Women Voters: “No” on Prop. 306 will protect voters’ interests

There are five statewide ballot propositions for voters to decide on in November, and much of the publicity has concerned the ‘popular’ ballot measures, i.e., Propositions 126, 127 and 305.

Rivko Knox

But people may not be hearing about an ‘orphan’ measure, Prop. 306, which if passed will have a very negative and longterm impact on one of Arizona’s most positive laws, passed by citizen initiative in 1998: the Clean Elections Act, which created a Clean Elections Commission.

The League of Women Voters of Arizona helped write and pass the Clean Elections Act because it supports transparency in campaign finance and public financing of elections. The Act was praised nationwide when it was passed, because it gets large sums of money — special interest money — out of politics, thus requiring candidates to actually go out and meet their constituents!

These “cleanly funded” candidates get a limited amount of money from the Clean Elections Commission to run their campaigns. This money does not come from taxes, but rather from a minimum number of $5 qualifying donations and from penalties and fees; and candidates cannot take additional money from anyone else!

Alice Stambaugh

All their expenditures are carefully audited. One candidate who ran Clean in 2016 and won his seat resigned because after an audit, he could not document how he used the public money.

The Commission is bipartisan and geographically balanced; and it requires public notice and comment on all the rules it adopts. The Clean Elections Act has been attacked by various legislators since it came into being.

Even legislators who have gotten into office via Clean Elections funding have later worked — as they have made connections with big money interests — to weaken the Act!

This past session, a law was passed that is now on the ballot as Prop 306. The public has to vote on it as it amends the Arizona Constitution. It would give a totally partisan body, the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, the ability to review and kill the Commission’s rules. The Commission has also taken on a very significant nonpartisan voter-education role, including providing an excellent website for voters, and the sponsorship of debates for state-wide and legislative offices, and it works very closely with all the county election officials.

The GRRC could, if the Governor wanted it to, curtail such voter education and change all kinds of rules to include those that now require all independent expenditure committees to submit information about their funding and expenditures!

The League of Women Voters is here to speak in opposition to Prop. 306, and to ask you to vote, “no.” Keep Clean Elections the way it is: Bipartisan and open to public review and comment, with the ability to audit campaign funding reporting, a focus n citizen education, and the responsibility to help candidates run clean.

Editor’s note: Ms. Knox and Ms. Stambaugh are members of League of Women Voters of Arizona

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