Dirty money won, and cit­i­zens lost

The Arizona Republic - - Valley&State - EJ Mon­tini Columnist Ari­zona Repub­lic USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

You should go im­me­di­ately to the web­site of the Out­law Dirty Money group, where your brother and sis­ter cit­i­zens are try­ing to do some­thing the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture and Gov. Doug Ducey refuse to do: Shine a light on dirty money. Dirty. Filthy. Money.

It’s a sim­ple thing, re­ally.

Not long ago, 91 per­cent of vot­ers in Tempe passed an or­di­nance that said if you’re a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that spends more than $1,000 to in­flu­ence the out­come of an elec­tion, you have to say who put up the money.

The good peo­ple of Tempe weren’t say­ing a per­son or group couldn’t do­nate to a cam­paign. They just wanted you to be open about it. To own it. So they tried to shine a lit­tle light on the “dark money.”

The city of Phoenix was on track to do the same thing.

But then the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Leg­is­la­ture passed House Bill 2153, which sti­fled these ef­forts by pro­hibit­ing cities, coun­ties or the state from re­quir­ing dark-money groups to dis­close who is be­hind them.

That put the is­sue on Ducey’s desk. He could have ve­toed the bill or signed it — sid­ing with power bro­kers. Ducey chose dark­ness.

In an op-ed for The Ari­zona Repub­lic, one of the lead­ers of the Out­law Dirty Money group, former state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Terry God­dard, wrote, “We be­lieve Ari­zona vot­ers have the right to know who is pay­ing for po­lit­i­cal ads and to make vot­ing de­ci­sions based on com­plete in­for­ma­tion.

“If this is hard, it is be­cause some­one spent a ton of money on ex­pen­sive lawyers to find clever ways to hide their par­tic­i­pa­tion in Ari­zona elec­tions from you and me. To wipe their fin­ger­prints off the knife. To keep us in the dark.

“Our Out­law Dirty Money (out­lawdirty­money.com) ini­tia­tive takes a sim­ple ap­proach. It cuts through the de­cep­tive mumbo jumbo. Our mea­sure will force the per­son who spends money (more than $10,000) to in­flu­ence an Ari­zona elec­tion to tell us where that money came from. And to tell us the ‘orig­i­nal source’ of all con­tri­bu­tions more than $2,500.”

In or­der to get their pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment on the Novem­ber bal­lot, the Out­law Dirty Money group must gather more than 300,000 valid voter sig­na­tures by June 5. It’s not easy.

But it’s nec­es­sary.

At least, if you be­lieve rich peo­ple and cor­po­ra­tions should not be able to spend un­lim­ited money to in­flu­ence elec­tions and not have to re­veal their iden­ti­ties. These are the peo­ple who fund things like at­tack ads. Shouldn’t they own up to it?

It’s not a lot to ask.

The amend­ment doesn’t say peo­ple can’t do­nate, only that they must ad­mit it. Like­wise, the politi­cians who take the money must ad­mit from whom they’re tak­ing it.

What are they afraid of?

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