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A federal judge late Friday voided state laws requiring groups to register before spending money on campaigns — and with it, the reports they're supposed to file on who is behind all that cash.
Tom Horne will pay $10,000 out of his own pocket to end an investigation into whether he illegally used staffers at the Attorney General's Office in his unsuccessful reelection campaign.
Following the lead of the state races, the majority of voters in Legislative districts 16 and 25 chose the GOP candidates to represent them in the state House and Senate.
LD 18 voters deserve the opportunity to cast an informed vote, but Jeff Dial is depriving voters of that opportunity by dodging ALL LD 18 Senate Debates, including the Clean Elections Debate. His opponent, Janie Hydrick, on the other hand, has appeared at the debate venues, and answered, at length, any and all questions from debate moderators and audience members. Her answers have shown her to be the candidate who embraces the moderate values of LD 18 residents.
A federal judge is being asked to rule that “dark money” groups that now don't disclose the source of their contributions can also legally hide how they're spending the money — and on whose behalf.
Two Republicans and a pair of Democrats are seeking seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission in Tuesday’s election.
The Daily News-Sun asked them to comment on the top issues facing the ACC.
Name: Sandra Kennedy
• There is no longer a consumer advocate on the commission.
• I want to restore an emphasis on creating solar energy jobs.
Name: Doug Little
Occupation: Former computer software industry expert
• The aging water infrastructure in many communities.
• The negative impact on the economy associated with potentially significant increases in the cost of energy associated with the implementation of proposed EPA mandates.
I am committed to be the champion of the ratepayer and work to ensure that all Arizonans have access to clean reliable energy and water at the lowest possible price. We will achieve this with a balanced energy portfolio that leverages all of the different types of energy generation in the most cost-effective fashion.
Name: Jim Holway
Occupation: Land use and water resources planner
• We must ensure Arizona will have reliable and affordable water and power in an era of increasing costs, ongoing droughts and greater reliance on intermittent renewable supplies, changing technology and more stringent environmental controls.
Specific actions include: utility resource plans that address Arizona’s future uncertainty and changing needs; support for solar energy innovation, production and jobs in Arizona while also utilizing our coal, nuclear and natural gas resources; and assisting investments in conservation and efficiency.
• The current debate about solar energy in general and the new solar (net metering) tax on residential customers in particular. The ACC should commission an objective, long-term and comprehensive economic study looking at the costs and benefits of not only solar and other renewable supplies, but for other energy supplies as well.
Name: Tom Forese
Occupation: Current state legislator, owner of the Hive.
• We have nine different departments setting the price for utilities and we need to have balance to keep rates low as possible.
• I’m looking to keep things safe and fair but keep costs as minimal as possible. I have a voting record against unneccesary regulations and tax increases. My commitment is to find the balance. My background is technology and I think we’ll see amazing things for solar. We don’t want to harm the solar industry or the businesses. There’s balance in both areas.
LD 18 voters deserve the opportunity to cast an informed vote, but Jeff Dial is depriving voters of that opportunity by dodging all LD 18 Senate Debates, including the Clean Elections Debate. His opponent, Janie Hydrick, on the other hand, has appeared at the debate venues, and answered, at length, any and all questions from debate moderators and audience members. Her answers have shown her to be the candidate who embraces the moderate values of LD 18 residents.
PHOENIX -- The parent company of the state's largest electric utility is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars through a third party to ensure that Republican Mark Brnovich becomes the next state attorney general.
Records obtained by Capitol Media Services show that Pinnacle West Capital Corp. has given $425,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association. That amounts to more than one dollar of every six of the $2.5 million RAGA has amassed so far in Arizona for attack ads on Democrat Felecia Rotellini.
Pinnacle West spokesman Alan Bunnell refused to explain why the corporation is spending that kind of money on the race for who becomes the state's top law enforcement official.
Instead, he said that Pinnacle West and Arizona Public Service "support causes of either party that are pro-business.'' And Bunnell said the company acts to ensure there is "safe, reliable and affordable energy.''
