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Secretary of state asked to investigate lawmaker for alleged campaign finance violation

Arizona state Rep. Justin Heap in 2023.
Arizona state Rep. Justin Heap in 2023.

A Democratic strategist is requesting an investigation of a Republican state lawmaker, now running for Maricopa County recorder, for allegedly violating campaign finance disclosure law. 

Rep. Justin Heap (R-Mesa) announced on Wednesday that he’s running against Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer —  the same day he filed a late campaign finance report for his legislative campaign. 

But the report failed to include donations from multiple political action committees, amounting to a few thousand dollars.

Democratic strategist Tony Cani filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office over omissions in the report, which was initially flagged on X, formerly known as Twitter, by AZ Family’s Dennis Welch.

“If he wins, [Heap] will be responsible for accepting these campaign finance reports from county candidates, and he signed that document saying that it was complete, as the treasurer of his own committee, and it wasn't,” Cani said.

The penalty for submitting a report late is daily fines, which in Heap’s case add up to more than $800 since he turned in his form 43 days late. 

But according to the secretary of state’s spokesperson, the penalty for disclosing false information is unclear. They referred the matter to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which did not provide an immediate response.

Heap denied the allegations. He said he is under no obligation to accept contributions from lobbyists and the checks in question were either destroyed or returned.

“Once I got into office and saw the influence that money has on politics, I made a commitment to myself and my voters, [sic] that I was not going to be part of the status quo that has failed our country and state for far too long,” Heap said in a statement.

Heap came under fire during his first month in office last year after the Washington Post reported he asked a lobbyist whether they contributed to his campaign after the lobbyist requested a meeting with his office.

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.