WV House Passes Legislation to Make Permanent Judicial Clean Elections System
The West Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation Wednesday to make permanent the state’s judicial public financing system for elections to the state's highest court, the Supreme Court of Appeals. HB 2085 passed the House on a vote of 70 to 29.
In 2010, the state created the pilot public financing program that is set to expire at the end of June. Under the system, judicial candidates have the option to run for office by relying on small donations and public funds, instead of raising money from special interests that may have cases pending before the courts.
As the Brennan Center wrote in 2012, “West Virginia’s public financing program was passed in the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. in which the Court held that a litigant’s extraordinary campaign spending created a constitutionally impermissible risk of judicial bias.”
The bill would also increase the amount of money candidates receive after qualifying for the program, a response to the Supreme Court's Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett decision that threw out so-called "rescue funds" that made sure publicly financed candidates could compete against privately-financed opponents.
West Virginia Citizens for Clean Elections, a broad coalition of organizations in the state was a driving force promoting the legislation from its initial passage in 2010 through today.