A judge has ruled that Arizona lawmakers violated the state Constitution on multiple fronts when they passed a sweeping overhaul of campaign-finance laws in 2016. Those changes illegally limit the power of the voter-approved Citizens Clean Elections Commission to police campaign-finance laws and illegally create loopholes for spending limits, the ruling states. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Palmer ruled that the changes are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The ruling is the latest twist in a fight over Senate Bill 1516, a major rewrite of campaign- finance laws that the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey pushed in 2016.
At the center of the dispute is the voter-approved Clean Elections Act of 1998.
Voters approved the act to limit the influence of money in politics. The act created the Clean Elections Commission, which runs a public financing system for candidates and enforces financial reporting rules.
SB 1516 significantly shrank the commission’s power so it could police only candidates who receive public financing.