Tuesday, December 17, 2013

AZ Supreme Court says "Merry Christmas" to R legislators, "Gimme" to lobbyists...

...and "Up Yours" to the people of Arizona...

From the Arizona Republic, written by Mary Jo Pitzl -
Higher campaign-contribution limits — up to $4,000 per candidate in a statewide race — are in force for the 2014 elections, in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling handed up late Tuesday.

The five-member court sided with state legislative leaders, who argued a bill that raises the limits and applies them to both the primary- and general-election cycles does not violate the state Constitution. They argued the higher limits are a free-speech right and would help fend off independent-expenditure committees from distorting candidates’ messages.

I'm not sure where Pitzl got the "$4,000" figure.  The original bill set the limits at $5K - $2500 per election, with the primary and general elections considered  to separate elections for campaign finance purposes - but there was also an argument that while the increased limits could not be stopped, they could be reduced by 20% under the law enacted by the voters that created the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.  $4000 is 20% less than the new law's "$5,000".

Still, whether the new limit is $4K or $5K per contributor, it's way too high for the vast majority of Arizonans.  Under the new limits, only corporations, the very wealthy, and those who do their bidding will be able to afford giving serious financial support to candidates.

My prediction on the first indictment related to the new limits and influence peddling:  Six months after an honest prosecutor takes office at the Arizona Capitol or in Maricopa County.

And this could be the lege's new official song...except that the title includes the word "please", which is not in the lege's vernacular.

Normally, I don't have a huge problem with the decisions of the Arizona Supreme Court.  I may disagree with some of them, but in AZ, the Judicial Branch is the only one of the three main branches of government that is worthy of respect.  While they haven't yet published their opinion on this, explaining the reasoning behind this, this is one that will be examined very closely by people who don't normally focus on the details of such things.

A longer story from AP, via ABC15.com, is here.

The original bill, HB2593, is here.

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