2014 dark money spending on lawmakers topped $750K

Ricardo Reitmeyer:Shutterstock
Ricardo Reitmeyer:Shutterstock

By Evan Wyloge | Arizona Center for Investigating Reporting

Arizona lawmakers considering a bill that would reduce regulation on groups that spend money in elections without disclosing the source benefitted by more than $750,000 during the 2014 election cycle, in what’s dubbed “dark money” spending.

In the Arizona House of Representatives, roughly $389,000 was spent by dark money groups to help elect 29 of the body’s 60 members. Almost all of that spending — $373,000 — went to help Republican lawmakers.

In the Arizona Senate, dark money groups spent $361,000 to help elect 18 of the body’s 30 members. About 66 percent of that — $240,000 — went to help Republicans.*

Dark money groups are classified in the state’s campaign finance database as “Independent Expenditure (Corp/LLC/Labor),” a subset of “Independent Expenditure” spending. The groups report spending on elections, but not who has given them money.

Senate Bill 1516 passed 18-10 along party lines in the Arizona Senate, with only Republican support. It is expected to receive a full vote in the House of Representatives today.

The provision of the bill pertaining to dark money regulation would get rid of the current requirement for the groups to spend more than half of their money for “social welfare,” meaning non-election spending. Instead, as long as the Internal Revenue Service holds the group in good standing, they could spend all of their money on elections.

If the bill passes in the House, it will go to Gov. Doug Ducey who will either sign or veto it. Ducey benefitted from $3.5 million in dark money spending in 2014.

Dark money spending that is attributed to a lawmaker combines the money spent by dark money groups advocating for their election, or advocating for the defeat of their opponents.

See the individual lawmaker contributions here.

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