Arizona Advocacy Network

Government of, by and for the People

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Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, the state's top law-enforcement official, deliberately broke campaign-finance laws during his 2010 bid for office by coordinating with an independent expenditure committee, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery concluded after a 14-month investigation. At a news conference Monday, Montgomery said investigators found e-mails and phone records showing Horne, a Republican, was intimately involved with Business Leaders for Arizona, which raised and spent more than $500,000 to run TV ads blasting Horne's Democratic opponent, Felecia Rotellini, in the closing days of the tight race.

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Justice Kennedy grants Arizona officials request to keep in place law that discourages voter registration of elderly, homeless, poor, college students and historically disfranchised citizens. U.S. Supreme Court now considering to hear our challenge.

 

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Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who can no longer practice law, announced his support Thursday for a ballot measure to change Arizona's judicial selection process.

Thomas, disbarred in April, said his backing of Proposition 115 is just the beginning of his fight to reform government.

At a news conference on the state Senate lawn, Thomas announced the formation of a campaign committee, Citizens for Clean Courts, to support the proposed constitutional amendment. Among other things, the measure would give the governor a larger role in selecting state and county judges.

Joining him were family members of elderly Arizonans whose estates have been depleted by probate and fiduciary fees under Maricopa County Probate Court.

Scottsdale resident Patti Gomes said court-appointed lawyers and fiduciaries drained her 90-year-old mother's $1.4 million estate. Gomes and others said their families have been victimized by judges, attorneys and administrators in the probate system.

Thomas said he's not a victim, though he has repeatedly claimed the Arizona judiciary conspired to end his career.

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A candidate for the Maine Legislature is facing a criminal charge after allegedly falsifying documents to show that he qualified for public funding under the Maine Clean Election Act.

Michael Hein, 42, of Augusta, was summonsed on a charge of theft by deception after an investigation by the Maine Attorney General’s Office. Hein is accused of using his own money to meet the small donation threshold that would have allowed him to receive approximately $1,400 in Clean Elections for his primary campaign, and if he won that, another $3,900 for the general election.
 
Hein’s criminal charge is punishable by up to 364 days in jail or a $2,000 fine.
 
An investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission staff had found that Hein falsified forms signifying that donors had given him $5.
 
House candidates must obtain 60 individual $5 donations to qualify for Clean Elections funding.
 
According to documents with the Ethics Commission, Hein submitted his paperwork two days before the qualifying deadline, showing that he had obtained 67 small donations, 35 of which were cash donations.
 
Jonathan Wayne, the executive director of the commission, said that staff found at least 13 donors who claimed they did not give Hein a $5 donation.
 

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As the filing deadline for candidates running for office in the 2012 election cycle approaches, it’s as though the last cycle never ended.

Petitions for all those intending to run for county and state offices must by turned in by the end of business May 31 and then the fun will begin in earnest.

Toward that end, the first candidate to qualify for funding through the Arizona Citizens for Clean Elections Act was announced Monday.

Pat Fleming, who is running for Senate in LD14, received $14,355 for the primary election. According to the Arizona Advocacy Network, as a Clean Candidate, Fleming has agreed to run under Arizona’s anti-corruption law that prohibits participating candidates from accepting individual contributions including corporate, lobbyist or PAC money, thus focusing on voters and not donors.

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Yesterday, the state legislature approved a compromise budget they negotiated with the Governor.

The budget agreement would:

    Fund 500 state-run maximum security prison beds we don’t need
    Fund 1,000 private prison beds we don’t need
    Pay for these prison beds by stealing $50 million from a mortgage settlement that was intended to provide relief for victims of the foreclosure crisis
    Remove the requirement to study the quality and cost of public vs. private prisons

In his defense of her “don’t bother me with the facts” decision, spokesman Matt Benson said the Governor believes the cost comparison and quality review is, “of little utility to us.”  Our Governor has just publicly stated that she has no use for facts if the facts stand in the way of her corporate backers’ agenda.

