Let’s end funding for Clean Elections

From the last campaign cycle, we now discover Clean Elections money bought expensive laptops, paid sign helpers, and funded parties. We are all human, thus tend to be less stewardly with other people’s money than we are with our own.

I understand because I just ran a traditionally funded campaign for State Senate in Tempe and south Scottsdale (District 17) and cut costs by riding my bicycle to knock on 10,000 doors. I chose not to fund my campaign with Clean Elections money because Arizona is in a financial crisis. I considered it a wonderful privilege to run. By the end of the campaign, 400 generous people donated to my race. I started by asking ex-military friends who served alongside me to donate, then asked Tempe and south Scottsdale friends and voters upon whose doors I knocked. Also like-minded, small-business-oriented political action committees donated to me such as the dairymen, cattlemen, CPAs, cotton growers, osteopaths, optometrists, and farmers; even though by law their donations could only total a small fraction of the final sum. I accepted no money from unions or corporations. Some might argue that fundraising is too time consuming. I run a small business with 10 full-time employees, plus we have two ASU student kids. So I just applied my motto of “Work hard. Follow through.”

We live in a magnificent state and a great nation, uniquely different from countries where I served half of my 20-year Air Force career, where going door-to-door to meet voters is not commonplace. Let’s eliminate Clean Elections and follow a back-to-basics approach to political campaigning. Arizona politics would be strengthened by a resurgence of responsibility-taking. Eliminating Clean Elections would be a great first step toward restoring public faith in our state government.

Wendy Rogers was the recent Republican nominee for State Senate in Legislative District 17. She was the leading Republican vote getter in nearly every single precinct of LD-17, exceeding both Governor Brewer and Congressman-elect Schweikert by 3 to 5 percentage points in all 69 precincts. Her rag-tag, shoestring-budget campaign, while still ‘amassing’ a respectable amount of $88,000 of privately raised money, paled in comparison to what a US congressional campaign spent. So it goes to show what boots on the ground and bike tire rubber can accomplish.


  1. I am sorry she lost but have to nitpick a few things.

    “I accepted no money from unions or corporations.” Well, neither did anyone else as it would be illegal.

    “I chose not to fund my campaign with Clean Elections money because Arizona is in a financial crisis.” Really? If you think you can win on the public funding system, go ahead. Or without it, rock on. But don’t claim you did it because a state $2 billion in debt was somehow being helped because you turned down $21k from Clean Elections.

    Got more Republican votes than “Congressman-elect Schweikert by 3 to 5 percentage points in all 69 precincts.” Duh, Schweikert was in a crowded primary. Wendy wasn’t.

    “…$88,000 of privately raised money, paled in comparison to what a US congressional campaign spent.” False analogy. Plenty of legislative candidates won their races with $21k in public money. Plus, limits to give to Wendy were $410, and limits for Schweikert were $2,400.

    “…political action committees donated to me…even though by law their donations could only total a small fraction of the final sum.” She took $13,464 from PACS and $73,221 from individuals. That’s not really a “small fraction” is it?

    There’s no logic to her argument. She even outspent her opponent more than two to one. Her opponent faced IE’s that spent twice as much against him as for him.

    Clean Elections is a bad idea, but not for the reasons she states.

  2. Randy Pullen says

    Wendy ran a great campaign. I would agree with everything she said. Candidates can acccept contributions from unions and many Democrats did.

    She chose to run a traditionally funded campaign instead of a publicly funded one for all the right reasons.

    If she chooses to run in 2012, I believe she will win. Way to go Wendy, you go girl!

  3. Agreed. You stood tall for the conservative cause, Wendy. Thanks for trying to crack the door for conservative representation in Tempe. That’s a tall order!

    Hope you try again in’12.

  4. Wendy-

    You ran a great race. I think you created the best grassroots network in the entire state and I would also suggest you probably knocked on more doors than any legislative candidate this past cycle. Do not let anyone tell you anything different!

    I will support you when you run again in the future!

    You rock,
    Shawnna L.M. Bolick

  5. Wendy might have run a great race and established a fantastic network to boot, but she still lost the general in a conservative/Republican trending year!

    What does that tell us?

    The answer is simple…LD 17 has become a liberal stronghold and no Republican will represent it until the Districts boundaries are altered.

    Fortunately, that just might be attained in 2012 via 2010 census re-districting.