But it also comes as APS and other utilities are fighting the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency for what they see as unnecessary and onerous pollution regulations for coal-fired power plants that will require larger reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from Arizona facilities than other states. And Brnovich has said that, if elected, he will join with other states "in challenging the legality of these federal regulations if they are not promptly withdrawn or significantly revised to reflect the concerns of stakeholders.''
Brnovich is not about to reject or disavow the spending by the utility on his behalf.
Spokesman Matthew Benson said the Republican has built "a strong coalition of support'' and that "he's happy to have everyone on board.''
Benson sidestepped a question of whether Brnovich thinks it is appropriate to have a regulated utility try to influence who is elected the next chief law enforcement officer of the state.
"You'd have to ask Pinnacle West about the donation decisions they have,'' he said. But Benson, in language echoing what came from Bunnell, said it's likely the company sees it as in its interest.
"If Pinnacle West has chosen to weigh in on his behalf in this race, it may be because the utility views him as the more credible candidate when it comes to pushing back against the Obama administration and fighting overregulation that threatens Arizona's ability to produce the clean, cost-effective energy Arizona families and businesses need,'' Benson said.
But Rotellini said neither the explanation from Bunnell nor Benson makes sense.
She pointed out she actually had gone on record in August as opposing the new EPA rules, even testifying before a legislative committee, before Brnovich sent his own letter threatening to sue the federal agency. Rotellini said she has no answers about why APS and its parent have opted to back her foe. But that did not stop her from blasting the company for its decision.
"It's beyond disconcerting to see a regulated corporation, the state's largest utility, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a dark money group to fund attack ads full of lies,'' she charged.
Strictly speaking, though, RAGA is not a "dark money'' group. Unlike others involved in trying to influence this year's election, it does provide a list of donors.
But it's not that simple. RAGA does take cash from other groups that do not make such disclosures.
That includes the American Future Fund which gave it $650,000 earlier this year, meaning that the ultimate source of much of RAGA's funding remains secret.
Other reports, however, show that American Future Foundation, in turn, received much of its funding, at least in the 2012 election cycle, from Center to Protect Patient Rights, a group founded by Sean Noble which has now morphed into American Encore. And Noble, who works for Brnovich, has previously been a consultant for APS.
Benson did not dispute whether Rotellini was first in blasting the EPA. But he said the timing apparently is irrelevant to APS.
"The question is which of these two candidates has credibility that they will actually fight back against the Obama administration,'' he said. "Talk is cheap.''
While the large contribution to help Brnovich could be found, albeit not from disclosure required by Arizona law, this may not be the first foray by APS into electing candidates it believes will be better for its business interests.
During the Republican primary, Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason charged that APS was behind the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into commercials against them by Save Our Future Now. The same organization, which refuses to disclose its donors, also spent more than $425,000 on behalf of favored candidates Doug Little and Tom Forese who have advanced to the primary.
And Save Our Future Now already has reported spending $1.3 million in commercials attacking Democrat Sandra Kennedy.
Bunnell on Tuesday again refused to confirm or deny the involvement of either APS or its parent in the Corporation Commission race. Instead, he repeated his statement about the interest in supporting candidates that the company believes will support its energy policies.
The parent company of the state's largest electric utility is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars through a third party to ensure that Republican Mark Brnovich becomes the next state attorney general.
Q: Why are you running?
The two Republican candidates running for Arizona Corporation Commission escaped further inquiry into their campaign finances Thursday by each agreeing to pay $1,000 fines.
PHOENIX -- The two Republican candidates running for Arizona Corporation Commission escaped further inquiry into their campaign finances Thursday by each agreeing to pay $1,000 fines.
Tom Forese and Doug Little essentially admitted that they committed to spending money on their joint campaign before they actually had the cash. That is a violation of election laws.
They also acknowledged that they did not properly report money they spent on things like campaign signs and petition circulators.
The deal was approved by a 3-1 vote by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission after Tom Collins, the panel's executive director, recommended it to them. He called it an "appropriate resolution'' of the issue.
Not everyone was pleased.
The Rev. Jarett Maupin, who filed complaints, said there was a general "slickness'' to the way the pair campaigned in the Republican primary were they beat out Lucy Mason and Vernon Parker. And Maupin said the preliminary inquiry done by Collins and his staff did not explore every aspect of that race.
