Arizona Advocacy Network

Government of, by and for the People

You’ve seen the commercials on TV. You’ve heard the mudslinging and attack ads. That must mean it’s election season. In fact, in case some of you were unaware, the general election is just a few weeks away, on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Now, it isn’t a presidential election this year, but that doesn’t mean your voice shouldn’t be heard. There are many hot-ticket issues on the ballot this year. For instance, how are special interest groups and big money affecting the Arizona judicial system? It’s important to be informed on the issues happening in this state. So, why not grab a free drink and some grub and learn about these issues. Tomorrow, Oct. 22, the Arizona Advocacy Network will be hosting their 4th Annual Arizona Advocates Taking Charge Netmixer. The mixer will feature special guest retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson who will be speaking on Citizen’s United. Taking place at Old Main on ASU’s Tempe campus, the event is free. To RSVP, click here. Being informed about the issues happening in Arizona is every citizens right and duty.

The guest speaker at a Wednesday Tempe event will be a retired jurist who is expected to offer frank commentary about the corrosive role of campaign money in judicial elections.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson will offer remarks about theCitizens United ruling—and especially the impact of money on the election of judges—at a mixer hosted by the Arizona Advocacy Network.

As the AAN says, “Learn how to keep Arizona’s judicial system protected from political attacks. Increasingly special interests groups and big money are targeting the courts for their own gain.”

Former Justice Nelson is just as likely to offer a rousing dialogue on a variety of issues. His judicial contributions have sometimes been controversial, outspoken and noteworthy. (You can read more about Justice Nelson here and here.)

The October 22 event, co-hosted by the ASU Indian Legal Program, takes place at theOld Main on the ASU campus, 400 E. Taylor Mall, Tempe (parking is available in the Fulton Center parking garage across University Ave.).

The event is free, but RSVP is required. Register here.

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Federal appeals judges expressed skepticism Monday over Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s argument that a federal commission must make voters who register using a federal registration form provide proof-of-citizenship documents required by state law.Kobach argued on behalf of Kansas and Arizona before the10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, in a case where the states are trying to force the federal government to add their requirements to federal vote registration forms mandated by the National Voting Rights Act, also known as the motor voter law.

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Constantin Querard’s op-ed, “Why Clean Elections Days are Numbered” makes several claims that mislead readers and distract them from the viability and proven effectiveness of Arizona’s strongest anti-corruption law, the Citizens’ Clean Elections Act.Contrary to what he writes, Clean Elections was a reaction from Arizonans outraged by political scandal and officials selling out to powerful groups and donors.

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Tuesday's primary election is a busy one for voters, with a six-way Republican contest for governor, a two-way race for the GOP nomination for attorney general and a bevy of other statewide, legislative and local races. But for up to 1,500 Arizona voters, the ballot will look surprisingly short: They will have just one race on which to vote.It marks a new chapter in Arizona elections, in which the state is distinguishing between voters who showed documents proving they are U.S. citizens and those who signed a sworn statement attesting to their citizenship.

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PHOENIX — A decades-old effort by Congress to make voter registration simple and uniform across the country has run up against a new era’s anti-immigration politics. So on Tuesday, when Arizona’s polls open for primaries for governor, attorney general and a host of other state and local positions as well as for Congress, some voters will be permitted to vote only in the race for Congress. As voter registration drives intensify in the coming weeks, the list of voters on the “federal only” rolls for the November general elections could reach the thousands. These are voters who could not produce the paper proof of citizenship that Arizona demands for voting in state elections.

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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.

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Clean Elections chief: It's our job to remove candidates who violate the law. Which requires a thorough investigation

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.

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Several people have had the wrong photo and signature printed on their driver's licenses after a glitch occurred in the Arizona Department of Transportation's computer system, according to the agency. Eight people have come forward in the last 10 days to report that they received driver's licenses with an incorrect photo and signature printed on the credential, said Timothy Tait, a department spokesman. More than 45,000 credentials have been issued by the agency since it implemented a new central issuance process on June 16, Tait said.

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On Friday, June 27th a community conversation discusses the role of fair and impartial courts in this fight in Flagstaff.Arizona Advocacy Network, a progressive, non-partisan civic engagement organization is hosting the happy hour event—The Fight for Marriage Equality in Arizona: Taking it to the Courts. Donna Red Wing, Executive Director of One Iowa and Meagan and Natalie Metz, Flagstaff residents and plaintiffs in Arizona’s marriage equality case, Connolly v Roche, will speak along with their attorney, Shawn Aiken.

