July 21, 2004
Supporters of public financing of campaigns have gone to court to force a new description of a ballot measure that would "defund" the system.
Legal papers filed Tuesday in the Arizona Supreme Court contend that the description of Proposition 106 uses the "politically charged and inflammatory term ‘taxpayer money’ " to describe what sources of cash the measure would eliminate for funding political races.
That, according to the lawsuit, violates the legal requirement to provide an impartial analysis of all ballot measures.
Charles Blanchard, who represents the group working to defeat Proposition 106, also says the description, prepared by the Legislative Council, "inaccurately and misleadingly describes the effect of one of the key provisions of Proposition 106."
The lawsuit asks the court to direct the council, made up of state lawmakers, to revise the description and delete the words the attorneys find offensive.
The wording of the ballot measure could prove crucial to voter perception of what Proposition 106 does and how they vote on Nov. 2.
That became obvious as the manager of the pro-106 campaign lashed out at a new statewide survey that showed Arizonans leaning 3-1 against the measure.
Nathan Sproul said that is because, in his opinion, the question asked by pollster Bruce Merrill makes it sound like voting for Proposition 106 is akin to voting against motherhood.
Arizona voters approved legislation in 1998 to let candidates for statewide and legislative office receive public funds if they agreed not to take other donations.
Cash comes largely from a 10 percent surcharge on civil, traffic and criminal fines as well as dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations.
Proposition 106 would not touch that law, but it would amend the state constitution to bar the use of public funds — or, in the wording of proposition supporters, taxpayer money — for campaigns.
That effectively would kill the system, drying up the cash.
Blanchard acknowledged that the words "taxpayer money" are in the initiative petition. But he said these are "designed to inflame the electorate."