This deal, he said, avoids the commission conducting a full-blown probe.
"I would hate to think the commission, with all the unanswered questions, would sell its integrity for $2,000,'' Maupin said. He said that if the commission levied the maximum possible penalties against the pair it would come close to $60,000.
Collins, however, said he found no evidence that either candidate, running with public dollars, had accepted outside cash or spent more than their allocations.
Only Commissioner Steve Titla voted against the settlement, calling the penalty "too low.''
The pair face off in the general election against Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Jim Holway.
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission concluded Thursday there's reason to believe a video by the state's school chief paid for by taxpayers actually was designed to help his campaign for reelection. But the odds are good that John Huppenthal will escape with little more than a fine.
PHOENIX -- The Citizens Clean Elections Commission concluded Thursday there's reason to believe a video by the state's school chief paid for by taxpayers actually was designed to help his campaign for re-election.
But the odds are good that John Huppenthal will escape with little more than a fine.
The 3-1 vote came despite Huppenthal's personal plea to the panel that the purpose of the video, sent to 60,000 educators and posted on YouTube, was to deal with the "anxiety-ridden feedback from the education community'' that the Common Core standards the state adopted four years earlier were going to be trashed. Huppenthal said it was never done in an effort to salvage his campaign to be the Republican nominee for state school superintendent, a race he eventually lost to Diane Douglas.
In fact, he told commissioners, the video, produced by and paid for the state Department of Education, actually could be interpreted to hurt him since he did express support for math and English standards. "We knew, had known for some time, that I was, by supporting the standards, that I was digging a hole for myself deeper and deeper politically,'' Huppenthal said.
Commissioner Thomas Koester said most of the video, issued just two weeks before the Aug. 26 primary, probably fits within Huppenthal's role as the state's top school official. But he said where the message went off the tracks was when Huppenthal promised to work with the next governor "to fully review the standards in a series of open, public forums to ensure that we are implementing the standards that are best for Arizona students.'' And Huppental said that will give families "an opportunity fully voice their concerns.''
"I acknowledge what you're saying,'' Huppenthal responded. But he denied there was any political purpose in the message, saying his promise for hearings was his effort to ensure the standards were not simply jettisoned by the public.
Commissioner Louis Hoffman had his own concerns about the video and the timing.
He noted that Huppenthal had just been accused of flip-flopping on the his support of what had since been renamed the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. Hoffman said the video could be seen as Huppenthal's attempt to address those criticism.
And then there was the timing of the Aug. 12 video.
"I'm very suspicious of this because it was done two weeks before the election,'' Hoffman said. "If it were merely a policy matter it could have been done earlier.''
But Huppenthal said the timing was related to the increasing criticism of the standards.
Thursday's vote essentially authorized Tom Collins, the commission's executive director, to conduct a full-blown investigation into the video and its costs. But Collins said he presumes that the inquiry likely will be short-circuited with what amounts to a deal for Huppenthal to pay a fine to end the matter.
Mitchell Laird, another member of the commission, said that might be the best outcome for all concerned.
"It's a really close call,'' he said of whether the video really amounts to a donation by taxpayers to Huppenthal's campaign.
Only Commissioner Steve Titla voted against proceeding, saying he thinks nothing that Huppenthal did broke the law.
With his political life cut short by his defeat in August, Huppenthal said after the hearing he's not looking for a fight.
"I'm anxious to get on with life,'' he said.
Already being shown the door by voters, state schools chief John Huppenthal is now facing allegations that he improperly used public resources in his unsuccessful reelection bid.
PHOENIX -- The head of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission said Wednesday there's enough evidence to conclude two Republican candidates for Arizona Corporation Commission violated state campaign-finance laws.
Tom Collins, the commission's executive director, concluded Rep. Tom Forese failed to report in a timely fashion the $6,381 he paid to Americopy, subcontracting with Suzanne Dreher, to gather the signatures he needed to qualify for the ballot. And he said businessman Doug Little did not disclose as required another $4,155 he paid Dreher for his own signatures.
