AZ Central | Ariz. secretary of state candidates discuss dark money

by Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic | 11:16 a.m. MST July 21, 2014

Compton letter

(Photo: Andrew Harrer, Bloomberg)

So-called dark money — contributions from groups that are not obliged by law to disclose their donors — is showing up in political campaigns and fueling the debate about transparency in politics.

The Republic asked the candidates: As secretary of state, what, if anything, would you do to address dark money?

Republican candidate Justin Pierce did not respond. Pierce has been the beneficiary of $186,000 from an independent-expenditure committee that is not required to list its donors but which is barred by law from coordinating its efforts with Pierce's campaign.

Terry Goddard, Democrat:

"We must stop dark money. Period. Arizona voters have the right to know who is trying to buy our votes. As a Clean Elections candidate, I only take contributions when donors are clearly identified, but the sad fact is Arizona has become a major center for anonymous political funds. Millions of dark money dollars are flooding into our state and polluting elections here and across the country.

"As Secretary of State, I will fight to stop this deplorable practice:

"First, I will use my experience as Attorney General to uncover the names of the original contributors by every means available and will publicize any groups that conceal the actual source of their funds.

"Second, I will push in the Legislature for an effective anti-dark money law.

"Finally, if the Legislature keeps refusing to ban dark money, I will draft an initiative that does the job and lead the campaign to win Arizona voters' approval."

Wil Cardon, Republican:

"We've already seen massive amounts of dark money in this race, helping Justin Pierce's campaign, and it's doing a lot of harm. ...

"We shouldn't have to speculate and Arizonans shouldn't have to wonder if improper or unethical spending like that is taking place. ...

"I've always said there is a balance to be struck between First Amendment rights and the people's desire for transparency and reporting. Finding that balance is a critical job, and the tiebreakers should always favor the First Amendment and free speech. Arizona voters deserve to know who is paying."

Michele Reagan, Republican:

"The influence of dark money in elections is an issue every state is trying to tackle. Some states have adopted disclosure requirements, but whether or not they will be found constitutional under the Citizens United ruling remains to be seen.

"However, that does not mean that Arizona should not be striving for more transparency in our campaign finance system. Last year I introduced a bill in the Senate that would have provided the disclosure of the top 3 donors for political ads.

"There were groups on the political right and the left who fought such disclosure, but do not let them fool you: It does not need to be a complicated issue. State law already mandates the disclosure of donors to political campaigns and the top three donors for ads from political action committees. I would like to have the same rules apply to Independent Expenditures."

Originally posted to The Republic | 11:16 a.m. MST July 21, 2014

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.