Failed gubernatorial hopeful Matt Salmon dropped plans Thursday to sue the Citizens Clean Elections Commission over the way it handled an investigation of his campaign.
"Frankly, I just want to move on," Salmon said. While he still believes the system is flawed, he said, a lawsuit would be time consuming and expensive for him and taxpayers who would have to pay to defend the commission.
Salmon said the problem will resolve itself if an initiative drive to repeal the public financing act makes the ballot and voters approve it next year.
Salmon also said he decided not to challenge a $3,472 penalty imposed by the commission for failing to report some campaign expenses on time. He said that amount — less than the $10,000 Colleen Connor, the commission’s executive director, suggested — is reasonable for what he said were technical violations of the law.
The issue of timely reporting of expenses was crucial because Salmon waged both his successful primary and unsuccessful general election campaign using private financing. Most of his opponents accepted public funding and limits on their spending.
The law spells out that if a privately financed candidate like Salmon spends more than the money allocated to publicly financed foes, the state will provide a dollar-for-dollar match.
The commission concluded Salmon did not report some expenses when they were incurred, resulting in a delay in his opponents getting matching public funds.
Salmon had threatened to sue for $3.2 million, what he said he paid in legal fees fighting the commission’s investigation. He said he was targeted for investigation and negative publicity because he refused to go along with the voluntary public financing system. Before the primary, Connor publicly stated Salmon hid close to $500,000 worth of expenses, a figure she later reduced to $147,000. By the time a state hearing officer finished his inquiry, he concluded the figure was less than $4,000.
Salmon now does lobbying and consulting. Among his clients is Arizona State University.