The top two Arizona candidates for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination are sparring over dueling campaign finance complaints.
The Arizona Republic published on Monday responses recently issued by Wil Cardon and Jeff Flake to the Federal Elections Commission about campaign funding allegations. Representatives for both men have called their respective complaints frivolous and have used the accusations to attack their opponents.
The two men are running for the seat held by Sen. Jon Kyl, who is retiring at the end of his term.
Records show their political back-and-forth began in Jan. 18, when a man with a business grievance against Cardon’s father requested an investigation into whether Cardon, an investor, was illegally using corporate money for campaign funds. David Smith, a Mesa plumbing contractor, filed a complaint about a $2.6 million loan taken out on Cardon’s Mesa home. Public records show the home is owned by three companies which Cardon oversees. Smith previously claimed Cardon’s father owed him $74,000 when the elder Cardon’s business, Cardon Homes Corp., went bankrupt in 1989. Smith also had once given $50 to Flake’s campaign.
Attorneys for Cardon said in a letter to the FEC that Smith is a disgruntled ex-business associate. There is no evidence connecting what they say is an unrelated business loan with Cardon’s personal loans to his campaign.
A month after Smith’s filing, Phoenix attorney Richard McDaniel filed a complaint about whether Flake failed to properly report bundled contributions from a political action committee. McDaniel alleged there were discrepancies between Flake’s original fundraising report last year and an amended version.
Flake’s attorneys said there were some data-entry errors that had to be fixed in the updated report. They said correcting mistakes does not constitute a campaign finance violation, according to a letter dated April 25 to the FEC.
It is unclear if the FEC will reach any conclusions about either complaint before the Aug. 28 primary race.
John J. “Jack” Pitney Jr., a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California, said the FEC complaints will likely have much impact on voters.
“Most people don’t understand campaign-finance law, whose complexity rivals that of particle physics or medieval theology,” Pitney said. “When a corporation can give unlimited sums to a super PAC that can spend unlimited sums, these other distinctions seem relatively minor.”
Both men have accused the other of exploiting the complaints for support.
“Wil Cardon needs to respond with evidence, not rhetoric,” Andrew Wilder, Flakes’ campaign communications director, said to the Arizona Republic. “He has repeatedly failed to be candid with voters about the way he’s funding his campaign, so they’re not going to simply trust his word he did nothing wrong.”
Alyssa Pivirotto, Cardon’s communications director, said the Flake camp has been promoting a “pack of lies” about Cardon’s election financing.
“Not only does this bogus charge get its alleged facts completely wrong, but it defames Wil and his family by accusing them of things they never did,” Pivirotto told the Arizona Republic.