PHOENIX — Len Munsil's gubernatorial campaign wants an investigation into what its lawyer says may be "illegal coordination" among Janet Napolitano's re-election campaign, a nonprofit corporation and two independent expenditure committees.
Attorney Douglas Drury said Tuesday that the Project for Arizona's Future is helping the efforts of the Arizona Conservative Trust and the Arizona Values Coalition.
The latter two groups have been financing attacks on the Republican gubernatorial nominee, including automated phone calls and a Web site. That is legal as long as they eventually disclose the source of their funds and how they were spent.
But Drury said there is evidence the Project for Arizona's Future is providing assistance to the two groups despite the fact the organization is set up under a section of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits it from endorsing candidates.
And Drury, in a 25-page complaint to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, argued there are links between Napolitano and the Project for Arizona's Future. If that is true, it could violate state campaign finance laws that bar a publicly financed candidate, like the governor, from working in a coordinated effort to spend money beyond her public funding.
Munsil campaign consultant Nathan Sproul said the evidence suggests "money laundering" among the various groups.
Jeanine L'Ecuyer, press aide for Napolitano's re-election campaign, acknowledged the governor did participate in a May fund-raiser for the Project for Arizona's Future. That organization spent money in February — it refuses to disclose how much — buying radio ads supporting Napolitano's legislative agenda.
L'Ecuyer said there was nothing improper about Napolitano's action, noting she has raised money for other political causes, including the Democratic Governors' Association and Emily's List.
She specifically denied any link among the Napolitano campaign and the three groups or any of the people listed as their officers.
At best, L'Ecuyer said, the charges are little more than a list of allegations with a request for the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to investigate.
There are some connections between the three groups and Democratic campaigns, though they may not be illegal.
Beau Memory is chairman of the Arizona Values Coalition and Seamus Perry is treasurer. Tom Ziemba, executive director of the Project for Arizona's Future, said both did work for his organization at one time but left to get more directly involved in this year's campaign.
And all three worked for Democratic presidential candidates in 2004.
Drury said he believes the Munsil campaign is entitled to a match for the money spent on attacks on the GOP contender, including the Web site they set up at "lenmunsilfacts.org" and the phone calls and cost of salaries and equipment.
But he said the commission also has to investigate whether Napolitano and her supporters are circumventing the spending limits on publicly financed candidates.
Both Napolitano and Munsil received $680,774 in public financing.
Outside groups that are truly independent of any candidate's campaign can spend money backing or opposing someone's election.
But they are required to report those expenses and the candidate who is being attacked is entitled to matching dollars.
The commission already has awarded Munsil $8,571 following recorded phone calls that were made attacking him the day before the Sept. 12 primary.