PHOENIX — The author of Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Act wants a judge to block a citizens’ vote on a plan by Republican lawmakers to take away some of the power of the commission that administers the program of public financing of candidates.
In a new lawsuit, Louis Hoffman contends the referendum put on the November ballot by GOP lawmakers asks voters to make two changes to the law on public financing of political campaigns.
Attorney Danny Adelman, who represents Hoffman, said the Legislature illegally combined two proposed changes into a single take-it-or-leave-it measure for voters. And that, he said, violates a provision of the Arizona Constitution that says all laws “shall embrace but one subject.”
What the lawmakers are trying to do, Adelman said, is persuade voters to accept the whole package — including sharp new restrictions on the Citizens Clean Elections Commission — just because they may like the other half of the package that deals with how candidates can spend the public money they get.
So he wants Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Teresa Anderson to block the measure from appearing on the November ballot.
But Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, who is the sponsor of the measure, denied the two issues are unrelated and said he believes they should be offered to voters as a single proposal.
This fight started amid concerns that candidates could buy services from political parties. That led to charges by Republicans that public dollars were being used to subsidize the Democratic Party. The measure, if approved by voters, would ban any sort of payment to not just a political party but also to any nonprofit that can influence elections.
But the more concerning part to some is requiring the voter-approved Clean Elections Commission to have its rules approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council.