15-1633. Use of university resources or employees to influence elections; prohibition; civil penalty; definitions
A. A person acting on behalf of a university or a person who aids another person acting on behalf of a university shall not spend or use university resources, including the use or expenditure of monies, accounts, credit, facilities, vehicles, postage, telecommunications, computer hardware and software, web pages, personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or any other thing of value of the university for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections or to advocate support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation. Notwithstanding this section, a university may distribute informational pamphlets on a proposed bond election as provided in section 35-454 if those informational pamphlets present factual information in a neutral manner. This section does not preclude any of the following:
1. A university from reporting on official actions of the university or the Arizona board of regents.
2. A registered lobbyist from advocating on behalf of the university or the Arizona board of regents.
3. An employee of a university using personal time and resources from influencing the outcomes of elections or from advocating support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation if the employee does not use university personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or other resources for these purposes.
4. Any university employee from providing classroom instruction on matters relating to politics, elections, laws, ballot measures, candidates for public office and pending or proposed legislation.
5. The use of university resources, including facilities and equipment, for government-sponsored forums or debates if the sponsor remains impartial and the events are purely informational and provide an equal opportunity to all viewpoints. The rental and use of a university facility by a private person or entity that may lawfully attempt to influence the outcome of an election is permitted if it does not occur at the same time and place as a government-sponsored forum or debate.
B. Employees of a university may not use the authority of their positions to influence the vote or political activities of any subordinate employee.
C. This section does not prohibit universities from permitting student political organizations of political parties, including those that are recognized pursuant to sections 16-801, 16-802 and 16-803, to conduct lawful meetings in university buildings or on university grounds, except as prescribed in subsection A of this section. Each student political organization that is allowed to conduct lawful meetings on university property shall have equal access as any other student political organization that is allowed to conduct lawful meetings on university property.
D. This section shall not be construed as denying the civil and political liberties of any person as guaranteed by the United States and Arizona Constitutions.
E. Except as provided in subsection F of this section, universities under the jurisdiction of the Arizona board of regents may not:
1. Provide publicly funded programs, scholarships or courses if the purpose of the program, scholarship or course is to advocate for a specified public policy.
2. Allow publicly funded organizations, institutes or centers to operate on the campus of the university or on behalf of or in association with the university if the purpose of the organization, institute or center is to advocate for a specified public policy.
F. Subsection E of this section does not apply to:
1. A registered lobbyist who advocates on behalf of the university or the Arizona board of regents and other employees assisting such lobbyists in their official capacity.
2. Any university employee who expresses a personal opinion on a political or policy issue, regardless of whether that opinion is expressed inside or outside the classroom.
3. Print or electronic media produced by students who are enrolled at a university.
4. A recognized student government, club or organization of students who are enrolled at a university.
5. Any university employee who is appointed to a government board, commission or advisory panel who provides expert testimony or guidance on public policy.
6. The publication of reports or the hosting of seminars or guest speakers by the university that recommends public policy.
7. Researching, teaching and service activities of university employees that involve the study, discussion, intellectual exercise, debate or presentation of information that recommends public policy.
8. Any other type of advocacy that is allowed by law.
G. The attorney general shall publish and distribute to the Arizona board of regents a detailed guideline regarding activities prohibited under this section. The attorney general may distribute these guidelines through a website or electronically.
H. The attorney general or the county attorney for the county in which an alleged violation of this section occurred may serve on the person an order requiring compliance with this section and may assess a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars per violation, plus any amount of misused funds subtracted from the university budget against a person who violates or a person who aids another person in violating this section. The person determined to be out of compliance with this section shall be responsible for the payment of all penalties and misused funds. University funds or insurance payments shall not be used to pay these penalties or misused funds. All misused funds collected pursuant to this section shall be returned to the university whose funds were misused.
I. An attorney acting on behalf of a university may request a legal opinion of the attorney general as to whether a proposed use of university resources would violate this section.
J. All penalties collected by the court for a suit initiated in superior court by the attorney general shall be paid to the office of the attorney general for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section. All penalties collected by the court for a suit initiated in superior court by a county attorney shall be paid to the county treasurer of the county in which the court is held for the use and reimbursement of costs of prosecution pursuant to this section.
K. For the purposes of this section:
1. "Government-sponsored forum or debate" means any event, or part of an event or meeting, in which the government is an official sponsor, which is open to the public or to invited members of the public, and whose purpose is to inform the public about an issue or proposition that is before the voters.
2. "Influencing the outcomes of elections" means supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to public office or the recall of a public officer or supporting or opposing a ballot measure, question or proposition, including any bond, budget or override election and supporting or opposing the circulation of a petition for the recall of a public officer or a petition for a ballot measure, question or proposition in any manner that is not impartial or neutral.
3. "Misused funds" means university monies or resources used unlawfully pursuant to this section.