Cranky old AZ Republic columnist Doug MacEachern started off his Monday column with some tantalizing clickbait for the crowd that hates Clean Elections and blames it for everything wrong in the state.
Seen our state Legislature lately? Somewhere, a Democratic political strategist is wincing. But he was hardly alone. Promoters of publicly financed campaigns both in Arizona and nationally sincerely believed it would make elections more egalitarian, more open to regular citizens.
And, above all else, that it would transform the state Legislature into a paradise of moderation.
It didn’t work out that way.
Arizona not only is emphatically not more moderate and measured in its politics than when the Citizens Clean Elections law was passed, by a scant majority, 16 years ago.
It is overflowing with political hard cases. And the Clean Elections system has contributed to its extremism.
When my colleague, Laurie Roberts, started her campaign to “de-kook” the capitol – Operation Dekookification – her No. 1 Kook was (and continues to be) Rep. Carl Seel, Republican from Anthem and proud beneficiary of Clean Elections campaign lucre.
That right there is pure Chamber of Commerce catnip. It’s bullshit, and it should be said that MacEachern regularly spouts right wing rhetoric that would make him fit right in with the wingnuttiest members of the legislature, so his sudden concern about “extremism” seems specious. What Doug is clearly trying to do is to draw readers to his buried lede, which is a defense of Tom Horne from the wicked Clean Elections Commission.
So, now, the fellows at Clean Elections are trying to throw their weight around in other ways
Clean Elections Director Tom Collins has gotten the nod from his commission to investigate Attorney General Tom Horne for campaign-law violations. If Collins concludes Horne is sufficiently guilty, he has (or, at least claims to have) the power to either forbid Horne from running for re-election or boot him from office outright.
The fact that Horne did not run as a publicly funded candidate when he was elected attorney general in 2010 doesn’t matter. The law passed in 1998, and affirmed in 2004 by the Arizona Supreme Court, gives Collins the authority to march out in search of Tom Horne’s head.
According to Collins, it’s all very scientific. He’s going to investigate, input all the data and calculate the percentage degree to which Horne has violated campaign finance law. Sort of like modelling weather patterns to determine global warming. If he concludes Horne has generated X-amount of campaign-finance heat, he’s out.
Did you catch the sneering “global warming” reference there? Read on, and you’ll see him namecheck both Obama and Pelosi. Pretty much every Doug MacEachern column is a Birther uncle bingo card but I have to say I’m impressed at how he worked the defense of his indefensible buddy Tom Horne into this one.