By Monica Alonzo
By Ray Stern
By New Times Staff
By Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Robrt L. Pela
Then there's Doug "Q" Quelland. The Republican state representative used Clean Elections money to finance his campaigns in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008. But though he was more than happy to take hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds from the system, he wasn't quite so happy to follow its rules.
Candidates who choose to participate in the "Clean" system agree to certain spending limits. But, locked in a tight race in 2008, Quelland found a clever way around that: He hired a political consultant and paid him secretly through a business account. That allowed him to infuse an extra $15,000 into his campaign.
And that may well have made a difference. Quelland eked out a win with a tiny 553-vote plurality.
Confronted with this evidence, the Clean Elections Commission found that Quelland had committed campaign finance violations. They fined him $30,000 and ordered his removal from office.
That was May 2009. But without providing any good rebuttal to the allegations, Quelland has continued to fight. He filed an appeal of the decision, and then a lawsuit against the Clean Elections Commission and its chairman. He's managed to serve out all of his term so far; he's now trying to block the meeting where a replacement would be chosen to serve out the rest of his term.
In his suit, he accused the Clean Elections Commission of behaving "arbitrarily and capriciously."
But Quelland's dissatisfaction with Clean Elections doesn't extend far enough to opt out of the system.
He's running again in 2010. And once again, he's sticking with the system whose rules he refuses to honor and whose fine he refuses to pay.
Unbelievably, barring action from the commission, he'll once again be getting public funds for his campaign.
In the grand scheme of things, though, Brewer's hypocrisy may be the most galling. She agreed to run as a "Clean" candidate, knowing full well that matching funds might not survive their legal challenge — and knowing that she would not be permitted to raise money elsewhere.
Now, she wants a subsidy from the government and the right to raise private money, too.
Now, complaining bitterly that the rules have changed, she wants to change the rules.
The good news is, the Citizens Clean Commission didn't fall for it.
At its meeting last Wednesday, commissioners said they needed legal advice before they could proceed. And apparently they got it: At a hastily convened meeting Monday, commissioners met with their lawyer for nearly an hour behind closed doors before reconvening the public meeting and, one by one, saying that they didn't see a way to take action on the governor's request.
It was a rather brave decision, really. After all, Brewer had appointed two of the commission's five members. And all the members had expressed shock at the Supreme Court's decision to block funds.
Yet they were in agreement: It was their duty to accept the Supreme Court's directive. Their fight would wait for the appeal.
That, of course, will be too late for Brewer to get her funds. And Hauser was livid.
"You've walked away and turned your backs on participating candidates," she said. "It's disgraceful."
The commissioners tried to defend themselves. They said their ultimate goal was to get the block on matching funds overturned by the Supreme Court — if they act now to aid Brewer, who knows what kind of impact that would have on the Supreme Court?
"Nothing we do can be distracting from goal," said Commissioner Louis Hoffman. "Our position needs to be as consistent as possible. If that means the chips fall where they may, they fall where they may. We have to consider the effect on the litigation and the effect on our credibility . . . Our duty is not helping out 'our' candidates. Our duty is to have an effective system that works for everybody."
He's right. And whether or not you believe in Clean Elections, it's clear that the commission made the right choice by refusing to act.
Brewer's team knew the Supreme Court decision was coming — or, at the very least, they should have known it was coming. They took their chances. And it would have been the ultimate hypocrisy if the system that was designed to give power to the people instead ended up handing the governor's race to the incumbent.
The funniest thing about the events of the past week is that Brewer probably doesn't even need the money. Her challenger Mills has spent millions already and has nothing to show for it: no rise in the polls and little chance of winning. The more that comes out about Mills, from his lack of real plans to allegations he fleeced a business partner, the more Republicans are going to go running to Brewer. So what if she doesn't have money for TV or radio. She's the incumbent; if she plays this thing right, she could be on TV every single day.
And as much as Brewer's people complain that $707,000 is not enough to run a campaign, that's $707,000 just for the primary. Make it to the general election, as every indication says she will, and Brewer automatically gets another $1 million. Since when is $1.7 million an insult?
The sad answer is that $1.7 million is only a pittance when you think you can get $3 million. You can hardly blame Brewer's people for trying. But it was really, really good that the commission said no.
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