Friday, October 22, 2010

If There's Justice & Fairness, There Will Also Be Irony; Democratic AGs' Group Could Be Hit Hard, Too

Earlier post regarding the apparently-illegal anti-Tom Horne ads being run by the Democratic Attorneys General Association, through their front group known as the Committee For Justice and Fairness ("CFJF")..

Soooo, if you are like me, you were thinking about what the penalty is for running an independent expenditure campaign and what the procedure is.  Well, the penalty and the irony are both rich.

A.R.S. Sec. 16-924 sets forth the procedures for dealing with apparent violations, and 16-912 sets forth the amount of the penalty for violating the independent expenditure restrictions.  The penalty would be "up to three times the cost of producing and distributing the literature or advertisement."  We do not yet know how much the DAGA/CFJF paid for the ad, although their budget (see previous post) and other experience indicates that a maximum penalty could easily run into six figures.

But, here is the procedure:  if the Secretary of State - Republican Ken Bennett - believes that there is "reasonable cause" that a violation has taken place, he "shall notify the attorney general."  The current Attorney General is Democrat Terry Goddard, a member of the alleged violator.

Presumably, the AG would turn it over to a non-interested prosecutor.  The prosecutor then has the discretion whether to give the DAGA/CFJF 20 days to comply with the statutes.  Failure to comply would require the prosecutor to assess the penalty.

A potentially thorny legal thicket.  Of course, Arizona is no newcomer to such thickets - the Maricopa County saga has many more thorns.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

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