House Democrats Oppose Effort to Prohibit Public Money from Going to Political Parties

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The House of Representatives today failed to pass HB 2403, legislation sponsored by Representative Coleman which would prohibit Clean Elections candidates from contributing public funds to political parties.

Doug Coleman

Rep Doug Coleman

While a majority of House members supported HB 2403, it failed to achieve support from three-fourths of the body, which is required to amend statutes created through the initiative process.  Republicans overwhelmingly supported the measure, but Democrats opposed it.

“Clean Elections candidates are supposed to use public money to run for office, not to line the coffers of their political party,” said Representative Coleman.  “This is an abusive manipulation of the Clean Elections system and violates the trust of Arizona voters, yet Democrats would apparently rather protect the interests of their political party than taxpayers.”

State Rep Paul Boyer Files Complaint with Clean Elections, SOS over Scott Smith Campaign Coordination

Randy ReddState Representative Paul Smith filed the following complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office along with the Citizens Clean Election Commission regarding illegal campaign coordination between the Scott Smith campaign, Better Leaders for Arizona and Randy Redd. In the complaint, Boyer alleges that Smith’s campaign and the independent expenditure committee illegally coordinated an attack against Doug Ducey using ads. The complaint states that Smith’s committee and Better Leaders for Arizona violated Arizona Revised Statute § 16-911.

Here is the complain in entirety:

August 1, 2014

 

Ken Bennett
Arizona Secretary of State
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Citizens Clean Elections Commission
1616 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

I submit the following campaign finance violation complaint against the following individuals and committees:

1.         Scott Smith
            Smith for Governor
            PO Box 5057
Mesa, AZ 85211

2.         Jim Simpson
            Virginia Simpson
            Better Leaders for Arizona
            6022 N. 51st Place
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

3.         Randy Redd
            52 W. Red Fern Rd
San Tan Valley, AZ 85140

In late July, 2014, Better Leaders for Arizona, an independent expenditure committee making expenditures in the Arizona governor’s race, released on its website a video advertisement featuring Randy Redd.  Mr. Redd is a failed Cold Stone Creamery franchisee.  The advertisement included commentary from Mr. Redd complaining about his failed experience as a Cold Stone Creamery franchisee.  Mr. Redd blames his business failure on gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey.

On August 1, 2014, the Smith for Governor Campaign issued a press release featuring Mr. Redd.  The press release tracks the same talking points that Mr. Redd used in his advertisement with Better Leaders.

The definition of independent expenditure is found at ARS § 16-911.  That statute provides that an expenditure is not “independent” if:

1. Any officer, member, employee or agent of the political committee making the expenditure is also an officer, member, employee or agent of the committee of the candidate whose election or whose opponent’s defeat is being advocated by the expenditure or an agent of the candidate whose election or whose opponent’s defeat is being advocated by the expenditure.

2. There is any arrangement, coordination or direction with respect to the expenditure between the candidate or the candidate’s agent and the person making the expenditure, including any officer, director, employee or agent of that person.

Or

4. The expenditure is based on information about the candidate’s plans, projects or needs, or those of the candidate’s campaign committee, provided to the expending person by the candidate or by the candidate’s agents or any officer, member or employee of the candidate’s campaign committee with a view toward having the expenditure made.

The facts illustrate several reasons for your agency to open an investigation to see whether the Better Leaders video and Smith press release are not “independent” of one another.  Both communications featured the same person, Mr. Redd, who complained about his failed Cold Stone franchise.  In both communications, Mr. Redd follows the same basic script.  In both communications, Mr. Redd blames Doug Ducey for his personal business failure.  Both communications were released close together in time.

Applying the facts to the law also justifies an investigation.  By providing services to both committees, Mr. Redd may be acting as a member, employee, or agent of both by supplying them with similar information about his experience.  He may be directing information on what content about his failures that each committee should include in the ad, based on the “plans, projects or needs” of Smith’s campaign.  It is reasonable to believe that the Smith campaign helped direct the Better Leaders expenditure through Mr. Redd and a pass-through, by requesting that they post the video a few weeks prior to Smith issuing his press release.  It is also reasonable to believe that the Smith campaign worked directly with Better Leaders to coordinate this “double punch,” with Better Leaders’ video followed by an aggressive press release and media campaign by Smith.

