Three recently-elected state senators and representatives have violated Arizona campaign finance laws, according to preliminary findings from a Citizens Clean Elections Commission investigation. This announcement comes on the heels of the Commission announcing that it may remove Rep. David Burnell Smith from office for allegedly violating campaign finance laws as well.
In a move that will not surprise any opponents of the public financing of political campaigns, the Commission hired Gene Lemmon, the former chairman of the Citizens Clean Elections, to conduct further investigations. Interestingly, neither the Commission nor the Attorney General are moving to investigate alleged campaign violations by those on the left, such as the group Mainstream Arizona, as Goldwater Institute chairman Tom Patterson noted in the East Valley Tribune.
Unfortunately, other states are holding Arizona's system up as a model for campaign finance reform. For example, Connecticut legislators are contemplating a publicly financed campaign system similar to Arizona's. In an op-ed in today's Hartford Courant, I urge Connecticut voters to not make the same mistake we have made in Arizona. Besides failing to deliver on the promises its proponents made, the Commission itself is illustrating the inherent problems with a group of unelected bureaucrats having the power of judge, jury, and executioner over political campaigns.