Proposition 306 – Relating to the Citizens’ Clean Elections Commission – Legislative Referral

What is the ballot measure? Proposition 306 would amend the Clean Elections Act (passed by the voters in 1998) in two main ways: 1) It would prohibit candidates participating in the Clean Elections program from making payments to a political party or non-profits that work to influence an election for services of any kind; and 2) it would eliminate the Clean Elections Commission’s independence in rulemaking, instead subjecting their rules to review by the Governor's Regulatory Review Council (GRRC).


Background:As part of the Clean Elections Act, voters created the Citizens’ Clean Elections Commission. The Commission is responsible for auditing campaign finance reports, enforcing campaign finance laws, providing public campaign funding to qualifying candidates, and providing all of Arizona’s voters with information, tools, and resources to vote informed. As designed in 1998, the Commission is independent of the executive branch, and its rules are not subject to the standard agency review process by the GRRC.

GRRC is a board with members appointed and removable by the Governor. For several years, GRRC has been requesting the Commission to repeal various rules about “independent expenditures” (campaign spending by groups other than candidates) and reporting required of privately-funded candidates.

The Commission has not complied with these requests because it maintains that their rules are lawful and GRRC does not have the authority to overrule them. Furthermore, in 2017, the Commission adopted new rules restricting payments by candidates to political parties and non- profits, and requiring more transparency of those payments.


Provisions:

  • Would prohibit candidates participating in the Clean Elections program from making any payment to a political party or any non-profit allowed to conduct election activity, regardless of whether they follow the rules related to such payments as determined by the Commission in 2017;
  • Would make the Clean Elections Commission subject to the Administrative Procedures Act, including requiring the GRRC’s final approval or disapproval of all Commission rules.

Impact:

If Prop 306 passes, GRRC would have final say on Commission rules for enforcing campaign finance laws. Furthermore, this would bar Clean Elections candidates from purchasing services from political parties such as trainings, help with crafting campaign literature, support with canvassing, and identifying who are registered voters.


Arguments For:

  • Prop 306 will rein in the Clean Elections Commission, a body of unelected bureaucrats that needs more transparency.
  • Clean Elections candidates are funded by taxpayer dollars and should not be able to give taxpayer dollars to a political party.
  • The Clean Elections Commission should be subject to the Administrative Procedures Act just like most other agencies in the state.

Arguments Against:

  • Voters have a right to know who is spending money in Arizona elections. When voters created Clean Elections in 1998, Arizona became a national leader in fighting the corrupting influence of money in politics. We, the voters, created the Clean Elections Commission to be a nonpartisan watchdog, safeguarding Arizona’s democracy from those corrupting interests who try to buy our elections.
  • Prop 306 is an attack on Clean Elections and is promoted by greedy special interests, corporate lobbyists, and the politicians they buy with “dark money” political spending. If Prop 306 passes, dark money-backed politicians will win, and Arizonans will once again be left in the dark.
  • Prop 306 would further discourage candidates from participating in Clean Elections by severely limiting their options in how they choose to run their campaigns. Privately funded candidates would not face these same limitations.
  • All but one of the GRRC members is a current or former lobbyist. Prop 306 would put politicians and a board of lobbyists hand-picked by the Governor in charge of Clean Elections, which could then also impact on the Commission's ability to conduct non-partisan voter education and outreach.

Supporters:

  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Arizona Free Enterprise Club

Arguments Against:

  • OArizona Advocacy Network
  • League of Conservation Voters - CHISPA AZ
  • League of Women Voters of Arizona
  • Our Voice Our Vote Arizona
  • Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter