Phoenix,AZ– Late Tuesday, just 90 minutes after oral arguments were concluded, the Arizona Court of Appeals declared HB2593 unconstitutional and in violation of the Voter Protection Act and Clean Elections Act. Read the opinion here. “The court’s decision clearly means that candidates can no longer accept the larger contributions that HB2593 promoted,” said Mike Valder, AZAN President Emeritus and Attorney.
Arizona Advocacy Network (AZAN) and citizens from around the state fought this legislation while trying to advance a consensus bill, HB2575 that would have fairly addressed campaign finance changes for both privately funded and qualified Clean Elections candidates. Had HB2575 passed, the intent of voters to fight the corrupting influence of big money over government would have been preserved and the needed 75% vote in the legislature would have avoided the uncertainty now being experienced by big money special interests, candidates and their wealthy donors.
The amounts in HB2593 are nearly ten times what voters approved in the Clean Elections Act. The Act was passed after a series of political corruption scandals in the 80’s and 90’s. These scandals were only recently surpassed in breadth 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 with more campaign cash.
AZAN suspects many big money backed candidates will be exposed when reports are due on January 31, 2014 by analyzing the pattern of donor campaign cash. Sam Wercinski, Executive Director, added, “We intend to educate voters about donor contributions that violated the Clean Elections Act and encourage all candidates to return amounts in excess of the voter approved limits.”
Arizona Advocacy Network will continue defending the Clean Elections Act and its anti-corruption goals as passed by the voters in 1998. The non-partisan civic engagement organization is represented by Tim Hogan from ACLIP and Mary O’Grady of Osborn Maledon. Co-plaintiffs include the Citizens’ Clean Elections Commission, Rep. Victoria Steele and Mr. Louis Hoffman.