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Arizona’s primary election is a little earlier this year, falling on Aug. 4. Most municipal elections now are held at the same time. In Pinal County, there aren’t many contests in the primary, but there are a few, and some of the cities and towns have serious competition for council or mayoral seats.

Political advertising for November already is in high gear in Arizona. For the primary, there is less, but some contests are decided in the primary because of lack of candidates in one party or the other. Opinions and complaints about campaign messages are many, and they do become annoying while flooding the airwaves. However, political speech is protected by the Constitution, and politicians are reluctant to add restrictions that would affect themselves. The main thing to keep in mind is that voters have a right to know where contributions are coming from.

Candidates file regular reports, in accordance with deadlines. These used to be researched mainly by political opponents and the press, but now they are put on display on elections websites. The ones for Pinal County are viewable at the County Elections site.

A case from Chandler, in Maricopa County, provides an example of the importance of filings and how they are used. A citizen registered a complaint about the reports of a Chandler City Council candidate, Christine Ellis. Some of her contributions had come from corporations, which is not allowed. In response, according to The Arizona Republic, she said she will return $2,800 in contributions. She also said she believes that $3,100 from trusts are allowable and intends to keep them. The complaint also said some contributions list only first names, which is not acceptable. She said she is working with staff to amend the report.

Running for office apparently is more expensive in Chandler than in many places. At $55,000 so far, Ellis, who owns assisted living homes, has had the second highest amount of donations there. She said her corporate contributions came from sources she had believed to be partnerships.

Money and politics are inseparable, but having information about it is the best remedy.

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