In Arizona, the will of the voters is irrelevant, the ‘Kochtopus’ corporatocracy decides what is law

Last month, the City of Tempe voted by a margin of 9-to-1 in support of more transparency in political spending. Near unanimity is virtually unheard of, and yet on the issue of the corrupting influence of anonymous “dark money” on elections, it was achieved. (It would appear that only lobbyists and political operatives who live in Tempe voted against the measure).

The City of Phoenix was also considering a similar measure to curb “dark money” in city elections, but our anti-democratic Tea-Publican state legislators who are dependent on the “Kochtopus” network of “dark money” stepped in with H.B. 2153, which would bar local control by cities and counties, and even the state from requiring political non-profits to disclose their anonymous “dark money” donors.

These anti-democratic Tea-Publican legislators effectively said to Arizonans “What the people of Arizona want is irrelevant, this state is a corporatocracy run by the ‘Kochtopus.’ They decide what is the law, and you will obey!” 91% of Tempe voters saw a problem. Arizona just outlawed a fix:

Rep. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, the bill’s sponsor, said the landslide passage of the Tempe measure on March 13 didn’t deter him.

“Lots of people in my district want the right to remain anonymous [read my corporate campaign donors] and that’s who I’m here to represent,” Leach said after the Senate passed the bill in March.

“Charitable organizations shouldn’t have the privacy of their donors jeopardized simply because they weigh in on a political issue that may affect them,” Leach said in a statement Thursday.

Supporters of disclosure say voters should know who is spending to influence their vote.

Kuby points to U.S Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the 2010 Citizens United case that said the First Amendment protects political speech, but transparent disclosure allows citizens to react to that speech.

The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way,” Kennedy wrote. “This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.

Conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia expressed a similar view:

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, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously . . . Hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.

“The legislation will stymie efforts to shine a light on untraceable campaign spending by wealthy individuals, corporations and interest groups occurring in elections at all levels of government,” Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego said.

Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to manage their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, the beneficiary of copious amounts of  their  “dark money” spending in his 2014 election, of course signed this anti-democratic bill without a moment of hesitation.

Laurie Roberts of The Republic opines, Gov. Doug Ducey disses 91 percent of Tempe’s voters:

In March, Tempe voters said “oh, hell no” to dark money in their city’s elections.

Now, Gov. Doug Ducey is saying “oh hell no” to Tempe voters.

The governor – who enjoyed $5.2 million in dark-money support to win election in 2014 – has signed a bill that bars cities from requiring non-profit campaign groups to disclose the source of their funding in city elections.

Never mind that nine out of 10 voters just approved Tempe’s Sunshine Ordinance.

Ducey just vetoed them. All 91 percent of them.

Ducey is a big ‘dark money’ defender

Ducey and the Republican-run Legislature have long opposed efforts to allow voters to know who is trying to sway their vote.

Had such a thing been allowed in 2014, voters might have figured out that five independent campaigns working to get Ducey elected all got their funding from the Charles and David Koch network of conservative/libertarian zillionaires.

Is it any wonder that Ducey has spent his term cutting taxes and diverting public money to private schools even as the state’s investment in public education remains $1 billion short of where it was a decade ago?

Is it any wonder that Ducey enthusiastically turned Arizona into a guinea pig for [Theranos] lab tests that aren’t accurate and self driving cars that killed a pedestrian?

And, oh yeah, ensured that dark money interests – often from outside Arizona – can remain out of the public’s view as they spend millions to influence the direction of our state?

Now, even more dark money spending

In 2016, Ducey signed a bill that will actually allow even more dark-money spending in this year’s elections.

Ducey claims that dark-money groups have a First Amendment right to spend whatever they want to get their candidates elected without anybody knowing about it. He reasons that his (or presumably anyone’s) supporters would be too timid to spend money on campaigns, for fear of harassment, if their identities were known.

Voters can override Ducey

Fortunately, there is a way to change that.

A citizen group, Outlaw Dirty Money, is now collecting signatures to put a dark money disclosure bill on the November ballot. Both Republicans and Democrats are involved in the effort. (If you’d like to help, email info@outlawdirtymoney.com or call the campaign office at 602-633-5146.)

