New report: Repealed public finance system for judicial races was working well

Supreme CourtA new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics finds that North Carolina’s recently repealed system of providing public financing for judicial campaigns had been doing what it was designed to do — namely, to  reduce the influence of special interest money and the need for candidates to be rich (or beg money from others who are). Here’s the overview:

“On August 12, 2013, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a controversial voter identification bill into law. The bill included a measure repealing the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund, a system of publicly financing candidates for election to the state’s supreme and appellate courts.

To determine what impact the repeal of the Fund may have on financing future judicial elections in the Tar Heel State, the National Institute on Money in State Politics analyzed the contributions to the state’s supreme court candidates before (2000-2002) and during (2004-2012) the existence of the Public Campaign Fund. While this report does not evaluate outside spending, independent expenditure data targeting North Carolina supreme court races is available at FollowTheMoney.org.

The analysis revealed that public financing greatly affected fundraising in North Carolina’s supreme court campaigns. The percent of private contributions declined considerably when the program was in effect, from 77 percent during the 2000 and 2002 elections to 40 percent during races held between 2004 and 2012. As well, contributions from candidate committees and political parties declined significantly after public funding became an option. Further, races involving publicly financed candidates were more monetarily competitive than those without. The one constant, however, was that lawyers and lobbyists were the largest source of private contributions to supreme court candidates, both before and while the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund was in effect.”

In other words, it was reducing the influence of fats cats and other big money special interests and making it at least possible for normal citizens to run for office who were not independently wealthy or beholden to people who were.

No wonder the folks currently in charge of state government were so hellbent on repealing it.

Reporter Jim Morrill of the Charlotte Observer has more on the story here.


  1. LayintheSmakDown

    February 14, 2014 at 8:41 am

    So when has a “normal citizen” ever run for state supreme court? I would assume that every justice is an attorney so that already makes them someone with a profession that makes a great deal more money than the average NC resident. And just because they had public funds in the past does not mean the “fat cats and special interests” did not get their way. They just used other people’s money to get the same result. Or maybe not, are all you guys just unhappy because z smith reynolds and jim goodmon did not get their way? Bingo…I just hit the nail on the head!

  2. Alan

    February 14, 2014 at 11:41 am

    LSD, I think the nail hit you on the head! Correct in so far as special interests having their way, it’s been that way for decades here. Do you seriously think that doing away with public funding of judicial races would reduce the influence of special interests? On the contrary, when politicians, or judges, are heavily funded by special interest groups, then their judgment is already compromised, irrespective of their political leanings. If you were actually concerned about the integrity of the judicial process, and judges potentially influenced by those “fat cats and special interests” then surely you would be horrified about the prospects of their judicial races being funded by outside, and in many cases anonymous groups?

    However, your prior postings indicate you are all in favor of unlimited and anonymous funding of judicial races. Yet more obfuscation by the right wing. It’s no secret that a key element of GOP policy is to own the courts at all levels, especially since the GOP’s likelihood of winning at the national level gets less day by day. Privately and secretively funding “GOP friendly” judges is the real reason behind the end of public financing, nothing else.

  3. LayintheSmakDown

    February 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Alan, I am horrified that people like Z. Smith Reynolds, George Soros, and Jim Goodmon could get their way. Unfortunately counteracting the privately and secretly funding judges as well as every other regressive cause is the reason fro this bill

  4. Alan

    February 15, 2014 at 10:38 am

    LSD, please look up the words ‘disingenuous’ and ‘obfuscation’. You are “horrified” that the old bogey man Soros could get his way, yet no similar reaction to the Koch brothers, Papa Smurf here in NC etc. etc. etc? “Counteracting the privately and secretly funding judges”, we’ve had public funding here until the GOP decided to change the rules so they could pack the courts. We BOTH know the real reason for the bill, now go look up ‘disingenuous’ and ‘obfuscation’

  5. LayintheSmakDown

    February 16, 2014 at 10:42 am

    So Alan, do you have an IM or email that pings to notify you when I post so you can be in trolling position? I am quite flattered that I have that much pull at the policy watch blog!

    Glad you see the Kochtopus everywhere like Kay Kay. It seems they are doing their job very well in creating hysteria among the radical left wing here in NC.

  6. Alan

    February 16, 2014 at 10:47 am

    LSD, I think you give yourself too much credit.

  7. LayintheSmakDown

    February 16, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I guess you are getting overtime today, assuming the pulse pays you time and a half to monitor your RSS/IM/email alerts on LSD.

    And FYI, I am given waaay to little credit. What with a paid troll (or two, we have never sorted out if you and ML are the same person or not) stalking me. Heck, ML (Alan) is even branching out to Civitas commenting.

  8. Alan

    February 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    And Papa Smurfs gold star of the week goes to LSD…

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