- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Former Arizona Rep. David Burnell Smith, who became the first elected official removed from office under the state’s Clean Elections law, has died at age 73.

Smith died at his Carefree home Friday of natural causes, House speaker Andy Tobin said Monday. His wife, Rita, told House staffers that funeral arrangements are pending.

Smith stepped down in 2006 after courts upheld a removal order from the state’s Citizens Clean Elections Commission for violating campaign spending laws.

Smith vowed to return and regained his Scottsdale-based seat in 2010 before losing it in 2012. He tried to regain the seat again this year, but lost a three-way Republican primary in Legislative District 15 in August.

“He would probably have run every two years because he loved the Legislature so much,” Tobin said.

Smith, a lawyer by profession, focused on lawsuit reform during his stint in the Legislature, despite pushback from his own profession, Tobin said.

His campaign biography says Smith was born in Charleston, West Virginia and worked his way through school before earning his law degree from the University of Baltimore and moving to Colorado. He met his wife there in 1967 and the couple relocated to Arizona in 1983.

After his 2004 election to the House as a publicly funded candidate, the commission said Smith triggered the ouster provision in Arizona’s 1998 public campaign financing law because he overspent by more than 10 percent. The commission also ruled that Smith’s campaign finance reports lacked detail. He was fined and ordered to repay nearly $35,000 that he received to run his campaign.

Smith appealed the removal order but left after his appeals were turned away by the courts. After formally stepping down, he addressed the House.

“I’m still your friend. I hope you’re mine,” he told members. “Thank you all very much and I’ll be back.”

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