While more and more states and localities are moving to ban foreigners from influencing their elections, one Arizona lawmaker wants to take it a step further.
Republican state Rep. Bob Thorpe is not as concerned about people from other countries as he is with people from other states. So last week he proposed legislation banning contributions to legislative and ballot initiative campaigns from anybody outside Arizona.
A similar measure in South Dakota has been struck down as an unconstitutional restriction on speech, while a version in Alaska has been tied up in litigation for years.
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The Supreme Court on Monday reversed a lower-court ruling that found Alaska's campaign contribution limits are not so low as to be unconstitutional.
But the decision was made in such a way, one expert argues, that the court limited its own ability to undo the restraints governing the influence of campaign donations.
In an unsigned opinion, the court vacated the decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit brought by an Alaska couple who wanted to contribute more than the annual maximum of $500 per candidate or election-oriented group (other than a political party) allowed under state law. They claimed the limit violated the First Amendment.
Voters in two Western cities have delivered a pair of small victories and one substantial loss to advocates for reducing the importance of big money in elections.
Albuquerque narrowly rejected a ballot measure Tuesday to start a system of publicly funded donation vouchers for supporting municipal candidates. The idea has been hailed as a breakthrough for promoting a broader base of interest in elections while diluting the power of corporate cash over campaigns, while critics say it's a totally wrong way to spend taxpayer money.
The voters of New Mexico's biggest city did, however, decide to expand an existing public financing system for mayoral candidates willing to limit their own spending. And the people of San Francisco voted to limit contributions to local candidates and require the people who buy advertising in city elections to disclose their identities.
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