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Congressman Flake’s Role With Move To Repeal Clean Elections Unclear

Sixth District Congressman Jeff Flake will resume his role as chairman of a group that will seek to repeal the state Clean Elections Act – or will he≠

A state ballot measure committee typically wouldn’t come under any federal regulation, although it still would be subject to state disclosure requirements, but Mr. Flake’s involvement changes that, the Federal Elections Commission decided last month.

The FEC stated in an advisory opinion on July 17 that Mr. Flake, who is expected to be a candidate for re-election in 2004, could serve as chairman of Stop Taxpayer Money for Politicians. But the FEC also stated that the committee, because of Mr. Flake’s involvement, would be subject to the contribution limits of the federal McCain-Feingold Act, which restricts contributions to individuals only – no corporations, unions or political action committees. Contributions are also limited to $5,000 per person.

State law sets no contribution limits on ballot committees, although the committees still have to disclose the names of contributors and the amounts they give.

Mr. Flake’s appearance August 14 at the Arizona GOP “Brown Bag Luncheon” may have left some people with the impression that Mr. Flake plans to bow out of the repeal committee.

Campaign spokesman Matthew Specht said August 15 that Mr. Flake made the point that he possibly could play a larger role with a committee that he doesn’t control.

“Maybe some people misinterpreted that to mean he is shutting down the committee,” Mr. Specht said. “I have gotten a couple or three other calls asking the same thing” – that is, whether Mr. Flake plans to shutter Stop Taxpayer Money for Politicians.

While Mr. Flake at this point intends to resume his role as chairman of Stop Taxpayer Money for Politicians, that might change “if another group came along,” Mr. Specht said. “The congressman thinks he might be more effective working outside of a committee.”

Barbara Lubin, executive director of the Clean Elections Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes public campaign funding, said it seems clear that Mr. Flake is “shopping” for a new committee with which he isn’t associated, so that it could “raise big money from special interests.” —

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