Monday, June 15, 2009

Instead of ending Clean Elections, perhaps it should be expanded

Today, the Judiciary Committee of the AZ Senate approved, by a 4 - 3 party-line vote, SCR1025. That measure, if ultimately placed on the ballot and approved by the voters, would end financing for the Clean Elections system of publicly-financed elections in AZ. (East Valley Tribune)

Over on, however, is a story that illustrates why the system should be expanded to municipal and county elections, not abolished.

From the story -
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane is still working to pay off the campaign debt that helped usher him into office.

A fundraising reception for Lane will be held on Thursday, with the money going toward the Lane 4 Scottsdale committee.

The host committee for the event includes former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington, local developers, zoning attorneys and active members of the Arizona Republic Party.

According to the article, some of the developers and Republican activists and donors involved with the event include Five Star Development, DMB Associates, Lynne Lagarde (a zoning attorney who has worked for *many* developers appearing before the Scottsdale City Council over the years), Fife Symington (yes, the disgraced Republican former Governor is helping Lane with his money issues), State Representative Michelle Reagan, and it will be held in the offices of PR firm Kyle Moyer and Co. (Moyer was a McCain donor; also Renzi, Hayworth, Kyl, and Bush, among others, according to the FEC).

Lane, as would be expected, assured those concerned about the propriety of soliciting big contributions from developers and their representatives who are appearing before him - "It's part of the system and . . . we're certainly well within all those guidelines (of the law)".

Pardon me if I'm not reassured by Lane's protestations in defense of his integrity.

Given that the law he is talking about was written by politicians and is designed to guarantee politicians' continued income, not their continued integity.

That's kind of like having the Mob write racketeering laws, and expecting that the final product will guarantee mobsters' good behavior.

Oh, and if you didn't notice, the line-up of Republican heavyweights supporting Lane, who won an allegedly "non-partisan" municipal election gives lie to the whole ideal of "non-partisan" municipal elections promulgated by the Republicans in the lege when they approved SB1123 on a party-line vote. The measure, if enacted into law, would ban partisan municipal elections in Tucson.

Wonder if they're going to serve up a little shameless hypocrisy with their hors d'oeuvres at Lane's fundraiser?

1 comment:

Eli Blake said...

Is there any limit on independent expenditures in municipal elections?

I mean, if somebody wanted to spend $1 million on commercials to get someone they liked elected mayor of Scottsdale (an amount which might be considered a bargain for, for example a developer pushing a $50 million project) could they do it?

In the recent Supreme Court ruling in the West Virginia coal case, the Supreme Court noted that the owner of the coal company had spent more in independent expenditures electing a judge to the West Virginia Supreme Court than the combined total of all other donations or other expenditures on behalf of the candidate.

Preventing the legislature from putting highly partisan measures on the statewide ballot is yet another reason why we need to elect Democrats to the legislature next year.