Posted by: Donna
Mary Jo Pitzl of the AZ Republic tweeted that the Clean Elections Commission voted 3-0 to levy a $29K fine on Republican Corporation Commission candidates Susan Bitter Smith, Bob Stump, and Bob Burns for their blatant violation of proper use of primary funds. The trio had spent far more than that on a mailer sent to thousands of Arizona voters disparaging President Obama and the Democratic candidates for Corp Comm. The mailer specifically named Democratic candidates Marcia Busching, Sandra Kennedy, and Paul Newman so it was clearly a general election message using primary funding.
The rationale for the low amount of the fine, I’ve been told, is that they’re only considering the portion of mailers that were addressed to independent voters. The problem with that reasoning is that campaign mailers are sent to households, not just individual voters. Having seen many a voter list in my time, I can tell you it’s very common for there to be people with different registrations under the same roof. That mailer was undoubtedly seen by non-Republican voters in the households of those Republican voters. This decision is basically setting a precedent that it’s okay to use primary money to send a general election message so long as you direct it at voters of your party. That sets far too low a bar, in my opinion. Crafty campaign managers can simply target households that have partisan voters and differently registered voters in them.
I feel vindicated that the GOP candidates were found in violation but the fine is a mere slap on the wrist.
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