PHOENIX — Arizona elected officials will soon be able to test their aptitude for higher office without risking unemployment.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed a measure into law Tuesday that limits how candidates trigger the state’s “Resign to Run” law, effectively weakening a measure intended to discourage politicians from ignoring their public duties while on the campaign trail.
Proponents said the measure will create a more honest system in which candidates will more readily come clean about their pursuit of a new title because they won’t risk having to quit.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, said he hoped the measure would end the “charade” of politicians claiming that they are only exploring a run for another office, when really they are setting up their next campaign.
Democrats argued the overhaul violates the intent of the law, but the Republican majority pushed the bill through the Senate in a 20-10 vote and the House in a 40-19 vote.
The Arizona Constitution prohibits most elected officials from running for another office without resigning. Candidates previously had to resign once they made a formal campaign announcement or if they filed official paperwork with the state elections office. But under House Bill 2157, officials only have to resign once they file to run.
Lawmakers are rarely punished for violating the law.
In 2009, former state Attorney General Terry Goddard and four state legislators were allowed to retain their seats after a Pima County Attorney investigation found some of their actions were questionable.
In the run-up to the 1998 elections, then-state Sen. John Kaites was able to keep his legislative seat despite raising more than $200,000 for an attorney general bid. A special prosecutor hired by state and county prosecutors said Kaites did not break the law.
Voters passed the “Resign to Run” law in 1980.