Thursday, July 2, 2009

North Carolina's Judicial Public Financing Law A Success


Press Release from the Center for Governmental Studies CLICKHERE or click on the title above.

North Carolina’s Judicial Public Campaign Financing Law A Success

North Carolina Judiciary: Balancing the Scales, issued today by the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) CLICKHERE, concludes that North Carolina’s judicial campaign finance program is a model of reform and could become even stronger with additional adjustments. North Carolina’s public finance reform law provides full public financing for the general election campaigns of Court of Appeals and Supreme Court candidates who meet certain qualifications.

CGS found that the program insulates Court of Appeals and Supreme Court judges from the influence of contributors who may have an interest in cases before the judge. The system also decreases the amount of time judicial candidates need to spend fundraising, therefore increasing the time candidates can spend with all voters, regardless of the voters’ ability to make campaign contributions. In addition, public financing programs such as North Carolina’s have been shown to increase the public’s confidence in their elected officials.

“In addition to a set of useful recommendations, this report provides an independent, comprehensive assessment of the North Carolina program which indicates that it is working remarkably well and can serve as a model for meaningful reform,” said Bob Hall, Executive Director, Democracy North Carolina.

Balancing the Scales recommends that North Carolina implement four reforms in order to ensure its long-term viability. First, North Carolina should change its taxpayer check-off from an opt-in check-off to an opt-out check-off. An opt-out check-off would automatically direct money to the public financing program unless the taxpayer indicates that he or she does not want to contribute to the Public Campaign Fund. Second, North Carolina should use only general election spending (as opposed to primary and general election spending) when calculating the amount of “rescue funds” a publicly financed candidate can receive in the general election. Third, North Carolina should expand the program to provide funding for the primary election as well as the general election. Lastly, North Carolina should index contributions public funds provided to candidates for inflation. Balancing the Scales’ recommendations have become especially important in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Capterton v. Massey, which held that excessive campaign contributions to judicial candidates can create a risk of bias that violates the U.S. Constitution.

Jessica Levinson, Director of Political Reform at CGS, said, “North Carolina’s judicial public financing program goes a long way to reducing the potentially corrupting influence of private contributions in judicial elections. The recommendations made in this report propose further steps that North Carolina can take to improve their current system and guarantee its long term success.”

Balancing the Scales, as well as other CGS reports, are available on the CGS website, Rockefeller Brothers Fund provided generous funding for this report but is not responsible for the statements or views expressed in it. The Center for Governmental Studies is a national non-profit, non-partisan organization that creates innovative political and media solutions to help individuals participate more effectively in their communities and governments

For Further Information Contact:
Bob Stern(, 310-470-6570 , 117
Jessica Levinson( 310-470-6570 , 115

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