Collins also said both Forese and Little, running as a team, did not report as required that they had committed to pay Americopy for campaign signs and installation.
But the problems go deeper than that.
Collins said both candidates, running with public funds, were making deals to spend money they did not yet have, including more than $5,500 for those signs.
What Collins is recommending that the full commission, set to meet Thursday vote to authorize a full-blown investigation. That could result in fines equal to 10 times the amount of the violations.
Lee Miller, who is representing both candidates, said they will fight any effort to sanction them. He said that Collins is misinterpreting the law.
In essence, much of the legal question comes down to when money is actually "spent.''
Collins said commission rules prohibit publicly funded candidates from incurring debt or spending money beyond what they have on hand. And he said a contract, promise or agreement to make an expenditure resulting in someone extending credit to the candidate is just the same as paying the amount up front with cash.
In the case of the signs, Collins said the pair spent more than $19,000 which was not reported on campaign finance reports. Then there is that problem of their commitment to spend more than $5,500 more than they actually had on the date they incurred the debt.
The petition signatures present a slightly different problem.
Little and Forese said they gathered petitions through volunteers, online petitions and paid circulators. In that last case, they agreed to pay $1 to $1.50 per signature.
But while they were making payments as the signatures were coming in, Collins said they did not timely disclose the money going out.
PHOENIX -- Already shown the door by voters, state schools chief John Huppenthal now faces allegations he improperly used public resources in his unsuccessful re-election bid.
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission will decide Thursday whether to investigate whether Huppenthal violated campaign-finance laws by having the Department of Education produce and distribute a video where he sought to clarify his beliefs on the Common Core academic standards. That video, also uploaded to YouTube, was published two weeks before the Aug. 26 Republican primary.
Tom Collins, the commission's executive director, said Huppenthal, as an elected official, does have certain rights to communicate with constituents. But Collins said the video and the message were "indistinguishable from his campaign message.'' And he said the timing also made it suspicious.
"Finally, if there is a significant doubt, (Huppenthal) unequivocally pledged to this constituency that he would undertake a policy initiative in his next term to review the issue,'' Collins said in a memo to commission members. Collins called this an "unambiguous campaign pledge'' made with state resources -- and violation of state law that prohibits Huppenthal, as a publicly funded candidate, from taking this type of in-kind contribution.
Collins, citing the evidence he has, is asking the commission when it meets to let him conduct a full-blown investigation, including the right to subpoena documents.
Any investigation of improper use of state resources is beyond the scope of the commission.
Huppenthal, in a prepared statement, denied any wrongdoing, saying in the last three years on the job he has communicated daily with educators about standards for math and English language arts.
"This communication is a huge part of my job,'' he said.
Huppenthal said as the Common Core standards became more controversial, he was acting to "protect the education system by communicating more, not less.''
"I believe it would have been a dereliction of duty to have done less,'' he said.
Huppenthal declined to be interviewed.
Common Core was the hot-button issue in the Republican primary, as it remains in the general election.
The standards, crafted by the National Governors Association, school officials and business leaders, are designed to spell out what students should know at various points in their education. They were adopted four years ago in Arizona with the support of both Gov. Jan Brewer and Huppenthal.
As recently as February, Huppenthal defended the standards, saying they will "raise the bar for our students and better prepare them to succeed as they move on to college or career pathways.'' But that was before Republican challenger Diane Douglas began attacking the standards as being driven from Washington over the beliefs of Arizona parents.
Huppenthal, in that August video -- and his campaign stance -- took a more nuanced stance to what had since been renamed Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, saying he opposes anything removing responsibility for curriculum and standards from local school boards and promised to work with the next governor and education community to fully review the standards.''
Despite that shift, Douglas handily won the primary. She now faces off in November against Democrat David Garcia.
Collins, in saying there's reason to believe the law was broken, said elected officials have "First Amendment rights in their advocacy of policies.''
But he said none of that overrules restrictions on contributions. And he said Huppenthal, having accepting public funds for his campaign, agreed to the restrictions which come with that.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
Q: Why are you running?
Q: Why are you running
Q: Why are you running?
Q: Why are you running?
