Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce Thinks Taxpayers Should Pay For His Recall Campaign

Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, the sponsor of Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law SB 1070, faces a recall election on Nov. 8 after nearly 17,000 Arizona voters signed a petition supporting this recall. Pearce, of course, believes this is terribly unfair — so unfair that Arizona’s taxpayers should pay for his campaign:

A little-known provision in the Arizona Constitution requires the Legislature to enact the laws necessary to run an election seeking the ouster of an elected official. And that includes “provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer.” […]

[T]he Senate president said that, in general, he is opposed to using public funds for elections.

He said, though, his particular case should be an exception. […] “In my case, simply, they don’t like what I’ve accomplished,” he said. Pearce said if that is the case, voters will have a chance next year, at the regular election, to choose someone else.

“I suspect why it’s there (in the Constitution) is it’s overturning a valid election, a minority in most cases overturning the voters’ will,” he said. It takes the signatures of 25 percent of those who voted in the last regular election to force a recall.

“It is tough,’’ he said. “You’ve got to raise money.”

It’s not entirely clear that Pearce can force the state to fund his campaign. The entire provision of the Arizona Constitution he relies on says that “[l]aws necessary to facilitate the operation of the provisions of this article shall be enacted, including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer,” and the state’s Elections Director reads this provision to “require an actual vote by lawmakers.”

Should Pearce try to force the issue, however, it will be interesting to see how he explains to the state’s voters that he is absolutely, positively opposed to public financing of political campaigns — but he’ll make an exception for himself.