Clean Elections Ruling Impact
Ted Simons: The U.S. Supreme Court last week struck down part of Arizona's public campaign finance law. The court ruled that giving money to publicly funded candidates to match spending by those running with private funds is unconstitutional. Here to talk about how the high court's decision might impact Arizona's political landscape are political consultants Stan Barnes of Copper State Consulting, and Bob Grossfeld of the Media Guys. Good to see you both back on the show.
Bob Grossfeld: Good to be here.
Stan Barnes: All right. Let's start with a general I am impression. What's the impact of this ruling on the Arizona political landscape?
Stan Barnes: It's as big as you might make it out to be. This political science experiment Arizona has been through I consider it's a one off experiment we've tried and had the impact of deciding who our governor was. It's changed the legislative makeup. And it all -- all in the name of trying to improve some perceived problem from politics. It's failed. The Supreme Court did the right thing. We're better off for it.
Ted Simons: What do you think?
Bob Grossfeld: When you look at the track record since '02, this is going to impact Republicans more than Democrats. Republicans -- because we've got this insane district system, it -- they were the ones using clean elections money more than anybody else in the primaries because that's where so many of the -- of those elections are decided. So it's going to impact them quite a bit unless they can scramble and I'm sure many of them are to get outside groups up and raising money.
Ted Simons: Ok. What kind of candidate now will go public? Considering the fact your opponent could be private and could raise to the ceiling and you can't.
Bob Grossfeld:Among the -- the consultant crew, I think there's a general agreement things are going to go back to where they were prior to '02, which is the -- to be nice about it, the fringe elements who could never have gotten on to the ballot before will still have access to the ballot through the mechanism of the $5 contributions and all of that.
Ted Simons: Do you agree?
Stan Barnes: Yeah, I do agree. In the course of this political science experiment I was referencing, we've seen people receive taxpayer dollars when they would receive none in a normal political complain and fritter that money away at bars and mountaintop posters of themselves in leather bikinis and crazy stuff and it didn't work. And now, in order to attract resources to run, candidates are going to have to be more presentable to more people and going to have to reflect the views of opinion leaders and doers and producers in society, the folks that give to campaigns and want it see good government.
Ted Simons: Does that equate to a more moderate candidate?
Stan Barnes: Labels are dangerous but it's fair to say you'll get a different kind of candidate. Needs to be one that is more presentable to more people. And one that's less oriented toward fringe politics and ideologue gone wrong nature.
Ted Simons: What do you think? Will we see more moderate candidates running because of this or have the fringe or extreme right or left, whatever the case may be, are they entrenched where they don't need it?
Bob Grossfeld: The real problem and I said this back in '0 2, the problem is we created a clean elections system to deal with the money and corruption and at the same time, created a new way of redistricting that's turned out to be inept and without reforming both -- reforming both at the same time, we get this mess. It's predictable. One can't solve the problem without the other and now we have broken down on both sides, who know what is we'll get.
Ted Simons: Is this possible you could see lawmakers -- could consensus rear its head in the legislature?
Stan Barnes: In this legislature?
Ted Simons: Knowing that matching funds ain't going to be there.
Bob Grossfeld: If you're talking about the Jetsons, not anything I can --
Stan Barnes: You mean the distant future.
Stan Barnes: I don't think it's one plus one equals two to get to us a legislature that's more unified but we will have -- we will have members behaving differently and won't have people that are either unqualified or could never have gotten there having resources which to make noise. And, you know, I -- the whole premise of this -- this political science experiment, I think, was wrong. Money is in politics. It’s always has been and always will be in any country on planet earth. That's not bad. Disclosure is good and the public knowing where money is coming from, who it's coming from and in real time that makes for a good system. And if you can't draw resources you shouldn't be making decisions about government.
Ted Simons: That almost sounds like something in the opinion written by chief justice Roberts who said there's no reason to equate -- I know you brought it with you. Impressive. No reason to equate money with corruption in politics.
Bob Grossfeld: I think he's dead wrong. He's quoting from his own opinion. Davis, which knocked out the millionaire's provision was used for the -- what was it? The citizens united.
Ted Simons: Yes, yes.
Bob Grossfeld: So they're relying on the previous decision and then come out with citizens united which blows everything up and then this one. This one was -- you know, compared to citizens united but had the same effect in terms of disclosure and stuff like -- we've been trying disclosure for a long time. Nobody pays attention.
Stan Barnes: Maybe because there's not a problem, is my argument. The disclosure is good, for those who want to pay attention to self-government. It's there for everyone to see.
Ted Simons: What about negative ads? Some are suggesting without this -- the matching funds in here, we could see less in the way of negative ads, do you agree with that?
Bob Grossfeld: Absolutely not. When you have outfits like the coke brothers flying around getting involved in campaign after campaign and then spinoff local type organization, a lot of money, they know the formula, you get in early and mess up your opponent and make the opponent deny whatever you charge them with straight up to the election.
Ted Simons: So you think private donation do not have a mollifying effect?
Stan Barnes: No, I think negative ads work and that's why they're used and regardless whether the money comes, candidates will continue to use them.
Ted Simons: Ok. In the grand scheme of things, when will we likely see a basic change of nature in political candidates because of this ruling? Soon? I mean, we had the last election, half the candidates were running public.
Stan Barnes: When Janet Napolitano won in 2002 by 11,000 votes and did it with matched taxpayer dollars to her campaign, every time that Matt Salmon went out and raised a dollar that told the world this game is different. He's out spending money to raise money and as he does, the future Governor Napolitano was raking it in. We're going to roll back to what we thought was the baseline, this idea you raise money on your merits and not rewarding your opponent at the same time. That means the 2012 election; the next election will be a whole different dynamic with many candidates opting not to use the public system and the private donations coming back.
Ted Simons: That soon?
Bob Grossfeld: Yeah, depending on how the redistricting turns out. Again, the numbers show very clearly. This was a Republican system during the entire primaries, and the Democrats were kind of along for the ride and used it more in the general.
Stan Barnes: An important point bob is making. The reason there's the clean elections thing is that somebody didn't like the outcomes we were getting this state government and tried to change the system. The redistricting panel Bob references’ are the same thing. Both of those initiatives were motor funded and energized by the democratic side of the Arizona political spectrum and both turned out to be failures for the democratic side. There's a lot of frustration in Arizona today. The center left of the state politic because they're not winning elections and can't seem to change the rules to reset the victories for themselves.
Ted Simons: Last word on that.
Bob Grossfeld: Sure. [Laughter]
Bob Grossfeld: Take that!
Bob Grossfeld: No, look, big money is now going to get bigger and until you've run a campaign in a state where there's just no limits, you haven't seen big money yet. And I know Channel Eight is nonprofit but your colleagues in the profit sector are going to make a ton.
Ted Simons: Well, with that encouraging note, we'll end the discussion, thank you very much.