Wednesday, October 20, 2021 10:57 pm

Judge denies state’s request to let ‘dark money’ law stand during appeal

Jim Barton

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

A judge won’t let the state enforce a law opening the door for more “dark money” in campaigns while it appeals his ruling that the statute is unconstitutional.

In a new ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Palmer rejected claims by attorney Tim Berg, representing the state, that it would be too confusing for organizations that the Legislature exempted from campaign finance laws in 2017 to now have to obey those laws for the 2020 election. Berg said the changes should remain in place while he asks the Court of Appeals to review Palmer’s original findings declaring the law void and unenforceable.

Palmer instead sided with attorney Jim Barton, representing the Arizona Advocacy Network which challenged the 2017 law. He told Palmer it would be wrong to run the 2020 election under a law that, at least according to the judge, is unconstitutional.

 “Without the usefulness of the act in place, certain entities will have carte blanche to illicitly influence elections,” Barton argued.

And attorney Mary O’Grady, representing the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, the agency whose powers the 2017 law sought to curtail, said allowing the state to run the 2020 elections under the law that Palmer voided would deprive voters of information “about entities spending money to influence Arizona elections.”

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