Phoenix, AZ- Today the Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation and other plaintiffs were joined by the League of Women Voters of Arizona and Common Cause in challenging the constitutionality of an effort by the legislature and corporate interests to repeal the 1998 Citizen's Clean Elections Act. In joining the challenge, League President, Bonnie Saunders stated "the League of Women Voters of Arizona helped to draft and pass the Citizen's Clean Elections Act that was approved by voters in 1998. We believe in its merits and will actively work to defend and improve the system."
Common Cause, a non-partisan community-based organization with more than 400,000 members and supporters nationally, has historically supported Clean Elections. "Arizona's more than 8,100 Common Cause members value Clean Elections because it promotes the core principle of American democracy-- government of, by and for the People. Their active support in defending and strengthening Clean Elections is significant," Sam Wercinski of Arizona Advocacy Network stated.
Like many recent actions by the legislature, this measure tramples on local control by forcing the City of Tucson to shut down their 25-year campaign finance system and turn over local funds for state government use. Prior to passage of SCR 1025, the Arizona Advocacy Network tried to work with legislators to make improvements to the program, and to remind them of Clean Elections' popularity with voters. The organization released a poll with Public Campaign that showed broad and diverse support for Clean Elections. Voters overwhelmingly support the program, with 77% of Arizonans backing the law. (Independents 79%; Democrats 80% and Republicans 74%.)
Full poll results are available online at http://www.publicampaign.org/polls/arizona2011.
The referendum slated for the 2012 ballot was rushed through in the final chaotic days of the legislative session. It would effectively kill Arizona's Clean Elections program which voters passed in 1998 after a political bribery scandal known as AzSCAM ended many legislators' careers with jail sentences.
With the on-going Fiesta Bowl scandal, Arizona Advocacy Network believes it's time to make improvements in the Clean Elections Act and pass new anti-corruption measures such as banning all gifts to elected officials and requiring disclosure of corporate contributors.