Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stop Dark Money in Arizona

Fair and transparent elections are the foundation of our democracy.

The administration of elections should not be a partisan issue, but it has been increasingly becoming a partisan game for Secretary of State Michelle Reagan, who is the state’s chief election officer.

In her primary election, Secretary Reagan claimed that she was opposed to dark money in elections. But after she won her general election against dark money foe Terry Goddard, she suddenly announced that there is nothing she can do to curb the influence of dark money.

It’s time to hold Secretary Reagan accountable for her actions and demand sunlight in our elections.

Our challenge is that our governor, attorney general and secretary of state all won their elections with significant support from dark money groups. They know to whom they owe their good political fortunes.

So, who do we turn to for protection? The answer is the Clean Elections Commission, by default.

In 1998, in the wake of political scandals in this state, Arizona voters passed the Clean Elections Act, which established a process for candidates to run with public money rather than raise money from special interests. The Act also established the Citizens Clean Elections Commission and empowered the Commission to enforce Arizona’s campaign finance laws.

Recently, the Commission has taken a courageous stand against dark money and illegal coordination in Arizona elections. It has stood up to partisan interests and powerful elected officials and forced them to play more fairly.

When someone violates the law, the Commission brings an enforcement action against that person, demanding accountability to the voters, and the courts have repeatedly upheld the Commission’s authority.

But now Secretary Reagan is attacking the Commission, threatening to take it to court if it continues to play a role in shining light on dark money. What is she afraid of? Her power grab seems designed to keep voters in the dark.

The Clean Elections Act requires disclosure of campaign spending for or against state candidates. Secretary Reagan seems to think that requirement of the Act does not apply to her friends in the dark money world.

Simply put, she isn’t doing her job.

Next month, the Commission will vote on the adoption of new rules that will provide guidance to organizations and the public on when campaign disclosure is required. The Commission has bravely stepped up to shine a light on the influences of dark money, and Arizona voters are fortunate to have their dedication to the integrity of our elections.

They need your help. Please contact the secretary of state.  Tell her to back off the Clean Elections Commission and to support our value of fair and transparent elections. #StopDarkMoney