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Moderate Republicans lodge complaints against political committee spending

CModerate Republicans who supported Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan in 2013 are facing heavy fire from one political committee making independent expenditures against them.

The problem, according to several of the Republicans who have filed complaints with the Secretary of State’s Office, is that the committee has broken a campaign law by not notifying the attacked candidates of the mailers within 24 hours of issuing the attacks.

Nor did the committee file the proper campaign finance trigger reports detailing their outside spending, as required by law.

Republican Rep. Heather Carter of Cave Creek, one of the committee’s main targets, joined with three other moderate Republicans in the committee’s crosshairs to lodge the formal complaints. Carter, Sen. Bob Worsley of Mesa, Rep. Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix and LD28 Republican candidate Mary Hamway, say the committee did not give them proper notification of independent spending against them in the district.

Going back to at least June, the four say, the committee did not properly notify them of campaign mailers, door hanger advertisements and robocalls urging their defeat.

“Making a clerical error is one thing, but to ignore the rule of law for a whole campaign, that’s something else,” Carter said.

The Taxpayers Action Committee is headed by former Maricopa County GOP chair Tom Husband and conservative activist Shane Wikfors.

Wikfors said several items in the complaint should be thrown out automatically, including one related to the mailer against Worsley.  Wikfors said that was a draft of a mailer that they never sent out, but posted to their website.

He said a few of the other complaints are “questionable, and I think we might be susceptible on one of those issues.” Wikfors wouldn’t say which complaint he believes may be valid.

The Secretary of State’s Office has given Husband and Wikfors until Aug. 11 to respond to the consolidated complaint. The fine for not giving candidates proper notice for attacks against them is up to three times the amount of the original cost of the advertisement.

But that’s not the only problem with the Arizona Taxpayer’s Action Committee spending.

The committee has also been placing signs reading “Heather Carter voted to raise your taxes” across Carter’s district.

It has put up signs against Worsley stating he voted for “ObamaCare, Common Core, Higher Taxes, Funding Abortions (and) Medical for Illegals.”

Other signs the committee has planted feature red arrows with the words “ObamacareRepublicans.com” pointing to signs of several Republican candidates the committee opposes.

The Arizona Taxpayer’s Action Committee has also sent out candidate comparison mailers in Carter’s district, and has conducted robocalls against several Republicans.

However, none of that spending was detailed in the required weekly trigger reports until the Arizona Capitol Times started asking questions about the committee’s lack of disclosure.

The trigger reports must be filed by any group that makes independent expenditures. Beginning in late June, the reports were due every Tuesday, and were required to include any IE spending done in the previous week. As the primary election nears, the deadline is more often, and groups doing independent expenditures in the elections are now required to file daily.

Wikfors said he didn’t realize that the committee had to file trigger reports detailing their spending, but is now trying to get up to date with its previous spending. He has since filed two trigger reports detailing some of that spending.

“There will be more to come,” Wikfors said.

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