The Chamber’s Response

Chamber of Commerce CEO Rick Kidder

You can see the response to my campaign finance complaint against the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce via the linked PDF file. Chamber CEO Rick Kidder claims he committed no infraction with regard to my specific allegation: Omission of the “Paid For By” statement required by Arizona State statute. Kidder says, in part,

The inadvertent omission of the words “paid for by” is not a violation under the circumstances because there was no intent on the part of PAC 430 [the Chamber’s registered political committee] to mislead voters or circumvent the disclosure of the entity responsible for the mail piece.

Unfortunately for Kidder, the statute has no provision for “intent” to modify the violation or the penalty. Further, given the 2-1/2 years of legal brain damage from their previous violation, Kidder’s disavowal of intent simply doesn’t pass the smell test. No one at Kidder’s paygrade can possibly expect even a casual observer to believe he didn’t know exactly what he was doing…counting on the mail piece to have its desired effect on early ballots long before any penalties would be exacted or publicity of the violation. Amending his political committee to scrub the name of the Chamber off the name of the committee proves the lie.

Ironically, Kidder’s inclusion of his campaign finance report proves half my concern: That Scottsdale Healthcare paid more than half the cost of the mailing. Between their two major campuses, Scottsdale Healthcare is the recipient of one of the largest zoning subsidies in the history of the City. They are also the beneficiary of a no-bid sale of undervalued taxpayer owned property: The old Civic Center Neighborhood Center. That property is going to be upzoned in a few days, which will triple or quadruple its value. And to top it off, SHC execs are major contributors to Mayor Jim Lane’s re-election campaign.

As I understand the process, the City Clerk will on Monday or Tuesday evaluate both my complaint and the Chamber’s response in consultation with the City Attorney. She will make a determination and then either notify me and the Chamber of no action, or refer the matter to the City Attorney for enforcement.

The most glaring part of this story is that the Arizona Republic doesn’t think it is a story. I copied several reporters on my complaint last Friday (7 days ago), and followed up with several more emails and phone calls. In the meantime, an AZR reporter on the Paradise Valley beat published a story about how the PV mayoral challenger accepted campaign contributions from a developer. Maybe it’s just such a commonplace practice in Scottsdale that it really ISN’T news.

Or maybe it’s because of the “Scottsdale” Republic’s close ties to the Chamber of Commerce. I stumbled across an old story from New Time’s former reporter Sarah Fenske about Mike Ryan. He’s the general manager of the Scottsdale Republic and used to be on the Chamber’s Executive Committee. Read the story and judge for yourself.

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