Arizona Free Enterprise Club Files Lawsuit Against Adrian Fontes over ‘Illegal’ and ‘Most Radical’ Elections Procedures Manual in Arizona’s History

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) filed a lawsuit last week against Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, accusing him of making illegal changes to the state’s Election Procedures Manual (EPM). Represented by the America First Policy Institute, Davillier Law Group, and Grand Canyon Legal Center, AFEC said the revisions improperly place protected political speech at risk of criminal prosecution and have an unconstitutional chilling effect on protected political speech.

“Secretary Fontes has produced one of the most radical elections procedures manuals in our state’s history,” said Scot Mussi, AFEC’s president. “If the illegal provisions of this manual are allowed to stand, the integrity and transparency of state elections would continue to dissipate at the hands of leftwing ideologues. We hope the court agrees with our arguments and forces the Secretary to adhere to state law.”

The secretary of state is required by law to update the EPM every other year. It requires approval by the attorney general and governor. In 2021, then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich refused to sign off on the revisions then-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs made to the EPM since they could lead to criminal penalties, he said. She refused to comply, forcing the state to continue using the 2019 version, which is still in effect. On December 30, 2023, Hobbs as governor and Attorney General Kris Mayes approved Fontes’ new revisions.

AFEC’s complaint contends that the revised draft “contains several ‘rules’ that are unconstitutional and that also contradict statutory requirements established by the legislature and therefore lack the force of law. These rules implement the Secretary’s policies rather than those specifically delegated to him by the Arizona Legislature.”

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Adrian Fontes by Gage Skidmore is licensed under