Amid all of the anti-voter legislation being considered by the Legislature this session, one measure – a full-scale assault on Clean Elections and accountable government – has garnered surprisingly little attention. HCR 2007, sponsored by Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, and spearheaded by lobbyists for the Free Enterprise Club, has already cleared the House and is set for Senate consideration. HCR 2007 is a misleading proposal designed to confuse voters and undermine Arizona’s popular anti-corruption law to the benefit of wealthy special interests.
Like Senate President Steve Yarbrough’s redistricting measure (SCR 1034), HCR 2007 is being presented as something other than what it truly is. Despite the false claims of proponents, HCR 2007 eliminates the Clean Elections Commission’s independent, nonpartisan authority to administer and enforce the law, and instead gives final say over Clean Elections rules to the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC), a hyper-partisan body stacked with corporate elites and professional political operatives, including Free Enterprise Club founder Steve Voeller.
If HCR 2007 passes, Voeller, whose organization has been trying to dismantle Clean Elections since its inception, will be a critical figure in deciding how the program operates. That would be a dramatic step backward from the nonpartisan Clean Elections Commission we have now and will all but ensure the scales are tipped in favor of special interests.
Equally misleading, the measure would nearly double the amount of money individuals can donate to clean candidates, while essentially capping the value of no-strings-attached money candidates can receive through the clean funding program. The bill’s supporters accomplish this by radically altering the formula for setting the spending and contribution limits applicable to clean candidates, changing the statutory formula from routine inflation adjustments to a flat $100 increase each election cycle. This provision has received little attention in the House because it has been misleadingly deemed just a “technical” change. In truth, the provision will over time serve to empower wealthy donors and well-connected politicians at the expense of everyday voters and candidates.
As cover for this quiet gutting of Clean Elections, proponents are pushing a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory designed to gin up partisan passions. Like the Clean Elections Commission, Arizona Advocacy Network is nonpartisan and seeks only to protect the Clean Elections system that has served voters so well for 20 years. We are not in the business of promoting any political party’s interests. That is why we oppose HCR 2007.
If there’s one thing virtually all voters agree on, it’s that money has too much influence on our politics while people’s voices have too little. HCR 2007 is just another step toward empowering the wealthiest interests to control our state. As it heads to the Senate, legislators should stop and think about whether they want to side with the voters, or join a stealth assault on this popular anti-corruption program.
— Joel Edman is executive director of Arizona Advocacy Network.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.