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AZ Supreme Court Boots Rep. for Violating Campaign Finance Laws

An Arizona legislator has been removed from office for overspending during his 2004 primary race, making him the first lawmaker in the country to be ousted for violating a state's public campaign financing system.

After a five-month court battle, the Arizona Supreme Court on Thursday ordered first-term Republican Rep. David Burnell Smith to leave office at midnight.

"I will no longer exercise any duties as a representative," the 64-year-old lawyer said Friday.

Under Arizon's 1998 Clean Elections Law, candidates who voluntarily participate must collect a set number of $5 contributions from voters to qualify for public funding. In return, they must adhere to certain spending limits.

The state Citizens Clean Elections Commission ruled in August that Smith exceeded his nearly $25,000 primary spending limit by about $6,000.

Smith had initially acknowledged spending too much because of sloppiness but later said that he did not overspend and that his records merely were in disarray.

Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico and North Carolina have similar public campaign finance systems.