WASHINGTON (AP) – Two states offer full public financing for political candidates, but after two election cycles it’s unclear whether either place has seen much of an impact, according to a report released Friday.

More candidates for state offices took taxpayer money to finance their campaigns in Maine and Arizona in 2002 than in 2000, according to the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

But there is not enough data to determine whether public financing will encourage more candidates to run, make races more competitive or increase voter turnout, the GAO said.

Residents of Arizona and Maine voted to provide full public financing for candidates. Other states and cities offer partial public financing, but Arizona and Maine are the only two states to fully fund campaigns, a practice that began in 2000.

The GAO said that in 2002, 59 percent of those elected to the Maine state legislature and 36 percent of lawmakers elected in Arizona agreed not to raise money from private sources and instead accepted public financing for their campaigns, which limited how much they could spend.

Two years earlier, only 33 percent of Maine lawmakers and 18 percent of Arizona lawmakers accepted taxpayer financing of their campaigns.

Congress has considered full public funding for federal elections, but the idea has died each time.

Legislation enacted in response to the Watergate scandal provides for matching funds for small individual contributions to presidential candidates who agree to limit their spending during the primaries. In addition, taxpayers pay the entire cost of the fall campaigns for the two major party nominees if they agree not to raise and spend money from private sources.

In 2000, George W. Bush became the first candidate in the post-Watergate era to win his party’s nomination and the general election without accepting the federal matching funds and limiting his spending during the primaries.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.