GOP Corp Comm candidates got off easy on their violation

27 Sep 2012 12:59 pm
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.


  1. Comment by mike slater on September 27, 2012 4:12 pm

    In my household I’m a registered Independent and my wife is a registered Republican so any mail we get get will be from Republicans. I’m an Independent but always vote Republican so the mailer was seen by both of us.

    We didn’t have a problem with it and we both will vote for all Republicans in November.

  2. Comment by AZVoter on September 28, 2012 8:50 am

    In my household I’m a registered Independent and my husband is a registered Republican so most mail we get is from Republicans. I’m an Independent but always vote for the best candidate for the position regardless of party affiliation.

    We have a problem with all mailers that lie and exaggerate, but we have done our own research on the candidates and will vote for all Democrats in November.

  3. Comment by mike slater on September 29, 2012 5:01 pm

    Az, if you’re voting for Democrats you must not have done any research.

  4. Comment by Russell Lowes on September 30, 2012 2:45 pm

    It is great that they got fined, but I too wish the fine were higher. Then it would better discourage such behavior in the future, by any party candidate. Thanks for the post.

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