Many likely voters are still undecided about a ballot measure that asks them to curtail powers of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission.
The commission runs a public-financing system for candidates and enforces financial-reporting rules for campaigns and groups that spend money in elections.
Proposition 306 asks voters to require the commission's rules to be OK'd by the Governor's Regulatory Review Council, a board of political appointees chosen by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey.
Prop. 306 would also prohibit candidates who receive financing for their campaigns from paying money to political parties or private tax-exempt groups that try to influence elections.
About 39 percent of likely voters support the measure, 32 percent oppose it and nearly 29 percent are still undecided, a poll from Suffolk University and The Arizona Republic shows.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Fight over policing 'dark money'
The statewide poll of 500 registered voters, reached by mobile phones and landlines, was conducted between Thursday and Sunday.
Prop. 306 is the latest fracas in a years-long fight to determine who, if anyone, has the power to police "dark money" groups in Arizona — groups that can spend millions to influence elections without disclosing the source of their funds.
Republicans have long sought to curtail the Clean Elections Commission's ability to require dark-money groups to report their spending.
Arizona lawmakers referred the measure to the ballot in May. Republicans passed it out of the Arizona House, on a party-line vote, minutes before they adjourned at 12:26 a.m. on the final day of their session.
Backers focus on money for parties
Supporters of the measure have focused on the provision to prevent publicly-financed candidates from making payments to political parties.
"Parties will no longer be able to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money to pay for their consultants," wrote Phoenix resident Wesley Harris, who submitted an election-pamphlet argument in support of Prop. 306.
"In November send the government a message. Send a message for transparency."
Stop Taxpayer Money For Political Parties, a new independent-expenditure group, paid for Harris' submission, along with most of the arguments submitted in support of Prop. 306.
Campaign-finance records show the group was created by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a conservative political advocacy group that funds dark-money campaigns.
GOP lawmakers also say the measure is intended to stop Democrats from using clean-elections money to bankroll party operations. They contend money paid to the party by publicly-financed candidates has been used to fund races outside of their districts.
House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said in May that it would stop "the flow of public taxpayer money to political parties."
Democratic lawmakers contend their payments to the party are for campaign services that vendors often provide, such as access to a database of voter information.
Opponents call measure a 'ploy'
Opponents of Prop. 306, including Democrats and several voter-advocacy groups, contend it's merely an attempt to gut the commission's policing powers.
Arizona voters created the Clean Elections Commission in 1998 to restore confidence in a political system often driven by special-interest money. And because voters created it, their support is needed to change it.
Joel Edman and Morgan Dick, of the Arizona Advocacy Network, an open-government watchdog group, submitted an elections-pamphlet argument in opposition.
"Clean Elections is our watchdog, and (Prop. 306) is the establishment’s attempt to defang it," they wrote. "How? By giving an obscure board of political insiders hand-picked by the governor the power to overrule the watchdog."