By Laurie Roberts, AZ Central, July 1, 2019
There are a lot of ways to show your patriotism this Fourth of July.
You can deck out in your red-white-and-blue best. You can wave sparklers or shoot off fireworks (not recommended). You can watch Joey Chestnut pound down Nathan’s Famous hot dogs on ESPN (definitely not recommended).
Or you can do something to actually advance the cause of democracy in this state – something far more satisfying than watching a guy cram hot dogs down his throat.
You can join the citizen crusade to Outlaw Dirty Money in Arizona’s campaigns. You can grab hold of the shroud covering the people and groups that are secretly spending big money to buy elections in our beloved state.
It’ll pass if it gets on the ballot
Three months ago, Outlaw Dirty Money launched its campaign to put an initiative on the 2020 ballot, a proposal that would allow voters to do that which our leaders have steadfastly refused to do:
Require the disclosure of big dark-money donors in Arizona’s campaigns.
It’s an all-volunteer effort, one that’ll require a willingness to work for the Arizona we deserve.
If it gets on the ballot, it’ll pass. Ninety-one percent of Tempe voters and 87% of Phoenix voters approved local dark money disclosure ordinances last year.
But it’s hard to get on the ballot
The trick, of course, is getting on the ballot.
Gov. Doug Ducey and the Legislature have refused to require disclosure, clinging to the phony notion that it’s an affront to the First Amendment. Apparently, Arizona Public Service would have been victimized had voters known its parent company was secretly spending $10 million to get its favored regulators elected.
In fact, state leaders actually loosened the laws to allow more groups to hide – in essence proclaiming that voters have no right to know who is trying to influence their vote.
But they do, and sadly there is only one way to make that happen.
Why 2,000 volunteers need your help
Here’s where things stand, in stark and rather daunting numbers:
- 356,467. That’s the number of signatures Outlaw Dirty Money needs to get a proposed constitutional change on the November 2020 ballot. That’s 125,000 more signatures than they needed in 2018, when they fell short.
- 500,000. That’s the signature goal, because big-money interests will do everything they can to ensure you never get the chance to vote on this. Again, that is.
- 2,000. That’s how many Arizonans are working to get ODM on the ballot. But it’s a monumental task, sort of like climbing Camelback Mountain on roller skates.
- 30,000. That’s the number of signatures collected during the campaign’s first three months, with a year to go.
“It’s been a slow start, yeah,” Terry Goddard, chairman of Outlaw Dirty Money, said. “Based on the last go-round, I know it’s possible. But it just takes a push.”
That’s where you come in.
Outlaw Dirty Money is spreading across the state on July 4. Campaign organizers are hoping to gather 10,000 signatures at 28 events on Thursday, as Arizonans gather to celebrate this great nation.
But the campaign needs more volunteers to circulate those petitions, both on Thursday and in the days and months to come.
In a word, the campaign needs you.
Need reminders of why we need this?
All of you who wonder why our leaders constantly devise ways to divert more money to private schools when poll after poll shows show Arizonans want to shore up funding of public schools.
All of you who look at your rising APS bills and wonder why a rate increase was granted to a utility already pulling in massive profits and paying its CEO more than $1 million a month.
All of you who were dismayed at the amount of anonymous money spent to attack Martha McSally in last year’s campaigns, as Democrats caught up to and surpassed Republicans nationally in dark money dealings.
All of you who are annoyed by attack ads launched by anonymous groups who can lie to you because they are hidden and thus not accountable for what they say.
All of you who are just plain sick and tired of campaigns that are heavily influenced by anonymous interests that cloak themselves in innocuous names and engulf the state in ads telling you how to vote.
Without, of course, telling you who they are or what they have to gain.
How you can join the movement
The Outlaw Dirty Money initiative would require any non-profit spending more than $20,000 on a statewide campaign ($10,000 for local races) to disclose all donors who contributed at least $5,000.
“If you’re a jury, you get to evaluate the witness based upon a rigorous examination of their qualifications,” Goddard, a former state attorney general, told me. “If you’re a voter, you don’t. That’s just seriously wrong and as a result you end up casting a vote that’s not at all knowledgeable. I do think it’s very dangerous for democracy.”
If you’d like to help, go to outlawdirtymoney.com. Or email the campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call 602-633-5146 or drop by campaign headquarters, 5043 N. Seventh Ave., Suite B, in Phoenix.
This is the largest grassroots movement in the state’s history. It isn’t going to be easy.
But wouldn’t it be a Yankee Doodle delight to strike a blow for democracy?