Democrats claim GOP broke state campaign laws - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Democrats claim GOP broke state campaign laws

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Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 7:32 pm | Updated: 9:49 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Arizona Democratic Party is accusing its Republican counterpart of breaking multiple state campaign finance laws by shrouding the identity of donors who have contributed more than $100,000 combined.

Democrats on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State and Maricopa County Recorder's Office, requesting that the agencies investigate the Arizona Republican Party and their anonymous contributors, named only as "SCA" in the GOP's most recent campaign finance report.

Republicans attributed two large donations - $80,000 in August and $25,000 in September - to "SCA" under the section where it is supposed to list individual contributions. However, the finance report describes "SCA" as an "unincorporated association of individuals" and provides a Mesa post office box for its address.

"This is the kind of thing that's designed to hide from voters who is funding a campaign that has been widely denounced," said Emily DeRose, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Democrats.

Sean McCaffrey, executive director of the state's Republican Party, declined to comment Tuesday. McCaffrey added that he'd have something to say once he and the party's lawyers have examined the allegations.

Specifically, the complaint argues that Republicans and SCA combined have broken four state laws, one of which is a low-level felony. The first two target the unknown donors, arguing that SCA is illegally hiding its contributors and operating as a political committee without registering with the state or county.

Democrats are using Republican officials' comments to reporters and posted on various Web sites to support their other two allegations, which include that the state GOP illegally solicited contributions and failed to accurately report them.

Arizona Capitol Times reported Tuesday that Lee Miller, attorney for the Arizona Republicans, explained that SCA stands for "Sheriff's Command Association."

The Republican Party recently financed TV attack ads targeting Democratic candidates Dan Saban, nominee for county sheriff, and Tim Nelson, running for county attorney.

One ad accused Saban of sexual improprieties, while the other accused Nelson of accepting contributions from a child pornographer, which is false. Republicans have withdrawn both ads. County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have denied any involvement in the GOP ads.

Democrats are hoping that the election agencies move immediately to investigate their allegations.

"We urge them to do it as quickly as possible," DeRose said. "It's a pretty blatant abuse."

Regardless, it is unlikely that the agencies will take much action on the complaint before election day, now less than three weeks away.

Kevin Tyne, assistant secretary of state, said the agency would review the Democrats' complaint to determine whether to ask the Republican party for additional information. If such follow up is needed, Tyne said the office would likely allow Republicans up to two weeks to reply.

Then, if there is "reasonable cause," Tyne said the state attorney general's office would take over and conduct a criminal investigation.

The county recorder's office will begin reviewing the complaint today, said Karen Osborne, elections director. Outside legal counsel will likely assist the recorder in addition to its in-house lawyer, which the county attorney's office provides.

Thomas' indirect involvement in the matter, though, could pose a conflict of interest for the county attorney's office, Osborne said.

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