||Maine and Arizona implemented public funding systems for state elections in 2000 with
the aim of increasing competition and voter choice, curbing election costs, and reducing
the influence of special interest money in elections. How have these “Clean Elections”
systems influenced or changed the behavior of political actors such as lobbyists,
interest groups, party leaders, and legislative staff? Interviews were conducted in
both Maine and Arizona to determine whether the amount of money that lobbyists and
interest groups spent on elections decreased due to Clean Elections, whether their
access to legislators had changed, and whether party leaders were able to focus more
on voter contact as opposed to fundraising. Clean Elections did not have an impact
on access to legislators, because legislators were open and accessible before the
law passed. Similarly, the amount of money spent on elections did not decrease, because
lobbyists and special interests found other ways to donate—they now donate to leadership
political action committees and state parties, or they make independent expenditures.
However, while Clean Elections have not succeeded in limiting the influence of special
interest money, they have made the process more democratic and inclusive.