One of the political action committees (PACs) opposing the Tohono O’dham casino in Glendale is likely to follow the tracks of their “sister” PAC and be fined by Glendale, according to a letter from the Glendale City Clerk.
A campaign finance reporting complaint was lodged by this author on October 6 against “No More Bad Deals for Glendale” (NMBD), a PAC registered in Glendale. Among the other errors, the most egregious omission was not filing any reports of receiving or disbursing $10,000.00.
Any PAC that receives or spends $10k or more must notify the governing body, in this case Glendale, of their activity. A.R.S. § 16-914.01(B) refers to the requirements for reporting within 24 hours of the $10k threshold being broken. NMBD completely ignored the rules.
The other related (same officers, same cause, same bankroll) PAC, “Respect The Promise” (RTP), did the same thing and was recently fined $75k.
The letter from Pam Hanna, the Glendale City Clerk, notifies the committee that there is reasonable cause to believe NMBD is in violation of the regulations and that the City Attorney may take additional action.
The fine for misrepresenting campaign receipts and expenditures in this manner are punitive in nature and steep, up to three times the donation or expenditure.
In the case of NMBD, the “trigger” donation amount received from yet another political committee with the same officers was $35,000 on August 29, according to the finance report filed by the group.
According to the same report, the group spent $30,000 with Petition Partners, a group hired to circulate their petitions.
Glendale has the option of levying fines up to three times the amount involved, in this case $65k.
Fine Should Follow
This letter from the clerk likely precedes a letter from the City Attorney that will lay out the fine.
Based on the fine levied against RTP, City Attorney will probably let NMBD off the hook for the maximum $195k fine, opting instead for $65k, the smallest fine possible.
For most of us as individuals, $65k is a substantial fine that would make us take notice. In this case it’s more of a drop in the bucket because there’s gigantic piles of gambling money being firehosed into Glendale politics.
Who Will Pay?
The people responsible for paying the fines are the officers of the PAC, Larry Hirsch and Jill Ryan. The same two people are also responsible for paying the $75k fine for RTP.
Simple math shows the two people being on the hook for $140k in fines.
They have also sued Glendale for refusing to accept their referendum petitions, lost in court, and have now appealed the decision. It’s entirely possible that, with continued backing from the Gila River Indian Community, they could also sue the City to have their fines reduced or dismissed.
It’s also possible the Gila River Indian Community will decide to cut their losses with these groups and back somebody more likely to get results.