For Immediate Release
March 19, 2013 Contact: Tory Anderson
Advocates reference a series of bills that harm Arizona voters
Phoenix, AZ – Arizona voters gathered at the State Capitol today to ask lawmakers to Stop the War on Voters. The War on Voters is in reference to a series of bills targeted at making voting more difficult and inaccessible, plus increasing campaign finance limits to squeeze out the average Arizonan from the political process.
Today’s event was organized by Arizona Advocacy Network, a non-profit, grassroots organization which secures electoral justice, political rights and full civic participation, especially for underrepresented and marginalized constituencies, to achieve government for the People, not corporations.
Participants wore green shirts expressing their disdain for money influence in politics as well as their support for strengthening Clean Elections. They carried signs stating “Focus on Voters, not Donors” and “Don’t let big money influence politics,” and “Strengthen Clean Elections”.
Speakers focused on HB2593, a bill which would allow any candidate for office to accept $5000 from an individual or special interest group. The legislature is moving several other anti-voter and anti-Clean Elections bills as well (HB2306, HCR2026, SB1261, SB1003).
“It appears that only special interests with big money benefit from HB2593, not small businesses or the voters of Arizona. Clean Elections and the proposed Voter Voucher program empowers voters, equally, to financially support candidates no matter how much disposable income a voter may or may not have. HB2593 significantly benefits the rich and big money interests more than ordinary, working Arizona voters,” said Sam Wercinski, Executive Director of the Arizona Advocacy Network.
“As a small business owner who fights for opportunities in this State, I already find it difficult to have my voice heard by lawmakers. Big money speaks louder and certainly gains greater access and influence to our state government with significantly larger campaign contributions. With HB2593 small entrepreneurs, hardworking Americans lose in the process,” said Carmen Cornejo, a small business owner from Chandler.
“As retirees, we are concerned about effect of the War on Voters happening right now with HB2593 and other election related laws moving through the legislature. Most retirees are living on fixed incomes, and can’t afford to give $25, much less match the big money donors. A Voter Voucher program for Clean Elections, that never got a hearing, would give every voter an equal voice, no matter how rich or poor, to support candidates financially, just as we all have one vote. That puts the focus on voters, not donors,” said Kathy and David Schwarz, local retirees.
“Working families deserve better than HB2593. Laws like this are designed to help special interests with big money, not every day, working people. Clean Elections and the Voter Voucher program supports government for the people. Every voter gets to equally support candidates financially no matter how rich or poor a voter may be, just as we all have one vote,” echoed Rebekah Friend, Executive Director and Secretary-Treasurer of the Arizona AFL-CIO.
“I’m a young, working father with a small child at home. I can’t afford to spend $5,000 on campaign contributions like the big money donors in Arizona. My focus is on providing for my family. Allowing big money donors to increase their influence is unfair to every day working people like me. The Voter Voucher program levels the field and makes my voice count just as much as anyone else’s,” said Devin Del Palacio, a concerned voter and working dad.
“If HB 2593 passes, the huge disparity in contribution limits between the two methods of running for office will undermine Clean Elections, passed by Arizona citizens,” said Jim Pullaro, a Prescott businessman and concerned voter. “Take a look at what groups have and continue attacking this popular anti-corruption law and it’s clear that special interests and big money groups don’t like Clean Elections.”
“I’m a suburban mom and working parent. I work in grassroots politics, and I see the influence that campaign cash can buy. My husband and I, plus many grassroots and non-profit organizations don’t have the means to make large campaign contributions. HB2593 tilts public policymaking in favor of those who can afford to pay for it in the form of campaign donations. Increasing the campaign contribution limits will only benefit the big money lobbyists – now they can give more money to help further their causes. I haven’t found any of my friends or colleagues who support more money in politics – HB2593 is bad policy for Arizona, “said Tory Anderson, a communications consultant and working mother of two.
The Voter Voucher program was proposed originally in HB2575 as the “Voter Involvement Program” and then as an amendment to HB2306 which would double PAC contribution amounts. Neither HB2575 or the Voter Voucher amendment were allowed to be heard by Republican leaders in committees.
The Arizona Advocacy Network and AzAN Foundation work for electoral justice, political rights and full civic participation to achieve government for the People. Our work includes: defending, strengthening and expanding Arizona's Clean Elections system; advocating for full, immediate disclosure of contributions including corporate and "independent expenditures;" promoting anti-corruption and conflict of interest laws including gift bans; educating on ballot measures; guarding voting rights, voter registration and election integrity, including through the use of litigation, and protecting and improving Arizona's ballot initiative and referendum processes. More information is available at www.AZadvocacy.org.