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Is this the last bill of the session?

HB 1201 Establishes a public campaign financing system for state elections with voluntary participation

Sponsor: Holsman, Jason R. (45) Proposed Effective Date: 08/28/2009

CoSponsor: LeVota, Paul (52) ……….etal. LR Number: 2517L.01I

Last Action: 04/02/2009 – Read Second Time (H)


Next Hearing: Hearing not scheduled

Calendar: Bill currently not on a calendar

A public campaign financing bill was introduced in the General Assembly last year.

Let’s take a look at some of the details for the bill this session:

It’s a rather lengthy bill.


…130.207. 1. A candidate seeking to qualify may accept seed money contributions from any individual, business, association, or other organization before the end of the public financing qualifying period, so long as the total contributions from one contributor, except personal funds otherwise permitted under sections 130.200 to 130.220, do not exceed one hundred dollars, and the aggregate contributions, including personal funds, do not exceed one thousand dollars for a state representative race, two thousand dollars for a state senate race, five thousand dollars for a statewide race other than governor, and ten thousand dollars for a race for governor.

           2. Seed money shall only be spent during the exploratory period and the public financing qualifying period.

           3. Full disclosure of seed money contributions as well as expenditures shall be made to the commission in the manner and at the times provided for reporting of other contributions in section 130.205.

           4. In the event that excess qualifying contributions are received on an aggregate basis, such amounts may be retained and spent, before the start of the primary period, with such amounts to be deducted from the candidate’s public financing. In no event shall the total amount of qualifying contributions exceed the public financing to which the candidate would be entitled.

           5. Any seed money and qualifying contributions received by a participating candidate and not spent by the start of the primary period, as well as any funds held by any campaign committee organized to support the election of such a candidate in prior elections, shall be deposited to the credit of the fair elections trust fund created under section 130.213 at the beginning of the primary period…

I believe this is similar in intent to Arizona’s public campaign finance system.

…130.210. 1. In addition to other reports required by sections 130.200 to 130.220, in an election year a nonparticipating candidate shall file a report with the commission detailing that candidate’s total of funds raised, spent, or obligated to be spent to date if that candidate’s total receipts, expenditures, or obligations of expenditure exceed the primary or general election campaign finance amount applicable to a participating candidate in the same race…

…5. Upon receipt of a report required by subsections 1 to 4 of this section, the commission shall immediately credit an opposing participating candidate’s account with an additional amount equivalent to the reported amount in excess of the public financing amount applicable to the office sought. Such matching credit shall be limited to two times the public financing limit for the applicable office, and such credit shall be in addition to the base amount of public financing otherwise provided.

           6. The total amount of matching credit awarded to a candidate under this section and section 130.211 shall be limited to an amount equaling two times the public financing limit for the applicable office…

[emphasis added]

Like the Arizona system this is a powerful disincentive to opt out of public financing. If you do not accept public financing and you raise money over the public limit, your opponent(s) who have opted in to the system get an amount equal to that from the system.

In 2002 in Arizona a republican gubernatorial candidate who opted out of public financing raised $750,000 in a fundraiser which headlined dubya. After $250,000 in expenses the candidate netted $500,000. As a consequence of the gross amount raised in the republican event, the Democratic candidate who had opted into public financing was given $750,000 by the public finance system, netting $250,000 more than the republican candidate did from the republican fundraising event. A powerful disincentive indeed.

…130.211…3. When the aggregate independent expenditures against a participating candidate or for the opponents of that same candidate exceed twenty percent of the public financing amount for that office in that election cycle, the commission shall immediately credit that candidate’s account with an additional line of credit equal to the total independent expenditures made against that candidate or for that candidate’s opponents, except that:

           (1) Such matching credits shall be capped at two times the public financing amount per candidate, which shall be in addition to the base amount of public financing otherwise provided; and

           (2) In the event that the aggregate funds raised by all other candidates for the office in question do not equal the public financing amount for that office, the funds credited to the candidate receiving a matching amount under this section shall be reduced by an amount equal to such public financing amount minus the aggregate of funds raised by those other candidates.

Independent expenditures against a public financing candidate or in support of a non-public financing candidate will trigger a matching amount to the public financing candidate after a certain threshold.

If candidate who opted in to public financing has token opposition, the amount of public funds given to their campaign is reduced accordingly. That seriously complicates campaign planning. Talk about a level playing field…

…130.216. 1. If a participating candidate spends more than the public financing amount allocated to the candidate for the election in question, the candidate shall be subject to a civil fine of up to ten times the amount by which the expenditures exceeded the applicable limit…

…  6. If the commission believes that a violation of sections 130.200 to 130.220 has occurred, and deems such a recommendation appropriate, the commission may make a nonbinding recommendation to the general assembly as to disciplinary action to be taken in light of the violation, including forfeiture of office…

Under the Arizona public financing system forfeiture of office is not left to the discretion of the legislature.

Very interesting legislation. It’ll never make it through a republican controlled General Assembly.