FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phoenix, AZ-Today, the Arizona Court of Appeals released a detailed explanation for its injunction against HB2593, agreeing with co-plaintiffs Arizona Advocacy Network, the Citizens’ Clean Elections Commission, Rep. Victoria Steele and Mr. Louis Hoffman, that HB2593 was illegally enacted by the legislature and governor and is unconstitutional. Read the opinion.
Dr. Doris Marie Provine, Arizona Advocacy Network Board President, said, “The court clearly agrees with the position we have taken and fought for since HB2593 was introduced as a strike-all amendment to a veterans bill. The law is unconstitutional and violates the will of the Arizona voters. We want to give special thanks to our attorneys Tim Hogan, ACLPI and Mary O’Grady, Osborn Maledon, and the entire legal team.”
All candidates for state office are prohibited from accepting more than the amounts set by voters in the 1998 Clean Elections Act.HB2593 dramatically increased campaign contribution amounts for privately funded candidates from less than $500 to $5,000 per donor while allowing Super PACs to give an unlimited number of candidates a check for $10,000.
Sam Wercinski, Arizona Advocacy Network Executive Director, added, “The court clearly states that candidates cannot accept contributions above the amounts set by voters. All privately funded candidates who took amounts above these limits should return the excessive campaign cash. We know lawmakers were given the wrong advice by their attorneys. We want to work with them to advance campaign finance changes that further the intent of voters to fight political corruption and increase citizen involvement.”
The Maricopa County Attorney, legislative and private lawyers, and wealthy special interest groups actively lobbied for HB2593, claiming it was constitutional and didn’t violate the Clean Elections Act. Opposing the bill were citizens’ groups such as Arizona Advocacy Network, Arizona League of Women Voters and thousands of working Arizonans who appeared in person, called and wrote to lawmakers asking them to respect voters. The 1998 Clean Elections Act passed as a citizens’ initiative after a string of political scandals in the 80’s and 90’s, including the legislature gutting a 1986 citizens’ initiative that voters passed 2 to 1, which established campaign finance laws to fight political corruption in Arizona.
Those scandals have only recently been surpassed in scope by the money laundering and gift scheme that was conducted by Fiesta Bowl executives and its lobbying firm to gain greater influence over legislators and elected officials. This scandal continues to be investigated with speculation that high-ranking elected officials knowingly accepted illegal contributions.
Still uncertain is what action will be taken to restore the voter approved limits for school board, city, county and judicial candidates. This injunction only impacts state candidates and leaves a large hole in the anti-corruption law voters passed to reduce the influence that wealthy special interests are able to buy with their campaign cash. These local candidates are still able to accept checks of $5,000.00 from individuals and $10,000.00 from Super PACs.