Sun, Oct. 20

Thomas turns in more names in effort to qualify for public funds

Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas

PHOENIX -- Disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas may finally have qualified to get public funds in his bid to become the next governor.

Thomas on Monday submitted 259 names and $5 donations to the Secretary of State's Office. These supplement the 4,659 he had previously submitted.

Only thing is, state officials had determined only 4,387 of those were valid, leaving him 113 short of what he needed to get a check from the Citizens Clean Elections Commission for $753,616 in funding for the Republican primary. But under Arizona law, he had one more chance to make up the difference.

Thomas said Monday he figures there should be at least 113 valid names out of the total turned in. It should take several weeks for county recorders to determine if he made it.

If verified, the move would make him the second Republican to qualify. Secretary of State Ken Bennett, also seeking the GOP nomination, already has received his check.

The other Republican contenders all are running with private dollars. That includes State Treasurer Doug Ducey, former California Congressman Frank Riggs, former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones and former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.

If Bennett or Thomas picks up the party nomination, he will get another $1,130,424 for the general election.

Democrat Fred DuVal is running with private donations.

Thomas is trying to claim the mantle of being the "true conservative' in the race even though others have touted their own credentials. And he cites his experience as Maricopa County's top prosecutor.

But Thomas ran into problems when he began to bring charges against county officials and judges, alleging improper conduct in the construction of a new courthouse tower in downtown Phoenix. That resulted in complaints to the State Bar of Arizona, an investigation and ultimately a ruling by a three-person disciplinary commission of the Supreme Court concluding in 2012 he should be disbarred because he had "outrageously exploited power, flagrantly fostered fear and disgracefully misused the law.'

Thomas, however, has not shied away from that record, insisting it shows that he is "willing to take on the powerful.'

The 1998 voter-approved law allows -- but does not require -- candidates for statewide and legislative office to get public dollars for their campaigns if they do not take private donations. But candidates are required to get a set number of $5 donations, based on the office sought, to prove they have at least a minimal level of public support.

That hurdle proved too much for state Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who dropped out gubernatorial race Monday after finding he could not raise the requisite $5 checks to qualify for public funding.

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