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Fillmore files complaint against GOP “victory” committee

John Fillmore

Rep. John Fillmore, a Republican who is facing Sen. Rich Crandall in a GOP Senate primary in District 16, accused an independent campaign committee of violating campaign notification laws.

Fillmore on Aug. 13 said the Republican Victory Fund failed to notify him about two mailers that advocated for his defeat. One of the mailers accused him of being “soft on drugs.”

Read Fillmore’s complaint and see the mailers

But the committee’s chairwoman said her group complied with the law and mailed the notification letters to Fillmore.

“I would suggest that Mr. Fillmore check his mailbox or do whatever he needs to do so that his mail is deliverable,” said Camilla Strongin, who heads the Republican Victory Fund.

The committee has provided the Secretary of State’s Office with a copy of the letters it sent to Fillmore as well as copies of the U.S. Postal Service receipts for the mailers.

“It’s our expectation that this will close the case,” said Mike Liburdi, the group’s attorney.

In his letter to the secretary of state, Fillmore said he wants the election office to investigate whether the independent group violated A.R.S 16-917.

The law requires independent expenditure groups to send a copy of any literature or ad it produces to each candidate who is mentioned in it within 24 hours after mailing it or submitting it for broadcast or publication.

The committee, which is sitting atop a healthy war chest, seeks to extend Republicans’ dominance in the Legislature. Some Republicans have complained about its decision to pick sides in a GOP primary.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said the election office will look into the complaint and no determination has yet been reached about what to do with it.

Fillmore told the ~Arizona Capitol Times~ he received a notification about one of the committee’s mailers, but not for two others.

One of the mailers accused Fillmore of being a “liberal.”

The other mail piece said Fillmore’s record is a “threat to the safety of our schools, our communities and our children.”

Fillmore described the campaign literature as “mean-spirited.”

It referred to Fillmore’s HB2228, which he introduced in 2011. The bill sought to make it a petty offense, with a fine not to exceed $100, for possessing marijuana that is two ounces or less and that is not for sale.

The mailer accused Fillmore of being “soft on drugs,” adding that he is “actively trying to legalize marijuana.”

It described his voting record as “shameful.”

It also dug up his co-sponsorship of a bill to bar local governments from taxing medical marijuana by more than 10 percent.

The mailer said while law enforcement is fighting to make Arizona streets safe, Fillmore is “fighting to legalize dangerous gateway drugs.”

The mailer also used a provocative headline: “What has John Fillmore been smoking?’’ Underneath is a photo of a rolled-up weed.

Fillmore said the mailer is blatantly “twisting the truth.” He said he wanted to de-felonize the use of a small amount of marijuana and that he feels the current law is being unfairly used against middle-class kids.

“I just said, ‘Why are we ruining kids’ whole lives over this with a felony,” he said, adding the bill wasn’t meant to fully legalize the use of marijuana.

As for the medical marijuana bill, Fillmore replied, “I don’t favor raising taxes on anything arbitrarily.”

Strongin said the mailers seek to clarify Fillmore’s record since he describes himself as more conservative than his opponent.

“I think most conservative voters would not be in agreement with him basically painting the picture of an ultraconservative or being more conservative than Mr. Crandall when he’s supported things that are not considered conservative issues,” Strongin said.

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