Governor signs bill drastically increasing campaign contribution - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Governor signs bill drastically increasing campaign contribution limits

PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Thursday, Gov. Jan Brewer a new bill into law that drastically increases individual campaign contributions.

House Bill 2593 would increase the amount an individual could donate from slightly less than $500 to $2,500 in both a primary election and the general election.

Super PACs could donate up to $5,000 in both elections as well.

"What this bill really does is empower big money special interest groups and diminishes the voice the influence and the representation of working Arizona voters," said Sam Wecinski, the president of the Arizona Advocacy Network. The AAN's stated goal is to remove corporate influence from government.

"If you can afford to buy your choice of elected official, depending on what your private interest is - what corporate field you're in - you can do it in Arizona," he stated.

Rep. J.D. Mesnard, who sponsored the bill, disagrees. He said Arizona's capped campaign donations were unusually low and unconstitutional since the United States Supreme Court ruled money is an expression, like free speech.

Mesnard also stated the increased donation amounts benefit candidates running for office who struggle against special interest groups, which gather large amounts of money and use it in attack ads.

"Essentially what happens is the candidates become spectators in their own campaigns. They're like ping-pong balls going back and forth. (Voters) deserve more than that."

Mesnard argues that by increasing the cap on donations, politicians can better form their message against interest groups, some of which do not have to report where donations come from.

"You have two choices," he said.

"You can either empower special interest groups in the political process, or you can empower the actual candidate. As much as people may not like politicians, I think they like special interest groups even less."

The bill takes effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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