by David Safier
Friday, most Marana households received a hit piece slamming Kelle Maslyn, one of four candidates running for two spots in the May 19th general election for Marana Town Council. The group that paid for the piece calls itself People for an Independent Marana.
The problem is, to be an independent expenditure committee, the group has to file with Marana, listing its chair and treasurer, but People for an Independent Marana hasn't filed.
Marana's government bureaucracy says that's OK, the committee has five days to file. But there seem to be two problems with that claim.
The first problem is, the five day rule apparently doesn't exist. An
independent expenditure committee can file with Marana in one of two ways:
as a group that plans to raise less than $500, or more than $500.
Either way, the group has to file when it starts up. If a group that
originally said it wanted to raise less than $500 decides to raise
more, it has five days to make the change with the city. People for an
Independent Marana hasn't filed in either category.
The second problem is, even if you say the committee has five days to file, the clock should have begun ticking the day the group raised its first dollar. Before the flier hit people's mailbox Friday, the group had to raise the money, design the flier, print the flier and take it to the post office. All that takes both time and money. It's hard to imagine a group could get all that done in less than five days, including the time it takes for the piece to make it from the post office to people's mailboxes. And even if they managed it, the five days must be up by now.
Why, then, is Marana shrugging its shoulders and giving the group an extra five days rather than demanding the papers immediately? After all, mail-in ballots are already streaming in, and this race could be decided by a few votes. The mailer could cost Maslyn the margin she needs to win, but information about who's behind the mailer could neutralize its effects.
Some suspect Mayor Ed Honea and council member Patti Comerford have their hands in this, since Maslyn isn't their favorite candidate. Comerford recently had her own problem with campaign filings. Though she had signs up around Marana and sent out mailers before the primary, she only claimed to have collected $100 in her campaign finance report, in the form of a loan she made to herself. After the primary — she got enough votes that she's in without running in the general — she released a campaign finance report listing other donors.
Though the link between Honea, Comerford and the mailer is unsubstantiated, it could explain why people in the Marana bureaucracy are willing to cut People for an Independent Marana five days of extra slack.
UPDATE: Tedski makes a good point over at R-Cubed. The hit piece against Maslyn talks about Tucson special interests trying to buy a seat in Marana. "It would be an easier message to swallow," he writes, "if People for an Independent Marana actually revealed who is funding them. Doesn’t seem to be too much to ask if the complaint is about who is funding Maslyn."