Attorneys for the Arizona Democratic Party filed a complaint alleging that the state GOP, the Republican Governors Association and Gov. Jan Brewer’s campaign violated a host of campaign finance laws.
The complaint, filed Oct. 6 with the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, alleges the RGA and the Brewer campaign collaborated to earmark the national association’s money for the governor’s campaign, and that the RGA gave the Arizona Republican Party corporate money that cannot legally be used for political campaigns.
The Democratic Party is asking the commission and the Secretary of State’s Office to investigate the allegations.
“These parties have engaged in actions that grossly undermine Arizona’s Clean Elections requirements and skirt Arizona’s campaign finance laws,” attorney Kirstin Eidenbach, of the firm Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, wrote in the complaint.
Much of the complaint centers on www.standwithjan.com, a website operated by the RGA to solicit contributions. The site urges people to “stand with Arizona” by contributing to the RGA. It features a portrait of Brewer and has used the Rosie the Riveter-themed artwork that has been a prominent fixture in her campaign. The Brewer campaign’s Facebook page directs visitors to the site as well.
The Democratic Party’s attorneys allege that the website shows illegal collaboration between the RGA and the Brewer campaign. The party also accused the Arizona Republican Party of illegally taking corporate money from the RGA, which has raised millions from News Corp., Fox News’ parent corporation, and other companies.
The RGA put $1.2 million into its Arizona PAC in February. The same month, the PAC gave $25,000 to the Arizona Republican Party.
The complaint alleges that the RGA should have registered with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office as a political committee.
The Arizona GOP and the Brewer campaign called the complaint a desperate ploy to save a candidate who has no chance of winning. An Oct. 5 Rasmussen Reports poll shows Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Democratic nominee for governor, trailing Brewer by 16 points.
“It’s quite suspect that this is all done on the eve of early balloting. This is an act of desperation. It’s kind of pathetic, actually,” Brewer campaign spokesman Doug Cole said. Early voting begins Oct. 7.
Cole said there has been no collaboration between the campaign and the RGA. He said the Rosie the Riveter logo is available from numerous sources on the Internet, and said RGA doesn’t need the campaign’s permission to use it. He said the campaign’s Facebook page directed people to the RGA website to support an organization whose views it agreed with.
Arizona GOP Chairman Randy Pullen said the party and the RGA segregate corporate contributions from other money they receive to ensure they adhere to laws prohibiting corporate money from being used for political campaigns. He said the $25,000 wasn’t earmarked for Brewer, and said the only spending the party has done related to the governor’s race is hiring a part-time tracker to attend Goddard events and a mailer promoting the Republicans’ entire statewide slate.
“They keep that money segregated from the other money, just like we do,” Pullen said. “Their lawyers know it. Our lawyers know it.”
Neither Rhonda Barnes, an attorney with Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, nor the complaint offered any evidence that the RGA has put corporate money into Arizona, outside of the fact that the RGA has raised millions from corporate donors during the current campaign cycle. Barnes said she did not know how much non-corporate money the RGA has raised.
“We know that they’ve been raising … tens of millions of dollars in corporate money,” Barnes said. “I think it’s a fair inference. I really do. If they’ve got a lot of corporate money, then it’s entirely possible, and in fact likely, that some of this corporate money has come into the state.”
Click here to read the complaint.
Click here to see exhibits cited in the complaint.