Fitz: The education speech Governor Ducey did not deliver

Here’s the education speech Governor Ducey didn’t deliver this week:

“My fellow Arizonans, this is the year that we will fully fund public education and raise teacher salaries.”

Quiet boos percolate up in the Legislature. Ducey waves them down.

“Whoa. Here’s the amazing part! Look out Penn & Teller! We’re going to do it without raising taxes!”


Read more

Advocacy nonprofit fined $31G by state

Massachussetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Credit Angela Rowlings

Credit: Angela Rowlings

Gov. Charlie Baker

An obscure nonprofit with ties to Bay State Republicans is accused of disguising more than $1.2 million in donations from businesses, wealthy advocates, and even Mitt Romney’s federal committee before funneling them toward two failed ballot questions backed by Gov. Charlie Baker, state officials disclosed yesterday.

The group, Strong Economy for Growth, was ordered to pay a $31,000 penalty and register with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance with the agreement it would be barred from all “election-related activity” in 2018.

The nonprofit had “an intent to influence the election,” OCPF said. It donated $990,000 to Great Schools Massachusetts, the committee that pushed a ballot question lifting the state cap on charter schools, and another $178,000 to a Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, which opposed the ballot question to legalize marijuana.

Read more

2018: Outlaw Dirty Money!

Happy Happy New Year! 2018 is before us, fresh, clean, and full of promise. My New Year’s resolution (and I hope yours) will be to chase political dirty money out of our state!

Every election, millions of dirty dollars flood Arizona from powerful people and corporations trying to buy our government. They operate in secret, hiding behind legal barriers to keep us from knowing who they are. The Dirty Money forces have damaged Arizona, weakening our public schools, degrading our environment, and driving up the cost of services.

Let’s make 2018 the year that we secure our right to know who is funding these campaigns. Let’s put our Outlaw Dirty Money Constitutional Amendment on the ballot and pass it in November.

No question that’s a big job. It takes almost 300,000 Arizona voter signatures by June just to get on the ballot.

2018 is our chance to end political money laundering by signing up here. With this fresh, new year, cleaning up our state begins in earnest.

Our volunteer effort to Outlaw Dirty Money is off to a great start. Many have already volunteered to collect petition signatures, to check those signatures, or talk with their friends about Dirty Money and ask them to help.

I hope your New Year’s Day and the year ahead are filled with joy and the satisfaction of chasing political dirty money out of Arizona.

Join us in the fight to Outlaw Dirty Money. Together, that’s exactly what we’ll do!

Happy 2018!

Terry Goddard

Read more

Money Becoming Ever More Important in State Supreme Court Races

The Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield, Illinois. (Alan Scott Walker/ Wikipedia)

(CN) – Anita Earls is leaving her job. She’s saying goodbye to longtime associates, withdrawing from all of her cases, and starting to campaign full time.

The veteran civil rights attorney and executive director of the Southern Coalition of Social Justice made a name for herself by overturning legislative districts in North Carolina that were ultimately found to be an unconstitutional gerrymander.

Now, tired of watching the state’s highest judicial bench be politicized, she’s decided to run for the state Supreme Court in the hopes of changing that.

“[There has been] a radical revolution in our state government and I thought it would be important to stand up for the democratic principles that I hold dear which includes the independence of the judiciary and fair and impartial courts,” she said in an interview with Courthouse News.

This politicization of the courts was the focus of a recent report from Brennan Center For Justice at the New York University Law School. In it, the authors examine the growing cost of state Supreme Court races, and the heightened potential influence donor dollars might have on the judges that receive them..

The report found that record-breaking money is being spent on state Supreme Court races across the country. And that’s led court-watchers and advocates of independent jurisprudence to worry aloud whether all this money is undermining courts seen as the last word in state law disputes and a check on the executive and legislative branches of state government.

The escalating cost of state Supreme Court campaigns is nothing new. The required expenditures have been rising steadily for years. But in the wake of Citizens United, the 2010 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and other associations, concerns over the power of money in judicial  races has reached a fevered pitch.

