In a new case that builds off of IJ’s challenge to Arizona’s so-called “clean elections” system, Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott is challenging that state’s similar system of taxpayer-financed campaigns. Both states' laws discourage nonparticipating candidates from robustly exercising their First Amendment rights, because once a nonparticipating candidate spends more than a certain amount to speak out to the electorate, the government starts writing checks directly to his opponent. As political scientist David Primo documented (.pdf) in the Arizona case, the constant risk of triggering these matching funds creates incentives to delay or withhold spending on political speech, skewing the political debate.
In addition to Mr. Scott’s lawsuit, Floridians will have the opportunity to vote in November for a constitutional amendment that would repeal Florida’s system of taxpayer-financed elections. And if the Supreme Court accepts review of IJ’s challenge to Arizona’s law—as it has hinted it might—it could invalidate these schemes nationwide. One way or another, it looks like the days of taxpayer funds being used to squelch political speech in Florida are numbered.