Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission et al. v. Bennett

On Wednesday, July 17, 2013, the Center, representing Arizona Advocacy Network and State Representative Victoria Steele, joined with Osborne Maledon, representing Louis Hoffman, and Ballard Spahr, representing the Citizens' Clean Elections Commission, in filing a petition for special action with the Arizona Supreme Court seeking a ruling that HB2593 is unconstitutional.

 HB2593, passed by the Legislature in the 2013 Regular Session, increases the amount of money a privately funded candidate can accept from individuals, PACs and Super PACs sweeping aside the limits set by voters in the 1998 Citizens' Clean Elections Act. HB2593 would increase the amounts from approximately $500 to $5000 and up to $10,000 for super PACs. It also will remove additional limits voters created for PACs to reduce their influence in elections and over elected officials.. 

 The petition was filed in the Supreme Court because of the importance of the issue and need for quick resolution.  Until the matter is resolved it creates uncertainty for candidates and donors. Unfotunately on July 23, 2013, the Court declined to accept the case without prejudice, so the plaintiffs refiled in the case in the Superior Court.  On Wednesday September 11, 2013, Judge Mark Brain denied the plainitffs' request for a preliminary injunction, and in an analysis that relied upon "game theory" concluded that the plaintiffs' likelihood of success on the merits was "slim."  Judge Brain's order is available below. 

The plaintiffs sought expedited relief in the Court of Appeals and on October 15, 2013, the Court of Appeals accepted special action jurisdiction and granted the preliminary injunction with an opinion to follow. However in December 2013, the Arizona Supreme Court lifted that stay with an opinion to follow.  The opinion, issued on April 2, 2014, held that the most reasonable interpretation of the statute enacted by the voters was that the voters did not intend to fix limitations on campaign contributions for all candidates including nonparticipating candidates, but only intended to prescribe a formula to calculate campaign contribution limits for nonparticipating candidates for statewide and state legislative offices. Justice Bales dissented from the majority decision.   

 

 

 

Case Updates

Arizona Supreme Court lifts stay in Clean Elections Case

On December 17, 2013, the Supreme Court heard argument in the campaign contribution limits case and shortly thereafter lifted the injunction against the legislation that had increased the limits nine times their preexisting levels.  The Center had argued that voters had fixed the limits in the Clean Elections Act that they approved in 1998 and that, consequently, the legislature was not authorized to change those limits without complying with the Voter Protection Act.  Under the Voter Protection Act amendments to voter approved measures are only authorized if the amendment furthers the purposes of the measure and passes on a 3/4 vote. The Court apparently disagreed with that argument, although the order lifting the stay was without explanation for now.  An opinion will follow shortly. 

 

 

Court of Appeals Grants Preliminary Injunction

Immediately following oral argument on October 15, 2013, the Arizona Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction and granted a preliminary injunction in Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission et al. v. Bennett enjoining Secretary State Ken Bennett from enforcing or implementing House Bill 2593 pending further order of the Court. The Center, representing Arizona Advocacy Network and State Representative Victoria Steele, joined with Osborne Maledon, representing Louis Hoffman, and Ballard Spahr, representing the Citizens' Clean Elections Commission, in filing an action seeking a ruling that HB2593, which increases the amount of money a privately funded candidate can accept from individuals, PACs and Super PACs, is unconstitutional.