PHOENIX — A new initiative effort was launched Wednesday seeking to require the disclosure of the source of all political donations in Arizona over $2,500, even if they are funneled through so-called “dark money” groups.
The initiative is backed by a group led by former Democratic state Attorney General Terry Goddard and amends the state Constitution to require the disclosure. Goddard’s “Outlaw Dark Money” group needs to collect nearly 226,000 signatures by July 5 to get on the 2018 ballot.
The effort is a repeat of one Goddard launched in early 2016 that was dropped when a major financial backer dropped his support. This time, Goddard said he intends to use an all-volunteer effort to collect the signatures.
“We spent the time in between broadening the base — not too many people were involved in that petition effort,” Goddard said. “It’s a much better petition – it’s much more focused on trying to find the people who are trying to hide.”
Nonprofit “social welfare organizations” have been pouring cash into campaigns in recent years without disclosing their donors. Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law last year easing state reporting requirements and also benefited from millions of dollars in spending from such groups in the 2014 election.
Ducey said Wednesday that his campaigns disclose all donors as required by law but acknowledged there’s a lot of conversation about what disclosure should be required.
“I’ve always been a fan of more transparency, but I think people have a First Amendment right as well to participate and to not be bullied,” he told reporters at an unrelated event. “So we’ll leave this up to the people, the governors don’t decide this.”
Goddard said he has bipartisan backing for his effort and support from the same all-volunteer group that collected more than 110,000 signatures over the summer to place a repeal of a school voucher expansion on the 2018 ballot.
“It’s a hard job, it’s a big job but I think it’s possible or I wouldn’t be doing it,” he said.