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Libertarian candidate for governor to return 2002 donations

An outspoken critic of public funding of election campaigns says he will return $5 contributions made to his 2002 campaign for governor.
Libertarian Barry Hess, who has filed for the 2006 gubernatorial race, says he raised about $350-$400 in $5 donations before he decided not to register as a Clean Elections candidate and run a privately funded campaign. The $5 contributions are required to qualify as a publicly funded candidate.
Mr. Hess says he has kept the funds in an account, but was never asked directly by the Citizens Clean Election Commission (CCEC) to return the money.
“Many people said, ‘Ah, don’t worry about it, just keep it,’ ” Mr. Hess said. “
He said Clean Elections rules do not address $5 dollar contributions raised by a candidate who might be considering registration as publicly funded at the time but decides otherwise.
Todd Lang, CCEC executive director, said Mr. Hess should return the money.
“Generally, the policy is you have to return it to the owner,” he said. “We have to protect the integrity of the system. Candidates who change their mind and decide to run traditional can seek permission from donors to use the money toward a private campaign.”
Mr. Hess said he gave $5 back to one donor who requested the contribution be returned.
Mr. Lang said if funds are not returned or if the candidate doesn’t seek out donors to return their contributions, the funds must be given to the Clean Elections fund.
“Ultimately, I’m not even slightly interested in having anything to do with Clean Elections, and if there’s something that remains to be resolved, I will take care of it directly,” said Mr. Hess, who received 2.7 percent of the vote for governor in 2002.
He raised $2,682 and spent $1,520 in that race, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Before he filed this year, Mr. Hess said he was courted by Republicans to run on that ticket, but refused because they wanted him to run as a Clean Elections candidate.
Vice chair of the Arizona Libertarian Party, Mr. Hess sent out a news release March 14 alleging the Clean Elections system encourages cheating.
“It’s all just too slimy for me, so I’ll have to content myself with being the only gubernatorial candidate who’s running on the issues, not on other people’s stolen money. Call me the ‘Cleaner-est Candidate,’” he wrote.
Reporter Christian Palmer contributed to this article

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