October 5, 2004
The executive director of Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Commission wants to launch investigations of two Scottsdale legislative candidates, in part because of their ties to an East Valley political consultant under attack by the Maricopa County Republican Party.
Colleen Connor will ask permission today from the commission to start formal proceedings against Rep. Colette Rosati, a Republican running for re-election in District 8, and David Burnell Smith, a Republican seeking a House seat from District 7. In a memo prepared for today’s commission meeting, Connor says public complaints filed against both candidates reveal possible irregularities in campaign financing reports that require additional review.
The complaints link Rosati and Smith to Constantin Querard of Ahwatukee Foothills. Querard is being sued by the county Republican Party because of a flier he sent before the Sept. 7 primaries to voters in four legislative districts, offering to help them obtain early ballots.
Earlier, a judge ruled Querard’s flier was deceptively designed to appear to be from the Republican Party, instead of coming from individual candidates aided by Querard. The judge also said it appeared Querard had delayed turning over early ballot requests to election officials so he could build a database of likely voters for candidates.
Querard testified during one hearing he paid Rosati $200 in December 2003 for a voter registration list that provided some addresses for the early ballot mailing. Then on July 1, Rosati paid Querard $2,675 for a list of voters in her district who had requested early ballots through Querard.
Connor’s memo says the commission needs to learn whether Rosati improperly used her public campaign funding when she paid Querard. Connor also is questioning whether Rosati properly paid for and reported phone banking for her campaign.
In a written response from Rosati’s attorney, the lawmaker says there has been no wrongdoing and the commission doesn’t have any evidence to move forward with an investigation.
In Smith’s case, Connor claims the candidate committed to spend up to $23,305 in early August before he had qualified for public funding, which would violate commission rules. About $11,325 of those funds went to Querard for campaign activities.
Connor also accuses Smith of making spending commitments to Querard beyond the state’s limits for publicly funded candidates.
Smith’s accountant acknowledges possible overspending in a Sept. 24 letter to Smith that also was sent to the commission. But there’s no reference to the claim that Smith started spending too soon. Smith couldn’t be reached for comment Monday night.