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Clean Elections Commission Pursues Investigation of Legacy Foundation Commercial

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Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times
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The Clean Elections Commission is refusing to kill an investigation into whether a TV commercial aimed at Scott Smith was really designed to kill his gubernatorial bid. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

The commercial produced by the Legacy Foundation Action Fund, noted that Smith, who was mayor of Mesa, also was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. And it said that organization has taken stands on some controversial issues.

“What does this organization support? Well, they fully endorsed Obamacare from the start. They vocally supported the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions. And they backed the president’s proposal to limit our Second Amendment rights,” the commercial stated.

On the screen were photos of Smith placed next to pictures of a smiling Obama. Tom Collins, the commission’s executive director, recommended the panel conclude this was really an effort to affect the Republican primary, noting it ran just as Smith was stepping down as Mesa mayor to launch his statewide campaign. That would require Legacy to disclose the source of its funds. But, Legacy Foundation attorney Jason Torchinsky said the ad was simply educating Arizonans.

“It focused on Mayor Smith’s role in those policy issues as leader of a national organization. There was no reference to voting. There were no references to the election. There were no references to Mr. Smith’s status as a candidate,” Torchinsky said.

Commissioners rejected Torchinsky’s request to kill the probe, but left the question of whether it broke the law for another day.

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