The latest edition of Budget & Tax News highlights an important case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court about a clean elections law from Idaho:
In 2003, the Idaho Legislature passed the Voluntary Contributions Act, which banned the collection of political contributions through government payroll systems throughout the state. Nothing in the law prohibits union members from contributing to candidates by choice, and nothing in it prohibits unions from engaging in politics.
Policy experts view the law favorably. Noted Ben DeGrow, an education analyst with the Independence Institute, “Governments should be focused on performing vital services for taxpayers, not on acting as a bill collector for private groups–especially groups that are lobbying officials and funding political candidates.”
Besides the fact I’m quoted in this article, why do I bring this up? Colorado voters are considering a proposal that would have the same practical effect of bringing Ethical Standards to government. Amendment 49 on the November statewide ballot will prohibit governments from bundling money from public employees’ paychecks and delivering the cash to special interests who use it to lobby politicians.” But it’s written in a way that avoids the challenging legal baggage of Idaho’s Voluntary Contributions Act.
(Full disclosure: I also happen to work for the Independence Institute, which has provided the intellectual ammunition behind Ethical Standards.)