In conclusion, I ask that your agencies open an investigation into Better Leaders, Smith, and Mr. Redd based on the apparent lack of “independence” between the video and press release.

The contents of this letter are based on my personal knowledge.  I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Sincerely,
Paul Boyer

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona’s “Clean Elections” Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2011
CONTACT: Christina Walsh

Court Protects Free Speech and Political Participation

Arlington, Va.—In a victory for free speech and political participation, today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the “matching funds” provision of Arizona’s so-called “Clean Elections” Act is unconstitutional. The landmark case is Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, argued by the Institute for Justice. Both IJ and the Goldwater Institute had challenged Arizona’s law in court.

“This case is a clear reminder to government officials that they may not coerce speakers to limit their own speech,” said Bill Maurer, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, who argued the case. “The Court’s decision today, like other recent decisions, makes clear that the First Amendment is not an exception to campaign finance laws; it is the rule.”

Maurer said, “As a result of today’s ruling, government can no longer use public funds to manipulate speech in campaigns to favor government-funded political candidates and turn the speech of traditionally funded candidates into the vehicle by which their entire political goals are undermined.”

Arizona’s “Clean Elections” Act manipulated election speech by favoring candidates who participated in the public funding system over those who chose to forego taxpayer dollars and instead raised funds through voluntary contributions. For every dollar a privately funded candidate spent above a government-dictated amount, the government gave additional funds to his opponent. The Act even matched funds spent by independent groups that supported privately funded candidates, thereby canceling out those independent groups’ speech.

According to the Court, “The direct result of the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups is a state-provided monetary subsidy to a political rival. That cash subsidy, conferred in response to political speech, penalizes speech.”

The Court’s decision followed the reasoning of its 2008 decision in Davis v. FEC, in which it struck down unequal contribution limits for candidates. As the Court said in today’s decision, although the penalty imposed by Arizona’s law is different in some respects from the law in Davis “those differences make the Arizona law more constitutionally problematic, not less.”

For example, Arizona’s law matches not only candidate expenditures, but those of independent expenditure groups, such as the clients represented by the Institute for Justice. As the Court put it “the matching funds provision forces privately funded candidates to fight a political hyrdra of sorts. Each dollar they spend generates two adversarial dollars in response.”

At bottom, the matching funds provision was a bald attempt by the state to manipulate speech by forcing speakers to either trigger matching funds, change their message, or refrain from speaking. According to the Court, “forcing that choice . . . certainly contravenes ‘the fundamental rule of protection under the First Amendment, that a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message.’”

Moreover, the Court recognized that the end result of the matching funds was the total curtailment of political speech, for “If the matching funds provision achieves its professed goal and causes candidates to switch to public financing, . . . there will be less speech: no spending above the initial state-set amount by formerly privately financed candidates, and no associated matching funds for anyone. Not only that, the level of speech will depend on the State’s judgment of the desirable amount, an amount tethered to available (and often scarce) state resources.”

But as the Court strongly reiterated today, “the whole point of the First Amendment is to protect speakers against unjustified restrictions on speech, even when those restrictions reflect the will of the majority. When it comes to protected speech, the speaker is sovereign.”

In finding that matching funds substantially burden speech, Chief Justice Roberts pointed to research by University of Rochester political scientist David Primo, an expert in the case. Contrary to claims of Clean Elections’ backers, Dr. Primo’s original research “found that privately financed candidates facing the prospect of triggering matching funds changed the timing of their fundraising activities, the timing of their expenditures, and, thus, their overall campaign strategy” to avoid sending additional funds to opponents. The research is available at www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/first_amendment/az_campaign_finance/expert-report-d_primo.pdf.

