Commission adopts new rule to audit all participating candidates.
The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) Thursday gave final approval to a regulation heightening transparency in the Clean Elections Funding program by ensuring audits of every participating candidate. Until today, audits were conducted randomly. Twenty-nine candidates were audited in 2016. The new regulation is part of the Commission’s ongoing effort to review and improve its regulations.
“Clean Elections Funding breaks the link between dollars and political favors, giving people from all over the state the chance to run or participate in political campaigns,” said Chairman Steve Titla. “This rule demonstrates that with this opportunity comes additional responsibility.”
Titla, a Globe attorney and enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, said that the Commission also proposed regulations to simplify the process of winding up Clean Candidate campaigns.
The transparency of the Clean Elections program is particularly important, as traditionally funded candidates and independent spenders face no additional auditing of their campaign finance reports, said Tom Collins, Executive Director.
“No other candidates spend as much time with voters, nor face as much public scrutiny as Clean Candidates,” Collins, also an attorney, said. “Voters can have confidence that should these candidates attempt to avoid their responsibilities to, they’ll be caught. They will be held to a higher standard than traditionally funded candidates who aren’t as closely monitored.”
Candidates who participate in the Clean Elections funding program forgo special interest contributions in favor of smaller donations, principally from Arizona voters who reside in their district or the state.
The Clean Elections Fund, a dedicated funding source created by voters, is supported by surcharges on criminal fines and fees. No money for Clean Elections comes from the general fund, which pays for schools and other state needs.
“The voters recognize that the Clean Elections System requires dedicated funding and that is why they created the fund,” Titla said.
The Clean Elections System is a comprehensive voter-centered program that involves Clean Elections funding, independent campaign finance law enforcement, and voter education. The program is administered by a five-member board consisting of two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent, appointed by Governor Doug Ducey and elected Democratic leaders.