Judge Throws out Suit Against Clean Elections Commission

Mar 22, 2012

A state judge today threw out an effort by foes of public financing of elections to effectively gag members of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and its director.

The group, No Taxpayer Money for Politicians, is pushing a November ballot measure to constitutionally bar candidates from getting public dollars for their campaigns. If approved, the measure would effectively wipe out the Clean Elections Act approved by voters in 1998 which allows but does not require those running for statewide and legislative office to get funding if they do not take money from outside sources. The group sought to limit the commission's ability to spend money to promote Clean Elections. But Judge Mark Brain wrote there was no evidence the commission was trying to influence the upcoming election. Jonathan Paton who is leading the challenge said the judge got it wrong.

"By their activity, they're clearly advocating for the defeat of the ballot measure and support for their agency," said Paton. "And if Jan Brewer or Tom Horne or some other statewide elected official were to do the same thing with state money, there would be outrage among liberals."

The judge also rejected a request to limit the ability of the commission to consult with other groups that support public financing, writing -- quote -- The court is unaware of any other situation in which a person or entity has sought to preclude a government commission from communicating with the citizenry. That's not how government works. Paton has vowed to appeal.