State Sen. Vince Leach, a Republican, serves Saddlebrooke and several areas of Pinal County. /Capitol Media Services
By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Pinal Central
A Pinal County state lawmaker wants to know whether Pima County employees have a First Amendment right to financially aid candidates for county office.
Sen. Vince Leach, R-Saddlebrooke, said he’s gotten inquiries from some individuals who question whether the fact that they’re paid by the county means they’re effectively silenced from using their dollars to elect those running for the Board of Supervisors, sheriff, assessor, recorder or any other county position.
Leach represents Legislative District 11, which includes both Pinal and Pima counties, including Arizona City and Maricopa.
Leach said he personally believes — and says courts have decided — that money is the equivalent of speech, which is constitutionally protected. But he conceded he’s not clear how far that goes — and whether the county can force its workers give up some of their rights.
“I have my opinion,’’ he said.