Were it not for the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act, Diane Douglas would not be Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The crazy cat lady now in charge of the Arizona Department of Education would still be a wall-eyed instructor at Glendale's Stained Glass Shop if she hadn't scored $97,620 of free Clean Elections money in the 2014 GOP primary and $146,430 in the general election.
That's just under a quarter of a million bucks total, if you're keeping score at home.
An anti-Common Core conspiracy theorist with the communication skills of a possum, Douglas was a hapless candidate and has proved, so far, to be an equally hapless ADE honcho: running away from reporters, "firing" people she can't fire, removing the press' microphones from a public meeting, and generally proving with every step that she's out of her depth.
True, in the primary she had more than a little help from Sand Land's crybaby ex-Superintendent John Huppenthal and his public meltdown over his sociopathic online sockpuppetry.
Huppenthal ran "clean," too, by the way. When he inevitably lost in the GOP primary, everyone thought Democrat David Garcia would be a shoo-in for the superintendent post come the general election.
Garcia was well-spoken and much better educated than Douglas -- and actually was qualified for the gig. He ran traditionally, heavily outraising and outspending his opponent..
Sure, turnout was down among Dems, and wingnuts were energized to vote in 2014.
But when Douglas won by little more than 16,000 votes statewide, it was a major upset.The political establishment, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, and many Rs had supported Garcia, despite his affiliation with the party of Obama.
There is no way Douglas, who literally hid out for much of the campaign, could have, on her own, raised the kind of cash Clean Elections offered, cash that allowed her to run a statewide effort, albeit on the cheap when compared to Garcia.
Douglas' campaign-finance report is almost comical, with Douglas expensing her meager meals at Burger King, Chipotle, and Chick-fil-A, for cryin' out loud.
This woman practically was existing on the public's dime during the campaign, picking at her chicken sandwich in her ill-fitting coat, looking forever like the creepy aunt you avoid at family reunions, with that weird, pasted-on smile of hers and a mess of hair that looked like she'd cut it herself.
Douglas is not the only reason I support an effort by Republican state Senator Steve Pierce to put a referendum on the ballot to abolish Clean Elections and give the $9 million in its budget to public education.
I've never liked Clean Elections. I know that a lot of progressives fervently believe in public funding for political candidates, and I guess I might be for it too, if you could somehow make it mandatory and comprehensive.
But we can't. It's optional, and would not be constitutional otherwise. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down the part of Clean Elections that gave matching moolah to a clean candidate, if a competing candidate running traditional outraised him or her.
Has Clean Elections helped some good candidates? Sure.
But in far too many cases, it has helped really, really bad candidates: pathetic bottom-feeders, right-wing rascals and foolhardy fanatics who have no place in public life.
To this point, in 2014, disbarred former county attorney Andrew Thomas received $754,000 in Clean Elections funding to run for governor in the GOP primary. He came in fifth.
Can any liberal tell me with a straight face that money couldn't be put to better use?
Ditto the same amount of Clean Elections cash former Secretary of State Ken Bennett pulled in, by the way.
Though Bennett is a GOP moderate by Arizona standards, and rather likeable, why should the public pick up the tab for his fourth-place primary run for guv?
Teabbagger legislator Kelly Townsend used Clean Elections cash to get re-elected in 2014. She's part of a long line of reactionaries who have used Clean Elections scrilla over the years to achieve public office. These include: former state Representative Carl Seel, ex-state Senator Al Melvin, state Senator Steve Smith, Governor Jan Brewer, former state Senator Russell Pearce, and on and on.
Regarding the legislators in this group of hypocrite gub'mint haters, they often use the free cheese for just one or two cycles. Once established, they can raise money on their own, as lobbyists will tend to the needs of the most insane ideologues, as long as said ideologue can move a bill.
I'm not saying that the effect of Clean Elections has been all negative. When the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission went after former Attorney General Tom Horne, I applauded, though later I was disappointed when the ACCEC let his egregious violations go with a $10,000 slap-on-the-wrist fine.
Perhaps if we lived in a more civilized part of the world, Clean Elections wouldn't trouble me so.
But when I see nefarious ill-doers such as slimy political consultant Constantine Querard playing Clean Elections like a fiddle, and fascist fruit loops like Candy Andy reeling in three-quarters of a million simoleons in free loot, the whole enterprise strikes me as obscene.
So I'm all for Senator Pierce's bill, which now goes to the state House.
If the House approves, then it's up to the voters in 2016.
If voters still want to keep the boondoggle after all this, well, I reckon that's the triumph of dim-ocracy, at its dimmest.
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