The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) held a meeting today and took action on two pending matters. First, the Arizona Capitol Times 9subecription required) reports Clean Elections launches investigation of Horne, could remove him from office (be still my heart!):
The Citizens Clean Election Commission voted unanimously to investigate allegations that Tom Horne and his staff are using taxpayer time and resources to run his reelection campaign, which could lead to the embattled attorney general being removed from office.
If the commission finds that Horne committed violations of Arizona campaign finance laws, he could be subjected to fines, kicked off the ballot or even removed from office.
Executive Director Tom Collins had recommended that the commission initiate an investigation into the comlaint of Sarah Beattie, a former Attorney General’s Office employee.
Beattie alleged that Horne and his staff violated state law prohibiting the use of government resources for campaigns. In his recommendation, Collins said that if the allegations are true, those resources would constitute in-kind contributions to his campaign.
The commissioners emphasized that they were only voting to investigate the claims and had not made any findings or reached any conclusions.
“We have to find the facts first before we can take any action,” said Timothy Reckart, the commission’s chair. “This is just merely to decide whether or not to go ahead with an inquiry.”
Commissioner Thomas Koester said Beattie’s complaint raised enough questions to warrant an investigation.
* * *
In his recommendation, Collins said Horne’s response to Beattie’s complaint didn’t adequately answer allegations that he and his staff campaign on state time, and in some cases lends credence to her allegations.
Collins said that much of Horne’s response minimizes, but doesn’t deny, Beattie’s allegations that she and other Attorney General’s Office employees routinely engaged in campaign activities during the work day for Horne’s reelection.
“The Response does not resolve these issues and, in many ways, lends support to the Complaint’s claims or supports the inference that campaign finance violations may have occurred,” Collins wrote.
The reporting does not include any indication when the investigation of Tom “banned for life by the SEC” Horne is to begin or an estimated time for a final determination.
In other action, the CCEC rejected Secretary of State Ken “Birther” Bennett’s attempt to use Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money to promote his name and face in public service announcements when he is running for governor. Clean Elections won’t green-light Bennett voter education ad:
Amid concerns that it could benefit him in his gubernatorial campaign, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission rejected Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s request that it authorize him to appear in voter education ads.
The commission voted 3-0 not to give Bennett a “no action” determination that would inoculate him from complaints from other campaigns over the proposed ads. Tom Collins, the commission’s executive director, had recommended that the commission reject the request from Bennett, who is running for governor with Clean Elections funding.
* * *
The commissioners said they supported the message of the ad, which urges people on the Permanent Early Voting List to mail in their ballots and not show up at polling places afterward. The commission plans to run similar ads itself.
But several commissioners expressed concern that the ads would benefit Bennett’s gubernatorial campaign.
“I think it’s hard to deny that appearing in an ad of this nature improves name recognition and face recognition, and those are certainly benefits in a campaign,” Commissioner Mitchell Laird said.
Commissioner Thomas Koester said he didn’t think Bennett needed to appear in the ad personally.
“An ad could be run with an actor or someone else that would provide the same effective information to the voter without your name or face being on the ad,” Koester said.
Bennett was trying to pull the same crap that Jan Brewer pulled when she was Secretary of State. At least the CCEC took a stand this time.