A lawsuit has been filed to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some organizations to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns. Howard Fischer reports, Lawsuit challenges dark money growth:
A voter advocacy group, a union and Democrat lawmakers are asking a judge to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some groups to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court charges the Republican-controlled Legislature acted illegally earlier this year in exempting some organizations from laws that require them to register before they can spend money to influence who is elected. More to the point, it also allows them to avoid disclosing to voters who provided that cash in the first place.
But attorney Jim Barton said there are other legal flaws in the measure.
One, he said, is that the exemption lawmakers provided to certain nonprofit organizations applies only to those that also are registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission. But Barton said the legislation denies the same privilege to unions which, while organized as nonprofits, do not register with the commission.
Potentially the most sweeping, Barton said lawmakers violated a constitutional provision that requires the legislature to have laws that tell the public about all of the contributions to and expenditures by campaign committees and candidates for public office.
He said SB 1516 allows nonprofits and similar entities to make unlimited contributions to political parties. Then the parties can spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of their nominees.
“Since the reporting of these particular contributions are not required, then built-in disclosure safeguards (required by the Arizona Constitution) are broken,” Barton wrote.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, which enforces the campaign finance laws, said the lawsuit is being studied.