Governor Ducey signs ‘dark money on steroids’ bill – time for a citizens referendum


Just as I predicted, Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, signed the “dark money on steroids” bill before the ink was even dry. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs ‘dark-money’ bill:

Cartoon_07Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday signed a bill which loosens state control over anonymous campaign donations while making numerous changes to campaign-finance rules.

The governor portrayed Senate Bill 1516 as a step toward greater freedom of [anonymous] political speech, and lauded provisions in the bill that he said will simplify campaign-finance reporting. Critics have labeled it the dark-money bill.

“Laws that relate to free speech should not be so complicated that everyday Arizonans willing to participate in public service have to hire lawyers and accountants to get involved,” Ducey said in a statement. “This is the first step in simplifying our laws and regulations to provide more opportunity for participation in the political process and increased freedom of speech.”

His action comes less than two days after a bitter debate in the House sent the measure to his desk with no votes to spare. Although initially portrayed as a simple clean-up of a tangle of campaign-finance laws, the bill drew heavy political fire from Democrats after Secretary of State Michele Reagan added a provision that would cede state enforcement of anonymous campaign spending by political non-profit corporations to the IRS.

The bill carves out a role for state elections officials to force disclosure of donor names if the non-profit is not in good standing with the IRS or has failed to file with the Arizona Corporation Commission. But as long as a non-profit corporation remains in good standing, the state would not try to make it name its donors.

dark_moneyThe Republican governor, who benefited from $8.2 million in spending by dark-money groups during his 2014 campaign, said the bill should broaden political participation.

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Ducey’s approval comes even as lawmakers are working on fixes to the bill that they hope to enact with a separate bill. Those changes pertain to provisions that allow excess campaign contributions to stay in a candidate’s coffers by reassigning the dollars to another donor. Another would eliminate the ability of a candidate to contribute directly to another candidate’s campaign, the so-called “kingmaker” provision in SB1516.

The bill has already spurred talk of a potential referendum, which would put the law on hold until voters would weigh in on it at the November election. Supporters would need to gather the signature of more than 75,000 voters to qualify for the ballot.

Progress Now Arizona recently conducted a survey that demonstrates just how out of touch our authoritarian Tea-Publican legislature and governor are with the citizens of Arizona.

A new survey by Public Policy Polling, commissioned by Progress Now Arizona, finds that a trio of bills in the Arizona legislature related to campaign finance, overriding citizen initiatives and changing Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission are supported by fewer than one in four voters.

At least 70% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for any candidate for office who supported any of the bills. This coalition of voters is diverse and broad-based, and includes majorities of men and women, all age groups, Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

Key Findings From Survey

  • Just 22% of voters support SB1516 on dark money compared to 48% who oppose. After hearing arguments against the bill, 70% of voters say they oppose it including 65% of Republicans. 81% say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the bill.
  • Only 23% of voters support HCR2023, which allows politicians to override the Voter Protection Act, compared to 47% who oppose. After hearing arguments against the bill, 66% of voters oppose it including 63% of Republican voters. 82%say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the bill.
  •  Only 19% of voters say they support HCR2009, which would alter Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission, while a majority of 54% oppose the bill. After hearing arguments against the bill, 78% of voters oppose it including 70% of Republican voters. 73% say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the bill.

*PPP surveyed 573 Arizona voters from March 21-22, 2016. The margin of error is +/-4.1%. This poll was conducted by automated telephone interviews.


  1. a referendum on making it a felony to take ballots to polls would be more significant to non rich old white democrats who want run for office for their ego trips! (fred duval wannabes)

  2. I saw the ACC hearing on a utility rate case, last night. Two APS dark money commissioners. One retread, ever job hunting, House Speaker mentioned his conflicts of interest, but did not mention his pals changing the law on conflicts to help him. Another retread legislator. And a room full of retirees, opposing the rate case, most on social security, Medicare, VA benefits, or disability payments, against all government, but blindly voting for the bought and paid for dark money commissioners (all Rs) on the ACC. Mindless.

  3. DOUG Ducey’s 1984. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Obfuscation IS transparency. Money IS speech. Regulatory Reform is corruption, dark money and the destruction of the environment. Cities, Counties and School districts can go to hell.

  4. I don’t buy it. They will head to the polls and just keep voting for the canidate with an “R” next to their name and that name will be the one with the most dark money.

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