Yesterday, LOVE investigated assertions and allegations being made by a PAC in mailers to residents. That article referred to a Campaign Finance Violation complaint filed by Vice Mayor and Council Candidate Melanie Barrett. Today Barrett, in this Guest View, explains her assertions. LOVE added the subheadings for reader convenience.
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Those hateful and untruthful mailers got me thinking…You, like I, may have received the hateful and untruthful mailers being sent out by a political action committee or PAC, Keep Oro Valley Strong (KOVS).
Upon receipt of these mailers, I began to look closer at the Campaign Finance Reports of this PAC. I wanted to find out who would fund those kinds of lies and slanderous flyers against Mayor Winfield, a man I know to be honest and well intentioned.
My opponents are likely violating campaign finance laws
Instead, I found something even more concerning..a very likely illegal campaign finance violation being committed between the PAC and the 4 candidates running for office that they are supporting. Accordingly, I have filed a Campaign Finance Violation Complaint on July 11, 2022 with the Town Clerk, and posted it on my Facebook and web site. You see, the PAC is representing itself as an independent entity from the candidates it supports, but is it? If there is illegal collusion going on, then a serious campaign finance violation against state law has occurred.
The Candidates Guide to Campaign Finance states: “There are certain factors that create a presumption of coordination: - An agent of the person making the expenditure is also an agent of the candidate whose election or whose opponent’s defeat is being advocated by the expenditure. For example, “a political consultant should not advise a candidate and an outside group that conducts expenditures in the candidate’s race.” (State law is ARS 16-922).
It turns out, all four challengers and the PAC are using the same marketing company. It is legally a presumption of illegal collusion. That company is “Campaign Associates of Southern Arizona.” (Casapolitical.com) Under the law, doing this creates a presumption of illegal collusion. The only possible defense to this is proof of following a pre-arranged strict firewall that separates the PAC from the candidates.
That marketing company seems to be a one person organization
Looking more into Campaign Associates of Southern Arizona, I learned some interesting things. The address of this company is someone’s residence in downtown Tucson. This limited liability company was formed on March 18, 2021. This is less than 3 months before Danny Sharp announced his Mayoral Campaign according to The Arizona Corporation Commission (source link). The contact is Matthew Mann, the very same person who designed all 5 websites of the candidates and the PAC.
A one person organization is too small and conflicted to be able to legally avoid collusion
In law school I learned about firewalls that separate information and treatment of entities. They require a large enough organization to have and strictly maintain the firewall. One person acting as an agent cannot maintain a firewall. It seems unlikely that this small, mysterious company in someone’s apartment run by what appears to be a single individual or a very small organization has the policies and administrative controls to operate an effective firewall.
If this is true… what does it mean Oro Valley for a former Chief of Police and three council candidates to be in violation of the law?
Simply put, if this highly likely scenario ends up being the case, Danny Sharp, his council candidate slate, and KOVS PAC have been illegally colluding under campaign finance law for the majority of their substantial expenditures.
There seems to be blatant disregard for not only the facts, but also for the law and state campaign requirements.
That disappoints me from a man I used to respect.
Update: Latest Candidate Campaign Finance Reports further demonstrate illegal collusion between the candidates and the PAC
This Guest View was written prior to the latest Candidate Campaign Finance Reports being released. The staggering number of donations from developers and special interest groups to the PAC and challenging candidates almost make Quarter One numbers, the ones upon which I based my view, seem quaint. However, the fundamental and serious problem remains: The Candidate Committees seem to be illegally colluding with the KOVS PAC. If anything, this illegal collusion is amplified by greater PAC expenditures.
I will be performing some analysis of the updated financials and filing new campaign finance violations. First, it would be helpful to get the actual information, as several campaign finance reports were flat out mis-filed. Sharp leaves off the required occupation and employer information for many. Rodman includes no disbursements at all. Hurt, the self proclaimed "numbers guy," includes only one page of donations from individuals and is missing approximately $14,000 in donations from individuals. (Likely at least $11,000 of this is coming from HSL properties as it did for Erceg.) More to come when the correct information comes in.
Oro Valley Vice Mayor and Council Candidate
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Note: The subtitles in the view were created by LOVE for reader convenience.