Arizona Voters Overwhelmingly Vote to Ban Dark Money But Governor Tosses the Ban
On March 13th, in a local city election in Tempe, Arizona 91 percent of voters said yes to forcing “Dark Money” organizations to reveal financial backers if their spending in local elections exceeds $1,000. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey overruled his constituents vote when he signed a new House Bill to prevent cities from enforcing such campaign finance laws.
“Dark Money” refers to non-profit politically aligned organizations that can receive unlimited amounts of funding from individuals, unions and corporations without having to reveal their donors. Dark Money contributions have exploded in recent years going from $5.2 million to over $300 million in the 2012 presidential election.
As a response to the Tempe vote, Gov. Ducey signed House Bill 2153 which prohibits cities from enforcing campaign-finance reforms like requiring the disclosure of donors who donate over $1000.
According to the Arizona Republic, Tempe Councilwoman Lauren Kuby called the Governor’s actions “a direct poke in the eye to not just Tempe voters, but residents throughout the state.”
Ducey’s spokesman, Daniel Scarpinato, said: “The governor’s view is that individuals have the First Amendment right to free speech without the fear of intimidation.”
Arizona’s move to overrule the will of Tempe citizens is similar to what happened in South Dakota in late 2016 and early 2017.
In the November 2016 election, South Dakota citizens passed the first state-wide anti-corruption law. The law, called the Anti-Corruption Act, would have created an independent ethics commission, limited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, and banned officials from joining lobbying firms for two years after leaving their elected office.
Protestors packed the South Dakota Senate when politicians called an emergency meeting in February of 2017 to vote to repeal the Anti-Corruption Act that was passed in November.
— Represent.Us (@RepresentDotUs) February 1, 2017
Represent.Us wrote the Anti-Corruption Act and has been working to get it passed in cities and states around the country. Passing the act, as in the case in Arizona and South Dakota, is not the end of the battle. Many politicians, like Arizona Gov. Ducey, benefit largely from Dark Money and are willing to fight to keep it that way.
Despite the uphill battle voters have passed more than 75 Anti-Corruption Acts and Resolutions across America thanks to the hard work of Represent.Us.