By Dylan Smith, Tucson Sentinel
A longtime journalist and former spokesman for U.S. Reps. Gabrielle Giffords and Ron Barber has been named to the Clean Elections Commission, which oversees Arizona's voter education and campaign finance programs. Mark Kimble was a harsh critic of the program as an opinion writer for the Tucson Citizen.
"I've thought Clean Elections was a bad idea since it became law," he wrote in a 2007 column.
Friday, he said he feels differently about the program.
"I am very supportive of the direction that (Executive Director) Tom Collins is taking Clean Elections," he said. "Clean Elections must be far more than public funding of elections."
"While that certainly is an integral part of the commission’s function, I always have felt that when voters approved the law forming the commission, they envisioned it as a way to reform campaigns — to make them more open and transparent," he said. "Despite that, dark money has become a dominant force in campaigns and in elections – a transformation that greatly disappoints me."
Collins "strongly feels that the Clean Elections Commission has a role to play in addressing this, and I am looking forward to being part of that process," he said.
Kimble, an independent, replaces a Pima County Republican, Timothy Reckart, whose term expired.
The four other commissioners include two Democrats, one Republican and another independent.
State Senate minority leader Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, appointed Kimble.
"Service on the Clean Elections Commission is an exciting opportunity to make politics and government more accessible to Arizona voters. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve the public as a commissioner," Kimble said in a news release.
Kimble was a journalist with the Citizen for more than 30 years. He rose from reporter to associate editor responsible for the editorial and op‐ed pages. After the newspaper was shut down in 2009, he served as a spokesman for Giffords and Barber.
Arizona voters passed Proposition 200 in 1998, instituting the Citizens Clean Elections Act which set up a system of public financing and spending limits for candidates for state offices. The commission requires participating candidates to appear at public debates.
Commissioners are appointed by the governor and the highest ranking official of the opposite party. Those picked must not have served in, or run for, public office in the preceding five years, nor have been be an officer of a political party. No more than two members may be from any one party or county.