Friday, December 3, 2010

FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS - UPDATE: Arizona Clean Elections Commission Tweaks Proposed Rule On $200+ Assets

The Arizona Clean Elections Commission held their regular meeting yesterday.  As reported by Alyssa Newcomb from the Cronkite News Service, the Commission put off voting on a proposed rule change (current rule below) to require participating candidates to dispose of any computers or other assets costing more than $200, purchased with clean elections monies. 

The Commission tweaked the proposed provision to give candidates 30 days after the election to either purchase the property for 1/2 of the original purchase price or to turn the item(s) into the Commission (for sale as state surplus). 

The change was a reconsideration of the discussion/decision the Commission members had/made at their September meeting, when they agreed on 7 days and 75%. (discussion starts at page 67)

The new proposed rule will be published shortly on the Commission's website and be open for comments for (about) 60 days (until their Jan. 27 meeting, which is only 56 days away - comment early).

suggested comment and current rule, after the jump

Based on my initial thoughts (from Newcomb's previous article) and after reviewing their September comments, I think that the Commission could alleviate some of their concerns about the Commission having to have a "yard sale" after each election (i.e. taking back too much stuff) by also offering candidates the option of donating the assets to a key private non-profit organization, like Community and Information Referral.   Allowing donations to any non-profit would be asking for abuse and favoritism, and I am sure that CIR could even be urged to distribute items to group(s) serving the legislative district from which the item(s) came (not necessary for statewide races, of course).

This idea might even permit the Commission to re-tweak the candidate's re-purchase price back up to 75% - now that that used iPad would be more likely to be non-profit privatized rather than state surplus-ized.  I think a higher re-purchase price will serve to better discourage the over-purchasing of assets with clean elections monies.

Regardless of what you think of my idea, I urge you to click on the link and send the Commission your comments on the proposed rule change!

Current rule:

R2-20-702. Use of Campaign Funds

A. A participating candidate shall use funds in the candidate's current campaign account to pay for goods and services for direct campaign purposes only. Funds shall be disbursed and reported in accordance with A.R.S. § 16-948(C).

B. A participating candidate's payment from a campaign account to a political committee or civic organization is not a contribution if the payment is reasonable in relation to the value received. Payment of customary charges for services rendered, such as for printing voter or telephone lists, and payment of not more than $200 per person to attend a political event open to the public or to party members shall be considered reasonable in relation to the value received.

C. A participating candidate shall not use funds in the candidate's campaign account for:

1. Costs of legal defense in any campaign law enforcement proceeding.
2. Food and beverages for staff and volunteers exceeding $11 for breakfast, $16 for lunch, and $27 for dinner.
3. Personal use, which includes any item listed below:
a. Household food items or supplies.
b. Clothing, other than items of de minimis value that are used in the campaign, such as campaign "t-shirts" or caps with campaign slogans.
c. Tuition payments, other than those associated with training campaign staff.
d. Mortgage, loan, rent, lease or utility payments:
i. For any part of any personal residence of the candidate or a member of the candidate's family; or
ii. For real or personal property that is owned or leased by the candidate or a member of the candidate's family and used for campaign purposes, to the extent the payments exceed the fair market value of the property usage.
e. Admission to a sporting event, concert, theater or other form of entertainment, unless part of a specific campaign activity.
f. Dues, fees or gratuities at a country club, health club, recreational facility or other nonpolitical organization, unless they are part of the costs of a specific fundraising event that takes place on the organization's premises.
g. Gifts or donations.

4. Fixed assets with a value in excess of $800, provided the item is for a sufficient campaign use.

D. During the primary election period, a participating candidate shall not make any expenditure greater than the difference between:

1. The sum of early contributions received plus public funds disbursed through the primary election period; less
2. All other expenditures made during and for the exploratory, qualifying and primary election periods.

E. During the general election period, a participating candidate shall not make any expenditure greater than the difference between:

1. The amount of public funds disbursed during and for the general election period; less
2. All other expenditures made during and for the general election period.

Historical Note

New Section made by exempt rulemaking at 8 A.A.R. 588, effective November 27, 2001 (Supp. 02-1). Section repealed; new Section made by exempt rulemaking at 11 A.A.R. 4518, effective May 28, 2005 (Supp. 05-4). Amended by exempt rulemaking at 13 A.A.R. 3606, effective January 1, 2008 (Supp. 07-4).

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