Today’s ruling is important not just for those states and municipalities that have similar “matching fund” systems. As Maurer explains, “The decision prohibits government from attempting to level the playing field among political speakers by creating disincentives for some and incentives for others. The clear message of the First Amendment to government is: Hands off!”

Although today’s ruling affects only the matching funds provision of the Clean Elections Act, there is a measure on the November 2012 Arizona ballot that would end the whole Clean Elections system by forbidding government support of candidate campaigns.

The Institute for Justice has litigated against this unconstitutional provision since 2004. IJ represents independent political groups the Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC and the Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee as well as political candidates Senator Rick Murphy and former State Treasurer Dean Martin.

“Now that matching funds are no more, we do not have to censor our own speech,” said Steve Voeller of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC. “As long as this law was in place, we knew that that speaking out in the election meant that our political opponents would be showered with government money. The more we spoke, the more politicians we opposed benefitted. Now we can actually speak freely.”

Shane Wikfors of the Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee said, “We have always believed that this law was meant to corral not only candidates but also voters by limiting political speech, intimidating organizations like ours and ultimately leading to a political outcome that was tainted by the state’s involvement. We are grateful that the Court protected political expression and struck down this unconstitutional state intervention.”

Rick Murphy said, “I’m grateful a majority of the justices recognized that the government shouldn’t try to ‘level the playing field’ of free speech with public money.”

Dean Martin said, “After nearly a decade, justice has prevailed. Now I am looking forward to November 2012, when the voters have a chance to get rid of the rest of taxpayer money that support politicians.”

Many observers anticipated the Court would strike down the matching funds program. IJ-Arizona Staff Attorney Paul Avelar explained, “It was pretty clear that matching funds violate the First Amendment rights of candidates, citizens and independent groups. The Ninth Circuit’s decision, now overturned, was so inconsistent with protections for free speech in campaigns that two other federal appellate courts almost immediately refused to follow it. In those cases, the courts struck down matching funds systems in Connecticut and Florida.”

“This is yet another example of an important judicial trend the Institute for Justice has advocated since our founding—that of judicial engagement,” said Institute for Justice President and General Counsel Chip Mellor. “The Court looked beyond the state’s claims about Clean Elections to its substance. It recognized that the real purpose of the law was not to eliminate corruption, but to level the playing field by manipulating speech. In the past, the courts have all too often rubberstamped the government’s claims about corruption in elections and upheld campaign finance laws that violated First Amendment rights. The Court seems to be moving in the other direction in campaign finance, and as a result, we are all freer.”

Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC is just one of several challenges the Institute for Justice is litigating against restrictions on free speech by campaign finance laws. Mellor promised that “IJ will continue to fight against laws that reduce speech, silence disfavored speakers and viewpoints, and allow government to manipulate the marketplace of ideas thereby stripping away people’s right to govern themselves.”

Social science research shows that the purported benefits of public funding programs rarely materialize, while the costs to candidates and independent groups are real. Dr. Primo summed up the findings of the best available research in a paper for the Institute for Justice (available at http://www.ij.org/about/3466), and concluded, “Public funding is a program that promises much and delivers little.”

IJ recently won a landmark victory for free speech in federal court on behalf of SpeechNow.org, an independent group that opposes or supports candidates on the basis of their stance on free speech. IJ also won on behalf of a group of neighbors who were prosecuted by their political opponents under Colorado’s byzantine campaign finance laws merely for speaking out against the annexation of their neighborhood to a nearby town. In addition, IJ won recent victories for free speech in Florida when a federal judge struck down the state’s broadest-in-the-nation “electioneering communications” law and in Washington when it stopped an attempt to use the state’s campaign finance laws to regulate talk-radio commentary about a ballot issue.

# # #

Arizona Free Enterprise Club
Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee
Institute for Justice – Arizona Chapter
Goldwater Institute

 

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.

Does corporate assist for Brewer fundraising plea soil a “Clean” campaign?

