The opposition to the initiative to keep a 1-cent sales tax increase has produced copies of two checks and proof of an online payment transfer to show it complied with reporting requirements mandated by campaign finance laws.
The copies of the checks and proof of payment transfer were submitted to Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s office in response to a complaint filed by Quality Education and Jobs, the group behind the initiative.
Ann-Eve Pedersen, who is chairing the “yes” campaign, asked Bennett to investigate whether Treasurer Doug Ducey, who is leading the opposition, failed to notify the Secretary of State’s office within 24 hours of getting contributions of $10,000 or more.
The checks from the Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club showed they were issued to No New Taxes, No on Prop. 204 on Sept. 17.
Meanwhile, the committee received the payment transfer on Sept. 18.
The dates on the checks and the payment transfer showed that the contributions were reported immediately — in compliance with state laws.
The contributions, which totaled $550,000, were reported by the campaign as big-dollar contributions on Sept. 18.
Pedersen started raising questions after Ducey indicated in a media interview days before the contributions were reported that collecting funds won’t be a problem for the opposition campaign.
In his official reply, Michael Liburdi, the lawyer for the opposition, called Pedersen’s complaint against Ducey “naked speculation.”
“At worst, it was a meritless attempt to use your office and the resources of the State of Arizona to reap political advantage,” Liburdi said. He asked Bennett to dismiss Pedersen’s claims.
Supporters of the measure said they would comment later this morning.
Liburdi also submitted a letter from Hieu Tran, the treasurer for No New Taxes, No on Prop. 204, who said her committee had not received contributions totaling $10,000 or more as of Sept. 7.
Under campaign finance laws, committees that seek to defeat or pass ballot measures must submit a report within 24 hours of collecting contributions of $10,000 or more.
The “no” campaign’s reply included a letter from Michael Becker, the campaign’s political consultant, who said he received the $500,000 contribution from Americans for Responsible Leadership on Sept. 17 and handed it to Tran the next day.
The “no” campaign’s reply also included copies of other big-dollar checks and the notifications Tran subsequently made to the Secretary of State to report the contributions.
Pedersen’s complaint was based on a Sept. 7 Arizona Capitol Times article, which quoted Ducey as saying raising money to help defeat the 1-cent initiative won’t be a problem.
“We are at a six-figure level out of the gate, and we intend to get to a seven-figure level. And we intend to defeat Proposition 204 and raise what is necessary so that we can properly reform K-12 education and simplify our tax code without hurting our economy,” Ducey had said.
Ducey made the comment in response to a question about how much in “pledges” the opposition campaign had received.
Liburdi reiterated this point in his reply to Bennett, saying Ducey sought open-ended pledges of financial support, and he wasn’t referring to contributions that the opposition already received during the media interview.