Major Parts of Arizona's 2016 Campaign Finance Law Ruled Unconstitutional
By Bob Christie
Major parts of a massive rewrite of Arizona’s campaign finance laws enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey in 2016 violate the state Constitution, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Parts of the law illegally strip power from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission created by voters in 1998, according to the ruling by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David J. Palmer. The power to investigate campaign finance violations and act as filing officer for candidates was handed to the secretary of state.
The rewrite also created large exemptions in what counts as a contribution, including allowing political parties to spend unlimited sums backing a candidate. That provision was broadly used in this year’s election by Republican and Democratic state parties. The Arizona Democratic Party, for instance, spent more than $2 million backing successful secretary of state candidate Katie Hobbs.
The law also allowed unlimited spending on legal fees, accounting and other types of support for candidates and political committees without being counted toward contribution limits.