Arizona’s ‘resign to run’ law effectively nullified

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Constitutional provisions enacted by the voters through initiative or referendum can only be repealed by the voters through another initiative or referendum. At least, that is how it is supposed to work.

The ballot referendum proposed by the Arizona Legislature in 1979 to amend the Arizona Constitution to impose a "resign to run" law was approved by the voters at the 1980 general election. Article 22, Sec. 18 of the Arizona Constitution provides "Except during the final year of the term being served, no incumbent of a salaried elective office, whether holding by election or appointment, may offer himself for nomination or election to any salaried local, state or federal office."

The "resign to run" law was undermined a few years ago by an incorrectly decided court decision in the case of John Huppenthal, which has become known as the "Huppenthal rule": candidates can file an exploratory committee and collect money and signatures before "officially" declaring their candidacy.

A bill sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills), HB 2157, has effectively nullified what little remained of the "resign to run" law through legislative legerdemain, without referral of the measure to the voters.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Brewer signs resign-to-run bill:

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill Tuesday making it easier for elected officials to seek new offices without violating the state’s resign-to-run law.

HB 2157 eliminates a law that deems elected officials to be candidates for another office as soon as they make a formal, public declaration of their candidacy. Under the bill, an elected official will only be considered a candidate for another office after filing nominating papers for that office.

Arizona’s resign-to-run law requires elected officials to step down if they become a candidate for another office before the final year of their terms. The law, which was approved by voters in 1980, was intended to keep politicians focused on their current jobs and prevent them from using their offices to help future campaigns for other positions.

But critics have assailed the law as toothless and ineffective. [Only since John Huppenthal convinced the courts to wrongly decide the application of the "resign to run" law and carve out the "Huppenthal Rule."]  Elected officials can still now file exploratory committees prior to the final year of their terms. And enforcing it has proven difficult.

During the 2010 election cycle, five elected officials were accused of violating the resign-to-run law, and all five were cleared by the Pima County Attorney’s Office. Some had publicly declared their intent to seek a higher office, while others had filed official candidate committees and even started collecting signatures [the "Huppenthal Rule"].

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, has described the current resign-to-run law as a charade. . .

It is now that you have effectively nullified the "resign to run" law through legislative legerdemain. Back in the day, the courts actually enforced the "resign to run" law, see Conrad Joyner v. Rose Mofford, 706 F.2d 1523 (1983).

Rep. John Kavanagh, making the world safe for politicians to do whatever the hell they want.

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