Bob Robb’s column (“The ‘dark money’ disclosure riddle,” Dec. 13) opines that finding out the true source of undisclosed political “dirty money” is hard and not very important. We disagree.
We believe Arizona voters have the right to know who is paying for political ads and to make voting decisions based on complete information.
If this is hard, it is because someone spent a ton of money on expensive lawyers to find clever ways to hide their participation in Arizona elections from you and me. To wipe their fingerprints off the knife. To keep us in the dark.
Our Outlaw Dirty Money initiative takes a simple approach. It cuts through the deceptive mumbo jumbo. Our measure will force the person who spends money (over $10,000) to influence an Arizona election to tell us where that money came from. And, to tell us the “original source” of all contributions over $2,500.
That means telling Arizona voters what person or corporation actually earned the money. If this initiative is placed on the ballot by citizen signatures and approved by the voters, Arizona will no longer tolerate dirty money contributors hiding behind a barricade of innocent-sounding organizations that have only one purpose: to keep us in the dark.
The Outlaw Dirty Money initiative measure is important because all across Arizona and America, people are losing faith in our political system. They don’t know what to believe. When millions of dollars are going into campaign advertising, but we have no idea what interest is trying to influence our vote or why, public skepticism rightfully explodes.
This initiative is important because Arizona officials and legislators have made it incredibly easy to hide the sources of dirty money. It is important because, in Arizona, dirty money has literally swamped our elections. Every statewide elected official but one was elected with the help of dirty money.
Plus, it is important because when the real source of campaign money is hidden, when no one is responsible for the content, ads get even more cutting and negative. Everyone knows how quickly internet conversations descend into the mire when authors can stay anonymous, even more so with campaign ads. Our initiative calls for a return to responsible accountability.
There is no “right to hide” in our Constitution. The Supreme Court has said over and over that full disclosure is not only allowed, it is required. As Justice Antonin Scalia memorably put it: “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which ... even exercises (of ) the direct democracy of initiative and referendum (are) hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.” ( Doe vs. Reed ) The OutLaw Dirty Money campaign is working to amend the Arizona Constitution to ensure all citizens have the “right to know” the source of political funding. This is a bipartisan effort and everyone is welcome to help us get on the ballot. Find out more at outlawdirtymoney.com.
Terry Goddard is a former Arizona attorney general and chairs the Outlaw Dirty Money campaign committee. Email him at email@example.com.