PHOENIX — A liberal watchdog group is accusing Oro Valley Republican legislator and secretary of state hopeful Mark Finchem of violating Arizona campaign finance law by asking supporters to donate to his personal PayPal and Venmo accounts to pay off an unofficial election integrity hearing.
The Arizona Mirror first reported on how Finchem was asking his followers on alt-right social media platform Gab and encrypted messaging platform Telegram to donate to a PayPal account, which Finchem said was for the Make Arizona Safe Again PAC, which has since been renamed Make Arizona Precincts Sound.
Finchem represents Legislative District 11, which includes Maricopa, Arizona City, Picacho, Oracle, Saddlebrooke and parts of Casa Grande and Eloy in Pinal County. In March he announced he was running for secretary of state in 2022, which would make him the top elections official in the state.
“First, we found that Rep. Finchem ignored Arizona’s financial disclosure laws and now it appears he’s violated campaign finance law,” Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith told the Mirror. “Not a great start for someone running for higher office. The Secretary of State should conduct an investigation and refer the matter to the Attorney General for further action.”
Finchem wrote on Telegram that his supporters had donated more than $14,000 after he had requested for help carrying the debt of the event.
“I am so excited to tell you all that through your generosity we’ve raised $14,597.80,” Finchem posted to Telegram on Feb. 21. “You have no idea how relieved I am that this is about to be lifted from my burdens. Thank you.”
Campaign for Accountability contends that Finchem violated Arizona law by having people donate to his personal Venmo and PayPal accounts. On Telegram, Finchem directed his followers to pay to what appears to be his personal Venmo account and a PayPal account with the handle “@freeandfairelections” that bears his name and photo.
“As you know, Arizona prohibits the commingling of PAC and personal funds,” the complaint Campaign for Accountability sent to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs says. “Accordingly, it appears that Representative Finchem and Make Arizona Precincts Sound committed multiple violations of Arizona law by having PAC contributions deposited to Representative Finchem’s personal Venmo and PayPal accounts.”
In its most recent filings, which covers January through March 31 of this year, the PAC only reported $2,013 in income, $210 which came from small contributions. The largest individual contribution came from Finchem himself on Feb. 25 for $1,603.
The PAC reported paying Finchem $2,500 in January for “Event site rentals.” It also paid $2,000 to Sentinel Intelligence Services for “Drivers and vehicles for event.”
Sentinel Intelligence Services is owned by Lyle Rapacki, a self-described expert in Satanism who has claimed “demonic” forces led to Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election, who has been a partner of sorts with Finchem in spreading bogus claims about election fraud. Rapacki has said in the past that he helped the lawmaker organize the unofficial election integrity hearing at the Hyatt Regency, where the 10-hour event took place.
Finchem and the PAC did not respond to requests for comment.