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Three-quarters of ‘outside’ election spending in AZ comes with scant disclosure

Of the $1.9 million spent this cycle by “outside groups” to affect Arizona elections, $565,000 – or about 30 percent – comes with no disclosure of the source of the money. Such “dark money” groups report only expenditures intended to help elect or defeat particular candidates. They don’t report sources of income. But another 45 percent of the “outside money,” which is spent by groups other than candidates themselves, cannot be traced to an original source.

AZCIR receives third round of funding from Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation

PHOENIX – The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, the state’s only nonprofit newsroom dedicated to statewide investigative and accountability reporting, was awarded a third round of operational funding from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

The $100,000 grant will support AZCIR’s ongoing efforts to expand original and collaborative reporting in Arizona, with an emphasis on data, and to increase its focus on using technology and computer programming to free more public records.

The grant includes an initial installment of $75,000 of operational funding, and provides an additional opportunity for $25,000 in matching funds. AZCIR will have one year to raise $25,000, which EEJF will then match.

AZDarkMoneyBot

An explosion of “dark money” spending dominated Arizona’s 2014 election cycle, when groups that don’t disclose their donors spent millions, mostly to help elect now-Gov. Doug Ducey, two utility regulators and a handful of lawmakers.

A new law passed during this past session gives further protection to the groups that spend in elections but don’t report where it comes from. And keeping track of dark money expenditures in Arizona hasn’t been quick or easy.

That’s why AZCIR decided to build @AZDarkMoneyBot.

Less is more: Dems run fewer Corp Comm candidates for better odds

This fall, Arizona voters will choose three utility regulators, and while one might expect that each of the main parties would run a full slate of candidates, Democrats are only running two.

The strategy of running two Democrats instead of three for the Arizona Corporation Commission makes the state’s underdog party counterintuitively more competitive to win at least one seat, while ruling out the possibility of winning three.

AZCIR receives $25,000 grant from Arizona Community Foundation

PHOENIX — The Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, the state’s only nonprofit newsroom dedicated to statewide investigative journalism, has received a $25,000 grant from the Arizona Community Foundation.

The grant will help fund AZCIR’s original and collaborative reporting, by expanding the Center’s capacity to produce investigative projects with partner newsrooms across Arizona.

Dark money group leads last-minute effort to speed up campaign finance changes

Arizona is already poised to relax rules regarding so-called “dark money” groups starting next year, but a last-minute amendment proposed on the Senate floor could make the changes go into effect in less than a month.

The proposal to accelerate the dark money regulation changes came late Thursday, as an amendment to HB 2296, and originated with the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, a dark money group that spent about $1.7 million during the 2014 election cycle.

The amendment directly borrows language regarding the requirements for a 501c(4) organization to register as a political committee from SB1516, which was passed and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey earlier this year.

Signature effort aims to derail solar ballot measure

The California-based solar panel company, SolarCity, has committed to spending at least $3 million to put a measure on Arizona’s November ballot that would require paying retail rates for rooftop solar net metering, and prevent new fees or demand charges the solar industry claims are prohibitive. But millions more are flooding into a signature gathering sleight-of-hand that aims to prevent the measure from ever making it to the ballot.

2014 dark money spending on lawmakers topped $900K

Arizona lawmakers considering a bill that would reduce regulation on groups that spend money in elections without disclosing the source benefitted by more than $900,000 during the 2014 election cycle, in what’s dubbed “dark money” spending.

In the Arizona House of Representatives, roughly $417,000 was spent by dark money groups to help elect 29 of the body’s 60 members. In the Arizona Senate, dark money groups spent $495,000 to help elect 18 of the body’s 30 members.

Familiar names top campaign contributions from 2015

Of the roughly $7.4 million in individual contributions made to Arizona politics in 2015, about ten percent came from 10 individuals or households.

Many of those top political contributors have funded political campaigns for years, giving large sums in previous cycles. Longtime contributors like Jim Pederson, Bill and Alice Roe, Jerry and Marilyn Hayden, and Jim and Vicki Click again made the list of the largest political contributions.

Money going toward Democrats or Democratic efforts were more than double that for Republicans in 2015, among those top individual political contributors.

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