Arizona Daily Star | Goddard targets dark money as political evil

September 12, 2014 12:00 am  •  By Joe Ferguson

Younger Democrats rubbed elbows with party elders on Thursday night to hear secretary of state candidate Terry Goddard speak at a midtown hotel.

Some in the audience at the Viscount Suites were too young to remember his father, former Arizona Gov. Sam Goddard, but the former attorney general still spent a few minutes talking about his dear old dad.

One of stories Goddard likes to tell was when he argued with his father against using a roadrunner in campaign materials.

He said he now realizes the desert bird eats snakes and, politically speaking, there needs to be a few less snakes in the grass.

Goddard said the eight years he served as Arizona attorney general — fighting drug cartels and investigating wire fraud — were a good training ground for his next target: political contributions from undisclosed sources, or so-called dark money.

Conceding “it is hard to know exactly how much,” Goddard told the roughly 30 Democrats in the audience for the Nucleus Club monthly meeting that he estimates roughly $5 million in dark money was spent in the recent primary.

“I am fully prepared there will be a great deal more as we get into the general,” Goddard said.

Goddard said he believes there are no First Amendment protections to keep individual or corporate contributions to political campaigns anonymous.

Arizona, Goddard said, is one of a few states in the nation that allow groups to shield their donor lists from the public.

“The people of the state have a right to know who is trying to the influence their election,” Goddard said.

Goddard didn’t get into specifics of how he’d avoid First Amendment concerns or existing federal rulings that could derail his crusade against dark money in politics.

Instead, he vowed that as secretary of state he would push for a bill with the Legislature to give him the tools to go after dark-money groups.

If Republicans in the statehouse shelve his bill, Goddard said he would reach out to the general public, possibly through the initiative route, putting the issue on a future ballot to let residents decide whether they support anonymous campaign contributions.

Goddard faces state Sen. Michele Reagan, a Republican, in November’s general election.

Originally posted to Arizona Daily Star | September 12, 2014 12:00 am by Joe Ferguson

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