Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lawmakers Take Step Toward Defunding Clean Elections

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Bethany Barnes of Arizona-Sonora News Service reports on a bill to transfer the funding for the state's Clean Elections program to Arizona schools:

An Arizona lawmaker is looking to send the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission back to the voters in a move that some say might be a bit dirty.

HCR2026, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, would ask voters if they would rather keep Clean Elections or give more money to education.

The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, said that the use of the word clean is deceptive. Boyer said that voters have had time to see Clean Elections in action (voters passed the Citizens Clean Elections Act in 1998) and decide if it lives up to its name.

Todd Lang, the executive director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, said that masking the attack with education funding is “brilliant” since education is always popular with voters. He, and others, questioned why not just ask the voters point blank if they want to keep Clean Elections.

Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, and Rep. Ethan Orr, R-Tucson, both expressed concerns about coupling Clean Elections with education.

“The voters did not vote Clean Elections versus education,” Goodale said. “I have absolutely no concerns about putting clean elections back to the voters, but I really have trouble when we have a voter initiative and we down here at the Legislature keep trying to go around that.”

Goodale said she thinks there is a perceived intent to create a contest between Clean Elections and education. She said that while she promised Boyer she would pass the bill out of committee she could not say the same for the floor.

Boyer said that he is always looking for creative ways to fund education and that this is just one of them.

Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, had another word for it: dirty trick.

Quezada said the resolution forces voters to choose between two good things. He doesn’t buy the argument that voters are confused by the word clean.

“People can get information at their fingertips about what Clean Elections is all about and I trust that they’ve done that and they understand what they are voting for regardless of what the title is,” Quezada said. “We could have called it the puppies and flowers amendment, but they would still understand if it’s good or bad.”

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