PHOENIX (AP) — A new initiative effort was launched Wednesday seeking to require the disclosure of the source of all political donations in Arizona over $2,500, even if they are funneled through so-called "dark money" groups.
The initiative is backed by a group led by former Democratic state Attorney General Terry Goddard and amends the state Constitution to require the disclosure. Goddard's "Outlaw Dark Money" group needs to collect nearly 226,000 signatures by July 5 to get on the 2018 ballot.
A dark money organization that has spent millions to finance conservative causes was the source of the $17 million spent to keep Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat in Republican hands, tax documents reviewed by MapLight reveal.
The Wellspring Committee, a Virginia-based nonprofit, donated more than $23 million last year to the Judicial Crisis Network, which spent $7 million on advertisements pushing Republican senators to block President Barack Obama’s court pick, Merrick Garland. After the election, the network spent another $10 million to boost President Donald Trump’s pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Wellspring received more than $32 million in donations last year, with $28.5 million coming from a single, anonymous donor. Before 2016, Wellspring had never received more than $13.2 million in annual donations. As a social welfare organization, Wellspring is not required to disclose its donors.
Arizona voters may be asked next November to change the state Constitution, to outlaw so-called "dark money."
Former Attorney General Terry Goddard is leading the effort to put the issue on the 2018 ballot.
Goddard's group will have to collect more than 225,000 valid signatures by next July.
In a world of secret offshore bank accounts, anonymous campaign donors and fake Facebook pages, transparency seems to be losing traction.
And then there is the no-holds-barred White House messaging campaign of disrespect, name-calling and reckless hyperbole (to be charitable). Civility apparently no longer figures into the art of the deal.
So it is refreshing to see three Arizona political figures come to the defense of these values in the name of democracy – even though they are in different political parties.
Laurie Roberts: Who are the dark money forces increasingly trying to buy our elections? Arizona voters may soon have the chance to demand disclosure.
For years, we’ve waited for Arizona’s leaders to step up for Arizona’s voters, to embrace the fundamental concept that we deserve to know who is trying to buy this state’s elections.
For years, we’ve watched as Arizona’s leaders not only refused to demand transparency in campaign spending but actually passed a law making it even easier for cloaked interests to anonymously spend millions of dollars to get us to vote a certain way.
Now, a pair of longtime political players are preparing to launch a citizens’ initiative aimed at yanking open the blackout curtains that have left us unable to see what’s really going on in this state.
A former state attorney general wants Arizonans to vote to constitutionally ban anonymous donations from political campaigns.
Terry Goddard is crafting a “right to know” initiative that would guarantee in the state constitution that voters are entitled to know who is trying to sway their votes on who to elect for everything from statewide offices to school board members. The measure which Goddard hopes to put to voters a year from now, also would impose the same requirements on those pushing future ballot measures.
The Denver Post’s editorial board recently published a piece endorsing four candidates running for the Denver school board, all of them in support of reforms that employ some basic principles of for-profit businesses to the running of nonprofit public education. The editorial calls their opponents “anti-reformers” (as if they oppose making things better for students) and says they “enjoy plenty of money and energy.” (That, apparently, includes a 19-year-old “anti-reformer” candidate who just graduated from high school.)