How Much Is A Governor?

A dark-money group called Americans for Responsible Leadership donated $925,000 to Doug Ducey's $1.8 million campaign against Prop. 204 – elevating Ducey's profile even as it killed the sales tax proposal.

Thanks to Internal Revenue Service records, we now know that Americans for Responsible Leadership — which spent another $575,000 to kill the top-two primary initiative -- was funded almost wholly by the Koch brother’s conservative network.

Well, as Ducey said at that Koch summit, "You're known by the company you keep." Lately, the company he's keeping seems all about covert cash and corporate special interests. No anonymous donors have shelled out cash to get Democrat Fred DuVal elected.

Meanwhile, millions of dollars from anonymous interests were spent to ensure that Ducey won the Republican nomination. And American Encore, part of the Kochs' dark-money web, has spent $1.3 million in the general-election race, touting Ducey and attacking DuVal (Fred DuVal the Democratic candidate.)

As Ducey told his secret pals, the ones who are in the market to install their guys in governor's offices across the country:

"I can't emphasize enough the power of organizations like this."

Laurie Roberts, Columnist, The Arizona Republic

The Dirty Money Winners and Losers From The Arizona Republic

Gov. Doug Ducey slid into office with a little help from his secret friends. Anonymous interests spent at least $5.2 million to make sure that he became governor of Arizona. Among the dark-money groups that supported him or spent money to clear out his competition: the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, Veterans for a Strong America, the 60 Plus Association, American Encore, Concerned Women Legislative Action Committee and the Legacy Foundation Action Fund. All six groups have ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Kochs’ secretive network of conservative donors.

Arizona Corporation Commissioners Doug Little and Tom Forese rode onto the five-person commission that sets utility rates with $3.2 million of help from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and Save Our Future Now. APS – whose profits are heavily dependent on the commissioners’ decisions -- is widely believed to have fronted the campaign for the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which in turn funded Save Our Future

Secretary of State Michele Reagan won a hotly contested GOP primary despite a jaw dropping $752,000 in dark money spent on Justin Pierce. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club bankrolled the campaign to plow the road for Pierce, who happens to be the son of then-Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce. The strategy backfired amid suspicions about who was dropping so much dough into the race.

State Superintendent Diane Douglas was elected despite the efforts of the dark money group Stand for Children Inc., funded in part by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and in part by Stand For Children Inc., a national education-focused non-profit. Stand for Children dumped $394,000 into defeating Douglas and electing Democrat David Garcia.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club was the state’s largest dark money operation in 2014, spending $1.73 million to get you to vote a certain way. It was followed by 60 plus ($1.69 million) and American Encore ($1.46 million). In addition to backing Ducey for governor and Forese and Little for the Corporation Commission and Pierce for secretary of state, it spent nearly $300,000 trying to elect the most conservative Legislature possible.

State Legislators the group backed: Republican Sens. Sylvia Allen of Snowflake and David Farnsworth of Mesa. Also, Republican Reps. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff, Brenda Barton of Payson, Jill Norgaard of Phoenix, Paul Boyer Phoenix, Anthony Kern of Glendale, Steve Montenegro and Darin Mitchell of Litchfield Park, Steve Smith of Maricopa, Rusty Bowers of Mesa, Vince Leach of Tucson and Mark Finchem of R-Oro Valley. Legislators the group opposed: Democratic Sen. Barbara McGuire of Kearney and Reps. Eric Meyer, D-Phoenix, Bob Robson, R-Chandler, Bob Worsley, R-Mesa and Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction.

Here are the top 10 legislators to benefit from dark money in 2014. Nine of them voted for SB 1516, the dark money expansion law. The 10th, Sen. Catherine Miranda, never recorded a vote on the bill.

Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, scored the biggest dark money boost of any legislator. Worsley enjoyed nearly $120,000 worth of secret help to fend off a strong challenge from Republican Ralph Heap. The Arizona Business Coalition, Stand for Children and Arizona 2014 backed Worsley. Heap attracted $42,000 in dark money support.

Sen. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix, won her south Phoenix seat with more than $113,000 of anonymous help. Her secret admirers included the Koch-connected Save Our Future Now along with Arizona 2014 and Friends of Arizona . Her Democratic opponent, Aaron Marquez, attracted nearly $24,000 in dark money support from New Politics.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, benefited from nearly $73,000 in dark money. The Arizona Free Enterprise Club, the American Federation for Children and the Center for Arizona Policy Action spent big to ensure that Allen defeated independent Tom O’Halleran.

Sen. Jeff Dial, R-Chandler, attracted at least $68,000 in anonymous support as he battled former state GOP Chairman Tom Morrissey in this swing district. Among his dark money supporters: Stand for Children, American Federation for Children, Arizona Residents Council, Arizona Business Coalition and Arizona Chamber Jobs.

Rep. Doug Coleman, R-Apache Junction, enjoyed $44,000 in dark money help against a primary challenge from former Rep. John Fillmore. The Arizona Business Coalition, Stand for Children and the American Federation for Children backed Coleman. Meanwhile, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and American Federation for Children (yeah, same group that supported him) spent $54,000 to oppose him.

Sen. Carlyle Begay, then D Ganado, benefited from $44,000 in dark money help to defeat three candidates who attracted no dark money support. Begay’s dark money support came from Friends of Arizona and the American Federation for Children. Begay has since become a Republican.

Rep. Bob Robson, R-Chandler, benefited from $43,000 in dark money support. His backers were the Arizona Business Coalition, Stand for Children and the Arizona Residents Council. Meanwhile, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club plunked down more than $40,000 to defeat him.

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, enjoyed at least $38,000 in secret help. His fan club funneled money through the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, American Federation for Children and Center for Arizona Policy Action. Smith’s opponent, Scott Bartle, enjoyed $81,000 in dark money support.

Rep. Jill Norgaard, R-Phoenix, attracted more than $37,000 in dark money support, from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and American Federation for Children. Her Republican challenger John King got more than $22,000 in dark money support.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, got $36,000 in dark money help, courtesy of the Center for Arizona Policy Action and the American Federation for Children. That, however, is dwarfed by the more than $93,000 dark money drive to replace him with Republican Jeff Schwartz.

Dirty Money: Courage and Cowardice

Why does “Dirty Money” exist in the first place? The answer is really pretty simple: The powerful and wealthy who are paying for Dirty Money campaigns don’t want you to know who they are. Okay. But that just begs the question, “why not?”

Common sense has an answer: Because if you knew who they are and what they really want, they couldn’t influence you or our elections. For instance, its pretty unlikely that you’re going to see a television/internet commercial featuring the Koch Brothers telling you that they’re spending their money to buy enough votes to control the Arizona legislature. Or a governor. Or a citizen’s initiative. Simply put, they are afraid of putting their mouths where their money is. Here’s what the late Justice Antonin Scalia had to say:

“There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance. Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously … hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.”

-Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia