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

Consultant Legislators: A conflict of interest?

In the most general of terms, a conflict of interest is “a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.”

In Arizona, there really are no rules governing legislative conflict of interest statutes.  Essentially, as long as at least 10 people benefit from a piece of legislation, there is no conflict of interest.  Should allegations of conflicts of interest arise, there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.  Arizona is one of only nine states without an independent organization to oversee ethics comp

ethicsIt is not uncommon for legislators to sponsor or vote on bills that affect their personal career industry.  When you have a “citizen legislature” it’s impossible to not vote on bills that relate to education, doctors, lawyers, real-estate agents, landlords, etc.  But what about political consultants?  Does that pass the “citizen legislature” smell test?

The Arizona Republic pointed out earlier this year that there are a number of lawmakers who run or work for consulting firms whose scope of work remains unclear.  The campaign disclosure forms do not require lawmakers to reveal their clients, making their potential conflicts of interest even murkier.  But, some of these contracts are no doubt related to campaigns and public policy objectives.

House Minority Leader and potential Democratic candidate for Governor Chad Campbell lists “public affairs consulting” for Inspired Connections on his financial disclosure form. The “About Us” page for Inspired Consulting does not list Campbell as a member of their staff and it is unclear what his role is with the firm.  Other state legislators who serve as “consultants” include Sen. Al Melvin, Sen. Steve Gallardo, and Rep. Ruben Gallego.  Melvin recently made news by announcing he’s exploring a run for governor.

Former LD15 State Senator David Lujan (and good friend of Kyrsten Sinema) directed an independent expenditure effort against Republicans during the 2012 election cycle.  “Building Arizona’s Future” spent over $700,000 in the last cycle defeating Republicans, funded in large part by national Democratic money from D.C. that Sinema helped direct into Lujan’s committee coffers.  Lujan is now running for Phoenix City Council District 4.

This isn’t the first foray in the consulting arena for Campbell or Lujan.  In 2007 Campbell and Lujan formed a political consulting firm with then Democratic legislator and colleague Kyrsten Sinema.  It is unclear what Forza Consulting did or whom they represented, but according to records with the Corporation Commission the LLC still remains “open.”

Democratic Representative and rising star of the Left Ruben Gallego currently has the most prolific consulting background.  Before being elected to office in 2010, Gallego previously spent time with Valley PR firm Reister, and also served as Chief of Staff for Democratic Phoenix City Councilmember Michael Nowakowski.  He was also the Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.  Gallego’s wife, Kate Gallego, is running for Phoenix City Council in District 8 to replace term-limited Councilmember Michael Johnson.

Ruben Gallego is listed as the Director of Latino and New Media operations for Strategies360’s Arizona office.  Gallego works with Director of Arizona Operations Robbie Sherwood, a former reporter for the Arizona Republic and former Congressman Harry Mitchell’s Chief of Staff.

10-veterans-videoDuring the 2012 election cycle, Strategies360 was paid by the Yes on Prop 204 committee (“Quality Education & Jobs”) to handle communications on behalf of the union-funded campaign.  Prop 204 proposed the single-largest permanent sales tax increase in Arizona’s history and was viewed by many as a “special interest giveaway.”  Voters defeated the proposition nearly 2-to-1

Strategies360 was also paid at least $10,000 during the 2012 election cycle to handle “earned media outreach & strategic communications” for the Arizona Accountability Project (AAP).  The AAP was one of the chief committees used to funnel liberal money into the last election cycle to defeat Republican candidates.  AAP spent almost $600,000 last election cycle targeting Republicans including efforts against Jerry Lewis, Joe Ortiz, Frank Antenori, and John McComish.  They also did work in support of Democrat Tom Chabin.

Strategies360 was involved in the 2012 election to defeat Sheriff Joe Arpaio and is currently involved in the present effort to recall Arapaio.  Recently, Gallego appeared at a “Respect Arizona” rally (the group organizing the recall).  Also present at that event was Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

During 2012, Gallego even helped lead the efforts of the group opposing Arpaio, Citizens for Professional Law Enforcement PAC.  Arpaio’s campaign manager at the time, Chad Willems, questioned the financial motivations of Gallego and others:

“This is just another group out there of people lining their pockets,” Willems told HuffPost. “It seems like a full-time employment group for these guys.”

Gallego’s reach into the far-Left elements of the Democratic Party are deep.  He even served as the professional consultant for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona during the 2012 cycle, orchestrating their attacks against pro-life Republicans.  His firm was paid nearly $5,000 in consulting fees, and they were paid more than $20,000 to handle the mail program attacking several Republican lawmakers and candidates.

Let me be clear: there’s nothing illegal about what Gallego or his firm is doing.  Consultants on both sides of the political spectrum are involved in these sorts of efforts every cycle.  Some would argue this is no different than the efforts of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and their Victory Funds last cycle.  That’s a fair comparison, but unlike Gallego (and possibly other legislators), the President and the Speaker were not financially compensated for their involvement.

Current Arizona statute provides for a one-year ban on former legislators serving as lobbyists after they leave the legislature.  Specifically, ARS 38-504(a)(b) state that for one year, a former public officer, including legislator, shall not represent another person for compensation before the legislature concerning any matter with which the legislator was directly concerned and personally participated.For two years after he or she leaves office, no public officer, including legislator, may disclose or use for personal profit information designated as confidential.  Further, section c states:

A public officer or employee shall not use or attempt to use the officer’s or employee’s official position to secure any valuable thing or valuable benefit for the officer or employee that would not ordinarily accrue to the officer or employee in the performance of the officer’s or employee’s official duties if the thing or benefit is of such character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence on the officer or employee with respect to the officer’s or employee’s duties.

When legislators like Gallego are using their positions of influence to help direct thousands of dollars in independent expenditure efforts designed to defeat their colleagues and change the partisan make-up of their chamber, while simultaneously making money off of these efforts, how is that not a conflict of interest?