Judge dismisses Clean Elections lawsuit

March 22, 2012

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit, that claimed the Citizens Clean Elections Commission was illegally using public money to influence an election. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports.

MARK BRODIE: One of the jobs of the state’s system of publicly-funded political campaigns is voter education. But the Goldwater Institute, which filed the lawsuit, argued the Clean Elections Commission was promoting itself, in an effort to convince voters to reject a ballot proposal, which would ban public money for political campaigns - effectively gutting the system. Goldwater Institute Attorney Carrie Ann Sitren says Thursday’s ruling was a disappointment.

CARRIE ANN SITREN: Voters are going to be deciding in November whether to limit the power of this commission, and substantially limit the commission’s budget. And, it’s no surprise that the commissioners don’t like that idea. What they may not do is turn around and use taxpayer money, and use their offices in order to campaign against that measure.

TODD LANG: It’s a real stretch.

BRODIE: Todd Lang is the Executive Director of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission. He says the commission cannot, and is not, trying to influence the outcome of an election.

LANG: We’ve been doing these voter education programs for years, without any repeals. And, in fact, this year, there’s no repeal. They’re trying to get one back on, but there isn’t one.  We’ve been doing the same sort of education program with or without a repeal, our program has nothing to do with it.

BRODIE: Lang says there is an effort to work out a compromise in the legislature, which could keep the proposal to ban public money for campaigns off November’s ballot. Meanwhile, the Goldwater Institute’s Carrie Ann Sitren says the group will appeal Thursday’s ruling.

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