Throwing good money after bad at public financing Supreme Court elections
I like the headline the MacIver Institute gave my latest op-ed for them, “Public Financing of Campaigns a Bust in Wisconsin.”
As many of you know, the state budget proposed by Governor Scott Walker does not include using tax money to finance public funding of election campaigns. From now on, when you check that little box it’s going to cost you $3 extra. While that may cause some screaming from the usual suspects, this spring’s election for state Supreme Court was the experiment in public financing that proved it’s a big mistake, as I explain:
In a triumph of experience over hope, third party ads are again the norm of the Supreme Court race. Both the Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce are running issue ads in support of the incumbent, Prosser, and criticizing Kloppenburg’s lack of experience and the fact both Jim Doyle and Barack Obama declined to appoint her to the bench the numerous times she applied for a vacancy. On the liberal side, the Greater Wisconsin Committee (funded in part by a hefty donation from former Governor Jim Doyle’s partisan political campaign fund) has launched negative attack on Prosser’s record from his days as a prosecutor and as a legislator.
Meanwhile, the debate over the budget repair bill has raised the possibility that the state Supreme Court race could be hijacked by a single-issue special interest, Wisconsin’s public employee unions are openly hoping Kloppenburg will be the deciding vote to strike down the law.
Instead of limiting the influence of special interests in the state Supreme Court race, public financing invited it. Embraced it. Promoted it. Necessitated it.
If you think that public financing was the cure-all to a more enlightened debate between the candidates themselves, you would be wrong. Kloppenburg recently refused to criticize an ad by the Greater Wisconsin Committee that accuses Prosser of being soft on a sexual predator when the victims of the crime are publicly saying that Prosser did the right thing.
But it’s okay because the taxpayers are funding Kloppenburg’s campaign, as well as Prosser’s campaign. This is the return on your money. Feel good about that?
You’ll want to read the whole thing, including the wiz-bang finish.