The state’s election director says an organization that has so far put nearly $1.7 million into this year’s primary election likely is violating campaign finance laws. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.
Christina Estes-Werther said evidence reviewed by her office shows the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is required to disclose the source of the money it’s spending on statewide and legislative races. But, club attorney Mike Liburdi said despite all the spending on this year’s campaign, his client is exempt.
“This organization, which has existed for nine years, is not organized, and that’s the word used in the statute, is not organized for the primary purpose of influencing elections. It’s a social welfare advocacy educational association,” Liburdi said.
But, Estes-Werther said nothing she has seen justifies Liburdi’s claim that the spending on behalf of Justin Pierce, who wants to be secretary of state, and Doug Little and Tom Forese for corporation commission, is only incidental to the club’s purpose. Her findings have been referred to the attorney general’s office. But, given the court fight likely to follow, it’s unlikely voters will learn the true source of all that cash before next week’s primary — and maybe not even before the November general election.