Today’s video is about Clean Elections and about saving Democracy. It also addresses the drama over voting rights legislation in the US Congress. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, you were in the Arizona Legislature. You know how radical Arizona Republicans are. PLEASE save our state from voter suppression and a flood of dirty money trying to buy our elections.
The voters of Arizona created the Citizens Clean Elections Commission in 1998 as a reaction to corruption and bribery scandals in the Arizona Legislature in the early 1990s. I moved to Arizona 40 years ago and remember the AZScam scandal very well. Clean Elections funding was meant to be a system where candidates with good ideas (but no connections to rich people) could successfully run for office. It was a good system that was used by Republicans and Democrats.
Every year that I have served in the Legislature, the Republicans — particularly Rep. Leo Biasiucci from Mohave County — have proposed and passed bills to diminish clean money in elections. Prop 306 in 2018 hurt clean elections greatly. There has been a dramatic reduction in candidates running clean since that passed.
As in 2019, Rep. Leo Biasiucci from LD5 in Mohave County is carrying the anti-Clean Elections torch. Two years in a row, he proposed a bill to limit the independent watchdog function of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) by putting it under the Governor’s Regulatory Review Commission (GRRC), a political entity packed with Governor Ducey’s appointees. That bill narrowly lost in 2019 and is back again as HB2054 in 2020. It was debated in Committee of the Whole (COW) on Feb12 and will come up for a vote soon.
Biasiucci’s a second bad bill (HB2055), according to Legislative staff, would eliminate 80% of Clean Elections funding.
Why does Biasiucci hate Clean Elections? Why do Ugenti-Rita and Townsend attack voting rights… annually? Because they fear another Blue Wave in 2020. Republicans want to put roadblocks up against any Democratic paths to victory rather than compete on a level playing field of ideas.
Biasiucci is a freshman. He replaced one-term freshman Republican Rep. Paul “Lead Foot” Moseley in 2018. Biasiucci knows that his next opponent– whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat– who would likely run clean against him. In 2020, 35 Legislative candidates are running clean– 17 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and one Independent. Of those 35, only the five most Progressive Democrats run clean as incumbents: Senators Juan Mendez and Andrea Dalessandro and Reps. Athena Salmon, Isela Blanc, and me. The Legislature is fueled by big-money politics and dirty money donations; the idea that anyone would dare to buck the the dirty money system is an anathema.
You’ll remember that in 2019 as a freshman, Biasiucci proposed several bills requiring driving school because, of course, his family owns a driving school. He’s not the only one of the Republicans who proposed bills that would directly benefit their businesses.￼￼ (David Gordon of Blog for Arizona wrote about this.) He also fought to add a driving school requirement to teach people not to text and drive.
Every year when the Republicans attack Clean Elections, it’s my job to stand up and remind everybody that the citizens created the Clean Elections Commission with a Citizens Initiative. It was a direct response to corruption in the Arizona Legislature in the 1990s.￼ The Maricopa County attorney’s office did a sting operation called AZSCAM. It made national news when several Arizona legislators (from both sides of the aisle) were charged with bribery and money laundering. Then Speaker of the House Jane Hull removed them from their seats and their chairmanships. Some of them were charged.￼ The Legislature passed campaign finance reforms back then, and the voters created the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. The process to run as a clean candidate, CCEC’s voter education efforts, and the CCEC’s independent campaign finance watchdog functions were created in direct response to corruption in the Legislature. During the Tea Party Reign of Terror, some of those reforms were eliminated, campaign donations were dramatically increased, and Clean Elections was weakened repeatedly.
I’m sick of the Republican Party’s nationwide strategy of “if you can’t win, cheat” with voter suppression, gerrymandering, dirty money, and zero transparency.
Besides ignoring the will of the voters, the Republican Party is marching backwards and trying to drag the rest of us with them. Do you want our elections to be controlled by money or voters? Please voice your opinion on these bills on the Request to Speak System (RTS).
Protect Your Voting Rights by Backing the Fair Elections Act on Nov 3
If you want to protect your voting rights, make it easier to register to vote, and update Clean Elections, please support the Fair Elections Act, sponsored by the Arizona Advocacy Network. This Citizens Initiative will be on the 2020 ballot; signatures are being collected now.
The very last bill of the 53rd Session was a blatant attack on the Citizens Clean Elections Commission by the Republican majority.
The bill attacking a system that was created by the voters was rammed through after midnight. They want to protect big-money-based elections. Speaker Mesnard said this bill was necessary because Clean Elections needs “more oversight”, so what better place to put CLEAN Elections than under the control of Gov. Ditry-Money Ducey.
Clean Elections are governed by the Clean Elections Commission (as outlined in the law passed by the voters). What the Republicans aren’t telling you is that they really don’t like Clean Elections’ watchdog function over everybody’s campaign finance reporting, including the Republicans who run on dirty money.
Arizona needs a stronger campaign finance watchdog function not a weaker one. The GOP also is specifically targeting Progressive Clean Elections candidates with this bill because it says Clean candidates can’t make any payments to political parties— even to buy services like the VAN database.
Luckily, since Clean Elections was created through Citizens Initiative, any change that is not in the spirit of the original bill as passed by the voters must go back to the voters for approval. As the 2018 election approaches, expect heavy spin from the Republicans regarding Clean Elections because they have a vested interested in keeping the dirty money status quo. Watch the video after the jump.