Hobbs Vetoes Bipartisan Election Integrity Bill Aimed At Ending Conflicts-Of-Interest

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Governor Hobbs added one more veto to her record total on Thursday when she nixed a popular bipartisan bill aimed at ending a conflict of interest currently allowed with those who oversee Arizona’s elections.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. JD Mesnard, was SB1264 and would have prohibited an elected elections officer or their appointee who oversees aspects of an election from being a member of a Political Action Committee (PAC), since the purpose of PACs is to influence elections.

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As previously reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer raised eyebrows and ethical concerns when he created his Pro-Democracy Republicans PAC last July to run independent expenditure campaigns in support of GOP primary candidates for the state legislature and some county-level races.

Richer’s PAC would only support those candidates who, without evidence, would deny the fact that Arizona’s election process was flawed and would condemned the protest at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Richer’s PAC prompted questions about the legitimacy and integrity of Maricopa County’s elections, given that he and his PAC could be involved in bankrolling Republican candidates whose names would appear on the same ballots Richer was responsible for having printed and distributed as the county recorder.

“The fact that individuals who have the sacred duty of overseeing the integrity of our elections are also permitted to simultaneously influence those elections through a Political Action Committee is disastrous public policy,” said Mesnard. “Allowing such a conflict of interest to persist seriously undermines public trust. This legislation not only had bipartisan support, it was an absolute no-brainer. In her veto letter, the Governor claimed, ‘There are few, if any, examples of election-related issues’ from current policy, but in fact, examples do exist. And even one is too many. Regardless, why wait for there to be ‘issues’ when the conflict of interest is obvious and is itself a problem? Again, this is terrible public policy and allows for both parties to play games, which I fear will only escalate in light of her misguided veto.”

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