Arizona Capitol Times: Democratic Opposition to Clean-Up Bill Baffles Mesnard

By Jeremy Duda, The Arizona Capitol Times


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.

Mesnard said he had been under the impression that the Dems, who asked him to delay the vote for a few days, had no issues with the bill, and he expected them to vote for it. “I’m grateful for the two Democrats that voted for it. I had far more than two who came to me, begging me to move this through as quickly as possible. So, obviously, I’m perplexed as to why,” he told our reporter. Mesnard said he isn’t even sure what the Dems’ issues are. Wheeler said that he told Mesnard last Thursday that Dems had no issues with the bill, but that they started raising concerns afterward, leading him to vote against it so they could be resolved. But several Dems declined to comment on exactly what issues led most of the caucus to vote against the bill. “We’ve got some issues we’re working on with them. I can’t say too much right now,” Campbell said.

Quezada said he had concerns about giving candidates the ability to transfer money from the primary election to the general election – an issue raised by the Arizona Advocacy Network – and said the emergency clause “only seems to affect certain individuals.” Meyer, too, said some Dems had questions about “how it will affect certain campaigns,” while Larkin, one of the only two Dems to vote for the bill, said Dems had concerns over whether it would “create an un-level playing field for the governor’s race.”

The Arizona Advocacy Network and Dem attorney Jim Barton both questioned whether certain provisions were intended to benefit Ducey. Mach, the other Dem who voted for the bill, said lawmakers had been hearing negative comments about H2665 from their constituents, some of whom were concerned about core provisions of the bill, such as the ability to transfer money between committees and the retroactivity clause. She said leadership told Dems to vote their conscience, but didn’t tell them to vote against it. Contreras said it was leadership that raised the issues in the first place. “It was just something at the last minute that we had to kind of pull the plug on. What came to light, yes, it came through leadership,” he said.

Mesnard said he is still optimistic he can get Dem support for the emergency clause in the Senate, then bring it back to the House. Wheeler said he and Campbell are committed to working with Mesnard on the bill, and Mach said she expects Dems to support the bill from here on out as well.