The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office on Thursday referred a campaign finance complaint about Republican Mark Finchem to the state attorney general for investigation.
The complaint involves a mailer that landed in voters’ mailboxes without the required disclosure during the run-up to the Nov. 8 election.
The mailer slammed Finchem’s opponent in the secretary of state race, Democrat Adrian Fontes, as incompetent when he ran the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office and promoted Finchem as a law enforcement-friendly champion of transparent elections.
Tucson resident Carolyn Pommier complained to the Secretary of State’s Office when she could not find anything on the mailer explaining who paid for it.
“Without the disclosure information, the information in the advertisement leads to this voter’s confusion,” Pommier wrote.
Lee Miller, an attorney for Finchem’s campaign committee, acknowledged to the Secretary of State’s Office that the campaign paid for and sent the mailer, calling it an oversight.
“This was entirely inadvertent and the result of a production error,” wrote Miller, a former assistant secretary of state.
However, the law does not make exceptions for unintentional violations of state campaign finance laws, Amy Chan, the secretary of state’s general counsel, wrote in the referral letter. The campaign has a duty to follow the law and make the proper disclosure of who paid for an ad, Chan wrote.
Further, since the election is over, there is no way to correct the error, which is another reason for the referral, Chan said.
Finchem lost the election to Fontes by more than 120,000 votes.
The referral comes in the closing days of Hobbs’ tenure as secretary of state as well as Mark Brnovich’s term as attorney general. Any action likely would occur in the term of Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes, who is scheduled to take the oath of office Jan. 2.
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