In just 15 days, volunteers have collected 20,000 signatures aimed at making it more difficult for anonymous interests to buy Arizona elections.
That’s amazing news. Now here’s the challenge:
The Outlaw Dirty Money campaign has just 13 days more to collect the final 40,000 signatures needed to put dark money disclosure on the November ballot.
40,000 signatures to give Arizona’s voters the power to do that which Arizona’s leaders have steadfastly refused to do:
To let you know who is spending big to try to get your vote. To require that major dark money donors be identified, so that you can consider the source when evaluating their campaign ads.
We’ve seen the near impossible
To do that, Outlaw Dirty Money needs to collect the valid signatures of 225,963 voters by July 5. It needs to 300,000, to assure a cushion.
Or put another way, 40,000 signatures. In 13 days.
“It’s not impossible,” former Attorney General Terry Goddard, who is co-chairman of the campaign, told me. “We’re ramping up better and better every day. But it’s a big, big, big slog.”
Odds are, it’s a near-impossible quest – one that big-money interests are no doubt smirking about in their corner offices.
But we’ve already witnessed the near impossible in Arizona politics this year.
What were the odds when this year began that Arizona teachers would be getting double-digit percent pay raises?
Or that voters would be getting the chance to decide whether they want the massive expansion of school vouchers approved last year by Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature?
There’s a reason they hide
I’ve written countless times about our leaders’ continuing quest to widen the pipeline of public money into private schools even as more than 90 percent of kids attend underfunded public schools.
I’ve written about the curious stranglehold that Arizona Public Service seems to have on the Corporation Commission that (supposedly) regulates utilities.
I’ve written about the anonymous interests that spent at least $15 million trying to get their favored candidates elected to state offices in 2014 – with much more, no doubt, to come this year.
And I’ve written about our leaders not only refusing to require dark money disclosure but boldly changing state law to allow even more non-profit groups to hide their campaign spending.
There’s a reason such groups want anonymity and I’m guessing it’s not because they are little old ladies who fear that they’ll be called out on Twitter because they donated $10 to the Save the Owls.
Our leaders support dark money
They want the people who run this state to be beholden to them and they want to make sure we mere voters can’t find out about it.
Under the proposed Outlaw Dirty Money initiative, any non-profit spending more than $10,000 on a political campaign would have to disclose all donors who contributed at least $2,500.
In Tempe this spring, 91 percent of voters approved the Sunshine Ordinance, to require disclosure of big dark money donors in city elections.
The response by Ducey and the Legislature was to pass a law barring cities from requiring dark money disclosure in city campaigns.
Ducey and the people who support him see it as a First Amendment issue.
Apparently, APS might not have sunk $3.2 million into getting a pair of their favored regulators elected in 2014 had the utility had to do so openly. (It’s widely believed that’s what happened, but the utility has gone to court to ensure we never find out for sure.)
Here’s what you can do
People ask me all the time what they can do to make an impact on our beloved state. Here is your chance.
This weekend, volunteers will spread out across Arizona in search of 40,000 signatures.
Here’s a list of places you can go to sign. Or you can call 602-633-5146.
I don’t know if the campaign can get there.
I do know that miracles happen. Just ask the teachers who are getting 10 percent pay raises.
Last call, Arizona.