There could be no clearer proof that the legislature is putting the interests of their private prison pals ahead of kids, victims of the housing crisis, and the 99%.

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Perhaps no ruling issued by the current U.S. Supreme Court has elicited more opinions on both sides than the Citizens United case.

The ruling allowed unlimited contributions by citizens to the candidates of their choice.

On one side were the free-speech advocates who claimed that citizens were entitled to spend whatever amount they desired to back the candidates of their choice. On the other side were those who worried about the influence unlimited money could buy if the candidate was elected.

The argument hasn’t abated since the decision was rendered Jan. 21, 2010. Even on the local level, where the money isn’t as freely spent, there are two distinctly different viewpoints.

Running for the newly created Legislative District 8, Emily Verdugo opted to participate in the Citizens Clean Elections Act (CCEA). Also running for the seat, Thomas “TJ” Shope will not participate.

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A major business group has given up on its perennial, and largely unsuccessful to date, effort to kill public financing of elections.

Compromise legislation worked out earlier this month would curb some of the activities of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission in promoting the organization. The new measure also would end the ability of taxpayers to get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations to help candidates run for office.

In exchange, foes of public financing have agreed to scrap plans to ask voters to kill the system outright, a ballot fight that likely would be expensive.

Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, acknowledged that his organization's opposition goes back to 1998, before he even arrived in Arizona, when the business group fought unsuccessfully against the voter-approved law. Several court battles to overturn the law championed by the chamber also faltered.

But Hamer said there was one notable exception: The U.S. Supreme Court last year voided one provision that provided publicly funded candidates a dollar-for-dollar match every time their privately financed foes spent more.

"That was the big issue for us," Hamer said.

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A proposed ballot measure to effectively dismantle Arizona's system that provides public money for candidates' state election campaigns would itself be scrapped under a compromise between supporters and opponents of the program.

The state Senate on Monday gave preliminary approval to legislation that would eliminate one of the system's funding sources and bar spending to promote it, which were changes sought by critics.

In return, a resolution for a ballot measure to bar use of public money for candidates' campaigns doesn't go to voters.

"I don't' think either side thought it was in anybody's interest to go to war," said John Loredo, a lobbyist for the Arizona Advocacy Network.

The network supports the Clean Elections system, while opponents include the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Goldwater Institute.

Arizona voters narrowly approved creation of the Clean Elections system in 1998. Candidates voluntarily participating in the program receive funding after submitting set numbers of $5 qualifying contributions from voters.

Proponents contend that public campaign funding reduces the influence of special interests in elections and government. Critics dispute that and say public money shouldn't be used for campaigns.

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Federal authorities are investigating allegations that Attorney General Tom Horne illegally collaborated with an independent expenditure committee that spent more than a half-million dollars on negative ads against his Democratic opponent in 2010, the Arizona Capitol Times has learned.

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A judge has tossed the latest challenge to the state's public-campaign-finance law, rebuffing attempts to stifle the education efforts of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

The judge noted the lawsuit took the unusual position of seeking to block the commission, a part of state government, from talking with citizens.

"The Court is unaware of any other situation in which a person or entity has sought to preclude a government commission from communicating with the citizenry -- that's not how government works," Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain wrote.

Usually, he said, people complain government is not responsive to them.

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PHOENIX -- A judge has thrown out an effort by foes of public financing of elections to effectively gag members of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and its director.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain said the claim, filed by those seeking to convince voters to eliminate public funding in November, flies in the face of long-settled First Amendment principles of free speech.

"As a general matter, government employees are entitled to speak to whoever they want if they wish, as long as they do not inappropriately undermine their employer," he wrote. And Brain, noting that the challengers are trying to stop something they fear might occur, said "prior restraint on speech are almost always inappropriate."

And he specifically rejected a request to keep the commission from communicating with other groups that support public financing.

"The court is unaware of any other situation in which a person or entity has sought to preclude a government commission from communicating with the citizenry," Brain wrote. "That's not how government works."

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