by David Safier
Ally Miller's Republican primary opponents Mike Hellon and Stuart McDaniel filed separate, formal complaints against Ally Miller about a too-close-for-comfort relationship between her political consulting firm, Tagline Media, and a few Independent Expenditure groups working on Miller's behalf. The interesting thing is, their complaints were too late to affect the primaries and make it abundantly clear that neither Hellon nor McDaniel have any love for Miller or care to increase her chances of beating Nancy Young Wright in the election for Pima County Supervisor, District One. To the contrary, it looks like they want to put some electoral hurt on her.
Young Wright recently filed a complaint of her own over the same issue. Hers is far more detailed than the earlier complaints. She gives evidence that there was an insufficient wall of separation between Ally Miller's campaign and the Independent Expenditure groups, and also maintains some of the IEs made thousands of dollars worth of ad buys before they had filed their statements of organization.
You can read the copy of Nancy Young Wright's complaint sent to Brad Nelson at Pima County Elections below the fold. It also went to the State Election Director at the Secretary of State's office.
[Full disclosure: I volunteer with Nancy Young Wright's campaign. I am also a member of the fact-based community and am relaying information from a Media Release sent out by Nancy Young Wright's campaign.]
Pima County Elections Center
6550 S. Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85756
Dear Mr. Nelson:
This letter is a formal complaint regarding the existence of several Independent Expenditure Committees that formed to influence the outcome of the Primary and the General Elections for the Pima County Board of Supervisors, District One. I’m joining two Republican candidates, Mike Hellon and Stuart McDaniel, who previously filed complaints during their Primary election for District One. I believe this is a serious matter that deserves your immediate attention.
1. Tagline Media represents both Ally Miller, a candidate for this office, and at least three separate Political Action Committees (PACS) whose express purpose has been to influence the Primary and General elections in the Supervisorial District One race and perhaps other races as well in Pima County. There are two PACs listed with the same name of “Restoring Pride in Pima County” and one listed as “Stallard and Company, LLC”. One of the “Restoring Pride” groups is headquartered in Pima County and one in Maricopa County. Each has different officers. Even if these PACS were not or are not represented by Tagline at the same time as Ms. Miller’s representation, they have inside knowledge of the workings of Miller’s and the PAC’s campaigns. Further, the exact same photo of Ally Miller that appeared on all of her literature, web site and road signs (black dress with strand of pearls) was also used by the independent expenditure committee in their television and newspaper advertising. This points to collusion on the part of the Miller campaign with both of the groups known “Restoring Pride in Pima County and with “Stallard and Company, LLC.” It appears that expenditures on Miller’s behalf for cable television, web, and print advertising occurred well before the groups filed their statements of organization. See enclosure for Arizona Daily Star ad example and advertising policies.
Independent expenditure is defined in ARS 16-901.14 as follows:
"Independent expenditure" means an expenditure by a person or political committee, other than a candidate's campaign committee, that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, that is made without cooperation or consultation with any candidate or committee or agent of the candidate and that is not made in concert with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, or any committee or agent of the candidate. Independent expenditure includes an expenditure that is subject to the requirements of section 16-917, which requires a copy of campaign literature or advertisement to be sent to a candidate named or otherwise referred to in the literature or advertisement.
2. It is further believed that Tagline Media is too small of a company for an efficient firewall to be developed to divorce the two campaigns. It is my understanding that one manager/owner oversees all of the employees.
3. Ally Miller posted the independent expenditure campaign ad on her own campaign web site. See “allyforsupervisor.com”. This further connects the two campaigns. Under ARS 16-917.C and ARS 16-917.D the expenditures made by Restoring Pride in Pima County” no longer meets the definition of an independent expenditure. Thus Ally Miler has violated campaign finance law and is subject to civil penalties.
C. An expenditure by a political committee, corporation, limited liability company, labor organization or a person that does not meet the definition of an independent expenditure is an in-kind contribution to the candidate and a corresponding expenditure by the candidate unless otherwise exempted.
D. A person who violates this section is subject to a civil penalty of three times the cost of the literature or advertisement that was distributed in violation of this section. This civil penalty shall be imposed as prescribed in section 16-924.
4. Additionally, there is some connection with these current PACs and a group called “Arizonan’s for a Brighter Future” which was involved in this election before these PACS were organized. It’s unknown whether these groups might have moved funds between one another in an illegal way.
5. Finally, Tagline Media is affiliated with yet another group called “4 Tucson”, a non-profit group which has sent out surveys to candidates running for all or most offices in Pima County. Their stated goal is to publish 10,000 voter guides intended to influence the 2012 elections.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to your rapid response and a through investigation on this matter.
Nancy Young Wright
Candidate, Pima County Board of Supervisors,