Arizona Advocacy Network

Government of, by and for the People

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SCOTUS’ decision on April 2 was a late April Fools’ joke. I wish it had been announced on April 1 so we would understand it was a joke. To now allow unlimited money into our political process under the guise of freedom of speech is totally absurd. Especially after our activist Supreme Court already had given the rich and corporations the right to donate unGodly sums with SCOTUS’ Citizens United decision.

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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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Re: the April 8 article “Big outside groups overshadow parties in key races.” 

I am confused why our lawmakers seem to be in favor of increasing the power of shadow groups on local elections.

Obviously, more dark money is going to negatively affect our elections and the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling will inevitably allow big money to influence our democracy.

The “see-no-evil” interpretation that our justices and judges have used to strike down restrictions on donor contribution only seems to be leading us in the direction of deregulation of campaign contribution and the strengthening of special and big money interests.

-Edison Lin

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A bill awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives could erase the ability of elections officials to remove from office anyone who takes in excess amounts of campaign cash. The bill could bear on the case of Attorney General Tom Horne if prosecutors decide to pursue allegations that he violated campaign-finance laws in his 2010 run for office.

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The wall between members of an independent expenditure committee and candidate campaigns could get lower under a proposal likely to go before the state House of Representatives next week.The last-minute amendment to Senate Bill 1344 would allow certain members of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry to participate in a candidate campaign, even if the chamber is running an independent-expenditure committee that is involved in the same campaign. It would apply not only to the state chamber, but to all trade associations organized as 501(c)(6)s under the Internal Revenue Service code.

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I'm frustrated with the Supreme Court's recent decision on the McCutcheon case.

It's ridiculous that big-money donors now have the ability to donate an unlimited amount of max-out donations to candidates. With no limit on aggregate contributions, the influence of money overpowers the influence of the voters.

Despite what the high court believes, money doesn't equal speech. Everyday people, especially college students like me, do not have big money to spend on funding candidates. Erasing campaign-finance reforms creates an inequitable system where my speech is deemed less valuable than those who can contribute massive donations.

If campaign finance continues to be deregulated, I and other students will be left politically voiceless.

— Mackenzie Johnson, Scottsdale

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Regarding "More lawmakers pushing identical bills written by national groups" (Republic, April 5):

The expanding influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council and model-bill drafting concerns me as an issue that imposes national agendas upon regional politics. This, in combination with the recent Supreme Court ruling on the McCutcheon case, only further increases national and outside pressures to peddle mandated agendas, making our state a battleground for issues that are not brought up by Arizona voters. Keep Arizona politics about Arizona.

— Edison LinGilbert

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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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"There are going to be unnecessary burdens imposed on citizens," said Sam Wercinski, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network, which has been fighting the stricter voter-registration rules since 2005. Wercinski and other critics say voters already attest to their citizenship twice when they fill out the federal form. They must check a box indicating they are a U.S. citizen and they sign the form, affirming they have answered truthfully, under penalty of perjury. "They sign under oath," Wercinski said. "In America, does our signature under oath no longer hold any weight?"

 


 

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PHOENIX – Tens of thousands of ballots cast in Arizona’s 2012 election were rejected by elections officials, indicating continued communication and voter education problems in the state, according to an AZCIR analysis of rejected ballots and interviews with elections experts and legislators.

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Mesnard said he was floored on Tuesday when all but two House Dems voted against H2665 (campaign finance; election; candidate committees), his campaign finance cleanup bill, and caused it to lose its emergency clause.

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The rewrite of the Voting Rights Act currently being debated in Congress would free Arizona from nearly 50 years of strict federal oversight to changes in its voting laws.The rewrite comes after the Supreme Court last summer struck a key provision of the 1965 act that required some or all of 15 states – including the entire state of Arizona – to get Department of Justice “pre-clearance” of any changes to their voting laws because those states had a history of discrimination.

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Two years ago the Republican-controlled Legislature sought to get voters to kill the Citizens Clean Elections Act, claiming it’s wrong for politicians to get public money. Now some of those same GOP lawmakers want to belly up to the bar and get handouts of public dollars for everything from sending out communications to constituents to buying tickets for special events.

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For a brief, giddy moment, Sean Noble -- a little-known former aide to an Arizona congressman -- became one of the most important people in American politics.Plucked from obscurity by libertarian billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, Noble was tasked with distributing a torrent of political money raised by the Koch network, a complex web of nonprofits nicknamed the Kochtopus, into conservative causes in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Read the rest of this in-depth report Here.

