APS holds a blind auction for two State Corporation Seats in 2014, bankrolling the two candidates that agree with their rate hiking agenda.
The State Legislature, led by Vince “Dark Money is Good” Leach, has adopted measures to attack the enforceability of voter-approved Dark Money Ordinances in Tempe (which passed with 91 percent voter approval) and Phoenix ( where voters approved with 85 percent of the vote.)
Former Phoenix Mayor and State Attorney General Terry Goddard, a leading advocate against anonymous corporate funds that leave a stench in our political campaigns, passionately spoke to members of Legislative District 18 (this writer is a PC for LD 18) at both their April monthly meeting and their Dems and Donuts event at the Denny’s at Chandler and the I-10 about moving forward with the new Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative that would stop organizations like APS and legislators like Leach from running campaigns in perpetual darkness.
Readers will remember that the original Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative was thrown out by the Ducey packed State Supreme Court over their interpretation on how the petition signatures were gathered. Now knowing how the court will (hopefully) interpret the rules regarding initiatives, Mr. Goddard and his team of volunteers are looking to get 500,000 signatures by July 2, 2020, to put the new Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative on the ballot.
After delivering his comments to the LD 18 members, Mr. Goddard sat down and answered questions regarding the new initiative.
The questions and his responses are below.
1) With regards to clean elections and clean government, please tell the reader what are two reasons for putting the Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative on the ballot is important for Arizonans and the state?
“Before we can cast a knowledgeable vote, we need to be able to evaluate the message in political ads in light of who paid for them. We must protect the voters’ right to know by requiring clear and accurate disclosure of the original source of funding for political ads.”
2) Please describe at least one reason the pending case of APS before the Corporation Commission fits the rationale of putting Outlaw Dirty Money on the ballot?
“APS fooled the Az voters in 2014 by secretly paying $10.7 million to get two handpicked commissioners elected to the Commission. Those two voted to raise rates. (The people are) paying a big price for what Dirty Money did in that election. Unless we pass the Outlaw Dirty Money Constitutional amendment, that kind of secret election manipulation will continue to be legal in Arizona.”
3) What are at least two lessons from the Court Rejection of the ballot initiative in 2018 that you will be applying to get the Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative on the ballot in 2020?
“We are depending on volunteers because the court made it virtually impossible to use paid petition gatherers.”
Mr. Goddard also relayed that his team will concentrate on preventing the “sneaky subpoenas” that Americans for Prosperity used to disqualify thousands of signatures during the 2018 court battle. In that instance, a security guard was given the subpoenas on a weekend and he never told members of the Outlaw Dirty Money team about it. The first notice they got of the subpoenas was when the witnesses named but never notified were called to testify at the hearing, too late for the Outlaw forces to try to get those petition passers into court to testify.
4) What are at least two lessons from Republican attempts to stymie the initiative process that you and your team will be applying to get the signatures necessary to put Outlaw Dirty Money on the ballot?
“They (the legislature) keep trying to make it harder to (collect initiative) petitions as opposed to the candidate (ones). The special laws applying to initiative petitions mean that citizens exercising their constitutional right to petition must be extremely careful. They must check the ‘Volunteer’ box before gathering any signatures and they must not use abbreviations or anything to give opponents a chance to challenge a signature.
5) Please advise what is the actual number of valid signatures that are needed to get the new Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative on the ballot?
“We need to gather just over 357,000 valid signatures which means getting at least 10 percent over that number as a precaution.”
6) With regards to the complaints of Vince Leach, what is your opinion of the State Attorney General Opinion with regards to the city of Tempe’s Anti Dark Money Ordinance?
“(The Attorney General’s office) said that Tempe was not in violation of the preemption attempt by the legislature unless and until the City tries to enforce its disclosure charter amendment, adopted by a vote of 91% of the citizens, against a 501 c4 nonprofit. Since this type of corporation is the vehicle for almost all Dirty Money, the subtext of this opinion is that eventually, Tempe will violate state law. Although the legislature may not have the power to interfere this way with a charter city, that principle will have to be tested in court. This preemption attempt makes clear how much the majority in the legislature hate to see citizens exercising their constitutional rights. The best way to protect the actions taken by Tempe and Phoenix is to gather enough signatures to put the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative on the ballot and make sure it passes.”
7) Should other Arizona towns and cities like Tempe and Phoenix adopt Anti Dark Money ordinances along with supporting Outlaw Dirty Money at the state level?
“Absolutely. Send the message that Arizonans demand complete transparency in election funding. Recently, the Tucson City Council unanimously passed an anti-dark money resolution. Flagstaff may do the same very soon. It is beyond question that the overwhelming majority of Arizonans want to see transparency in political spending.
8) Is there anything you would like to add for the reader to consider?
“Driving the Dirty political Money out of our state is fundamental to protect our Democracy. If Dirty Money continues to dominate our elections, Democracy in Arizona is doomed. How can we say we cast a knowledgeable vote when we do not know what interests are arguing for or against a candidate or a proposition?
Dirty Money has done more than any other factor to erode people’s confidence that their vote means anything. If you do not know who is paying for a political advertisement, if you cannot evaluate that source, you cannot say your vote is based on reality. Without that knowledge, our vote has no value.
Ninety-nine percent (of campaign contributors) already disclose, it is only the very rich and some corporations who wish to hide their involvement, who have managed to get special treatment here in Arizona. Under the US Constitution, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that there is no ‘right to hide’ one’s sponsorship of political advertising. But, in Arizona, the legislature keeps making it easier and easier to hide who is really paying. Because Arizona is first in the Nation both in the amount of Dirty Money spent and the impact it has had on getting candidates elected, if Arizona rejects secret political funding, it will have a big influence across the County.”
Mr. Goddard is right that Dark/Dirty Money is a “fundamental issue for our Democracy” that damages confidence in our leaders and tears at the fabric of our republic. To have a rich oligarchic few orchestrate a shadow agenda from the darkness behind the scenes to benefit the few at the expense of the vast majority who want daylight and honesty in our politics, elections, and public service is anathema to what the American Ideal and Dream is supposed to be about.
All popular local, state, and national efforts to shine the light on these specters of dark corruption and stem future dirty money influence should be supported.
For more information on the new Outlaw Dirty Money Ballot Initiative or if you would like to volunteer to collect, per state guidelines, signed petitions, please visit The Outlaw Dirty Money website and Facebook page for more information.