State schools chief may have broken campaign laws

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- The state's Citizens Clean Elections Commission has agreed there's reason to believe state schools chief John Huppenthal violated campaign finance laws by sending a video to educators statewide before the August primary.

But the commission on Thursday ordered its executive director to seek a settlement with Huppenthal before launching a full investigation that could lead to a fine and an order to repay the value of the video and distribution.

Huppenthal was in the midst of a losing campaign to keep his Superintendent of Public Instruction seat when he emailed the video to teachers on Aug. 12 reiterating his strong support for the state's new Common Core school standards.

Clean Elections Director Tom Collins wrote in a memo Wednesday that Huppenthal's video was "indistinguishable" from his campaign message and presented to a key constituency using state resources just before the election.

Huppenthal says he had a duty to communicate with teachers.

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© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.