Sunday, June 10, 2012

Short Attention Span Musing

...It's nice to know that even in my own small way, I make an impact...

- Last week, I put up a post on soon-to-be former state legislator Jack Harper's Twitter feed.

Before the post, the feed displayed gems like this one -

After the post, the feed displays this message -

It may qualify as a "little victory" but in a week that saw unfortunate ends to both the season of the Boston Celtics and the Wisconsin recall, even a little victory is welcome...

...Speaking of Wisconsin, and speaking with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it seems obvious now that a couple of major mistakes were made, one strategic, one tactical.

The strategic mistake was in going after Scott Walker mainly on the policies he pushed while in office.  The recall of Russell Pearce here in AZ was successful because it targeted his arrogant and abusive conduct in office - ordering the arrest of people who disagreed with him, taking "gifts" from the Fiesta Bowl and then going into "lie and deny" mode when he was caught, declaring that one of his colleagues who assaulted his girlfriend by the side of a Phoenix freeway was actually the victim in the incident, etc. - and not the anti-immigrant policies that Pearce has pushed.

Walker's anti-worker policies may be just as despicable as Pearce's nativism, but thus far, in his conduct in office, he hasn't made the kind of missteps that Pearce did.

The tactical error was one that may have been unavoidable.  Going after someone like Pearce who, while loud, is relatively unimportant in the larger picture, and wasn't ever going to bring out the big guns (financially speaking). 

Going after the likes of Walker, who is a big part of the effort to marginalize the working and middle classes for the benefit of the 1%, brought out the "big gun" in the form of millions of dollars of PAC and third-party expenditures on behalf of Walker.

Turns out that even the best "ground game" can be beaten by enough money.  It's not the first election that was bought by deep-pocketed special interests, but it may be the first one where it was done so brazenly.

...Remember high school yearbook superlatives like "best looking", "class clown", and "most likely to succeed"?  Time to start the nomination process for this year's election cycle.

The first nominee for the category of "most likely to commit a campaign finance violation" is Sylvia Allen.  She's currently a state senator, but is running for a spot on the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.

To bankroll that run, she transferred $10,359.90 from her state senate campaign committee to her county supervisor committee (documented on page 7 of this report).  Her senate committee is designated filer ID "201200086" (remember the "2012" part of that filer ID; it'll be important).

To be clear, that move, in and of itself, is allowed.

However, things get interesting when one reads the relevent sections of ARS 16-905, covering elections and campaign finance -

F. A candidate's campaign committee or an individual's exploratory committee shall not make a loan and shall not transfer or contribute money to any other campaign or exploratory committee that is designated pursuant to this chapter or 2 United States Code section 431 except as follows:


2. A candidate's campaign committee may transfer or contribute monies to another campaign committee designated by the same candidate as follows:
(a) Subject to the contribution limits of this section, transfer or contribute monies from one committee to another if both committees have been designated for an election in the same year.


Now Allen is known as someone who isn't shy about accepting money from PACs and other political committees - she's taken more than $10K from them in each of her campaigns for the state senate.

The current contribution limits, as set by the Arizona Secretary of State:

Combined total from all Political Committees other than political parties: $10,880

So to sum up:
1. Allen transferred $10359.90 from one 2012 committee to another.
2. Because the contributing committee and the receiving committee are both 2012 committees, campaign finance limits apply.
3.  That leaves Allen $520.10 from reaching the political committee limit.

Anybody want to speculate on how much she will exceed that limit by?

Navajo County campaign finance reports can be found here.  Should make for interesting reading.

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