Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Arizona Secretary of State George Orwell?

Not that the real Secretary of State, Eric Spencer... oops, I mean Michele Reagan is trying to call out dissonance in government like Orwell, but that the office is all about using Orwellian rhetoric to con the legislature and voters.

Two weeks ago, Sen. Adam Driggs (R-LD28/East Phoenix) dropped SB1516, Spencer's campaign finance rewrite.

To announce the bill, the Secretary of State's office sent out a press release that opens,
In an effort to root out unlawful political spending while protecting legitimate non-profit groups and charities’ right to engage in the political process, Secretary of State Michele Reagan is asking the legislature for the tools she needs to hold so-called “convenience corporations” accountable.
The bill, for which a Senate fact sheet lists 109 provisions, "roots out unlawful spending" by excluding so-called unlawful political spending from the definition of "contribution." From the fact sheet,
Generally, a contribution is any gift, loan, advance, deposit of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing an election. However, statute outlines exemptions to contributions, meaning some of the money, loans or in-kind goods and services do not have to be reported. A contribution does not include:
1. the value of services provided without compensation by a volunteer on behalf of a committee;
2. money or the value of anything directly or indirectly provided to defray the expense of an elected official meeting with constituents, or provided by the state or political subdivision to an elected official for communication with constituents, if the official is engaged in the duties of his office;
3. the use of real or personal property used on a regular basis by members of a community for noncommercial purposes, and the cost of invitations, food and beverages voluntarily provided by an individual in rendering voluntary personal services on the individual’s residential premises or other property, to the extent that the cumulative value does not exceed $100 in any single election;
4. any unreimbursed payment for travel expenses for a volunteer;
5. the payment by a political party for party operating expenses as outlined;
6. independent expenditures;
7. monies loaned by a bank made in accordance with applicable law in the ordinary course of business, as specified;
8. a gift, loan or deposit of anything of value to a national or state committee of a political party specifically designated to defray any cost for the construction or purchase of an office facility not acquired for the purpose of influencing the election of a candidate in any particular election;
9. legal or accounting services if the only person paying is the regular employer of the individual and if the services are solely for the purpose of complying with campaign finance law;
10. the payment by a political party of the costs of campaign materials used by the party in connection with volunteer activities on behalf of any nominee or the payment of the costs of voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities as outlined;
11. transfers between political committees to distribute monies raised through a joint fundraising effort as specified;
12. an extension of credit for goods and services if the terms are substantially similar to extensions of credit to nonpolitical debtors and if the creditor makes a reasonable attempt to collect the debt, except debts that remain unsatisfied by the candidate after six months; and
13. interest or dividends earned on any bank accounts, deposits or other investments.
Of course, some of these thirteen things are included because they may be de minimus. Consider statewide campaigns however. Extensions of credit for goods and services? Transfers between political committees? Legal advice or professional accounting services? Gifts or loans to a national political party? Bank loans? 

I thought We the People were expecting our elected officials to increase disclosure, not make political spending more difficult to discover.

How many of those thirteen items have qualifiers like, "if the terms are;" or "if the person is?" Those are loopholes
n. A way of escaping a difficulty, especially an omission or ambiguity in the wording of a contract or law that provides a means of evading compliance.
Have you ever heard the expression, "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission?"

Where it says "Payday Lenders" (which happened in AZ immediately following voters outlawing those predators), substitute "Sean Noble" or "Karl Rove" or any Dark Money operator. In the case of SB1516, rooting out unlawful political spending really means to make it so those things are no longer unlawful.

Of course, Arizona's chief elections officer would never make it easier for Dark Money operators to evade compliance, right? Right.

Regardless of intentions, SB1516 draws loopholes big enough to...

... drive one of these through it.

SB1516 is on the agenda for the Wednesday, February 17 Senate Government Committee hearing at 2 pm. There are lots of bills, so who knows when this one will be rammed through. By the way, John Kavanagh is chairman of the committee.

Here's who is on the Arizona Legislature's Request to Speak system saying they are in favor of this bill:

Michelle Ahlmer, AZ RETAILERS ASSN(02/13/2016);    
Bas Aja, Arizona Cattlemen's Association(02/16/2016);    
Jenna Bentley, Self(02/16/2016);    
Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, Arizona Multihousing Association(02/16/2016);    Chianne Hewer, AZ RESTAURANT AND HOSPITALITY ASSN (02/16/2016);    
Mike Huckins, GREATER PHOENIX CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (02/16/2016);    
Tom Jenney, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY AZ(02/16/2016);    
Josh Kredit, CENTER FOR ARIZONA POLICY(02/16/2016);    
David Martin, Arizona Chapter Associated General Contractors(02/12/2016);    Robert Shuler, WESTERN GROWERS ASSN(02/15/2016);    
Eric Spencer, AZ SECRETARY OF STATE(02/15/2016);    
Steve Trussell, AZ ROCK PRODUCTS ASSN(02/15/2016);    
Boaz Witbeck, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY AZ(02/16/2016);   

Besides local lobbying interests, Koch Brothers' mouthpiece and whited sepulchre Tom Jenney is in favor. So is the Center for Arizona Policy, our state's most prominent Dominionist interest (Think undermining women's rights and civil rights overall by Cathi Herrod).

These are the people who want to purchase on going interest in and domination of Arizona government. (see yesterday's post on Capitalism Eating Democracy)

Then there are the people sticking up for the voice of Main Street Arizonans, Samantha Pstross (ex. dir. Arizona Advocacy Network), and several individual citizens.

You may watch the committee hearing online.

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