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YS: SCA donors face large fines

The big donors to SCA could all face stiff fines for exceeding Arizona’s individual campaign contribution limit, which could lead to civil penalties of three times the amount they gave above the threshold, according to research conducted by our reporter. In the 2008 cycle, individuals were limited to an aggregate total of $5,610 in contributions per calendar year. Under ARS 16-905 (E), the limit applies to “state and local candidates, political committees contributing to state or local candidates, and political committees advocating the election or defeat of state or local candidates.” Money given directly to political parties is exempted from the cap. Later in the section, 16-905 (L) sets the penalty for violating any of the various contribution limitations at “three times the amount of money that has been received, expended or promised in violation of this section…” As an independent expenditure committee, SCA would not be exempted from the contribution caps. As such, all five of its large donors clearly exceeded the limit and could face fines as follows:

* Steve Ellman’s $25,000 contribution is $19,390 above the threshold; a fine under 16-905 (L) would be $58,170
* James Wikert gave $30,000 to SCA, an excess of $24,390; his fine would be $73,170
* James Liautaud ponied up $10,000, a violation of $4,390 and a fine of $13,170
* B.M. Rankin also gave $10,000 to SCA
* Tom Gimple contributed $25,000 to the rogue committee and faces the same possible fine as Ellman

Whether any action is taken against the donors, however, remains to be seen. It is unclear if Maricopa County will be pursuing any further investigations in the SCA case. Attorney General Terry Goddard’s office is still reportedly conducting an investigation into the Arizona Republican Party’s actions in the matter, as well as the contribution itself. His spokeswoman said in November the case was under review.

To read more on this item plus all the stories in the July 24 Yellow Sheet Report, go to www.yellowsheetreport.com (Yellow Sheet Subscription Required).

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