Public Financing: Road to Recovery?

June 3, 2011

Some stories about public campaign financing get a visceral response.  For example, how many public dollars are distributed to candidates during an election and how much of that money is not being recovered after the election is over?  The public’s investment in campaigns doesn’t end with the matching rates or provisions for “bonus” funding that yield payments to candidates.  Provisions for repayment, and the administrative tools and procedures used in securing repayment, are just as fundamental in making a reform cost-effective – and maintaining public support. Earlier this year an appellate court ruling (Fields v. NYC Campaign Finance Board) diminished the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s ability to hold candidate’s personally liable for public funds repayments.   When this kind of constraint on recoveries at the “back-end” is coupled with limits on the government’s “front-end” ability to target public funds to candidates most in need (as the U.S. Supreme Court may soon decide), the visceral swing is against public financing. How will reform advocates find a way forward?  In today’s New York Law Journal, we offer some navigational aids (at least for New York City).

Tag: New York City