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Quelland’s bills against Clean Elections went nowhere

A package of bills sponsored by Rep. Doug Quelland reads like a list of grievances against the Clean Elections system he’s fought for the past two years.

Quelland sponsored only six bills in the 2010 legislative session, five of which were intended to expand the rights of candidates accused of violating Clean Elections laws.

All five of the bills failed to receive a committee hearing, but they left little doubt about the Phoenix Republican’s feelings about the Clean Elections system that once helped him get elected and later called for his removal from office.

Three of Quelland’s bills – H2588, H2590 and H2592 – would have created new laws to require the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to disclose all evidence prior to a hearing in which a candidate is accused of wrongdoing. The commission would have been required to inform all accused candidates of their rights to discovery and disclosure of evidence, and the commission would have had to comply with requests for disclosure within one day.

H2589 would have required the commission to award attorney’s fees to defendants if false claims or evidence are presented against them. Another, H2591, would have prohibited the Arizona Attorney General’s Office from representing the commission in its enforcement actions against candidates.

Quelland and his attorney, Tim Casey, did not return several calls seeking comment.

Clean Elections Commission Director Todd Lang said Quelland’s bills would have turned the commission’s existing policies into laws. He said candidates accused of Clean Elections infractions can request any evidence they want. But Quelland didn’t attend the hearing where the commission voted to expel him from office, and Lang said he didn’t request any evidence until late in the process.

Clean Elections rules don’t explicitly grant any rights to disclosure or discovery of evidence because enforcement is handled through administrative hearings, not the judicial system, Lang said. But candidates can request evidence, and in most cases the commission will grant it, he said.

“As best I can tell, it was just part of his overall political strategy regarding the whole enforcement matter,” Lang said.

Lang said the commission requested copies of checks he wrote to consultant Larry Davis, and Quelland denied that the checks existed. The commission ultimately found the checks, but did not disclose them until his appeal hearing, at which point Quelland said the payments were for business consulting, not campaign consulting.

Quelland made requests for evidence, Lang said, but not until after the commission voted to remove him from office. He said Quelland’s requests for the commission to seize Davis’ computers didn’t come until his trial before the administrative law judge had already begun.

“He never asked us to start seizing computers and the like until after he lost,” Lang said. “Any reasonable request would’ve been granted.”

Rep. Cecil Ash, who co-sponsored all five of Quelland’s bills, said he isn’t familiar with Clean Elections rules that Quelland’s bills purportedly sought to change, and has intentionally not followed the case. But the Mesa Republican said the issues Quelland was addressing should be open for discussion.

“I thought each of those issues is worthy of discussion. Sometimes you don’t know what the issues are until somebody gets into it, and you start hearing both sides of an issue,” Ash said.

The commission ordered Quelland’s removal from office after finding that he paid a consultant $15,000, in violation of Clean Elections rules. An administrative law judge later upheld the commission’s decision.

Quelland has remained in office as he continues to appeal his ouster. A Superior Court judge denied Quelland’s request for a new trial in his case, though he can appeal the decision.

In the meantime, Quelland is seeking re-election to a District 10 House seat. And he’s running as a Clean Elections candidate.

3 comments

  1. Those people that want to run with clean elections funds should have a statement on the $5.00 request form that, (1) How many $5.00 bills they need to get on the ballot. (2) That they understand what the rules are to use this process. (3) Sign this statement with their signature.

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