Unable to get Jan Brewer’s endorsement for himself, Doug Ducey is now angling to deter the governor from spending her own political funds to help elect Scott Smith.
Ducey press aide Melissa DeLaney said it is clear that Smith and his allies provided the governor with inside information, including polling, on how he can win the Republican gubernatorial primary.
She said that makes Brewer privy to campaign strategy.
And she noted that Brewer flew with Smith to Yuma earlier this week to campaign for him.
But DeLaney, citing a Capitol Media Services interview with Brewer, said the governor intends to spend money from Arizona’s Legacy, her political action committee, to help elect Smith. What all that means, she charged, is anything she does would not be truly independent of the Smith campaign as required by law.
“It doesn’t pass the smell test,” DeLaney said.
“Oh, please,” Brewer responded when told of DeLaney’s comments. And she said if Ducey believes that sharing information equates to illegal coordination, he might want to recall the two meetings she had with him where he sought her political blessing.
“They always give you their strategy, of course, because they want you to know that if you do it, you’ve got a winner,” the governor said.
“We’re fully aware of all the legal requirements and we’re abiding with them,” Brewer said of her PAC, calling the bid by Ducey to block any spending on Smith’s behalf “sour grapes.”
To date, Brewer has not dipped into the Arizona’s Legacy account for Smith, though she has spent money on mailers and advertising on behalf of some GOP legislative incumbents fighting off primary challengers. But the governor told Capitol Media Services she intends to use some of the $600,000 she has available with more coming in – “to make sure that’s he’s elected the next governor of the great state of Arizona.”
DeLaney is doing a bit of sword rattling to keep that from happening, saying Brewer could find herself having to respond to a complaint, filed by the Ducey campaign, about violating campaign finance laws.
“Obviously, we wouldn’t be raising these questions right now if we didn’t have that option on the table, if and when that does happen,” she said.
The governor is free to contribute to Smith’s campaign but only up to a $4,000 individual limit.
Arizona law allows her political action committee to spend as much as she wants to get Smith
elected as long as that effort is independent of the person she is trying to help.
And state law says an expenditure is not independent if it is “based on information about the candidate’s plans, projects or needs” if it was provided by the candidate or any agents, officers or employees of the candidate “with a view toward having the expenditure made.”
DeLaney said allies of the governor, as her “agents,” met with her to get her endorsement, “talking about polling information, talking about where they needed her help.”
“That gave her information about that campaign and that candidate’s plans moving forward,” she said. “And that she would have knowledge of that.”
Smith supporters, in lobbying Brewer for an endorsement, made the argument that a specific poll shows that he could win.
Sen. Bob Worsley, RMesa, said some of the polls that had been out there until that point had been Ducey “push polls,” designed to solicit a specific response and heavily weighted with conservative respondents. By contrast, he said, Brewer was told to believe the poll by Magellan Strategies with what he said was a more balanced sample, one showing Smith just two points behind even though he was being outspent.
The results of that poll, however, were hardly a secret or even internal to the Smith campaign: It was conducted for the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association.
But sharing polling data, even from external sources, could get the attention of those who enforce election law. That was one factor cited by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk who is pursuing civil charges against Attorney General Tom Horne for coordinating his 2010 campaign with what was supposed to be an independent committee.
DeLaney would not rule out Brewer spending money on Ducey’s behalf if he gets the nomination.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said.