AZCIR hires incoming executive director and editor

PHOENIX – Longtime Arizona journalist and editor Jim Small is joining the staff of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting as its incoming executive director and editor, where he’ll oversee the Center’s journalism and business operations starting in 2017.

Small joins the Center from the Arizona Capitol Times where he served as the Arizona News Service editor since 2011. In that role, he oversaw all editorial content for the weekly Arizona Capitol Times newspaper,, and daily insider tipsheets Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report.

Under his leadership, the Capitol Times was twice named the non-daily Newspaper of the Year by the Arizona Newspaper Association and became known for its sharp analysis of state politics and hard-nosed accountability journalism focused on data and public records.

Maricopa County GOP to poll watchers: Follow, photograph voters if voter fraud suspected

Democrats who have become increasingly worried about possible voter intimidation at the polls say local Republicans could find themselves on the wrong side of the law, after a poll watching training led by the Maricopa County GOP. Republican activists there were told to follow and photograph voters they suspect of breaking a new Arizona law banning “ballot harvesting.”

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday temporarily blocked the new law that makes it a felony to collect and submit someone else’s mail-in ballot.

AZCIR recognized for community service and investigative reporting

The Arizona Newspapers Association recognized AZCIR’s reporting over the past year with top honors at this past weekend’s 2016 Better Newspaper Contest. In addition to being awarded second place for overall community service and journalistic achievement for daily news organizations with less than 25,000 circulation, the Center took home four individual awards.

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.


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.

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