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U.S. judge won’t bar matching campaign funds in state yet

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

PHOENIX – A federal judge won’t decide right away whether to bar payments of supplemental campaign money to publicly funded Arizona election candidates.

U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver has already ruled that so-called “matching funds” provided to publicly funded candidates are unconstitutional because they chill free speech rights of other candidates by chilling private contributions.

But Silver said Wednesday she won’t rule right away on whether to issue a preliminary injunction stopping matching funds payments in the just-started general election campaign.

Silver said she wants to hear from supporters and opponents of the state’s campaign funding system before she conducts a balancing testing of factors that include potential harm from barring the payments.

With Silver already having ruled that matching funds are unconstitutional, there’s no public interest in maintaining them, said Nicholas Dranias, a lawyer for the lawmakers challenging the provision.

State Solicitor General Mary O’Grady said she hopes the issue can be decided by the end of September. “We just want to have a chance to defend the law,” she said after the hearing.

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