Tuesday, April 3, 2012

VIEW: ALJ Decision Finding Democratic AG's Front Organization Guilty Of Election Law Violations In Anti-Horne Ad Barrage; Group Ignores Judge's Orders

An Arizona Administrative Law Judge last year found an organization funded solely by the national Democratic Attorneys General Association ("DAGA") in violation of at least three counts of election laws and ordered corrective actions to be taken;  the organization has apparently failed to abide by the ALJ's order.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne DID refer HIS complaint against the Committee for Justice and Fairness ("CFJF") to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, shortly after taking office in January 2011.  The MCAO brought the CFJF in front of an ALJ on August 31, 2011, and his decision was issued on September 23. (Decision posted below)

The ALJ found that the CFJF was primarily funded by the DAGA, that it had failed to register with the Arizona Secretary of State, failed to file required financial reports, and failed to disclose how much had been spent on the ad.  The ALJ ordered CFJF to remedy those violations within 20 days.  As of today's date, no financial reports appear on the Secretary of State's campaign finance database, which is generally updated either in real time or close to real time.

A Google timeline search shows that there was no coverage - news or otherwise - of the ALJ's order, and neither the MCAO, the Secretary of State, nor the AG's office publicized it.

Shortly after Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne took office, Arizona's Politics asked his press office to let us know if the complaint would be pursued.  No response was received, which was understandable given the settling in period.  However, we now know from the decision that the AG's office sent a letter dated January 26, 2011, to the MCAO, forwarding Horne's complaint.  (Horne's Committee had filed the complaint with the Secretary of State's Office.)

As Arizona's Politics previously noted, the penalties for the apparent violations involving the advertisement itself - not identifying major contributor as being DAGA - could be up to three times the amount spent on the advertisement.  We obviously do not yet know how much was spent on the advertisement, but the frequency with which it aired made it apparent that it was a significant amount of money.

That the news of the ALJ's Decision from September is only coming out now because AG Horne is using it as a counterattack when responding to the allegations surrounding the FBI's investigations of his activities with independent expenditure campaigns just increases the irony level surrounding this story.

Of course, just as the allegations regarding the AG's actions are far from resolved, so too are the allegations regarding his opponents - the CFJF, the DAGA, and even the unsuccessful candidate herself.  Mr. Horne took the opportunity yesterday to grace us with some new allegations that Ms. Rotellini may have illegally coordinated with the DAGA/CFJF IE campaign.

Those new allegations, along with the apparent violations surrounding the CFJF/DAGA ad itself that have (apparently) not yet been litigated, should also be investigated.

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 or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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