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 A bill that would prohibit the Citizens Clean Elections Commission from investigating allegations of campaign contribution limit violations is part of a “war on voters” by Republican lawmakers, leaders of voter-rights groups said Wednesday. At a news conference, the Arizona Advocacy Network also objected to a resolution that would put voter-approved laws back on the ballot after a set number of years.

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Only in Arizona would repealing a voter suppression law be an act of voter suppression. But that’s what is happening. Last year the Arizona Legislature passed House Bill 2305, a wickedly broad piece of voter-suppression legislation that they hoped no one would notice. But they did.

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If HB 2305 dies, don't revive it this session

The House Judiciary Committee last week voted to repeal House Bill 2305, a controversial omnibus election law passed in the final moments of last year’s legislative session. 

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Arizona Politics, Where Cash Is King

Feb. 6, 2014 — Ever since the first democracy in Athens initiated its first electoral process, money has played an integral part in framing and formulating the discussion and sometimes the outcomes of elections.


Whether the example be the forefathers of Pericles in Athens or a more contemporary one, the democratic principle is that regular people have a say in the result. But those with resources have always used those resources to help bring about a political outcome they desire.

It’s almost as natural as the best lion ruling the pride.

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 8 Ways to Help Overturn Citizens United

Four years after the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling -- a ruling that Senator John McCain described as "the worst decision ever" -- we've seen a torrent of big money sweep through our local, state and national elections. In 2012, candidates and groups spent over seven-billion dollars trying to influence the election outcomes. The bulk of the money came from a small group of super-wealthy political contributors. For example, 61 people who gave an average of $4.7 million dollars each, combined matched the total amount of money raised through small dollar donations by both major party presidential candidates. As a result, our government looks less and less like a democracy -- rule by the people -- and more like a plutocracy -- rule by the wealthy.

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Special Interests Win, We Lose (Again)

The official constitution for the state of Arizona includes a preamble, 30 “articles,” a big bunch of “sections” and all kinds of legal gobbledygook, but I could not find a single reference proclaiming the law of the land simply as: “Money talks.”Still, it must be in there. During the last legislative session Arizona lawmakers passed a bill that makes campaign cash more important than voters, and late Tuesday the state Supreme Court said it was ok for that law to go into effect, a law that not only says money talks but that money shouts.That money rules! While voters? Not so much.

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Redistricting Commission supporters want to bar legislature from challenging law

 

Supporters of the Independent Redistricting Commission want a federal court to rule that the Arizona Legislature has no right to challenge the voter-approved law.Attorney Tim Hogan is pointing out to the judges that the commission was created in 2000 not by the Legislature but by voters themselves. The Arizona Constitution specifically precludes lawmakers from seeking to alter or repeal what voters have enacted.

 

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Republicans — Yes, Republicans — Are Joining the Battle Against Big Money Politics

 After the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee published a 100-page autopsy nobly titled the “Growth and Opportunity Project” that pointed the supposed way forward for the humbled Grand Old Party. Regarding the dark-money-driven, super-PAC-mad politics of today, the document left little doubt about the party’s view: Let the money flow.

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 States Renew Battle To Require That Voters Prove Citizenship

The conservative-driven movement to expand voter restrictions in the name of reducing polling booth fraud has often been described as a solution in search of a problem. Despite evidence suggesting voter fraud is rare, it's a crusade that has proved so durable in GOP-dominated states like Arizona and Kansas that its leading proponents are undeterred — even by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Judges Aren't Stupid and Neither Were Voters

Wercinski: Intent clear with Clean Elections, Voter Protection acts

 

Was Robert Robb's Nov. 15 column, “Contribution limits: Read the law, not the tea leaves,” intended to be dumb or just dumbfounding?

Yes, a judge applies the law to the facts and circumstances in a case — assuming the law is constitutional. Yes, legislative enactments are presumed (by lawmakers) to be constitutional, although in Arizona there’s a history of that not being the case.Laws and the words that make them are subject to interpretation, which is why Arizonans value fair and impartial courts.

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  Arizona's 2-track voting plan to be costly

Arizona is creating a two-track voting system, with one track that will accommodate a tiny fraction of the state’s voters at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to county governments.Last month, Secretary of State Ken Bennett said the switch is needed in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined Arizona cannot impose its proof-of- citizenship requirement on voters who use a federal voter-registration form. The citizenship requirement applies only to those registering with Arizona’s state form.

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