The veiled power behind Arizona commerce

Arizona Capitol Times

By Jeremy Duda

Arizona Capitol Times

A private, tax-exempt organization created to support the Arizona Commerce Authority has a big decision to make about whether it will publicly disclose the names of its contributors and the amount of money it raises.

The obscurity surrounding the money coming in to Team ACA has left the organization open to questions of how much influence it has over the Commerce Authority, which plays a major role in recruiting new businesses to Arizona and controls millions in tax credits, incentives and deal-closing money.

In the past year, Team ACA has spent nearly $200,000 to assist the Commerce Authority, the bulk of which went to cover half of the CEO’s salary and benefits. Like the Commerce Authority, Team ACA’s board includes prominent members of the business community whose companies contribute to the organization. Its executive director previously served as the authority’s CEO. And the authority’s co-chairman also chairs the Team ACA board.

Serena Unrein, of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, said she’s concerned about the amount of influence Team ACA has on the Commerce Authority, a taxpayer-funded, public-private entity. She also questioned how much influence the contributors could have over the millions in tax credits, incentives and “deal-closing” money the authority controls.


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