Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Sat, Dec. 14

Clean Elections law proved anything but

It's human nature to want to right every wrong, and it's the nature of voters to vote for things that promise to right wrongs, even if that is not the ultimate effect of the measure they voted for.

A prime case in point is the Clean Elections Commission initiative voters approved in the 1998 elections. Beginning with the fall 2000 election, any candidates able to collect 200 contributions of $5 each qualified for Clean Elections money for their campaigns.

If they accept the state money, Clean Elections candidates must agree not to accept political action committee contributions.

In practice, however, the election was anything but clean for State Rep. Linda Binder, R-Lake Havasu.

Caleb Soptolean, a Clean Elections candidate, launched a challenge against her that was anything but clean. The state gave him $45,000 shortly before the primary, which he spent on mailers, phone calls and ads attacking Binder and distorting her voting record.

Some observers also raised the possibility of collusion between Soptolean and incumbent Rep. Barbara Blewster, who stood to gain from any of Binder's losses of support. Blewster put a large infusion of her own money into the race, which entitled Soptolean to more state money. To Yavapai County's benefit, Soptolean lost in the primary, and Blewster lost in the general election.

Binder, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, voted with the 5-3 majority that sent the measure to the full house. Rep. Henry Camarot, D-Prescott, a Clean Elections candidate who lived up to the spirit of the law and defeated Blewster, voted against it. If it clears the House and Senate and wins Gov. Jane Hull's signature, it would go to the voters as a proposition to repeal the 1998 measure.

Legislators can't legislate integrity or honor. If this measure wins its spot on the ballot, let's hope that recent experience has brought voters to the same realization.

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