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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FEC Surprises Arizona Democrats, Republicans With Opinion On 2006 Complaint By AZ GOP

The three Republicans on the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") issued an opinion this past week explaining why they thought that an Arizona GOP complaint against the Arizona Democrats had needed to be dismissed.  The Democrats on the FEC wanted to go after the Arizona Democrats.

Confused?  You (hopefully) won't be, after this week's episode of "Arizona's Politics Meets FEC Politics".

This past week, the Republican Commissioners released a "Statement of Reasons" in the AZ GOP vs. the AZ Dems file.  Turns out, they were doing house-cleaning as the chair (Donald McGahn) was leaving the Commission (and two new members were coming on).

On the eve of Arizona's 2006 election between then-Sen. Jon Kyl and Democratic challenger Jim Pederson, the state GOP filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.  It alleged that commercial real estate developer Pederson and the Democratic party had "concocted and implemented" a scheme that permitted Pederson to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars more than permitted, to benefit his candidacy.  (He lost to Kyl 53% to 44%.)  Part of the evidence was a quote in a newspaper article that the GOP felt proved that some of the monies were spent improperly.

Pederson and the Arizona Democratic Party separately filed responses in January 2007 - claiming that the complaint had no legal basis and was just done for publicity - and in November 2008, the FEC met to consider the complaint.  The FEC is required to be made up of three Republicans and three Democrats.

Not surprisingly, they deadlocked 3-3 on whether to proceed against the Arizona Democrats and dismiss Pederson and the other parties.  Showing their philosophical differences and ignoring their partisan differences, it was the Democratic Commissioners voting to go after the Arizona Democrats and the Republican Commissioners dissing the Arizona GOP's reasoning.

After the deadlock, they voted 6-0 to close the file.

And so it remained until this past week.  With McGahn's exit, the three GOP Commissioners decided to file a "Statement of Reasons".  They blasted the Complaint as suggesting "a novel legal standard that has no basis in law, statute or practice," and took notice of the Arizona GOP's "speculation."

Arizona's Politics has asked the Arizona GOP and the Arizona Democrats for reactions to the FEC's closing shot, and will supplement as needed.

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