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State Dems Charge GOP Violate Laws

The state Democratic Party is charging the three Republican candidates for Corporation Commission with violating campaign finance laws.

The Republicans -- incumbent Bob Stump and challengers Susan Bitter Smith and Bob Burns -- mailed a brochure ahead of last month's primary urging people to vote for them. But that mailer also said the three Democrats will -- quote support President Obama's energy policies, which will cause more unemployment, more home foreclosures and more suffering for the people of Arizona. The issue arises because the Republicans each got $91,000 in public funds for the GOP primary. And rules prohibit those dollars from being used for the general election. Burns acknowledged he and his running mates named the three Democrats -- incumbents Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman and challenger Marcia Busching -- but said they were just exercising their free speech rights.

"We get to say what we want to say, as long as we say it during the primary, the way I believe it is," Burns said.  "The money's to be used in the primary. And that's when we used it. Are we supposed to have some list of dos and don'ts?"

Actually, there are, according to Todd Lang, director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission -- at least for those who take public dollars.

"Insomuch as that may or may not restrict the message you send out during the primary, any freedom of speech rights you may claim to have in my view would be waived," Land said. "You don't have to participate in our system."

Lang said his staff is still studying the complaint.