The most important thing any of us can do to stop the dirty money from flooding Arizona elections is:
- Get an Outlaw Dirty Money (ODM) petition
- Get 10 signatures
- Get your signature notarized (the campaign will be happy to help)
- Turn in your petition before March
If everyone who reads this message turns in at least 10 signatures, the Outlaw Dirty Money constitutional amendment can qualifying for the November ballot. It’s that easy, you are that powerful!
Linda Valdez: Arizona law gives too many people an invisibility cloak to wear while they influence our elections.
Imagine you like Candidate Z because she says she supports good schools.
Why should you care if she gets tons of “dark money?”
If secret sugar daddies help her win, that’s good for you.
Why you need to know who donated
But wait. After she became Office Holder Z, the candidate you supported began to cut school funding.
It turned out she was a better friend to private schools.
So who were those sugar daddies, anyway?
All a sudden, it matters.
Maybe they don’t care about your state.
Maybe they just want to use Arizona as a Petri dish to grow national acceptance for things like privatizing K-12 education.
Knowing that before an election might make a difference.
Shouldn't all donors play by the same rules?
But Arizonans don’t know the source of a lot of money that influences our elections.
That’s because not everybody plays by the same rules.
Consider the 2014 election that made Republican Doug Ducey the governor and put Republicans in every other statewide office.
An analysis by The Republic after the election found there was $27.3 million in outside spending – spending candidates do not directly control. At least 46 percent of that came from groups that do not have to disclose the names of their donors.
That’s a lot of secret admirers.
Groups established under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code as “social welfare” non-profits don’t have to disclose their donors.
Arizona law gives them an invisibility cloak to wear while they influence our elections.
So you don’t know who they are.
But I’m guessing Office Holders X, Y and Z have a pretty good idea who their friends are.
On Sunday afternoon, I attended an extremely interesting, informative and well-attended presentation on Dark (Dirty) Money by former Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard.
Goddard is pursuing a constitutional amendment to outlaw Dirty Money contributions in Arizona elections. He spoke eloquently about the corrosive and negative influence of undisclosed contributions to our elections from people like the Mercers and the Koch brothers.
I applaud Goddard for his efforts to defeat Dirty Money and to restore the integrity of our electoral process. I urge everyone to support this effort by signing the petitions currently being circulated to enable this measure to be on the ballot.
Laurie Roberts: Arizona is 'ground zero' in the Koch brothers' battle to reshape public education in 2018.
If you are someone who believes in the public schools – the ones that educate 95 percent of Arizona’s children …
If you are someone who believes that tax money shouldn’t be spent to create a two-tier system of education – private schools for those of means and public ones for everybody else …
Then it’s time to start paying attention.
Kochs targeting school voucher vote
Gov. Doug Ducey and his Koch brothers network of "dark money" bazillionaires have set their sights on saving Arizona’s expanded voucher law – the one that a grassroots group and 100,000 Arizona voters put on hold last year via referendum.
The one that will be on the ballot this fall as Proposition 305, so you can decide whether you want your tax money going to fund private schools.
The one that is now dead center in the sights of the Koch network as it prepares to spend whatever it takes – and say whatever it takes -- to ensure the expanded voucher law will stand.
The Washington Post, invited to sit in on the Koch network’s strategy session on education at its weekend retreat, reported Tuesday that the Kochs see Arizona as 'ground zero' in their push to reshape education.
Ducey's campaign to squash opposition
And the general leading that push will be Gov. Doug Ducey.
Ducey, addressing Koch donors at the weekend retreat in California, talked up the need to defeat the citizen referendum and allow the law to take effect.
“This is a very real fight in my state,” Ducey said, according to the Post. “I didn’t run for governor to play small ball. I think this is an important idea.”
The problem with this important idea, of course, is that this particular form of school choice isn’t really a choice at all for most people.
The traceable dollars are easy to follow. For local and state races campaign finance reports are on the Arizona Secretary of State's website. For federal races the information is publicly available on the Federal Election Commission's website.
Those two sites can be difficult to navigate especially if you are trying to cross reference different campaigns or donors.
Sec. of State Michele Reagan has new website, See The Money.com, to make following the money easier.
The site lets users search a number of categories for state and local races beginning with individuals.
You can see who a person received campaign contributions from or all the campaigns they give to.
The site does not show dark money, though it tries to shed a bit of light on that spending.
"We pull in the IRS 990s of that group because, remember, these groups have to file somewhere and where do they file, they file with the IRS. Now, this isn't as detailed information as some people would like but it still starts to give you some names and address," explained Reagan.
Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is leading petition drive to outlaw hiding campaign contributors.
"I'm a criminal prosecutor and I used to go after people for money laundering. And this is money laundering," said Goddard. "It's legal money laundering, trying to keep voters from knowing where they money comes from."
When Arizonans turn on the television or look at the internet this week, they likely will see a 30-second advertisement that highlights how the state is spending money to help K-12 public education, along with some achievements of public schools.
The cheerful ad, with images of teachers in the classroom and students huddled around a laptop, comes from a newly formed non-profit corporation called the Arizona Education Project.
Donors to the non-profit so far include some heavy hitters: Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the parent company of Arizona Public Service Co., Services Group of America, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. –
All are allies of Gov. Doug Ducey, who is running for re-election amidst intense pressure to boost funding to public education.
The public-education ad is intended to counter the narrative set by those who question state leaders’ commitment to adequately fund public education, and to highlight positive stories, said Matthew Benson, spokesman for the 501(c)3 non-profit group.
The ads are not tied to any political candidate or legislative effort, he said.
“The message is pretty simple: Arizona schools aren’t perfect, but we’re making a lot of progress and too often in the current climate, that gets lost,” Benson told The Arizona Republic.
“There are groups and individuals that see political gain and advantage in talking down our schools, and our teachers. There’s another side, there’s another story to tell about Arizona’s education and that’s what we’re going to be talking about.”
Why do this now?
Benson said the group chose to buy significant air time now because “this is the dominant topic in Arizona public policy.” He said the group wants to ensure the discussion includes “everything that is happening in our schools that is positive,” too.
Dawn Penich-Thacker, spokeswoman for Save Our Schools Arizona, said those people behind the ads "underfund and discredit Arizona schools for decades and then spend millions patting themselves on the back for the tenacity of the very schools they systematically attack" through underfunding and privatization programs, she said.
This Sunday, Monica and I will join in the Women's March at the Arizona State Capitol. We will also be gathering signatures on Outlaw Dirty Money petitions. Please join us.
It's good news that so many more dynamic women are running for office across the country and here in Arizona. But no candidate, however qualified, has a fair chance as long as hidden interests are secretly influencing our elections.
The Outlaw Dirty Money petition is all about changing that. If passed by Arizona voters, we will stop undisclosed forces from manipulating Arizona elections. We need your help to get the initiative on the November ballot. Can you commit to getting a dozen signatures? Sign up today to be an official ODM volunteer at The March! #outlawdirtymoney
Today we honor and celebrate the life of an extraordinary man - Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s tireless fight for justice and civil rights has earned him a place, not only in history, but in our hearts. He was and is a beacon of hope, an inspiration for millions.
I hope your new year is off to a great start. As you may remember, I started out 2018 with the resolution to chase political dirty money out of our state! But, I need your help to get our Outlaw Dirty Money Constitutional Amendment before the voters in November. Please help by signing up here. #outlawdirtymoney