by Jeremy Moule
The State Legislature has had no shortage of scandal this year. For a while, it seemed like a new lawmaker was being charged with something almost weekly.
Of course, the scandals spurred various high-profile ethics and campaign finance reform proposals, though few have passed. Last week, Republican State Senator Joe Robach added his own proposal to the pile.
Most of the other campaign finance proposals call for smaller contribution limits or public matching funds as a way to limit the influence of money in state politics. But Robach's bill would cap spending on Assembly and Senate campaigns. Specifically, Assembly candidates would be able to spend no more than $150,000 while Senate candidates would have a $300,000 limit. It's pretty common for candidates in contested Senate elections to spend more than $1 million.
"The most significant step in reforming the campaign finance process is to limit the amount a campaign can spend," the legislation says.
A key goal of campaign finance reform should be leveling the playing field between incumbents and challengers. Whether limiting spending is a better approach than restricting contributions deserves debate. Incumbents have exposure and a familiarity with voters that many challengers lack, and it's worth asking whether restricting spending would increase that advantage.
The bill does not list matching Assembly legislation.