Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Jack Harper wants the taxpayers to give Russell Pearce a quarter-milliion dollar going away gift

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -
State Rep. Jack Harper (R-Surprise!) is God's gift to writers.  And I don't mean that in a good way...

The outlook for the post-Pearce era in Arizona politics is slowly coming into focus, and over the near term at least, it looks a lot like it did when Pearce was in the Senate.  In other words, the Republicans are looking to siphon a lot of taxpayer money into their pockets, and not to benefit the people of Arizona.

From the East Valley Tribune, written by Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services -
Arizona voters may not be quite done with Russell Pearce.

Questions of Pearce’s political future aside, a little-known provision of the Arizona Constitution requires the Legislature to act to reimburse any recalled public official his or her “reasonable special election campaign expenses."

State Rep. Jack Harper has jumped all over this idea.  From his Twitter feed -

Now, while vague, there *is* a section of the Arizona Constitution that seems relevant.
From Article 8, Part 1, Section 6 -
The general election laws shall apply to recall elections in so far as applicable. Laws necessary to facilitate the operation of the provisions of this article shall be enacted, including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer.
As the article linked above notes, this has never happened before, so no one, not even Ken Bennett, the Arizona Secretary of State, knows exactly what "reasonable" means in this context.
In addition, no one is quite sure who would be reimbursed.  Pearce spent what will end up being more than $250K, but it was all other people's money.  Harper's push on Pearce's behalf could end up directing taxpayer money into the coffers of Freeport McMoran, Pinnacle West, and other corporations whose PACs funded Pearce's failed campaign.
However, Harper, Pearce, and all concerned seem to be ignoring the other part of this clause in the AZ Constitution, the part about general election law applying to recall elections.
Under Arizona law, if someone spends money on a political activity (such as an election campaign), it has to be reported, in this case both as an expense and a personal contribution.
From Pearce's Pre-Recall Election Report, filed with the AZSOS, covering the period ending October 19, 2011 -

Pearce has documented no direct contributions or loans to his campaign, and none of the "in-kind" expenses totalled above were from Pearce himself.
In other words, either Pearce hasn't directly incurred any personal expenses related to the recall or he has failed to report campaign contributions and expenses.
In other words2, there's nothing to reimburse and there's no record to indicate that there is.  And the "magical" appearance of any such records as evidence of reimbursable expenses will also constitute evidence of violations of campaign finance laws.
Probably not something that someone who is likely to run for some office somewhere next year wants hanging over his head...

No comments: