After reviewing the complaint, state elections director Amy Bjelland responded.
Bjelland indicated that as a matter of policy, the AZSOS
believes the public interest would be better served by applying Title 41 lobbying registration requirements to the IRC, and therefore we are considering proposing a statutory change at the next legislative session.The essence of Bjelland's response, other than specifying the SOS policy position, is that the issue has neither been addressed by legislation nor litigated adequately to provide her office with guidance to take any action.
Note also that Bjelland cites David Cantelme and his "purported" client, Fair Trust. I take issue with Bjelland characterization. On NUMEROUS occasions, both David Cantelme and Michael Liburdi have indicated, on the record, before the AIRC to representing this organization.
March responded to Bjelland in an email this evening (8/24):
I am in receipt of your response. While I am not surprised at the final outcome, I believe you have failed to consider the various repercussions of your stance.
The short-term issue is obvious: what appears to be a “hidden agenda” is in play. In fact, the PR implications of the FAIR Trust stance on disclosure is becoming somewhat problematic for them. I have now spoken with three professional journalists who have all been rebuffed when they asked who is behind FAIR Trust: Steve Muratore, Paul Davenport at the AP and Evan Wyloge at the AZ Capitol Times. FAIR Trust's secrecy is costing them, and they wouldn't do so unless they were hiding something at least moderately ugly.
I assume you know all this and I welcome your stance on altering the lobbying laws later. Which won't help us now except [it] might be read by the FAIR Trust people (the ones actually in charge that is) as a veiled warning that what they're doing is morally wrong if not legally so.
But there's a bigger issue at stake, one that goes to the heart of the people's right to enact initiatives.
You are basically saying that for the people to pass any new initiative and have it work properly, they have to consider every possible interaction with the current laws. They have to consider all possible ramifications with the entire ARS...and if they fail to do so, the people's intent will not be considered if some part of the existing body of law isn't explicitly linked to the new initiative.
This has the long-term effect of severely weakening the initiative process, and is a pointer to where you went wrong in your analysis.
The courts have, as you say, called the redistricting commission a legislative function. They did so in 2003, before the new initiative in 2006 that de-coupled the commission from the existing, seated legislators and added the “independent” part. So the voters knew (or would have reason to know) that they were creating a “sub-branch of the legislature”. Which means that all of the rules and regulations pertaining to the legislature carry over to the IRC, where they are even slightly applicable.
In short, you are wrong in your analysis, and in a way that not only weakens protections at the IRC, it weakens (bordering on “cripples”) the initiative process in Arizona.
I respectfully ask you to reconsider.
Jim March2nd Vice Chair, Pima County Libertarian PartyI can't say whether March is correct in suggesting Bjelland could actually do something about this now, but I do know that this is not the end of the story. Whether or not any one individual or group in Arizona could initiate a court action to compel UNfair Trust to disclose will be an open question.
That this is a very important matter with a great deal of urgency is obvious.
Thus far, UNfair Trust has acted with total impunity regarding the intent of disclosure laws.
I have to wonder what it would take to get Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington involved. CREW says it "uses high-impact legal actions to target government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests."
While CREW has a "tip line" (web input form), it might take hearing about this situation from numerous Arizonans in order to actually get its attention. CREW's phone number is 202-408-5565.