Right-Wing Dark Money Groups Want Donor Anonymity, But Not For You The Voters

These evil GQP bastards never give it a rest. They don’t give a damn about the will of the voters. That’s why they packed the courts with activist Republican judges who will reverse the will of the voters on specious claims from their right-wing counterparts. And the MAGA Fascists in control of the state legislature will try to do the rest of the dirty work.

The Arizona Mirror reports, Conservative groups sue to block voter-approved ‘dark money’ law

Prop. 211, dubbed the “Voters Right to Know Act,” was approved by an overwhelming majority of Arizona voters in November and became law earlier this month after the election was certified on Dec. 5.

The act promised increased transparency in politics by enacting new reporting thresholds. A campaign spending more than $50,000 in media messages to support a statewide or legislative candidate or a ballot proposition is now required to disclose contributors who give at least $5,000. In local elections, donors who give $2,500 or more to a campaign spending over $25,000 would be likewise revealed.

[The American Taliban at] the Center for Arizona Policy, and the [MAGA Fascists at] the Arizona Free Enterprise Club are suing asking a judge to find Prop. 211 unconstitutional, saying that being forced to disclose the source of their contributions violates the rights of their donors and restricts their willingness to engage in political activities – political activities designed to undermine and destroy American democracy and civil liberties.]

“The Act violates Arizonans’ right to speak freely by chilling donors from supporting causes they believe in and wish to support, lest their charitable giving become public knowledge,” reads the brief [Oh, boo-freakin’-hoo you cowards]. “It also impairs the speech of nonprofit organizations … because those organizations will be compelled to refrain from speaking or engaging in public dialogue to avoid compromising the privacy of their donors.”

Note: Every donation that you and I make to a politician or a political organization is recorded and is public information. It is only these wealthy elitists who can hide behind a 501 (c) organization under federal tax law who can remain anonymous. This privileged status should be a violation of equal protection – we should all be treated equally under the law.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a 501(c)(4) social welfare (sic) organization that regularly lobbies for business interests, including lower taxes and reduced regulations. The Center for Arizona Policy is a 501(c)(3) public charity that cannot engage in political activities, but its sister organization Center for Arizona Policy Action can and does. Under federal tax law, neither group is required to disclose donors, but under Prop. 211 they will be forced to do so for their election activities.

Both groups lobbied against the passage of Prop. 211, saying it amounted to the enshrinement of “cancel culture.” [Ironically as they try to cancel your vote for Prop. 211, the “Voters Right to Know Act,”]. The Center for Arizona Policy is a frequent proponent of anti-LGBTQ laws and said in the lawsuit that it fears harassment directed at the organization will be turned towards donors if it’s forced to reveal them. [So anonymous hatred for the LGBTQ community and women’s freedom of choice in child bearing. The public should know who the American Taliban are driving this Christian Nationalism.]

“CAP has been subject to harassment and intimidation because of its charitable activities [sic] related to communicating with the public on matters of public policy and issue advocacy,” attorneys for the organization wrote. “CAP believes that its donors, if disclosed, may experience similar harassment and intimidation.”

The disclosure requirements in Prop. 211 represent an unwarranted invasion of privacy into the beliefs and positions of donors, according to the lawsuit. Chilling the free speech of individuals will have the detrimental effect of narrowing public discourse, they add.

“Voters only get to know who felt comfortable subjecting themselves to the Act’s identity and financial reporting requirements when communicating their political views; voters do not get to know who the Act silenced,” reads the lawsuit. “That is backwards. Transparency is for the government; privacy is for individuals.”

Terry Goddard, a former state attorney general and now a co-chair of the Stop Dark Money campaign, which spearheaded efforts to get Prop. 211 on the ballot and to rally Arizonans to support it, said the arguments from the groups against it are tired and absurd. Under state law, members of the public who decide to donate to a candidate’s campaign face contribution limits and have their names and addresses reported. Big ticket donors and political ads should be treated no differently, Goddard said.

“If you or I have given $50 or more, our first and last names and addresses are reported,” he said. “That’s not a violation. Why is this one different?”

Exactly!

Then there are the MAGA Fascists in the Arizona legislature who do not want to protect your anonymity as a voter, and possibly even the inviolability of your secret ballot.

Alex Gulotta and Jenny Guzman write at the Arizona Republic, Arizona bills would post voters’ names, addresses, birth years and ballot images:

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest.

The right to privately and securely cast a ballot, a pillar of voting rights, has stood the test of time as Arizona’s democracy has faced increasing attacks in recent years. The Arizona Constitution affirms “secrecy in voting shall be preserved,” but Senate Bill 1324 and House Bill 2560 put this at risk.

The companion bills, dubbed the “Voter Privacy Violation Act” by civil rights advocates, would make Arizona an extreme outlier by posting detailed voter data and unfiltered ballot images online during the critical post-election leading up to certification of the results.