The group has until July 5 to collect the signatures of 225,963 voters to get on the November ballot.

Look for Ducey and his dark-money pals to pull out all the stops to kill the initiative, should the group get the support needed to put it the ballot.

Which is exactly what our anti-democratic Tea-Publican legislators are already doing on a related matter in service to their “Kochtopus” corporate masters.

Last month our lawless Tea-Publican legislators passed a bill to preemptively nullify the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona citizens initiative that is currently circulating in the state which would amend the state constitution to require that half of all electricity generated by most utilities to come from renewable sources by 2030, even before the initiative has qualified for the ballot. Our lawless Tea-Publican legislators are effectively saying that even if the voters approve the ballot measure, APS, SRP, TEP and other public utilities do not have to comply with the law. GOP legislators preemptively nullify a ballot measure not even on the ballot yet.

As if this is not bad enough, our lawless Tea-Publican legislators want to confuse the voters with a competing ballot measure drafted by the public utilities — they don’t have to collect signatures to put a measure on the ballot because they have bought Tea-Publican politicians with their “dark money” campaign donations who will do their bidding for them. This is the clearrest illustration of the corrupting influence of anonymous “dark money” in our elections. Senate gives APS an out on renewable energy:

Saying they just want to give voters a choice on renewable energy, state senators voted Thursday to put a measure crafted by the state’s largest electric company on the November ballot to compete with a far more stringent initiative.

The 16-11 party line vote in the Republican-controlled chamber came over objections from Democrats who said HCR 2017, dubbed the “Clean and Affordable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment,” is designed solely to confuse voters with the “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” being financed by California billionaire Tom Steyer.

Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, called the measure “a cynical maneuver to try to confuse voters at the ballot so that they think this is the real clean energy initiative as opposed to one that’s being run by advocates at the same time.”

But Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the aim is to give voters a choice.

As always, our blog troll is full of shit.

On the surface, both measures require utilities to generate half of their energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, biomass and geothermal by 2030. The balance can come from other sources including nuclear and fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

But appearances are misleading.

But there’s a key difference between the two ballot measure. HCR 2017, put together by Arizona Public Service Co., allows the utility regulators to ignore the mandate if the utility regulators conclude the effect would “adversely affect” the affordability or cost of electric bills, the reliability of the electrical grid, or “the well-being of this state.”

Farley called that a “poison pill.”

“It basically gives the Corporation Commission veto power,” he said. And Farley pointed out that veto power can occur only according to that specific list of factors and not others.

“It doesn’t consider the cost of what happens when our climate is warmed to such an extent planes can no longer take off or land from Sky Harbor (airport) and what that might do to our economy,” he said.

That actually has occurred as some aircraft are not designed to be able to take off at higher temperatures. That’s because hotter air is thinner, making lift more difficult, particularly for aircraft not designed to operate above certain temperatures.

Our blog troll lyin’ Johnny Kavanagh had a different take on the issue.

“One man’s poison pill is another man’s safety valve,” he said. Kavanagh said the language that allows the commission to override the mandate to protect Arizona consumers from what would have to happen if utilities have to “scramble” to sign contracts for renewable energy.

“There would be such demand that the price of renewable energy would skyrocket because the sellers would know that the utilities are under desperate orders to get to that level,” Kavanagh said. He said those higher costs will hit the poor harder because they spend a larger share of their income on utilities.

Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, derided the claim that Republicans are putting the second measure on the ballot solely to promote choice.

“Voters already have a safety valve,” he said.

“It’s voting ‘no,’ ” Quezada continued. “If they feel that these (renewable energy) levels are unattainable, if they feel that this will be damaging to the grid, if they feel like this will hurt communities of color and low-income communities and want another option altogether, they can simply vote ‘no.'”

The 16-11 vote sends the measure to the House, which has not yet considered it. If approved there, it would go directly to the ballot, as the measure does not require the signature of Gov. Doug Ducey.

The only sure way to end this culture of corruption fueled by corporate “dark money” from the “Kochtopus” in Arizona is to vote their lickspittle servant Republican politicians out of office en masse. Their stranglehold on Arizona government needs to be broken. Only then is a brighter future possible.

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