A friend forwarded me the below fundraising solicitation on behalf of Gov. Jan Brewer’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.  She found it interesting that a 501(c)(6) corporation sent this disclaimer-free $5 dollar political solicitation to their entire membership though it’s made clear it’s coming from the former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters in her role as co-chair of the Brewer campaign.  The provision of the Associated General Contractors’ e-mail distribution list has real value to a political campaign as the administration@azagc.org mail stamp indicates.

I’m not an election lawyer nor the son of an election lawyer but does the fact that our governor is running “Clean” make this kind of corporate campaign largess particularly squalid? Does this potential corporate contribution warrant a Citizens Clean Elections Commission investigation?  I don’t know but maybe someone in the Munger, Parker, Mills or Graham campaigns might look into it.

Regardless of the legalities of this assist from the road-building Associated General Contractors, isn’t it interesting whose providing the Brewer campaign with it’s five-dollar qualifying contributions?  The fact that Gov. Brewer “will continue her strong efforts to provide funding for transportation upon her re-election” pretty much says it all.  Those with their snouts deepest in the federal stimulus trough are lining up behind their girl for governor.  Just like they did in 2006 when they lined up “unanimously” behind their other girl for governor, Janet Napolitano.

__________________________________________________________________________

From: Mary E. Peters [mailto:administration@azagc.org]
Sent: Tue 12/29/2009 10:17 AM
To:
Subject:
Important message from Mary Peters

Dear AGC Member and Industry Partner:

As we approach the end of what has been a very challenging year for our nation and for Arizona, it is a time for reflection on what is really important.  It is a time to focus on what it will take to resolve our significant economic challenges.  It is a time when we as an industry need to band together and chart a course to a more prosperous future. 

We have the opportunity to support a Governor who will lead our state out of today’s challenges and a return to economic stability. 

These tough times call for a tough leader – a proven leader who is not afraid to make the right decisions for our State.  We need a leader who will put the people’s interests above political interests.  We need a leader who will make the right decisions for Arizona’s future.  That is exactly why we as an industry need to band together and create a united front to support a Governor who will do just that.  

Jan Brewer is that leader, but she cannot do it alone — she needs our support.

She understands that Arizona’s families and businesses are going through hard times.  She knows that we have to balance the budget today and provide long-term, sustainable solutions to stabilize and grow our economy for the future.  Governor Jan Brewer has made over $1 billion in cuts in order to put us on track to balance Arizona’s budget while still making sure the most critical programs are meeting the needs of individuals who need them most. Her plans for the future include high-paying jobs, investments in Arizona’s infrastructure and a strong education system for our children.

  • As a State Representative and State Senator Jan Brewer supported transportation funding for the State.  Under her watch at the State Legislature from 1983 – 1996, she placed emphasis on transportation projects, such as funding for Prop. 300 freeways. 
  • As a County Supervisor, Jan Brewer helped balance the county budget to provide resources for Maricopa County transportation priorities.
  • As Secretary of State, Jan Brewer supported Prop. 400 to ensure a continued revenue source for Maricopa County freeways to build the critical infrastructure we need to continue to build a business friendly environment in Arizona. 
  • As Governor, Jan Brewer has worked to ensure Arizona receives every dollar due to the state in the ARRA/Stimulus bill, advocated for the Canamex Corridor and designation of I-11. She works diligently to prevent further erosion of transportation funds by the State Legislature, and is working to make sure Arizona receives our fair share of federal funding from both high speed rail funding and the reauthorization of Surface Transportation programs.   
  • Gov. Brewer recognizes the important link between transportation infrastructure and economic development.  She appreciates the significant value Arizona contractors and consultants provide to our economy, and will continue her strong efforts to provide funding for transportation upon her re-election.

Jan Brewer is making, and will continue to make, the tough decisions for Arizona to put our state on a permanent, strong economic foundation. But, she can’t do it alone. She needs you to stand behind her, fight with her and support her.

Please click here now to support Governor Jan Brewer’s re-election campaign.

The time to act is now.  The time to join together to support a proven leader is now.

Sincerely,

Mary E. Peters
Governor Brewer 2010 Co-Chair
Former United States Secretary of Transportation