At its July 23 meeting, the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) heard opposition from the business community on a proposal that aims to gain more transparency from “dark money” groups. However, the proposal in its current form puts the burden on businesses to prove they are not subject to regulation by the CCEC, rather than the other way away around.
As written, the proposal would designate any group that spends or raises at least $500 to influence an election a political committee, which would trigger requirements that it discloses its contributors. As the law stands, an organization must raise at least $500 to influence an election, AND it must be created, combined or conducted with the primary purpose of doing so. A key part of opposition is the lack of clarity of the “primary purpose” rule, which should make the guidelines a two-part test. But many feel it’s become a one-part test which forces honest businesses to justify their primary purpose before the commission for exercising their constitutional free speech rights in elections.
Even more concerning is that the proposed rule would put the onus on businesses to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that they have not violated the rules. This is in stark contrast to normal jurisprudence procedures.
Along with the business community, the proposal has drawn criticism from Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, who said the commission’s proposal usurps her authority as the state’s top elections officer and corporations are at risk of having “a multiple court system” of investigating campaign finance violations.
You can read our joint letter of opposition with numerous other business groups here. The next CCEC meeting will be on August 20, where the commission will be voting on a revised version the proposal. We encourage you to participate and voice your opposition.