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Maricopa County Attorney frustrated with weak campaign laws

Arizona’s campaign finance laws need wholesale change, according to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. On Monday the county attorney announced he would be filing a civil action against Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne over alleged campaign violations. Al Macias reports that the county attorney says he was limited because of Arizona’s weak statutes.

AL MACIAS: The county attorney says candidate Tom Horne actively directed fundraising and communications strategy with an independent political committee during Horne’s 2010 campaign for attorney general. Horne denies the allegation. Montgomery says he believes there was a violation of Arizona’s campaign law. However he says the law lacks any real penalties.

BILL MONTGOMERY: You could violate these provisions and be successful in your pursuit of office. And yet avoid accountability as we otherwise would presume, is the biggest shortcoming in the remedies provided for in Title 16.

MACIAS: Montgomery cited last year’s campaign finance scandal involving former Fiesta Bowl officials as another example where the weak law limited prosecutor’s options.

MONTGOMERY: I think it speaks to the need for a complete overhaul. This is one where in some instance you need to go in with a scalpel, and other instances you need to go in with a chain saw. I think this one where you need to go in with dynamite.

MACIAS: He said he is working with legislative leaders to change the law next year. He says he hopes these two high profile cases will convince lawmakers that changes are needed.