Friday, October 17, 2014

Corporation Commission GOP candidates Forese and Little admit to breaking campaign finance laws, will pay minimal fine

That's right.  These are the guys who are suspected of being supported by dark money from APS.  Now they admit going into debt to finance part of their campaign.  They cut a deal to avoid a much more severe penalty.  Here is a report on it from Arizona Capitol Times; snippets follow.

Republican Corporation Commission candidates Tom Forese and Doug Little now admit they broke Arizona’s campaign finance laws, and each has been assessed a $1,000 fine by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, meaning the two will avoid a deeper investigation into their campaign finance reports.
The commission voted 4-1 to adopt the a settlement, which the candidates proposed just before the commissioners met to discuss commission executive director Tom Collins’ recommendation for a full investigation into the candidates. Tom Collins reported that a staff analysis showed there was reason to believe the two broke campaign finance laws while investigating two complaints filed with the commission by the state Democratic Party.
In two written proposals from the candidates, Forese and Little admitted to the violations, saying they “failed to make complete reports of expenditures related to campaign signs and installation as well as expenditures related to the gathering of petition signatures and violated rules related to cash on hand…”
The commission’s staff found, after investigating two Democratic Party complaints filed by the state Democratic Party, that the candidates did not have enough money to pay for signs purchased in July. But the commission’s staff only looked at the candidates’ cash flow starting at June 1, 2014.
An Arizona Capitol Times analysis of the period before June 1, 2014 shows that Little also went into debt for more than a month, beginning in mid-March of 2014, according to his campaign finance reports.

So the deal these two cut avoided serious penalties and they are basically off the hook by spending some pocket change.  AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona cites the statute that provides for disqualification from office in such cases and has this to say about that:

Are you effin’ kidding me? These guys carry around that kind of money in pocket change. The provision of law that these guys are concerned about is A.R.S. § 16-942(C): Any campaign finance report filed indicating a violation of section 16-941, subsections A or B or section 16-941, subsection C, paragraph 1 involving an amount in excess of ten percent of the sum of the adjusted primary election spending limit and the adjusted general election spending limit for a particular candidate shall result in disqualification of a candidate or forfeiture of office.
UPDATE: The Clean Elections Commission met today and voted 4-1 to accept the settlement offer. Tom Forese and Doug Little admitted they broke Arizona’s campaign finance laws, and each has been assessed a $1,000 fine by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission. The two will avoid any further  investigation into their campaign finance reports. ... This is how rich guys evade accountability and protect their secretive campaign contributors.

How disappointing that the Clean Elections Commission let these guys off so easily.  We should start a campaign to get every single editorial endorsement of these guys withdrawn.

Other reporting here by the Daily Star.

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