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More records filed regarding complaint against Quelland

A Valley political consultant reported that District 10 Representative-elect Doug Quelland paid him cash and gave him free rent in return for campaign services that Democrat opponents allege could threaten the returning lawmaker's right to hold office.

Larry Davis, president of Intermedia Public Relations, filed documents in late November and early December with the Citizens Clean Elections Commission disputing Quelland's assertions that the consultant was fired in 2007 before performing any services or receiving compensation. The documents were obtained by the Capitol Times after a public records request and subsequent intervention from an attorney with the Arizona First Amendment Coalition.

On November 12, a district Democrat filed a complaint with the CCEC and the Secretary of State's Office claiming a $15,000 contract between Quelland and Davis amounted to an in-kind contribution that pushes Quelland, a publicly funded candidate, well above established campaign spending limits and leaves him subject to removal from office.

In a Dec. 2 letter to the Clean Elections Commission, Davis claimed the contract was never terminated and that he performed a variety of campaign services throughout Quelland's 2008 campaign for office, including securing endorsements, advertising for functions, collecting nominating signatures and collecting voter information from the Arizona Republican Party.

The consultant's letter includes a copy of a $1,000 check from Quelland to Intermedia Public Relations dated Oct. 2007, and it states that a subpoena of Quelland's business bank account records will reveal the District 10 Republican has paid him $11,000.

The remainder of the contract's balance, according to Davis, was provided in the form of free rent for the business, which is located in a shopping mall owned by Quelland.

Davis also claimed to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission that he and Quelland originally agreed in early 2007 to run a campaign relying on private contributions, and that $15,000 would be an "insane and absurd" level of payment for a publicly funded candidate with limited funds.

Quelland has hired attorney Lee Miller, who maintains the candidate immediately fired Davis for unveiling a "grand strategy" of running a "contracted negative campaign" against District 10 Democrat Rep. Jackie Thrasher.

Thrasher was defeated by Quelland and seatmate Jim Weiers in November by less than700 votes.

Miller said the terminated contract and does not amount to an improper or illegal activity for a publicly funded candidate.

"For all intents and purposes it (the contract) didn't exist when Mr. Quelland announced his intention to run as a Clean Elections candidate."

Davis, according to affidavits filed by Miller with the Clean Elections Commission, became antagonistic towards Quelland when the contract was terminated. Miller said his client informed him that Davis, a marketing and public relations consultant, had desired to expand his business to include political consulting.

Davis and his firm have been used on numerous occasions to print and distribute coupons for a number of Quelland's businesses, including his coffee shop and a rental business. The consultant has never been paid by Quelland for political services, Miller said.

The Clean Elections Commission is scheduled to decide Dec. 18 whether to pursue a formal investigation into the District 10 Republican's 2008 campaign.

Todd Lang, the agency's executive director, said he has not decided whether to recommend that commissioners move forward with an inquiry, but said the allegations are significant.

"Anytime you have this sort of allegation regarding unreported campaign expenditures it's a serious issue," he said.

In 2006, Lang presided over the commission during the ouster of Rep. David Burnell Smith, a publicly funded candidate found to have exceeded his 2004 primary election spending limit.

 

On Jan. 26, 2006, Smith was ordered by the Arizona Supreme Court to vacate his office by midnight after fighting a lengthy court battle that tested the authority of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to remove sitting lawmakers.

Smith's departure made him the first sitting legislator in the United States to be removed from office from a campaign finance-related offense.

The complaint against Quelland was filed by District 10 resident Carol Vandercook, who is represented by attorney Jim Barton.

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