Did the GOP Corp Comm candidates violate Clean Elections rules?

27 Aug 2012 03:40 pm
Posted by: Donna

From yesterday’s Bob Robb column:

I got a curious mailer last week from the Republican candidates for Corporation Commission: Bob Burns, Bob Stump and Susan Bitter Smith.

The timing was curious, for one thing. The three are unopposed in the Republican primary. Campaign cash is scarce for commission races. So, why waste the money now rather than husbanding resources to chase early ballots hard in the general election?

The message was also curious. The pitch was that the Republican slate should be elected to stop President Barack Obama’s “radical energy policies” from driving up electricity prices.

The timing is easy to explain. I commented on the online column pointing out that Clean Elections candidates (which all three are) get two allotments of money, one for the primary election and one for the general. The $91,465 they get for primary period has to be spent entirely by tomorrow’s primary election or candidates have to return the unused portion. I gave it no further thought until late last night when I thought, “hey wait a minute!” This morning I had a friend send me the mailer she got, which is probably the same as the one Robb is describing. I’ve linked to the whole piece but here’s a snippet:

Corp Comm Mailer pic

Here’s what it says about primary campaign expenditures on page 25 of the Clean Elections Participating Candidates guide:

Primary election funds must be directed at the primary election.

Nowhere on the hit piece does it even mention the primary. Bob Robb clearly felt it was directed at the general election when he got it, which was a perfectly reasonable conclusion. It slams our Democratic President and “some candidates running for the office of Corporation Commission who want to bring the Obama energy policies to Arizona”. In other words, the Democrats. Just who got this mailer, anyway? Was it mostly sent to Republicans or to independents as well? I’m very curious about that, especially since the deadline for independents to request a partisan primary ballot was August 17th. Not that there was anything on the mailer instructing independent voters about that.

I’ll do a post later about why the GOP Corp Comm candidates and Robb are wrong about energy policy, probably after the primary. I just want to see if others agree with me that this mailer is sketchy and possibly a violation.

12 Comments

  1. Comment by Sam Wercinski on August 27, 2012 5:05 pm

    Diva, good to have you writing about this potential violation of AZ’s toughest anti-corruption law passed by voters in 1998. Clean Elections candidates must adhere to higher standards of campaign finance rules than those who get unlimited amounts of campaign cash from private, lobbyist and corporate interests. The beauty of our voter approved law is that it makes participating candidates accountable to voters, not donors and if they break the campaign finance rules, they can actually be removed from office in addition to facing fines. Any citizen can file a complaint against a participating candidate to the Clean Elections Commission which will investigate it and take appropriate action if there are grounds.A Sun City candidate broke the rule you reference in 2010 and faced fines. Your readers can Visit AZCleanElections.gov for procedures to file a concern or to contact the Commission staff for more information. As you know, AZadvocacy.org works to defend and strengthen Clean Elections. We’ll need your help in 2013 to accomplish this. Thanks for your highlight.

  2. Comment by John Dreyfus on August 27, 2012 7:01 pm

    Two things, $1.84 to $4.00 is not a 260% increase, it is closer to 120% so they are obviously reaching out to replicans who are notoriously bad at math and spelling.
    The Secretary of State and Attorney General are replican and thus loathe to prosecute campaign law violations by fellow replicans.
    As we have seen, clean election violations can take years to wind their way through the court system and so violaters are betting that they will get away with it if they can muddy the waters enough. The clean elections laws need more teeth.

  3. Comment by Donna on August 27, 2012 7:20 pm

    John, luckily it’s not the SOS or AG who investigate these things. It’s the Clean Elections Commission. A complaint will be followed up immediately and if they find them in violation the candidates could face substantial penalties.

  4. Comment by Timmys Cat on August 27, 2012 8:50 pm

    Whoaooo! To heck with all that!
    You have a friend AND you agree with Robb Bobby Robby Bob!!!???

    It was written by stupid and most probably is a violation. More local yokel Goopers thinking they are clever by unethically using taxpayer money to gratuitiously slam Obama for personally raising gas prices and for trying to force SRP and APS to repo our homes while only the stalwart team of SmithBurnsStump will protect you from those “others” (nudge nudge).
    Obama is running against BitterStumpyBurns and
    Quayle? Wow!

    Lame and pathetic yeah, but I doubt much comes of it.

  5. Comment by Suzanne on August 27, 2012 10:06 pm

    Donna,
    Considering that Attorney General Tom Horne is being investigated by the FBI for election fraud. He obviously feels that election laws are meant to break. He will not prosecute a fellow Republican.

  6. Comment by Suzanne on August 27, 2012 10:12 pm

    Well, maybe next time I will read the posts ahead of mine before I make a comment.
    Thank –You, Sam Wercinski for your info.

  7. Comment by Timmys Cat on August 28, 2012 9:31 am

    Read before you comment?

    I don’t get it.

  8. Comment by mike slater on August 28, 2012 2:39 pm

    I voted today for Stump, Bitter Smith, and Burns.

  9. Comment by highdudgeonaz on August 28, 2012 4:09 pm

    We got these mailings … my wife and I had exactly the same thought. “The Democratic candidates would bring Obama’s ‘dangerous’ energy policies to Arizona? RIGHT ON!” Talk about having an adverse affect. Hint to the GOP: knee-jerk anti-Obama-ism may play well to the drooling nitwits of the teaparty, but it doesn’t work with anyone outside the three-corner-hat-wearing crowd.

  10. Comment by Timmys Cat on August 29, 2012 6:20 pm

    Woo Hoooo Katie! Congrats!
    Kenny Chevies new nickname is Spanky!

  11. Pingback by Democratic Diva » GOP Corp Comm candidates admit they were targeting independents on September 13, 2012 12:03 pm

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