Now that SB1344 has taken effect, I write to announce that the Clean Elections Commission will continue its mission without change. Popular wisdom among election-law commentators asserts that the bill cut back on the commission’s duties. That view is wrong. The Legislature did not have the votes to overturn the judgment of Arizona citizens that the commission should have the right to investigate, and if necessary assess penalties, for any violation of the Clean Elections Act. The Act calls for stiffer penalties for violations of reporting requirements and contribution limits, for all legislative and statewide candidates, “participating” or not.
The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission recently drew the ire of The Republic editorial board and columnist Doug MacEachern for its vote to authorize an inquiry into whether Tom Horne, a candidate for attorney general, has violated campaign laws. Fed up with corruption and wishing to promote participation in politics, Arizona voters enacted the Citizens Clean Elections Act in 1998. The multi-faceted program, which includes education, public financing of state and legislative candidates, and independent enforcement of campaign-finance laws, is vital.
Arizona may be stuck in a drought, but our political system is submerged under a mudslide of dark money, layered with political corruption. U.S. Supreme Court decisions, most recently McCutcheon and Citizens United, have overturned 100 years of anti-corruption laws, made corporations into people and mysteriously turned money into "free speech."