KEEPING ARIZONA ELECTIONS CLEAN

If you don't think campaign finance reform will ever work, check out State Representative David Burnell Smith of Arizona. Actually, call him ex-representative Smith.

If you don’t think campaign finance reform will ever work, check out State Representative David Burnell Smith of Arizona. Actually, call him ex-representative Smith.

Arizona is one of six states that have passed the “Clean Election” alternative for candidates running for various state offices. These systems provide public funding for candidates who agree to take no campaign money from special interests and to agree to spending limits that provide a level playing field for all contestants. The system is a great success – in Arizona, for example, 10 of the state’s 11 top officials”including the governor) have now been elected without taking a dime from corporate executives and lobbyists.

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Rep. Smith, a Republican, also chose to take the public funding alternative for his campaign, even though he asserted that Arizona’s “Citizens Clean Election” law was both unconstitutional and unenforceable. Smith, a lawyer from”ironically) a town named Carefree, has now found out about that enforceable part.

The spending limit for his race was almost $25,000, but Ol’ David carelessly soared above that limit by $6,000 – giving him a 25-percent funding advantage over his opponent. He won and strutted to his seat in January. The Clean Elections Commission, however, ordered him out for being an illegal cheat. But Smith asserted that he was now a legislator and immune from the commission’s reach.

That arrogance didn’t set well with the public… or with the courts. First, an administrative law judge upheld the commission’s order. Smith appealed, but the county superior court also upheld the commission. So did the state court of appeals. And now, so has the state supreme court.

This is Jim Hightower saying… Not only is Smith out, but Arizona’s public financing law is in, having been ruled both legal and enforceable. To help bring such a law to your state or city, check out the website for the Reform Institute: www.reforminstitute.org.

Sources:

“State’s high court orders legislator to leave office,” The Arizona Republic, January 26, 2006.

“AZ High Court Orders Legislator to Leave Office for Campaign Spending Violations,” The Associated Press, January 26, 2006.

“Arizona: Legislator is Removed,” New York Times, January 28, 2006.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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