A U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week that temporarily prohibits Arizona from providing matching funds to its clean election candidates could impact races here in Maine.
The court granted a stay request from opponents of Arizona's law that will prevent the state from distributing the payments, as the justices decide whether to take up the constitutionality of the law, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. As in Maine, publicly funded candidates are allotted matching funds to help them compete against privately funded office seekers. Critics challenging Arizona's law argue that taxpayer funding impinges on the free speech of privately funded candidates and their contributors.
The ruling likely won't affect Maine's gubernatorial and legislative races this year, as the court isn't expected to issue a final decision until 2011, but it could lead to changes to the state's Clean Elections law in 2011, according to the Sun Journal. "It may be in future election years Maine's program may need to be modified," Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on Ethics and Election Practices, told the paper. "They are similar."
Maine taxpayers are expected to spend $3 million for legislative races and $3 million for gubernatorial candidates this year.
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