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An organization that works for fairness and diversity in the court system will host a community conversation on lawsuits that challenge Arizona's definition of marriage.The Fight for Marriage Equality in Arizona: Taking it to the Courts will be June 27 at The Inn at 410 in Flagstaff. The event will give folks who aren't attorneys an idea of the importance of a fair and impartial court system as it relates to the marriage equality cases, according to Sam Wercinski, executive director of Arizona Advocacy Network.

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Sedona AZ (June 12, 2014) – On Friday, June 27, 2014, a community conversation discusses the role of a fair and impartial judiciary as a Flagstaff couple takes their fight for marriage equality to court. Arizona Advocacy Network, a progressive, non-partisan civic engagement organization is hosting the happy hour event, The Fight for Marriage Equality in Arizona: Taking it to the Courts.

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A new controversy is brewing over a voter education drive that Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett wants to launch, leading up to the November election. Bennett told CBS5 that there were a lot of problems during the 2012 election with voter registration, provisional ballots and early ballot lists, so he decided to educate voters with some TV ads to help things run smoother this year.

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A federal appeals court breathed new life this week into the long-running fight over voter registration in Kansas and Arizona. At stake is whether or not the U.S. Election Assistance Commission will have to add state-specific instructions about Kansas and Arizona's proof-of-citizenship requirements to the federal voter registration form. A federal district judge ruled in favor of the states in March, saying that the commission had unlawfully denied the states' requests. On Thursday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay to the lower judge's ruling, which was sought by the commission and a collection of voting rights groups.

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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."

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On behalf of Gov. Jan Brewer, Attorney General Tom Horne and Secretary of State Ken Bennett (none of whom actually asked for my help) I called Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of Arizona Advocacy Network, and demanded that he stop trying prevent these three fine elected officials from wasting ungodly amounts of taxpayer money on a problem that does not exist.

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Absolute power, corrupts absolutely.

Watching the wheels of state government grind through the 51st session of the Legislature and conclude last month, we saw one glaring example of Lord Acton’s famous 1870 statement opposing a doctrine of papal infallibility.

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Arizona's legislators have wrapped up their work and returned home to explain to voters the many reasons why they should be re-elected. Really.

One item you won't see on that list: the new ban on the freebies that flow freely forth at the state Capitol.

That's because there isn't one.

It is now year three post-Fiesta Bowl Fiasco.

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Now that the regular legislative session is over, lawmakers who are running for re-election or some other office can focus on their campaigns — including raising money. To that end, one bill passed strips the Citizens Clean Elections Commission of the power to enforce the spending of candidates who do not accept public funding for their campaigns.Tom Collins, Executive Director of the Commission, told us he’s disappointed Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1344.

Listen to the story: http://kjzz.org/sites/default/files/TS0425-fin_elex.mp3

 

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A staffer for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has resigned alleging in her letter of resignation that the office is "not following campaign laws or finance laws," imperiling her "legal well-being." Sarah Beattie worked for less than a year as an administrative assistant in the Attorney General's Office, answering questions from the public and providing support to Horne's Constituent Services Division. She also worked as a volunteer fundraiser for Horne's re-election campaign. Staffers are prohibited by law from working on political activities while on state time.

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The most successful politicians in Arizona are named Benjamin. Benjamins call the shots.Benjamins lay down the law. Benjamins rule.That is -- benjamins. Lower case. As in $100 bills. Or as Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, said recently, "Each time the U.S. Supreme Court further empowers the money over the many, Arizona's legislature seems to respond by weakening existing campaign finance laws further, rather than strengthen those left standing."

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It's ironic that Arizona originally led the nation in a plan to limit campaign money through Clean Elections law, but now is heading in the opposite direction, thanks to the Supreme Court. The Court's 2011 ruling greatly weakened the law, taking a perfectly good referendum passed by Arizona's citizens and watering it down so that non-Clean candidates can receive 10 times more money than Clean Elections candidates.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has dealt another blow to legal limits on campaign contributions. In a 5-4 ruling Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the court’s conservatives to strike down the aggregate limits on campaign contributions. In English, that’s the cap on how much total money you can donate to candidates and committees during a two year campaign cycle. While caps on individual donation amounts are in still in place, the move will allow donors to give overall to more candidates and causes. Sam Wercinski, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network and political consultant Sean Noble talked about the decision.

LISTEN HEREhttp://kjzz.org/sites/default/files/hn0402_elexmoney.mp3

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PHOENIX – (March 19, 2014) – With the filing deadline less than three months away, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, the state agency that administers the Citizens Clean Elections Act, reminds potential candidates that public financing is available to run for legislative and statewide offices in 2014.

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