Former Arizona AG trying again to get dark money out of politics

Terry Goddard in 2018 unloads boxes of petitions for an initiative to ban “dark money” in politics. That measure never made the ballot after challenges to signatures./ Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services 2018.

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services  

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard is making a third — and, he hopes, finally successful — pitch to put a measure on the Arizona ballot to outlaw so-called “dark money.”

The initiative would require the public disclosure of the true source of donations of more than $5,000 spent by organizations in support of or opposing any candidate or ballot measure. Current law exempts these “social welfare” organizations from having to list their contributors.

Potentially more significant, it is worded to cut through any effort to hide the identity of the actual original donor by having the cash moved — Goddard would say “laundered” — through a series of groups.

A similar 2018 effort failed after foes challenged some of the 285,000 signatures collected in court. And, under the terms of a law approved by the Republican-controlled legislature, the judge had to strike all of those gathered by paid circulators who did not respond to a subpoena.

In 2020 Goddard moved to an all-volunteer effort to circumvent that problem. But the signature gathering faltered during the COVID-19 pandemic, which included, for a period of time, a stay-at-home order.

This time around Goddard is choosing a course that may make reaching the goal easier.

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