ruled against them. They said they are making a second run at the law after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar matching-fund law in Arizona.

Since their initial suit, the groups said, they haven't provided financial support for any state Supreme Court candidate "for fear that the $240,100 trigger for matching funds for candidates ... would be pulled and cause funding to go to a candidate they did not support."

Their reluctance to contribute to the campaigns of candidates they support is evidence that their free speech rights are being "chilled" by the state law, they argue, asking that the law be overturned in time for the 2012 election.

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  • elcid liked Ike Sep 14, 2011

    "I'd be for that, but the problem is, politicians would have to vote for this to be put into place, and they are already bought."

    Yup

  • redapace Sep 14, 2011

    "All candidates get X dollars from a public fund with which to run their campaigns, all campaign expenditure must come from that X dollar amount, and when it's gone, it's gone."

    I'd be for that, but the problem is, politicians would have to vote for this to be put into place, and they are already bought.

  • elcid liked Ike Sep 14, 2011

    I'm all for whatever works, babble. The basic problem is that we have made elections for sale to the highest bidder by making their outcomes so dependent on the ability to raise and spend money.

    That assures that whoever raises the most money wins, and effectively puts candidates at the mercy of the guys writing the checks. It's a backdoor way of legalizing bribery.

  • babbleon Sep 14, 2011

    How about a ban on ANY private contribution to political campaigns... All candidates get X dollars from a public fund with which to run their campaigns, all campaign expenditure must come from that X dollar amount... elcid liked Ike

    You qualify for the funding by submitting a petition with Y% of registered voters as of the last election. The state will provide petition forms, pens and clipboards. The parties may, if they choose, provide places and times when people can come sign petitions, but are not allowed to provide anything more than a speaking podium with microphone, tables, chairs and water.

    My husband and I have thought about this a LOT. We think the biggest hurdle (aside from the entrenched interests) is selecting who qualifies for funding, then tracking it. I'd prefer the gov't provides most of the 'financing' as materials / media time, rather than $$, to reduce fraud.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Sep 14, 2011

    When elections swerve to pivot upon campaign financing, we have all sold ourselves out and the right to vote is no longer a valued priveledge.

    Money IS the root of all evil.

  • elcid liked Ike Sep 14, 2011

    How about a ban on ANY private contribution to political campaigns, direct or indirect, from ANY entity (people, PACs, corporations, etc.) No issue ads, no private expenditures, no nothing.

    All candidates get X dollars from a public fund with which to run their campaigns, all campaign expenditure must come from that X dollar amount, and when it's gone, it's gone.

  • Tax Man Sep 14, 2011

    How about a limit on all campaign funding of $500 per state office per candidate per election - get the money out of politics. Get people to support you and no money other than minor office expenses. Volunteers make the difference - committed volunteers. Why do we have to spend millions for a job that pays thousands? Power, greed! Take the money out and then anyone can compete.

  • whereisthedonkeyshow Sep 14, 2011

    Nobody should get special interest money... nor corporate contributions when running for public office and judicial candidates receiving this kind of money is a travesty.

    The power should go back to the people.

  • hppyhourhero Sep 14, 2011

    These right-wing people hate the freedom of the American people, they want to make this nation a theocracy, like Iran.

  • elcid liked Ike Sep 14, 2011

    You have to wonder why it never occurred to them to get their preferred candidates to sign up for this instead of wasting so much energy and money opposing it.

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