Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Prop. 102 Opponent Says Ariz. Secretary of State Turns Blind Eye to Campaign Finance Compliance

FLAGSTAFF (Observer Update) - Despite the fact that less than 25 percent of donors to listed their occupations on campaign finance reports, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office says that the political committee behind Prop. 102 made its “best effort” to comply with a state law requiring political committees to list the occupations of campaign donors on campaign finance reports.

Responding to a complaint from Flagstaff resident Dan Frazier, the Secretary of State’s office requested additional information from about its efforts to obtain the occupations of its donors. John LeSueur, treasurer, apparently responded to the Secretary of State’s inquiry. In a letter to LeSueur dated Dec. 22, 2008, State Election Director Joseph Kanefield wrote, “Based upon the information provided in your letter, we have determined that the Committee has established that it made its ‘best effort’ to obtain the required information. Consequently, there is an insufficient basis to find reasonable cause to believe the committee violated A.R.S. §§ 16-915(A), 16-901(13) or 16-904(D). We therefore consider this matter closed.” A copy of Kanefield’s letter to LeSueur was sent to Frazier by the Secretary of State’s office.

With his response to the Secretary of State, Lesueur apparently also made a request for “all correspondence in 2008 to, from or within the Arizona Secretary of State’s office relating to the compliance of any political committee with the campaign finance reporting requirements.” Kanefield responded by writing, “We have reviewed our files and have found no records that match your request.” Frazier, a Gay-rights supporter, got involved when he learned from a newspaper article that about 60 members of his community of Flagstaff had donated about $339,000 to He noticed that most Flagstaff donors did not list their occupations on campaign finance reports. “Only 17 percent of Flagstaff donors listed their occupations. Statewide, the figure is more like 23 percent. This is a very low rate of compliance. But apparently, the Secretary of State’s office is not concerned about the rate of compliance,” said Frazier in a prepared statement. “That’s shocking,” added Frazier. “But I am even more shocked to learn that the Secretary of State’s office has no record of any correspondence with anyone about compliance with the campaign finance laws. That is just unbelievable! What do they do at the Secretary of State’s office if they don’t communicate about campaign finance compliance? Isn’t that a big part of their job?”

Frazier originally contacted the Arizona Attorney General’s office with his concern about missing occupational data. The Attorney General’s office directed him to the Secretary of State’s office, saying that the Attorney General would investigate only if the Secretary of State indicated an investigation was warranted. However, ARS §§ 16-904(i) seems to say that the Attorney General is entrusted with enforcing campaign finance rules. The statute says, “On request of the attorney general, the county, city or town attorney or the filing officer, the treasurer shall provide any of the records required to be kept pursuant to this section.” This section of the law, related to the duties of the treasurer of a political committee, goes on to say, “A person who violates this section is subject to a civil penalty imposed as prescribed in section 16-924 of three times the amount of money that has been received, expended or promised in violation of this section.”

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