As many will recall, last month Governor Ducey announced in an executive order a prohibition on state agencies using taxpayer money to hire contract lobbyists. Now it appears that the publicly funded Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) is asking for a special exemption, claiming that contract lobbyists are essential to carrying out their mission.
What is the CCEC’s mission? According to the 1998 initiative and their own website, the entire program exists in order to reduce the influence of special interest money in politics. Yet they want an exemption to hire more lobbyists to expand their own influence. The hypocrisy is stunning, but not surprising.
The truth is the CCEC believes that they should be the only group with a voice in the political process. That is why they see no problem with asking for the exemption; since they are the only “legitimate” special interest, it is OK for them to hire contract lobbyists. The ends, therefore, justify the means. This follows a pattern for the CCEC, who believe they are exempt from all sorts of administrative oversight including the formal rule making process that governs all other state agencies.
This is a tremendous amount of arrogance for an agency that was approved with only 50.1% of the vote 18 years ago and has had their authority curtailed by the Supreme Court. The fact that the CCEC now thinks they are carrying out the will of the voters by contracting hired guns to lobby for them is absurd.
The elimination of contract lobbyists for state agencies is a win for taxpayers. Besides the actual money the state will save, more importantly it stifles the government’s ability to lobby for their own expansion and funding, which is more often than not contrary to the interests of the taxpayer. The Citizens Clean Elections Commission is no exception to this principle and so should be swiftly denied any exemptions.