Corzine sounds off on ‘millionaire’s amendment’ ruling

PHILADELPHIA — New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said today he disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to strike down the so-called “millionaire’s amendment” campaign finance provision he championed and that would have affected New Jersey’s U.S. Senate race this year.

The provision, which Congress passed in 2002, said that when a candidate surpassed a specified self-contribution total the opposing candidate’s contribution limit would rise.

“I thought it was one way for people who end up running against well-to-do candidates who self-finance to be able to have a more level financial playing field,” Corzine told PolitickerNJ.com.

But in its 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court argued the law violated the First Amendment rights of self-financing candidates.

Corzine, however, said the amendment helped to bring fairness to races involving wealthy candidates, of which he is one. The former Goldman Sachs CEO spent $60 million of his own money in his 2000 campaign for the U.S. Senate.

“It’s not necessarily an elixir for victory, but I do think that making sure that we create vehicles that allow people to compete fairly and have access to the media markets was sound,” said Corzine, noting that he was an original supporter of the bill.

The court’s ruling could well come into play in this cycle’s New Jersey Senate race. Democratic U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has already spent $1.65 million out of his own pocket to defend his seat. Lautenberg, who fended off a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, is facing off against former U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer in November’s general election.

But Corzine, who supported Lautenberg in the primary, argued the decision would not dramatically alter the contours of the general election battle.

“I think Sen. Lautenberg is going to win overwhelmingly because he’s done a great job,” said Corzine.

Corzine was in Philadelphia today to attend the National Governors Association meeting, a gathering of the nation’s state chief executive officers. Corzine was present at a morning plenary session focusing on energy. He is scheduled to help lead an afternoon discussion on health and human services.

Corzine sounds off on ‘millionaire’s amendment’ ruling