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Arizona won’t ask for matching funds clarification

A state commission said Monday it will not ask a federal judge to clarify her ruling invalidating a key portion of Arizona’s public campaign finance system — a setback for Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who is being outspent by a wealthy opponent.

The decision Monday follows a U.S. Supreme Court order last week preventing the state from distributing so-called matching funds until the court decides whether the payments are constitutional.

Matching funds go to publicly funded candidates who are outspent by their privately funded opponents or targeted by independent expenditures.

Brewer had hoped for $1.4 million in matching funds to offset spending by Republican rival Buz Mills, a businessman who already has spent more than three times the $707,000 Brewer gets as a publicly funded candidate. Arizona’s GOP primary is Aug. 24.

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission had considered asking a federal judge in Arizona to clarify her January ruling that matching funds are unconstitutional. It remains unclear whether U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver’s ruling allows the use of an emergency provision that would permit publicly funded candidates to raise private money if they’re outspent.

But members of the commission said they were concerned going back to Silver might undermine their argument in the pending Supreme Court case.

“We don’t want to do any more harm than has already been done,” commissioner Gary Scaramazzo said.

An attorney representing Brewer, Lisa Hauser, chided the commissioners for their decision, saying they took the easy way out by failing to stand up for the best interests of publicly funded candidates.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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