Legislative Update

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Luige del Puerto of the the Arizona Capitol Times will give the latest news from the State Capitol in our weekly legislative update.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A state lawmaker's curious travel habits are raising eyebrows at the capitol. Luige Del Puerto of the Arizona Capitol Times has more in our weekly legislative update. Thanks for showing up. Did it take you -- how many thousands of miles to come here?

Luige del Puerto: Thousands and thousands.

Ted Simons: What is going on with Don Shooter travel expenses? Run us through this thing.

Luige del Puerto: He raised a modest amount last year, about 43 thousand dollars in campaign finance contributions. What drew people's attention is the fact that he has spent a lot of money and most of it went back to him. He had reimbursed himself a total of $ 19,000 from his campaign finance account from last year. Of that amount, about $17,000 was for travel expenses. That raised a lot of eyebrows. That's because what's really interesting about this report is that had he reimbursed himself for fuel and also for mileage. As you know in government and the private sector, the usual practice is just to reimburse yourself for mileage, but it appears that he's reimbursing himself for fuel and mileage. At the same time he's also getting exactly getting reimbursed from the state for his travel expense. We're not sure exactly if he is asking for money for the same travel that he's already getting paid for by his campaign. We're not sure about that. There's no way to reconcile based on state records unless he details those expenses.

Ted Simons: In 2013, which is not an election year, he spends $38,000 on his campaign, in a nonelection year. $18,000 for campaign travel expenses, on top of the $8,000 he gets from taxpayers for being a lawmaker from out of the area, correct?

Luige del Puerto: That's correct although I would like to say there's nothing illegal about this one, that we know of. I spoke with the state -- Secretary of State Official and they said there's nothing in state statute that restricts how you use campaign funds. In effect you could use them for travel expenses or for your legal defense, which is exactly what he did.

Ted Simons: Exactly. $15,000 for legal fees defending a school incident. Again as part of campaign expenses?

Luige del Puerto: That's a very good question. That's one of the things that I really want to ask him, if he somehow starts to talk about what this particular controversy is. But you're right it is raising a lot of eyebrows. He's reimbursing himself a lot of money and there are some campaign expenses that don't seem to be directly related to his campaign. For example, paying for his legal defense in that school case, for example.

Ted Simons: So how this is playing? Does he have a primary challenge?

Luige del Puerto: Shooter does. It's a businessman named Toby Farmer, out of, if I'm not mistaken, Litchfield Park. Today, his opponent seized on this, says this guy has a lot of explaining to do and he should explain why he's in effect taking money from his campaign funds for travel expenses even when he's already getting money from the state. Like I said, we don't know because we can't reconcile this based on the records whether he's asking for the state to pay for the same travel expense that's already been paid for by his campaign.

Ted Simons: Mr. Shooter is still head of the Senate Appropriations Committee and that's a pretty power position. No sign of him being excused from that?

Luige del Puerto: It is a very influential position.

Ted Simons: Before we go, some fund-raising money, looks like there was concern that the pro Medicaid expansion or restoration if you want to call it that, the lawmakers for that get hit hard in the primary, they wouldn't be able to raise funds. Sounds like they are raising quite a bit of funds.

Luige del Puerto: As you know, last year there were district party -- I'm sorry Republican parties at the district and County levels that had censured them. They have been warned they will be Primaried the last year they raised the moment amount from all the candidates. Incumbents and nonincumbents alike. Nine out of the top fund-raisers are members of the bipartisan coalition that approved the Medicaid expansion.

Ted Simons: As far as money being raised, primary can't be used in general or can primary be used in general?

Luige del Puerto: The people know this. Candidate, these incumbents know they can't transfer anything beyond $2,000 from their primary to the general unless they fix a law passed last year that said this is the only amount that you may transfer from between your committees. That is only up to 2,000 bucks.

Ted Simons: If you we're running for governor and you raise $500,000 in the primary, and right now $490,000 just sits there when the primary is over.

Luige del Puerto: Assuming suddenly you don't have a primary opponent. You're going to be in a whole lot of pain. It can't be transferred.

Ted Simons: As a former politician here said, it gets curiouser and curiouser. Thank you, Luigi.

Luige del Puerto: Thank you.

Luige del Puerto:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times;

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