Arizona’s campaign contribution limits challenged in court

Posted  by AzBlueMeanie:

Last week the Arizona Supreme Court declined jursidiction over a direct special action filed by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, Arizona Advocacy Network, Louis J. Hoffman and Rep. Victoria Steele to challenge HB 2539, which raised the campaign contribution limits for traditionally funded candidates, but did not similarly adjust the campaign contribution limits for Clean Elections candidates, in violation of the Citizens Clean Elections law formula.

It also violates the Voter Protection Act, Prop. 105 (1998), which requires a three-fourths super-majority vote of each chamber of the legislature to amend a voter approved measure, which must also be consistent with the purpose and intent of the measure. HB 2539 clearly is not.

The Arizona Supreme Court declining jurisdiction was not unexpected. The Arizona Supreme Court rarely accepts jursidiction of a direct special action. The Citizens Clean Elections Commission subsequently voted to authorize its counsel, Joe Kanefield, to refile the suit in Maricopa County Superior Court to challenge HB 2539.

On Tuesday, supporters of Citizens Clean Elections asked a judge to block new higher campaign contribution limits from taking effect as scheduled while their legality is litigated. The commission is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the court. Supporters ask judge to block higher campaign limits:

Attorneys for the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and their
allies contend the larger allowable donations were enacted illegally
earlier this year. They contend lawmakers cannot let privately funded
candidates take a lot more money without getting a three-fourths vote
for the measure, which it did not get.

That is based on their
argument that the limits are linked to the voter-approved program which
allows candidates to get public financing if they do not take private
dollars. And the Arizona Constitution says voter-approved laws can be
amended only with a three-fourths vote, and only if the change furthers
the purpose of the act.

Challengers had previously asked the state Supreme Court to intercede
for a quick ruling, pointing out the higher limits take effect Sept. 13
for the 2014 election.

But the justices declined, saying the case should start in trial court.
That, however, means there is no way to get a final ruling ahead of that
Sept. 13 deadline.

Yes, there is, the trial court can enter an order of stay until the issues are finally adjudicated, which is what the plaintiffs are requesting with injunctive relief. Stay tuned.

Comments are closed.