AZ Daily Star columnist Tim Steller reports on the role of the state elections director, in pushing legislation opening the door to even more dark money in campaign finance (emphases added).
Can you name any of Arizona’s past elections directors?
Of course not.
By the nature of their positions, if not their personalities, state elections directors have traditionally been important bureaucrats who stay behind the scenes.
No longer. Eric Spencer, the elections director under Secretary of State Michele Reagan, has been playing a leading role pushing legislation through, and — in the view of some Democrats — advancing the Republican advantages in elections.
This week, Spencer stepped into public view during debate over SB 1516, a vast bill he authored that clarifies aspects of Arizona’s campaign and election law. One part of the bill eliminates a state law requiring any organization spending most of its money on electioneering to disclose its donors.
That raised the ire of Democrats, who claimed it opened the door wide to dark-money spending. They sent out a fundraising email over the weekend, ringing alarm bells about the provision. In response, Spencer refused to reveal to Democrats before floor debate on Tuesday the content of a large amendment he planned to have introduced, an unusually political move for an elections director.
Asked by the Democratic caucus attorney for the text of the amendment, Spencer responded via email: “Unfortunately, the partisan attacks this weekend have foreclosed any concessions I’m able to offer at this point.”
Who is he, as elections director, to make such a political call, refusing even to share the text of an amendment?...
It strikes me that that is the most important question here. You have someone in a nonpartisan position actively engaging in partisan politics. At one time, that might have been an occasion for a firing. But not under the current Secretary of State who serves up SoS to the voters.
"I’m getting my bill through the same way any other lobbyist would get their bill through,” [Spencer] said. “My job is to get it through the Legislature and get the governor’s signature on it.”
True enough, if that really were his only role. But that’s a dangerous position to assume for a public official who should inspire the trust of the entire public, not just the true-believing partisans of the governing party.
What is likely to be done about his? Nada. The majority of Arizona voters have long ago given up their sense of outrage in favor of acceptance.
Read more of Steller's report here.