Causing the greatest distress is the growing prevalence of so-called “dark money” in state judicial campaigns. Traditionally, candidate-specific groups — the super PACs one hears of every election cycle — are required to disclose donors under federal and many states’ laws.

But after Citizens United, supposedly “independent” groups have been empowered to support candidates while receiving unlimited donations and without having to disclose their donors.


Read more

Campaign-disclosure effort cuts through mumbo jumbo

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.


Read more

New campaign would force disclosure of "dirty money"

A new campaign that would force the disclosure of the most anonymous political donations -- so-called dark money -- is now up and running. It could go to a statewide vote next year. Campaign Chairman Terry Goddard, a former Arizona attorney general, told us why his second attempt to ban dark money will be different from the first.


-Originally published by Brahm Resnik, MSNBC on December 04, 2017, 9:30 AM.

Read more

Can Arizona Ballot Measure Campaign Unmask 'Dark Money' Political Donors?

"If you are not ashamed of the cause you represent, take off your mask, let everyone see who you are."

Those are the words of Arizona Representative Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, who has proposed a new law to ban masks at political protests

In fact, the same could be said of "dark money" contributions to political candidates and causes, which have been used by both Republican and Democratic groups.

But the masks could be stripped off big-money donors in a couple of years, if voters end up approving a planned 2018 ballot initiative filed last week.

Read more

Roberts: Time for Arizona (read:you) to stand up to dark money

Listen up, Arizona.

It’s time to take the law into your own hands – by changing it, so that you can see who is really running this state.

We’ve waited a long time for Arizona’s leaders to stand up for us, to embrace the fundamental concept that we should know who is behind the dark-money campaigns that increasingly are buying this state’s elections.

Instead, our leaders – some of them the beneficiaries of those dark-money campaigns -- have steadfastly and repeatedly refused to demand transparency in campaign spending. Anonymous interests spent more than $15 million getting the governor, Corporation Commission and Legislature they wanted in 2014, and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in the 2016 legislative races.

And what was our leaders’ response? In 2017, they passed a law that will open the floodgates to even more dark-money spending in 2018 and beyond.

Read more

Valdez: Initiative would clean up dirty money, not kill free speech

Who is that wizard behind the green curtain? You know, the guy passing out money to his political soulmates?

Terry Goddard wants you to know. Doug Ducey doesn’t.

Voters should see who puts up big bucks to influence elections.

But campaign laws protect anonymous campaign funding.

Ducey owes a lot to anonymous donors

For example, groups that organize under the Internal Revenue category of “social welfare” organizations are exempt under Arizona law from disclosing their donors.

Those organizations can make independent political expenditures for or against candidates or issues without telling the public where the money originated.

In 2014, outside groups contributed $8.2 million to support Republican Ducey for governor and undermine his Democratic opponent Fred DuVal.

Ducey got elected. Voters still don’t know who put up all that green.

With his re-election campaign on the 2018 horizon, Ducey apparently wants to keep it that way.

In 2016, he signed a so-called campaign finance reform bill that made it easier to keep the mystery in campaign funding.

Now Ducey’s raising a tired, old argument in defense of "dark money" at a time when former Attorney General Goddard is launching a petition drive to demand disclosure.

Read more

Should Arizona voters end 'dark money' in state political campaigns?

When Arizona voters head to the polls next fall, they could decide whether to curb so-called "dark money" in state and local political campaigns.

A group called Outlaw Dirty Money wants to end anonymous financing in elections through a ballot initiative. The measure would amend the state Constitution to require that people making expenditures to sway campaigns disclose the names of major donors.

Their goal: Remove the veil so Arizonans know who's behind the wave of outside money that's flooded recent elections for statewide office.

Former Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard and campaign consultant Bob Grossfeld are leading the effort — a follow-up to Goddard's unsuccessful 2016 push to stem the influence of dark money.

The phrase "dark money" typically refers to political spending by advocacy groups — often in the form of 501(c)4 non-profit corporations — that aren't required to, and won't, disclose their donors.

Read more