Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
This time it is the Tea-Publican back-door assault on Citizens Clean Elections. Arizona Legislature OKs higher election-donor caps:
The Senate approved higher contribution limits Tuesday, as a grass-roots group lobbied state lawmakers to reject the measure and critics warned the bill is unconstitutional. Even before House Bill 2593 gets to the governor’s desk, critics are asking Brewer to veto it.
Supporters said the increase in how much individuals and political-action committees can give to campaigns is needed to combat the rising influence of independent-expenditure committees, effectively fighting the committees’ financial firepower with beefed-up finances from candidates themselves. It would apply to all elections under state control, from the gubernatorial race to school-board seats.
[Bullshit Alert: No candidate can hope to outspend an independent-expenditure committee with unlimited resources from undisclosed donors. All this does is make elections so expensive that it freezes out qualified candidates from running for office who are not independently wealthy or have a lot of rich friends and relatives. This is another step towards a wealthy elite plutocracy.]
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 declared that it was unconstitutional to limit the speech of unions and corporations through campaign-spending caps. That unleashed a wave of spending that some politicians said relegates them to mere onlookers in their own campaigns.
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The bill won Senate approval on a 17-13 party-line vote, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed. It passed the House in February with only one vote to spare.
It would boost the current $488 ceiling on contributions to legislative candidates to $5,000. Another portion of the bill creates separate donation cycles [eliminating aggregate limits] for the primary and general elections, which currently are one cycle. That would raise the ceiling to $10,000 if a candidate survives a primary and advances to the general election.
Critics argue the bill helps only candidates who run with private campaign contributions, putting those who opt for the state’s public-campaign-finance system at a disadvantage.
[The bill does not increase the contribution or spending limits for Citizens Clean Elections candidates.]
And they fear the higher limits will cater to deep-pocketed special interests, making elected officials more beholden to narrow interests and not the public.
“Who is asking to be able to contribute much more money?” asked Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix. The average Arizonan can’t hand over $5,000 to a candidate, he argued; only political-action committees and special interests have the wherewithal to do that.
Higher limits won’t stop an independent-expenditure committee, he said. If the Legislature wanted to try to rein in those groups, it would be more productive to require them to disclose their donors than to hike contribution limits, Gallardo said.
A bill to force such disclosures was introduced this year, but went nowhere. It was sponsored by Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson.
[Sen. Michele Reagan, chair of the Senate Elections Committee, killed the bill on the specious grounds that Citizens United does not allow it. In fact, Citizens United endorsed disclosure laws.]
The Arizona Advocacy Network conducted a phone campaign and visited lawmakers’ offices to try to defeat the bill. They argued it tilts the playing field against candidates using the public-campaign-finance system known as Clean Elections and puts more distance between candidates and the public.
The group called on Brewer to veto the bill, saying it is unconstitutional because it disrupts the balance that the Clean Elections Act created between funding for candidates using public- and private-campaign systems. Voters approved the Clean Elections Act in 1998, and any changes to voter-passed initiatives need a vote of three-fourths of each chamber of the Legislature. HB 2593 did not meet that standard.
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The Citizens Clean Elections Commission also asked lawmakers to nix the bill, introduced by Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler.
“It raises traditional (contribution) limits but there’s nothing for Clean Elections candidates,” said Todd Lang, the commission’s executive director. “It makes it much tougher to run clean.”
Contact Governor Jan Brewer and insist that she veto this unconstitutional bill. Don't waste taxpayer dollars on unnecessary litigation.
The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phoenix Office: (602) 542-4331
Tucson Office: (520) 628-6580
Fax Number: (602) 542-1381
In-State Toll Free 1-800-253-0883 (outside Maricopa County only)
E-mail form: Contact the Governor
UPDATE: The Arizona Republic(an) editorialized in favor of this bill. Sign bill to raise election-donation cap. Nowhere do they mention that it is unconstitutional or that it will be litigated, wasting taxpayers money. The editors are OK with this, and are as bas as our lawless legislature. The editors acknowledge that this bill will have the effect of killing Citizens Clean Elections (the reason for their support), but decry "dark money" in politics, which this bill will do nothing to address. These editors are reckless and irresponsible.