Perhaps not as facetious as "Victor Laszlo" suggested. But suppressing voting rights and related election issues (notably making it more difficult for participating Clean Elections candidates to qualify for public funding, and making it easier for Dark Money independent expenditure groups to hide the sources of their funding, etc.) appears to be a key focus this year.Republicans honored Martin Luther King Day with a moment of silence when asked if they support voting rights.— Victor Laszlo (@Impolitics) January 18, 2016
First, state elections director Eric Spencer (a political appointee under Secretary of State Michele Reagan) has been circulating drafts of a rewrite of Arizona Revised Statutes Title 16, Chapter 6, Article 1 he wants to have the legislature run this session with changes to Campaign Finance law.
At this stage, there's no way to know if the draft linked in the paragraph above is the most recent. Capitol scuttlebutt has it that one of the main aims of the rewrite is to provide loopholes for so-called social welfare organizations (501 (c) 4 entities which often do more lobbying and political campaign spending than social welfare). Reportedly, those loopholes would be big enough to drive the proverbial Mack truck through, so the organizations would be exempt from disclosing who actually provides the Dark Money funding.
Of course, it would be helpful -- especially if Spencer's intent was to further the interest of transparency in government, elections and campaign finance -- for him to provide, with his circulating drafts, a side-by-side comparison of the current statutes with what he wants put in place in its stead. But we haven't gotten that from Spencer (or Reagan) thus far.
Another problematic action taken by Spencer last week can be viewed as furthering the turf wars his office has engaged in with the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. In this case, Spencer has arbitrarily and apparently with some capricious intent, changed procedures such that CCEC participating candidates for legislative and statewide (Corp Comm) offices this year must now submit their $5 qualifying contribution forms both electronically and in paper form. From Spencer's notice to CCEC executive director Tom Collins,
...we have examined our past procedures with a view toward increasing our technological efficiency going forward. Accordingly, we have adjusted our processing procedures with respect to CCEC participating candidates in the following ways: [view the linked document for that detail]It's noteworthy that participating candidates have been allowed to collect qualifying contributions since August, but only now (as of January 11, 2016) has Spencer decided to streamline HIS employees' work and substantially add to the bureaucratic burden for the candidates.
Note the reasons I see these changes as arbitrary and capricious include that, as CCEC director Collins responded to Spencer, they come well into [about six months into] the qualifying period; they are not responsive to any legislative or statutory changes; and they are not a result of any administrative rulemaking process (which would require a public feedback period before implementation).
Spencer may (or may not) have the authority to make those changes, but it's clear that he wants to shift his administrative/bureaucratic burden onto candidates. So much for customer service, eh?
Lastly (for this post anyway), we should take a lesson from Arizona legislative history (Alt-Fuels) and be wary of the great (but not so good) likelihood that Spencer's rewrite of Campaign Finance statutes will not come until AFTER the deadline for members of the House or Senate to file new bills. Instead, to minimize the risk of the PUBLIC subverting their efforts to bastardize state statutes on the subject, expect it to be a STRIKER, or strike everything amendment at or near the end of the session.
A "strike everything after the enacting clause" amendment (also referred to as a "strike everything" amendment or simply a "striker") proposes to delete the entire text of the existing bill and substitute new language, essentially making it a completely different bill, possibly on an entirely different subject. These amendments are sometimes used to allow legislators to circumvent the deadlines on introduction of new legislation, deal with an issue that arises after the deadline or revive a bill that has previously been defeated.My call to action for every one of YOU is to contact your members of the legislature to warn them to be expecting dirty tricks on Campaign Finance, so they will be prepared to stop it before it becomes too late.
Democratic members will possibly be subject to coercion by GOP leadership to get them to go along with these adverse changes.
Expect more about the subject of campaign finance, Dark Money (and loopholes thereof), and other attacks on the rights of voters to elections and election systems before the legislative session ends.