  6. Not so sure that traditional funding will be that beneficial, especially to grass roots Conservative Candidates

    The business elites would once again domninate the GOP scene and in Arizona that would guarantee the survival of it’s “sacred cow” cheap, unskilled labor at ANY cost to the legal citizenry.

  7. nordine crub says

    Didn’t Mark Thompson and a Mormon woman named Judy Kanapernak used to represent Dist 17?

  8. Elmer Bringleson says

    I wonder how many Cattlemen and cotton growers live in South Scottsdale and in Tempe. Folk tell me that there use to be a few dairy farms in Chandler until the neighbors started to complain about the smell.

    Wendy I just had to give you a hard time about your farmer and Escher support.

  9. Randy Pullen or whoever is using your name and wrote “Candidates can acccept contributions from unions” you need to read this:

    ARS 16-919(B): It is unlawful for a labor organization to make any contribution of money or anything of value for the purpose of influencing an election.

    Obviously someone ignorant of the law is impersonating Pullen here. How could an AZGOP chairman make a mistake like this?

  10. Elmer Bringleson says

    Who would use Randy’s name like that? Isn’t that about as low as you can go? That person needs to get a life. Speaking of Randy, I wonder if he will run for Mayor again now that Phil is term limited out of office?

  11. Preview left out part of the citation “Except as provided in section 16-914.02.” While they can’t contribute directly, they can make independent expenditures.

    Great job Wendy. Especially in that district. Let’s get some of our own PAC’s to put serious money in next time and we can take 17 back. Election can be bought!

  12. Look, the guy said candidates can accept union contributions, that’s just false. Independent Expenditures are not campaign contributions, and anyone that thinks and does so is going to get in a lot of trouble. It’s a crime.

    All I am trying to do is correct the misleading information presented by Wendy and Randy.

  13. I believe Randy may have been referring to the PAC’s many unions use as a vehicle to donate.

  14. Randy Pullen says

    Unions have PACs. Comprende?

  15. Randy Pullen says

    On the issue of traditional funding not being good for conservatives, the tea parties have made a huge difference in the political landscape. Wendy has shown the way for other conservatives. It takes hard work but can be done.

    She lost to a good Democrat campaigner in a liberal district. If she had run for a house seat, she would now be a representative elect.

  16. Geez, of course unions have PACs, as do many other entities. But Randy Pullen in this thread said someone took money from unions, and that’s not legal. He should be more clear, as should Wendy.

    That’s the problem I have with what Wendy said to start with. She said she didn’t accept corporate money. By Randy’s loose definition, she did. I took a quick look and In fact she took PAC money, some from SRP’s PAC and some from a law firm’s PAC.

    I am just trying to get some clarity here, for the sake of the people reading this who should not be misled into thinking something is legal when it’s not.

  17. Harris Shirley says

    Wendy ran a great race. She was well funded for the challenge and she enjoyed favorable endorsement and media attention.

    The simple fact is she lost due to the district’s demographics, her opponents campaigning skills and maybe because of how she presented her message.

    Her argument against clean elections are patently off-base. CCEC funding is not related to the General Fund and in reality has been a net contributor to the General Fund.

    The abuse to which she refers I hope she can document and that she’s not simply passing on more hearsay that’s being circulated.

    The Commission is very vigilant in its oversight. Just ask anyone who’s miss-crossed their “t’s” or not dotted their “i’s”.

    In Arizona, Clean Elections has a place. Can it be improved? Absolutely. Does it provide a necessary balance in Arizona’s political landscape? You bet it does.

    And Randy, you know better.

  18. Jackson Mueller says

    This really sounds like sour grapes. I thought she had more class than that.

    Because you may be aware of misuse of CCEC funds in someone’s campaign you broad brush *ALL* Clean Election candidates with the same stroke?

    An analogy might be the attitude of a male Air Force officer who is passed up for a promotion he worked his tail off for by a female officer he assumes got the promotion because of Affirmative Action quotas.

    Think about it.

  19. Shelby Peters says

    This is what’s called a non-sequitur, the logic does not follow. Clean Elections has nothing to do with a “back to basics” campaigning and even less to do with responsibility-taking.

    “Let’s eliminate Clean Elections and follow a back-to-basics approach to political campaigning. Arizona politics would be strengthened by a resurgence of responsibility-taking.”

    Besides, Wendy you had 4x the money the Clean Elections candidates received.

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