Our lawless legislature wants its higher campaign finance limits now!


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Last month, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction against HB2593 (new higher campaign contribution limits) in a ruling in Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, et al. v. The Honorable Mark H. Brain, and real parties in interest (.pdf).

Our Tea-Publican lawless legislature never tires of pissing away taxpaper dollars on litigation to defend its unconstituional acts, so naturally our Tea-Publican legislature has filed an appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court challenging the preliminary injunction (the Court of Appeals sent the case in chief back to the trial court for a decision on the merits). The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Lawmakers ask state Supreme Court to reinstate new contribution limits:

Senate President Andy Biggs and House
Speaker Andy Tobin asked the Arizona Supreme Court to lift an injunction
against new campaign contribution limits passed by the Legislature.

Attorney Mike Liburdi, who represents Biggs and Tobin, argued that
the Arizona Court of Appeals erred when it determined that voters
intended to fix campaign contribution limits permanently when they
approved the Citizens Clean Elections Act in 1998. He also told the high
court that it should reinstate the higher new contribution limits
contained in HB2593 because the old limits are unconstitutionally low.

The crux of the dispute over HB2593 is a provision in the Clean
Elections Act that reduces the contribution limits from a separate
statute by 20 percent. Opponents of the new limits argue that the voters
intended that reduction to set new contribution limits in perpetuity.

* * *

The Court of Appeals sent part of the
case back to the trial court, where it instructed Maricopa County
Superior Court Judge Mark Brain to hear arguments on whether Arizona’s
contribution limits are unconstitutionally low. Liburdi asked the
Arizona Supreme Court to determine whether the plaintiffs or the
defendants have the burden of proof in those arguments.

Louis Hoffman, chairman of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission
and a plaintiff in the case, expressed hoped that the Arizona Supreme
Court would reject the case and allow the injunction to stand.

“The Court of Appeals rightly recognized that the Legislature cannot
change the Clean Elections Act through the back door, just by avoiding
explicit change to the Act’s text. Therefore, I will urge the Arizona
Supreme Court to decline review of this unnecessary petition,” Hoffman
said in a press statement. “There is no purpose for further legal
proceedings seeking to undo the will of Arizona voters.”

There is no reason to believe, as the Court of Appeals apparently believed by issuing a temporary injunction, that candidates will suffer irreperable harm if the 2014 election is conducted under the same campaign finance limits law in place for the 2012 election. The merits of the case will be tried to the trial court, and whatever decision Judge Brain renders will be appealed by the parties to the Court of Appeals and to the Supreme Court in the normal course of the appeal process.  A final decision will be rendered in time for the 2016 election.

The one case that could blow up Arizona's campaign finance laws is this one. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reported
Judge’s ruling could create PAC ‘free-for-all’:

Every law regulating ballot measure
campaigns, political action committees and possibly even candidates’
campaign committees in Arizona may soon be wiped from the books, at
least until the Legislature can write new ones.

U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg ruled on Sept. 30 that
Arizona Revised Statutes’ definition of “political committee” is
unconstitutionally vague and said he is prepared to issue an injunction
barring the enforcement of all election statutes that use the
The 183-word definition is so complicated, the judge wrote,
that ordinary people and election attorneys might reach completely
different conclusions as to what it requires.

Teilborg hasn’t issued his final injunction, and is awaiting a
briefing from the state, which plans to appeal the ruling. But depending
on how broad the injunction is, Teilborg’s ruling could blow a massive
hole in Arizona’s campaign finance scheme.

At the very least, PACs and ballot measure
committees could be freed from financial disclosure requirements.
Teilborg’s ruling could leave a gap of at least several months where
committees wouldn’t be required to disclose who they raise money from
and where they spend it, leaving voters in the dark about who is funding

* * *

Elections attorney Kory Langhofer said he
doesn’t expect Teilborg to enjoin the laws that govern candidate
campaign committees. But the judge’s intentions were clear regarding
other political committees.

“You wouldn’t have to register your PAC. You wouldn’t have to file
your campaign finance reports. Some of the contribution limits would
probably be affected,” said Langhofer, of the firm Brownstein Hyatt
Farber Schreck. “There would be a period of time when there’s a
free-for-all on PAC activity.”

* * *

If Teilborg invalidates all of the laws
that govern political committees, the biggest impact will be in the
realm of disclosure, Miller said. PACs must disclose their contributors
and their expenditures. If Teilborg deems those requirements
unconstitutional, the committees won’t even have to register with the
state, let alone file campaign finance reports.

“The public loses the ability to understand what are the sources of all these checks,” Miller said.

No injunction has been issued by Judge Teilborg.