LB - Yavapai Herbal Services

Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obituaries | Real Estate Search | Subscriber Services | Yellow Pages | Contact Us
Camp Verde Bugle | Camp Verde, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news October 13, 2015

8/5/2014 12:52:00 PM
Clean Elections group questions propriety of campaign advertisement

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Saying they have jurisdiction, members of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission refused to kill an investigation into whether a commercial aimed at Scott Smith was really designed to undermine his gubernatorial bid.

Attorney Jason Torchinsky argued to commissioners that the ad, produced and paid for by the Legacy Foundation Action Fund, was simply a bid to educate voters -- and Mesa residents in particular -- the positions taken by the U.S. Conference of Mayors on controversial issues. Smith had been the organization's president.

And he said the fact that the commercial ran in March and April -- long before early voting for the Republican primary started Thursday -- shows it was not aimed at convincing people how to vote.

Thomas Collins, the commission's executive director, acknowledged the commercial never expressly told viewers how to mark their ballots.

But he said the ad, which depicted Smith and the mayors' group agreeing with President Obama on things like the Affordable Care Act, gun control and climate change, clearly was designed to influence voters.

"This advertisement in context has no meaning other than to advocate against Smith for governor,' he told commissioners at their Thursday meeting. "Other possible meanings are not reasonable.'

Thursday's decision by the commission does not end the matter.

The commission still has not voted specifically to agree with Collins. Such a vote would require the organization to disclose who funded the commercial.

And the panel also deferred action on the related question of whether the commercial was illegally coordinated with Doug Ducey's own gubernatorial campaign.

There is evidence that one person who did work for Ducey also did work for Legacy, though Ducey's lawyer said it was not on this commercial. If the commission finds there was coordination, that makes any funds spent on the commercial a contribution to Ducey that not only has to be reported but also is subject to dollar limits.

The entire issue, however, could become moot.

The Legacy Foundation has filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court asking a judge to rule that any effort by the commission to declare the commercial to be campaign related is illegal. A hearing on that is set for next week in front of Judge David Cunanan.

The commercial at the center of the legal fight opens with the text, "Obama's Favorite Mayor Scott Smith,' going on to point out his position with the Conference of Mayors. It then lists the support for "Obamacare,' "cap and trade' pollution credits and backing "the president's proposal to limit our Second Amendment rights.'

There also are several images of Smith on the screen placed next to photos of a smiling Obama, and one with him shaking hands with Vice President Joe Biden.

It ends with words on the screen "Tell Scott Smith (Obama's Favorite Mayor) the U.S. Conference of Mayors should support policies that are good for Mesa.' And it has the phone number of Smith's mayoral office.

Torchinsky said none of this made the commercial an effort to affect the election.

Commission member Thomas Koester was skeptical.

"Why was all this money spent against Mayor Smith?' he asked. "It still bothers me.'

But Torchinsky said all that is legally irrelevant. He said the only test is what is actually in the commercial, not the motive or intent of those behind it.

And Torchinsky said while the timing may have coincided with when Smith was resigning as mayor to launch his gubernatorial campaign, that still does not make the commercial campaign related. He said it stopped airing months before early voting started, though it remains available on YouTube.

There's a separate legal issue on the question of whether the commission can look at the question about coordination of that commercial with the Ducey campaign.

Attorney Mike Liburdi who represents Ducey contends the commission has jurisdiction only in cases where candidates accept public funding. But both Ducey and Smith, whose attorney filed the complaint of illegal coordination, are running with private dollars.

Collins and the commission have taken the position that the 1998 voter-approved law creating the commission and setting up optional public funding gives them the power to enforce virtually any election law.

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   17-year-old opens new Camp Verde business (1928 views)

•   THROUGH HIS EYES: 6-year-old fights cancer, blindness (918 views)

•   Camp Verde to celebrate 59th Annual Fort Verde Days, Sesquicentennial (691 views)

•   Recall lawsuit against Camp Verde to still be decided (521 views)

•   Yavapai-Apache Nation looks to develop vineyard (483 views)

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Camp Verde, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Extras Submit Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place an Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Obituaries | Real Estate Search | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Contact Us
LB - Coldwell Banker

© Copyright 2015 Western News&Info, Inc.® Camp Verde Bugle ® is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Camp Verde Bugle Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Camp Verde Bugle Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2015 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved