Laurie Roberts, The Republic | azcentral.com | Published 6:02 a.m. MT June 7, 2018 | Updated 6:25 a.m. MT June 7, 2018
It’s time to sound the alarm, Arizona.
If you were astonished to see our leaders establish a universal voucher program, diverting more money to private schools even as public schools were woefully underfunded …
If you question the propriety of Arizona Public Service being able to secretly fund a multi-million-dollar campaign to elect a pair of regulators who then voted to raise your electric bill …
If you ever marvel at our leaders’ constant moves to protect the identities of those who bankroll their campaigns … from you …
Then listen up.
It’s time to take the law into your own hands – by changing it, so that you can see who is really running this state.
This, Arizona, is your aOOOga moment.
Wanted: 60,000 signatures
With just 28 days until petitions are due, the Outlaw Dirty Money campaign is coming up short.
The initiative drive needs 300,000 signatures to ensure that the proposed constitutional amendment – requiring disclosure of major “dark money” donors – makes the November ballot.
Here’s what it comes down to: the campaign needs another 60,000 signatures by June 30, and it needs volunteers to step up and get them.
“I lose a lot of sleep over it,” Terry Goddard, co-chairman of the campaign, told me. “But I have a lot of confidence that people are going to come through.”
This isn’t a big-money campaign that draws support from special interest groups. The bipartisan campaign has raised just $400,000, most of it from individuals.
Of that, Goddard and his wife, Monica, have kicked in $100,000. Other major donors include Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundation, ($50,000) and Don Diamond, a Tucson developer who donates to Republican candidates ($25,000), according to a list supplied by the campaign.
You won’t find anyone hiding their financial involvement in this campaign.
Goddard says he has 85,000 signatures in hand and is expecting paid petition circulators to provide 150,000 more. He needs 300,000 to assure a cushion.
It’s up to you, Arizona
That means it’s up to you, Arizona, to decide whether you should be able to know who is anonymously trying to influence your vote and buy our elections.
Whether it’s OK for special interests to hide behind innocuous sounding names like Save Our Future Now, one of two non-profits set up in 2014 to run dark money campaigns for a pair of Corporation Commission candidates.
Campaigns we now believe were funded by APS.
There is, of course, nothing illegal about APS running a campaign aimed at getting a couple of friendly regulators onto the commission that sets utility rates. But shouldn’t you have known about it before casting your vote?
Under the proposed Outlaw Dirty Money initiative, any group spending more than $10,000 would have to disclose all donors who contributed $2,500 or more. The group would be responsible for identifying the original source of the money, rather than just the last non-profit “social welfare” group through which it was laundered.
Arizona Sign a Petition Day
Outlaw Dirty Money has until July 5 to collect the valid signatures of 225,963 voters.
To get there, the campaign has designed Saturday Arizona Sign A Petition Day. There will be several dozen sites across the state where voters can pick up, sign or turn in a petition. (To find a location near you, go to OutlawDirtyMoney.com or call 602-633-5146.)
Goddard says people have jumped to sign petitions when they can find them. But the heat has been a setback, as well as competition with other initiative petitions on the street.
Goddard is pulling out all the stops. He’s even sending petitions to the 1,000 people on his Christmas card list.
But without more help, this initiative campaign is doomed, and I shudder to think what message our leaders would take from that.
“They’ll say that people don’t care and I know that’s not true,” Goddard said. “We’re not getting push back on the streets. We’re not getting people who say, ‘I won’t sign.’ It’s just the opposite. They grab the petitions away from us to sign.”
That’s if they can find them.
It’s up to you, Arizona.
60,000 signatures in 28 days.
“This,” Goddard said, “is where the rubber meets the road. It’s in the hands of the voters of Arizona right now.”