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Galassini v. Town of Fountain Hills

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 4, 2014

DINA GALASSINI, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWN OF FOUNTAIN HILLS, ARIZONA; Defendant, and STATE OF ARIZONA, Intervenor-Defendant.

Paul Avelar Attorney for Plaintiff.

Jeffrey T. Murray Attorney for Defendant.

Diana Day Attorney for Intervenor-Defendant.

FINAL PRETRIAL ORDER

JAMES A. TEILBORG, Senior District Judge.

The following is the joint Final Pretrial Order considered at the Final Pretrial Conference on June 4, 2014.

A. COUNSEL FOR THE PARTIES

[1]

B. STATEMENT OF JURISDICTION

1. Jurisdiction in this case is based on a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

2. Jurisdiction is not disputed.

C. STIPULATIONS AND UNCONTESTED FACTS AND LAW

1. The following facts are admitted by the parties and require no proof:

In 2011, the Town of Fountain Hills, Arizona, placed on the November 2011 ballot a bond issue to pay for road reconstruction.

On October 6, 2011, Plaintiff Dina Galassini sent an email to 23 friends and neighbors explaining why people should oppose the bond. Ms. Galassini called on the email recipients to make their own signs opposing the bond-the signs were to say things like "Vote No on the Bond, "Bonds are BONDAGE, " etc.-and join her at one or both of two planned protest rallies in the Town.

Paul Mood, the Development Services Director for the Town of Fountain Hills received Ms. Galassini's email through a consultant who was working on the plans for the road maintenance for the Town. Mr. Mood sent Ms. Galassini's email to Julie Ghetti, then Interim Town Manager for Fountain Hills, and Andrew McGuire, the Fountain Hills Town Attorney. Ms. Galassini's email was in turn forwarded to Bevelyn Bender, Fountain Hills Town Clerk and election official, by Ms. Ghetti.

After receiving Ms. Galassini's email, Ms. Bender and Ms. Ghetti consulted with the Town Attorney and decided that Ms. Bender would write a letter to Ms. Galassini. On or about October 12, 2011, Ms. Bender sent a letter to Ms. Galassini. It stated:

A recent email was brought to my attention that called for organized action by numerous individuals regarding the November 8, 2011 Bond Election.

Although an individual acting alone is not a political committee under Arizona law and need not file a statement of organization, if any additional person or persons join the effort (as defined in A.R.S. §16-901(19) - see below) begun by an individual, the association of persons has become a "political committee" under Arizona law, and must file a statement of organization before accepting contributions, making expenditures, distributing literature or circulating petitions.

Please be advised that according to State Statutes, as specifically outlined in Title 16, one or more persons working to impact the results of an election are considered to be a Political Action Committee (PAC) subject to all of the requirements associated with a PAC. In order to comply with the law a Statement of Organization must be filed in the office of the Town Clerk prior to any electioneering taking place. I would strongly encourage you to cease any campaign related activities until the requirements of the law have been met.

As this Court found and determined in its decision, this letter was not an enforcement of Arizona's campaign finance laws, but was a threatened enforcement of the statutory scheme.

2. The following facts although not admitted, will not be contested at trial by evidence to the contrary:

Upon receiving the letter on October 13, 2011, Ms. Galassini testified that she became scared of breaking the law and decided to cancel her two protest rallies.

3. The following issues of law are uncontested and stipulated to by the parties:

State law designates the Town Clerk as the filing officer and Town Attorney as enforcer of the State's campaign finance statutes in Town elections. A.R.S. § 16-924(A).

According to this Court's prior decision, Arizona's definition of "political committee, " A.R.S. § 16-901(19), is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. (The State and the Town take no position on this previous finding by the Court for purposes of trial.)

According to this Court's prior decision, Arizona's campaign finance laws, A.R.S. § 16-901 et seq., imposed on small groups that seek to combine to influence the results of an election are not substantially related to the State's disclosure interest. (The State and the Town take no position on this previous finding by the Court for purposes of trial.)

"[A] local government may not be sued under § 1983 for an injury inflicted solely by its employees or agents. Instead, it is when execution of a government's policy or custom, whether made by its lawmakers or by those whose edicts or acts may fairly be said to represent official policy, inflicts the injury that the government as an entity is responsible under § 1983." Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978).

"[A] municipality can be liable for an isolated constitutional violation when the person causing the violation has final policymaking authority.' Whether an official has policymaking authority is a question for the court to decide based on state law." Christie v. Iopa, 176 F.3d ...


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