The mendacity of mini-me, Robert Robb

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I posted about this the other day in George Will and his mini-me, Robert Robb: "George Will's mini-me at the Arizona Republic is not a lawyer, but he frequently pretends to be one in his columns. Lucky for him he is not a lawyer . . ."

Mini-me wrote a dismissive column on the Arizona Court of Appeals decision striking down the new campaign contribution limits in Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, et al. v. The Honorable Mark H. Brain, and real parties in interest (.pdf), a lawsuit brought by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, on the theories that it violates two citizen initiatives enacted by voters in the same year, the Citizens Clean Elections Act and the Voter Protection Act. Robb used to work for the Goldwater Institute, and his legal analysis parallels closely the legal arguments made by Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute in this case. Contribution limits: Read the law, not the tea leaves.

On Wednesday the mendacity of Robert Robb took a double-barrel shotgun blast from Thomas Collins, an attorney and executive director of Arizona Citizens Clean Elections; and Sam Wercinski, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network.

Collins: Clean Elections ruling follows the law:

In his Nov. 15 column, “Contribution limits: Read the law, not the tea leaves,” Robert Robb once again wrongfully attacks the Arizona Court of Appeals for following the law and upholding the Citizens Clean Elections Act that voters passed in 1998.

That court blocked House Bill 2593 in October. HB 2593 would increase the amount of political donations candidates can receive by nearly 10 times and eliminate altogether other limits that work to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption in Arizona. Under Clean Elections, the court found, the new bill cannot apply to state and legislative campaign-contribution limits.

After a decade of scandal, including AzScam, fed-up voters strengthened limits on the political cash that state candidates can take — limits that prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption. The Arizona Constitution’s Voter Protection Act says changing an initiative takes a supermajority of legislators and must further the initiative’s purpose. The Legislature didn’t have votes to do that with HB 2593 and plainly attempted to undo the voters’ will.

The Clean Elections Commission and others filed suit. A unanimous Court of Appeals, appointed by Republican and Democratic governors, sided with voters in a preliminary ruling.

Robb falsely asserts the panel ignored the law and instead guessed what voters wanted. The court read the law and applied the precedent for interpreting voter-enacted measures that Arizona’s Supreme Court requires. Indeed, the Republican attorney general relies on the same precedent in official published opinions about such statutes.

Robb wrongly claims Clean Elections did not provide “a hard number” to ensure voters received the limits on candidates taking political cash they wanted. He says the act only provides for taking 20 percent off the top of whatever amount of money lawmakers decide they want from their benefactors.

Not so. Clean Elections sets forth precisely the amount of money state candidates could take from contributors: 20 percent less than the 1998 limits.

Robb’s reasoning permits legislators to raise their limits to a billion dollars, or infinity, so long as they take a 20 percent haircut. The Clean Elections Act, its supporting documents and math refute this absurd claim.

Robb does not explain how lawmakers properly stripped out two aggregate limits entirely. No 20 percent reduction there. But to make his political omelet, Robb wants the courts to break a few legal eggs.

The appellate panel’s impeccable legal work is buttressed by the Constitution’s protection of citizen initiatives. Robb attempts to tear down this protection. He asserts the Voter Protection Act only applies when the Legislature explicitly messes with a measure’s text — inviting the very legislative gamesmanship the law prohibits.

This argument is so poor that state attorneys recently conceded it in the Supreme Court in another case. What’s more, that court rejected Robb’s argument in affirming voters’ authority to require the Legislature to fund Arizona’s schools weeks ago.

Wercinski: Judges, voters aren't stupid:

Was Robert Robb's Nov. 15 column, “Contribution limits: Read the law, not the tea leaves,” intended to be dumb or just dumbfounding?

Yes, a judge applies the law to the facts and circumstances in a case — assuming the law is constitutional. Yes, legislative enactments are presumed (by lawmakers) to be constitutional, although in Arizona there’s a history of that not being the case.

A point I frequently make by referring to them as "our lawless legislature," but i digress. . .

When citizens passed the Voter Protection Act and Clean Elections Act in 1998, their intentions were clear. In considering the legal challenge to the Legislature’s attempt to blow the caps off of fundraising limits with House Bill 2593, the Court of Appeals simply affirmed this intent.

The Voter Protection Act prevents lawmakers from undermining voter-approved laws. The Clean Elections Act, a voter-approved law, took the control of contribution limits away from lawmakers and gave it to the voters.

In addition to the corruption that plagued our state government in the '80s and '90s, Arizonans had other clear intentions for passing both acts. Case in point: In 1986, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 200, a citizens’ initiative that created reasonable campaign finance laws and anti-corruption measures – including mandatory removal from office of any politician who violated this law.

Unsurprisingly, with no Voter Protection Act in place, lawmakers quickly gutted the anti-corruption provisions, raised contribution amounts and disregarded the will of voters.

Today, the Clean Elections Act requires the voter-approved contribution amounts to be adjusted by the secretary of state for inflation and allows modifying voter-set limits by simply following the rules voters created in the act itself.

The current court battle would never have occurred if lawyers for legislative leaders had provided sound advice when they reviewed the constitutionality of House Bill 2593. Lawmakers also had the opportunity to work with Arizona Advocacy Network and other government accountability groups to address legislators’ goals versus the will of voters to fight political corruption through the Clean Elections Act.

The justices, far from "stupid," don’t need to look into murky tea leaves to understand the intent of voters who passed the Voter Protection Act and Clean Elections Act. They have current and historical facts to rely on.

Those facts support the Court of Appeal’s decision that HB 2593 is likely to be ruled unconstitutional, and the current injunction prohibiting an illegal increase in contribution limits should remain in place until the case can be fully heard on the merits.

* * *

Mr. Robb can throw around big words like “psephologist” all he wants, but he can’t escape a simple fact: Arizona voters intend to retain control of campaign-finance limits, whether through new citizen initiatives, legislative compromise or the courts – no tea leaves needed.

Robert Robb has no credibility when he pretends to be a lawyer. He is a GOPropagandist, pure and simple, just like his role model, George Will.

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