It seems that, in violation of CCEC rules barring the expenditure of primary funds for general election expenses, they may have used their primary money from CCEC to pay for a TV spot created to run *after* the September 2 primary.
And while the Reps and their mouthpieces are certain to protest this characterization, saying that the spot was intended for use in the primary election cycle, the spot is an attack ad targeting their *general* election opponents. Hmmmm...
From Thompson's post-primary finance report, covering the period from August 14 to September 22 -
August 22 - Received $12921 from Clean Elections.
August 24 - Spent $1350 with Q2 Productions for "production cost" on a TV ad.
August 26 - Spent $3045 with Gene, Ganssle for a TV air time buy.
August 29 - Spent $2300 with Gene Ganssle for a TV air time purchase.
That's $6695 of primary election funding spent on the TV spot less than a week and a half before an uncontested primary.
From Hernandez' post-primary finance report, covering the same period as Thompson's -
August 28 - Received $12921 from Clean Elections.
August 29 - Spent $1554 with Gene Ganssle for "TV".
August 31 - Spent $1350 with Gene Ganssle for "production cost".
September 1 - Spent $1000 with Connie Thompson (aka - "Mrs. Mark Thompson") for "consultant services" (not really relevant to this post, but interesting nonetheless).
That's $2904 of primary election funding spent on a TV spot, less than five days before an uncontested primary.
Now, CCEC rules allow for the use during the general election period of goods and services purchased with primary election funding, under certain circumstances.
From CCEC rules, section R2-20-106, paragraph G (aka page 37) (emphasis mine)-
Pursuant to A.R.S. § 16-953(A), a participating candidate shall return to the Fund all of his or her primary election funds not committed to expenditures (1) during the primary election period; and (2) for goods or services directed to the primary election. A candidate shall not be deemed to have violated A.R.S. § 16-953(A) or this subsection on account of failure to use all materials purchased with primary election funds prior to the primary election, provided such candidate exercises good faith and diligent efforts to comply with the requirement that goods and services purchased with primary election funds be directed to the primary election.
Ummm...given the short time between contracting for the production of the TV ad in very late August and the primary on September 2, it seems that their "diligence" was directed to toward *spending* their primary funding, not *using* the goods and services purchased during the primary.
Of course, that's assuming that they didn't contract for the production and airtime before receiving the primary election funding, which is an entirely different set of violations. :)
Either way, Thompson and Hernandez may have some explaining/spinning to do when the Clean Elections Commission comes around asking questions.
I wonder if either one will earn the nickname "Pinocchio" after that conversation. :)
Today's lesson for candidates? Get your Clean Elections $5s in as early as possible, even when running unopposed in the primary. Candidates for lege trying to spend more than $12K in less than 10 days is just asking for a violation.