A: LD 18 deserves a senator whose primary concern is the needs and values of its residents. I’m a Clean Elections candidate, accountable solely to the LD 18 voters, not to out-of-state lobbyists, PACs or special interests. I will make education a priority as the voters have. I will defend women’s rights, not pass invasive policies and unfair pay laws. I will not drop Arizona down to the bottom of the list of states in economic recovery. I will not use accounting tricks to balance the budget, such as raid the Highway User Revenue Fund and threaten the safety of our infrastructure. I will not take funds from Arizona kids and roll them into corporate welfare bills to benefit out-of-state corporations. I will listen to my LD 18 constituents and pass bills and budgets that reflect their needs and values.
Q: Arizona is predicted to be among the fastest-growing states in terms of job growth in the coming years. What can Arizona do to accelerate the growth and what industries should it target, especially for residents of your district?
A: Arizona is one of six states with the slowest economic recoveries. We can create jobs by providing support to small and local business and by investing in public education. These priorities will pay off, particularly for LD 18 through research and development in bioscience, sustainable energy and other innovative technologies.
More than 97 percent of Arizona businesses are small businesses, and they represent Arizona’s largest employer. Arizona’s Legislature needs to turn away from backdoor giveaways and corporate bailouts and instead give priority to small businesses.
Additionally, Arizona has made the deepest cuts in the country to public education and is currently last in per-pupil spending. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the best way to ensure both economic prosperity and job creation is to invest in education. The simple message: “If you educate them, jobs will come.” With jobs and an educated workforce will come a strong state economy.
Q: Given the state’s decision to back out of the PARCC test, should Arizona continue to follow Common Core standards? If not, what standards should the state implement for its students?
A: Arizona did not back out of Common Core/Arizona College and Career Ready Standards (ACCRS). Nor did Arizona back out of PARCC. Arizona law requires the state to put out an RFP to select a vendor for a new assessment aligned to our new standards. PARCC will likely be one of the assessments considered, but the rigorous RFP process can now be applied without conflict of interest. The assessment selected should be a tool to help inform teachers in the classroom about student progress and learning, not used to judge, label, and punish teachers and schools.
Common Core (ACCR) standards are aligned with college and career expectations and are the foundation for writing an Arizona-appropriate curriculum. The standards are based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills. Standards mastery is essential for success in college, career, and life in today’s global economy. Arizona students deserve nothing less.
Q: The approval of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid funding was a contentious issue in 2013. Now with a year gone, was the decision by Brewer and the Legislature the correct decision for Arizona?
A: It was the correct decision for Arizonans’ health care. The percentage of uninsured and the cost for uncompensated care declined dramatically, and Arizona exceeded its goals for Arizona marketplace enrollees. Arizonans and health care providers can now focus more on prevention and wellness care.
Medicaid expansion was also a fiscally correct decision. One-hundred percent of the costs will be covered for three years for the expansion category, and state costs for the restoration category will be covered by a hospital assessment.
The negative fallout occurred because the state Legislature had defunded KidsCare (affordable health care to kids in working families), disregarding a federal payback of $3 for every $1 spent by Arizona. This egregious act placed 105,000 kids on a waiting list for health care then, and now, at least 14,000 will be ineligible for affordable health care because there was no restoration of KidsCare.
Q: Given recent protestations about “dark money” affecting political campaigns, is there a problem with the campaign finance system in Arizona? Similarly, would you vote to present campaign finance reform legislation to voters in the next two election cycles?
A: Problems exist when voters in a democracy do not have equal access to legislative processes or democratic representation. When our state Legislature raised the limits on campaign contributions, it closed the door to equal access. Voters rightfully feel disenfranchised when their will is dwarfed — their voice silenced — by huge contributions, often from sources outside of our districts and states, with agendas that do not reflect the needs and values of our community. With the lack of transparency regarding the source of dark money, voters cannot even know who or what is purchasing a candidate.
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission is the best shot we have at authentic democratic representation. Clean Elections candidates are beholden only to the voters, and the amount of a contribution does not determine the level of access to legislative process or democratic representation, which is why I am running as a Clean Elections candidate.
Q. Why are you running
Q: Why are you running?