Recall committee seeks exemption from campaign contributions law

August 7, 1987l

United Press International

PHOENIX — The Mecham Recall Committee filed a special action petition with the Arizona Supreme Court Friday asking that it be exempted from the state’s new law limiting campaign contributions.

The committee said it does not have to abide by Proposition 200 because it is not a campaign committee and was not formed to influence the outcome of an election.

The state‘s highest court is expected to consider the matter later this month.

Martin Katz, the committee’s attorney, contends the committee is “merely testing the governor’s incumbency” and that people who sign recall petitions are “merely expressing their displeasure” with Gov. Evan Mecham. Furthermore, Katz argues the committee does not support a candidate because there is no candidate in the recall drive.

The action was filed after Attorney General Bob Corbin issued an opinion that said the committee is bound by the law because it was formed to influence an action.

Corbin, who issued his non-binding opinion just days after the recall drive began last month, said he would not take action against the committee pending a decision by the court.

The committee has until Nov. 3 to gather 216,746 signatures to force a recall election. The petition said the law could cause “irreparable harm” to the committee’s fund-raising efforts, and that the attorney general’s opinion has had a “chilling effect” on contributors.

Proposition 200 limits contributions to $2,000 each year from an individual. It also bars anonymous contributions of more than $25. The committee has received a number of donations in excess of $2,000, and an anonymous contribution of $5,000.

Katz also is seeking the right to solicit contributions from corporations, which are barred from giving money to election campaigns. The Committee cites a previous attorney general’s ruling that corporations may donate to initiatives and referendums.

The committee argues Proposition 200 violates the committee’s First Amendment rights and is unconstitutionally overbroad and vague.

The committee also wants to be exempted from the reporting requirements of the law, but attorney Chuck Stegall said the committee intends to file a report anyway.