Arizona's system of providing extra campaign cash to publicly funded candidates who are outspent by privately funded opponents or targeted by independent groups was declared unconstitutional Wednesday by a federal judge.
In a case with high stakes for state election candidates from governor to legislator, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver ruled that so-called matching funds infringe on the free speech rights of privately funded candidates and their contributors.
Under the order, publicly funded candidates would receive only their initial funding for the primary and general election campaigns. Privately funded opponents would be free to raise and spend higher amounts without indirectly helping their rivals.
Silver delayed implementation of her order for 10 days, allowing the state's public finance system time to appeal her ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A state official said the commission that oversees the system will meet Thursday to consider filing an appeal that would include seeking a longer stay.