State lawmakers moved this week to give themselves and other candidates the right to collect more money - a lot of it - from individuals and political action committees. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.
The measure approved by the House Judiciary Committee would boost the limits to $4,000 every year from any individual source, up from $440. Potentially more significant, it would allow any one person or PAC to wield huge influence by eliminating the existing $5,600 cap on contributions to all candidates in all races.
Representative J.D. Mesnard said this should help deal with the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which allows independent expenditure committees to collect and spend unlimited funds for campaigns beyond the control of the candidates. Mesnard said, "what good is the $30,000 or $40,000 I raise and $400 at a time if they give me that much, when one side is out there raising $400,000 and the other side is raising $400,000? I might as well sit back and watch and hope I come out on top."
But Sam Wercinski of the Arizona Advocacy Network said there's another side to the changes. "There is potential for corrupting influence with large sums of money, as said by the U.S. Supreme Court, can have - whether real or perceived - in our political system", Wercinski said.
And Todd Lang, director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission said it's not fair to let privately funded candidates collect more without similarly increasing what is provided for publicly funded candidates.