On the eve of the election, the ferocious war between state Sen. Sylvia Allen and Republican primary challenger Rep. Bill Konopnicki escalated Monday with new allegations from Konopnicki that Allen underreported her campaign expenditures.
Allen immediately fired back, calling Konopnicki’s allegations “a last-ditch, desperate effort to distort the truth and confuse the voters of District 5.”
Meanwhile, Payson Democratic Senate candidate Elaine Bohlmeyer said she hopes the campaign between her and Tuesday night’s Republican winner stays civil and issue-based, but that she’s prepared to fight back if necessary.
“I know that when I’m elected I’m going to be working with people on the other side of the aisle, and I’d just as soon not make enemies,” Bohlmeyer said. “But if people say bad things about me, I’ve got things I can say back.”
On Monday, Konopnicki released a statement alleging that Allen is violating Clean Elections laws by contributing to the campaigns of House candidates Chester Crandell and Brenda Barton. The three Republicans are running as the so-called “ABC” ticket — Allen, Barton, Crandell.
Konopnicki also alleged that Allen underreported the costs of campaign materials, including fliers and not reporting the cost of newspaper advertisements at all.
“These violations are not insubstantial,” read the letter to three state agencies, that complained the ads “are effectively depriving candidate Bill Konopnicki of a fair election process.”
In a press release, Allen’s campaign called the deprivation claim “a complete joke,” and wrote that Konopnicki has flooded the district with a slew of ads and billboards with help from “his Maricopa County special interest buddies,” who have contributed to Konopnicki’s campaign. The former House representative’s spending ranks second among all candidates for Legislature as he fights to take Allen’s Senate seat.
Allen’s campaign said many of the questioned expenditures occurred after the last reporting deadline, and that some of the allegations relied on “assumptions” and “guesses.”
For instance, Konopnicki’s complaint speculated that Allen sent out 4,000 fliers that cost 45 cents each. The complaint read that none of Allen’s listed expenses approached the $18,000 that Konopnicki calculated the fliers should have cost.
Konopnicki called Allen’s alleged misreporting “election chicanery” and sent letters written by a lawyer from the Phoenix firm Treon, Aguirre, Newman and Norris to Arizona’s secretary of state, the director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and the attorney general.
Mike Becker, a voter education manager with the Clean Elections Commission, said that the agency has five days to send a letter to Allen, asking her to explain the allegations, and then Allen has another five days to respond.
On Monday, Allen said, “I can’t express how deeply disappointed I am that Bill Konopnicki would resort to this on the last day of campaigning before the Republican primary election.”
She added, “This is just the latest in a string of dirty tricks and false attacks from the Konopnicki campaign, whose desperate grasp for power has led them to surrender their integrity and character. I am saddened beyond words.”