The Republican contender for Arizona attorney general apparently broke the law by spending money that was to be used for the primary elections last month to help him in the November general election, the director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission has concluded.
Todd Lang said there is “reason to believe’’ that Bill Montgomery used cash he was given for the primary race to videotape a commercial and buy air time.
Lang said, though, that commercial, filmed on Sept. 12 — primary election day — at Freestone Park in Gilbert, could not have possibly been used to get primary votes for Montgomery. And that, he said, would violate state law.
Lang wants the fivemember commission, which meets later today, to give him permission to conduct a fullblown investigation.
But there may be little to actually investigate: Montgomery, in his response to Lang’s inquiry, admitted he spent $30,000 for production and another $43,000 to purchase television time to air the commercial. Montgomery, however, said state law allows him to do that.
A finding of guilt by the commission would require Montgomery to surrender the $73,000. That would come from the $143,325 he is entitled to spend on the general election, potentially damaging his chances of ousting incumbent Democrat Terry Goddard.
The commercial itself has provoked some controversy. Both the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and county attorney agreed last week to investigate whether the crew taping the commercial paid undocumented workers to appear in the ad.
Whether that is true is not within the scope of Lang’s inquiry. Montgomery and Goddard are campaigning with public funds.