If you believe individuals and businesses in Arizona should be able to engage in the political process without barriers that limit speech or that make compliance so cumbersome as to discourage participation, then you need to be aware of a concerted effort to quash political speech in this state.
Here are four things you need to know about a speech-chilling initiative that could be coming to the fall ballot:
The Arizona Clean and Accountable Elections Act is taxpayer-funded politics on steroids. If you don’t like the current scheme of taxpayer-funded political campaigns in Arizona, then brace yourself for this initiative attempting to secure a spot on the November ballot. It recycles bad ideas like installing a new matching funds provision and a new tax credit of up to $10 per tax filer, and it would put the unelected Clean Elections Commission in charge of campaign finance enforcement instead of the secretary of state, who is held accountable to the voters.
Tax dollars for politicians? Of all the things Arizonans’ tax dollars could go toward – education, transportation, health care – paying for junk mail and robocalls doesn’t make the list by a longshot. But the backers of the initiative would rather divert tax dollars from the general fund into candidate campaigns, which means that all of us, regardless of whether we support taxpayer-funded elections, are paying the price for this scheme. To add insult to injury, this new initiative would increase the base amount of money candidates get to run their campaigns. In the past, these checks to politicians have been used for campaign expenditures like nights on the town and margarita machines. Talk about voter contact!
Do as we say… Under the initiative, any entity that spends more than $10,000 supporting or opposing a ballot measure would be required to provide a list of names to the Clean Elections Commission that contributed more than $1,000 to the organization. This isn’t disclosure, it’s intimidation. Individuals should be able to contribute to politically engaged organizations without being tracked by the government.
The measure would also dramatically reduce the contribution limits for traditionally funded candidates; would prohibit Mega PAC status if the PAC received any corporate contributions; and would add more onerous disclosure obligations for groups making large independent expenditures, among other things.
…but not as we do. With all of the campaign’s soaring rhetoric about transparency and disclosure, surely the Clean and Accountable Elections Campaign is disclosing the source of every one of its dollars, right?
Not so much.
According to filings with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office and the campaign website, the campaign is funded by something called Environment Arizona, Inc. (which shares an office with Arizona PIRG) and an out-of-state entity called Every Voice.
Who funds these groups? According to Every Voice’s website, one of their top contributors is “Anonymous” as well as non-profit groups and labor unions.
We’re sure the list of the contributors who make up this network of donors will be published any day now.
Don’t buy this initiative’s claims of transparency and better politics. It’s nothing more than another attempt to put taxpayers on the hook for campaigns and to mute the speech of individuals and businesses that would exercise their voice in the political arena.