PHOENIX -- A lawsuit filed today claims that the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission’s acts of self promotion – done in the name of voter education – violate state statute.
The suit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court by the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation on behalf of No Taxpayer Money for Politicians – the ballot committee supporting a constitutional amendment for the November 6, 2012 election to end public funding for political candidate campaigns.
From the complaint:
Defendant officers and employees of Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission have engaged in a pattern of illegally spending tax dollars on an unauthorized advertising campaign to promote the Commission and to oppose the repeal of public funding for political candidate campaigns. Plaintiffs seek to enforce the commission’s limited statutory authority, which does not include public spending for self-promotion and which mandates the amount of spending for voter education to be 10% of the commission’s budget for limited activities.
Carrie Ann Sitren, an attorney with the Institute, said the suit was the latest in a series of battles to protect voters’ rights.
“Last time, we went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect democratic elections and get government’s heavy thumb off the scale,” she said. “Now, under the false flag of ‘voter education,’ the commission is trying to ensure its survival by campaigning with taxpayer money.”
Named defendants in the case include: Todd Lang, executive director of the commission, as well as Lori S. Daniels, Louis Hoffman, Timothy J. Reckart and Thomas J. Koester, commissioners. Also named are commission employees Michael Becker and Colleen McGee, as well as commission Chairman Jeffrey L. Fairman. All are being sued in both their official capacity and personal capacity.
The suit asks the court to declare the commission illegally expended public funds and attempted to influence the outcome of an election; enjoin the commission from continuing the illegal conduct; order repayment of the illegal public expenditures; and assess fines and penalties pursuant to statute.