McNamara v. Citizens Protecting Tax Payers – 10/30/2014

December 2, 2014

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that no private right of action exists to enforce statutory rules on disposal of surplus monies held by political committees.

The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.  A private right of action may be implied in certain statutory schemes, particularly when the statutes are based on a common-law history of private actions or the action is brought by a member of the class of citizens the statute seeks to protect.  The legislature has provided private rights of action to enforce other kinds of campaign finance violations, but chose not to do so in this case.  Because the citizens who filed the suit have another remedy by filing a complaint with the Phoenix City Clerk, the statute is not rendered moot by denying a private right of action to enforce its provisions.

In a footnote, the Court mentions that the citizens also filed a complaint with the Phoenix City Clerk, but the City Clerk had taken no action on that complaint at the time the appellate briefs were filed.  The Court noted that the question of whether private citizens could compel a municipal clerk to take action on a campaign finance complaint via mandamus proceedings was not an issue properly before the court.

Presiding Judge Downie authored the opinion; Judges Gould and Thumma concurred.