Commence Operation Shut Those Citizens Down.
A trio of dark money groups are hard at work to ensure that Arizona voters never, ever, ever – not EVER – get to know who is pulling the strings in Arizona’s elections.
The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America together with the Arizona Free Enterprise Club – the front group for a 2014 dark money campaign believed to have allowed Arizona Public Service secretly choose its own regulators — are asking a judge to toss the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative off the November ballot.
The one signed by nearly 300,000 Arizonans.
“Changing the Arizona Constitution is a serious matter and we should at least ensure that the signatures provided are legitimate and comply with the common-sense legal standards that apply to all voter-led efforts,” Andrew Clark, state director of Americans for Prosperity, told me.
We should ensure that the signatures are legitimate. But doesn’t that require actually looking at them?
The dark money groups contend the initiative campaign did not get the required 225,963 valid signatures needed to put the issue on the November ballot. But they contend the judge doesn’t need to examine any of the signatures.
Instead, they’re relying on yet another one of the laws our leaders have passed in recent years to make it as difficult as possible for Arizonans to exercise their constitutional right to make laws at the ballot box.
Attorney Kory Langhofer on Monday told a judge that state law requires her to automatically disqualify every single signature obtained by a circulator if that petition circulator is subpoenaed and doesn’t show up in court.
Never mind, if the circulator was qualified despite the no-show. Never mind if the voters who signed his or her petitions expected their signatures – and their rights — to count.
Capital Media Services’ Howard Fischer reports that the dark money groups subpoenaed more than a dozen mostly out-of-state circulators to Monday’s hearing – people they contend were not qualified either because they failed to properly register with the Secretary of State or, in three cases, were convicted felons. None of them showed up.
Thus, Langhofer says, the judge has no choice but to invalidate every one of the signatures they collected and to throw out the proposed constitutional amendment to require that major donors to campaigns be identified.
No need, apparently, for a judge to actually look at he evidence to determine whether each petition circulator was qualified or whether the people who signed their petitions were voters.
No need, apparently, for a judge at all.
A monkey would do.
It’ll be up to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanders to decide whether the automatic disqualification law is constitutional or yet another barrier put up by Gov. Doug Ducey and the Legislature to infringe on our right to make laws via initiative.
That 2014 law also is being used by Arizona Public Service to try to block the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative from getting into voters’ hands. The utility’s campaign group has subpoenaed an astonishing 1,600 circulators to testify, hoping the no-show law will result in massive numbers of petitions being tossed into the trash unexamined.
Whatever it takes to avoid a public vote.
Apparently, we mere voters can’t be trusted by APS and other hidden interests to do what is right for our state.
Reach Roberts at email@example.com.