Lawmakers and Gov. Katie Hobbs must reject these assaults on our democracy.

Bills would post voters’ names, addresses

Transparency into our election process is essential to guarantee free and fair elections, but sponsors of the Voter Privacy Violation Act used the false pretense of it to introduce the legislation.

In actuality, the act creates a threatening voting environment by posting voters’ names, addresses, birth years and all ballot images online.

It then connects that information to voters’ specific precincts before certification, when it could be used to identify individual voters and to manufacture election falsehoods.

We have already seen this with QAnon election denier Rep. Liz Harris and her door to door canvas (voter intimidation) in search of “anomalies” in voter records for the 2020 election as part of the Cyber Ninja sham “fraudit.” She released her bogus findings in a report which has been widely debunked by election experts.

Failed Republican MAGA election denier candidate Abe Hamadeh is currently using an offshoot of the domestic terrorist organization the Oath Keepers to conduct his own door to door canvas in search of voters who claim to have been disenfranchised in the 2022 election.

Arizona already has data sharing policies that balance transparency in the election process with protecting voters and election workers.

Arizonans should be alarmed that lawmakers are increasingly supporting legislation that would unravel our electoral process. And now, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes has joined them by supporting these mirror bills.

Info could be used to identify, target voters

In a landscape increasingly plagued by voter intimidation, publicizing voters’ personal information along with their voting record opens the floodgates to harassment.

Bad actors [see above] could easily abuse this data ahead of certification by cross-referencing posted ballots with the information of voters in the public database.

This could happen especially in smaller precincts where there are a few outlier ballots that go against the voting trend of the precinct and with those that include write-in candidates.

Publishing the cast vote record which includes precinct votes by every race could be used to target specific areas based on how residents voted. Additionally, people sometimes inadvertently sign their ballots; posting these images without scraping images poses a threat to a voter’s right to a secret ballot.

Extra data could slow election certification

This is not a far-fetched reality.

During the 2020 election, extremists knocked on the doors of unsuspecting Arizonans, demanding to know how individuals voted – in the name of election denialism [Liz Harris group]. The passage of the Voter Privacy Violation Act would streamline these vile efforts.  

The legislation would also hinder the election certification process by extending the time for election contests and providing unnecessary data that would logjam the process. Some Arizona counties already face challenges certifying elections by the deadline.

The extended timeline and raw data would further prevent election officials from meeting critical deadlines and would give election contestants deniers more resources to manipulate facts and spread disinformation – one of the biggest threats currently facing our democracy. 

Similar bill in Colorado has needed guardrails

Lawmakers recognize the threat of harm that comes with this legislation – the text includes a clause to shield election officials from liability if harm were to be committed against voters based on the information it mandates become public.

But this gets the role of government backward. The state is constitutionally obligated to protect voter privacy and safety, not facilitate the violation of those rights.

Voter transparency laws have been implemented in other states, with Colorado being the closest example to Arizona, though there are key differences.

Colorado still requires counties to anonymize ballots and take affirmative steps to prevent violations of the secret ballot. Additionally, Colorado publishes the information only after election certification, preventing misinformation peddlers from interfering with the election process.

Arizona’s proposals have no such guardrails to protect privacy or to preserve the integrity of the election certification process. 

There’s no need to trample voters’ privacy rights

The vast majority of Arizona voters have confidence in our election results, and lawmakers have the obligation to uphold voters’ confidence in our democratic systems.

There is no need to trample voters’ federal and state right to privacy and risk the dangers to our democracy that would accompany such reckless legislation.

Arizonans deserve to make their voices heard in our democracy, free from the intimidation and threats of bad actors, which is not possible under the Voter Privacy Violation Act.

In the name of supposed transparency, these bills will facilitate chaos, put voters at risk and violate voters’ constitutional rights, all to appease election denialists ahead of a massively consequential election year.

Proposition 211, dubbed the “Voters Right to Know Act,” should be upheld by the courts, and Senate Bill 1324 and House Bill 2560, dubbed the “Voter Privacy Violation Act,” should be rejected by the legislature as currently drafted without necessary safeguards.





2 thoughts on “Right-Wing Dark Money Groups Want Donor Anonymity, But Not For You The Voters”

  1. Americans for Prosperity, a national dark money group also filed a federal lawsuit asking that the new law be declared unconstitutional. Americans for Prosperity is one of the original dark money groups with ties to the conservative “Kochtopus” Network, one that has funneled money into a web of other dark money operations that in turn have worked to kill earlier voter initiatives, including one to change the way we elect our leaders in this state. ” Dark money groups now fighting Arizona’s new disclosure law. Shocker.”, https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2023/03/20/two-money-groups-now-fighting-arizonas-new-disclosure-law-shocker/70030160007/

  2. Transparency for you, but, I HAVE to protect my privacy to buy off a government official. Lies and rank hypocrisy, have you no shame, sir? Nope, not even a bit.

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