Arizona Secretary Of State To Fight Clean Elections Over Fine
PHOENIX — Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan will ask a court to allow her to intervene in a case involving fines levied against an independent expenditure group by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, her spokesman said Wednesday.
The move is the latest battle between the new secretary of state and the commission, which has rankled many Republicans in recent years by aggressively pursuing campaign finance law violations that some believe are outside its voter-approved mission.
The commission fined the Legacy Foundation Action Fund $96,000 in November for failing to file detailed spending reports. The advocacy group ran ads attacking former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith as he was running for the Republican nomination for governor.
The Legacy Fund won an initial appeal before an administrative law judge, but it was not binding and the commission kept the fine in place.
The Legacy Fund is now appealing in Superior Court. Commission Executive Director Tom Collins said Reagan is trying to block the power of the commission to enforce election laws.
"The secretary of state has no dog in this fight," Collins said. "This is a naked attempt to usurp the otherwise undisputed authority of the Clean Elections Commission."
Reagan spokesman Matt Roberts says the commission is overstepping its bounds and Reagan and the Goldwater Institute will file to intervene in the case Thursday. He said the conservative group is representing Reagan in the case without cost to her office.
"Similar to our stance on other Clean Elections actions, we think they're getting outside of their regulatory box," Roberts said.
Last month, Reagan harshly criticized the commission for advancing new rules that require more transparency from so-called "dark money" groups that have flooded political campaigns with vast sums of cash in recent years.