July 29, 2004
Arizona voters are illegally being asked to approve two constitutional changes with a single vote, an attorney supporting public financing of campaigns said Wednesday.
Chuck Blanchard told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Downie that Proposition 106 actually would do two things: Bar the use of public funds for political campaigns and take cash away from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to perform all of its activities.
Blanchard said that violates requirements that proposed constitutional amendments deal with a single subject. And that, he said, requires Downie to throw the initiative off the ballot.
But Lisa Hauser, who represents initiative backers, said the two issues are inexorably linked.
She said the aim is to constitutionally bar the use of public dollars for political races, money which the commission distributes.
She acknowledged that defunding the commission would leave no cash for its other duties, including sponsoring debates and publishing a pamphlet with candidate profiles. But Hauser said that means the commission would have to seek funding from the Legislature, rather than being entitled to the funds.
Hanging in the balance is whether voters will get a chance in November to demolish the public financing scheme they approved six years ago.
That law imposes a 10 percent surcharge on civil, criminal and traffic fines. Proceeds are available to candidates for state and legislative office who do not take other donations and agree to limit spending.
Other cash comes from donations which can be recouped in a credit on state income taxes.
Proposition 106 would not repeal the 1998 law. But it would prohibit the use of public funds and take away any money the commission now has or would get in public funds in the future.
Downie could rule on the issue as early as today. But whatever she decides will likely be appealed to the state Supreme Court.