The efforts of state lawmaker David Burnell Smith, R-Scottsdale, to remain in office despite a Clean elections violation were seriously and soundly rebuffed last week by Superior Court Judge Mark Aceto, who ruled Smith should be removed from office immediately. Judge Aceto stayed his ruling until Smith has a chance to file a response by the Dec. 21 deadline.
Smith, who substantially overspent his allocation in the 2004 election under the Clean Elections rules, says he’s inclined to appeal the ruling. He should. At issue is whether candidates for public office in Arizona essentially sign away some of their constitutional rights when they agree to Clean Elections terms.
Smith violated the terms of his agreement to run as a Clean Elections candidate. Nonetheless, he was duly elected by the voters of his northeast Valley district.
Would enough of those who voted for Smith have voted for someone else if Smith had spent less, to result in his defeat? That’s questionable, as it’s based on the widespread but often-debunked assumption that votes cast for a candidate are directly proportional to dollars spent by that candidate.
There’s a legal issue here, for sure. But there’s also a political one. Are Arizonans comfortable with a complex election regulatory system that can override their judgment at the polls?