Initiative Intent: Cleaning Up Clean Elections

Initiative Intent: Cleaning Up Clean Elections

Initiative Intent, just like legislative intent, can become a source of confusion.

Proposition * is a referral to the ballot, by the Legislature, of a voter protected statute that authorizes the Citizens Clean Election Commission and the process for government funding for people who wish to run for office. Many claim the intent of the law was to directly fund candidates and their effort to get elected.

Unfortunately, there are always those who seek to put definitions to a point beyond their reasonable limits. The issue in this case is should the law permit candidates to transfer the money given them to run their election campaigns to political parties, or not. It is that behavior, that seems to be an abuse of the CCEC process.

The language is simple and straightforward…

AMENDING SECTIONS 16-948 AND 16-956, ARIZONA REVISED STATUTES;

      RELATING TO THE CITIZENS CLEAN ELECTIONS ACT.

THE FOLLOWING PAYMENTS MADE DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY FROM A PARTICIPATING CANDIDATE’S CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT ARE UNLAWFUL CONTRIBUTIONS:

1. A PAYMENT MADE TO A PRIVATE ORGANIZATION THAT IS EXEMPT UNDER SECTION 501(a) OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE AND THAT IS ELIGIBLE TO ENGAGE IN ACTIVITIES TO INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF A CANDIDATE ELECTION.

2. A PAYMENT MADE DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TO A POLITICAL PARTY.  

With all of the talk about putting an end to so-called “dark money,” it is the height of hypocrisy to allow the siphoning of taxpayer money off of the CCEC fund by politicians to enrich their political parties. That hardly seems like with the initiative intended, but soon we shall see clarification of the matter.

I support this referral to enhance ethical behaviors in the electoral process for Arizona offices, and so does the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. In a recent op-ed, the organization weighed in writing,

“Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or Independent, it is safe to say most people would be aghast at the idea of their tax dollars being used to fund political parties.

Yet that is exactly what the Clean Elections Commission has been permitting for years.

In 1998 Arizona created a new program called Clean Elections, which allows politicians to receive taxpayer money in order to run for office.  Candidates who decide to participate in the Clean Elections system must collect a certain number of $5 individual contributions to qualify for taxpayer funding.

Therefore, it was shocking to see several taxpayer-funded candidates writing large checks from their campaign accounts to political parties.  Many of these candidates were running in noncompetitive districts, and some ran “ghost” campaigns where there was little evidence that they were even trying to win.  When it was all said and done, over $100,000 in taxpayer money was paid to political parties in 2016.

It is pretty obvious that the taxpayer money being funneled to political parties was payback for helping candidates qualify for clean election dollars. It is wrong and must be stopped.

There was an effort in 2017 to end the practice, but after defeating legislation at the capitol, the Clean Elections Commission promised to address the issue through rule-making.

Instead, Clean Elections passed a rule CODIFYING the practice, sending a direct signal to candidates that it’s OK to send their funding to political machines.  Even more astonishing was that their expanded commission rule now allows for taxpayer money to go to special interest non-profit organizations as well, such as the NRA, Sierra Club and labor unions.

Luckily, voters will get the opportunity to put a stop to this nonsense.  A measure is now on the ballot this November that will ask voters if they want to continue to fork over their hard-earned money to political parties and special interest non-profits.

We are hopeful the answer will be a resounding YES to Stop Taxpayer Money going to Political Parties.”

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *