By Evan Wyloge | Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

PHOENIX -- Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and wrestling magnate Linda McMahon might make a funny trio for the setup of a joke, but what they actually have in common is their outsized funding of Arizona’s 2014 campaign season.

Theirs are only a few of the most eminent names on top of the list of total contributions made to political committees in Arizona that are required to disclose donors during this past election cycle.

  • Bloomberg, who ranked No. 5 for total contributions made to political committees in Arizona, gave $4,000 each to now Rep. Reginald Bolding, a Democrat representing south Phoenix, and Aaron Marquez, a Democrat who ran for the Senate in the same district but lost. But Bloomberg gave the vast majority of his $308,000 to Stand for Children IE Committee, which went on to support moderate Republicans and even one Democrat, Rep. Eric Meyer, and spent money against more conservative Republicans.
  • McMahon, who ranked No. 6, gave solely to the RGA Arizona PAC (Republican Governors Association Arizona political action committee), which spent solely against Fred DuVal.
  • Adelson, who ranked No. 10, also gave sizably to RGA Arizona PAC and Arizona’s Legacy, which, spent money on behalf of moderate Republicans in the Legislature.
  • GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons gave more to Arizona political committees than anyone, though he only gave to six political committees. Most of his $2.4 million went to Better Leaders for Arizona, an independent expenditure committee that primarily spent to defeat Doug Ducey during the primary, and to support Christine Jones.
  • Randy Kendrick, whose husband is part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, ranks No. 17, and gave to about a dozen different Republican candidates and outside groups, as well as the Yes on Prop. 122 campaign.
  • Wyoming Conservative activist Foster Freiss came in at No. 34 and gave mostly to Arizona’s Legacy and RGA Arizona PAC.
  • Unions representing firefighters in Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa also racked up large contribution totals, mostly to their own political action committees, that then went on to support various candidates of each party running for a variety of offices.

Contributions from the top 20

Contributions from the 20 biggest spenders (blue) to Arizona political committees (yellow).

Less conspicuous, but more reliable campaign contributors fill the rest of the list of top donors.

  • Tucson auto dealership tycoon and longtime Republican contributor Jim Click ranked No. 4., with contributions between $10,000 and $100,000 to a handful of Republican independent expenditure groups.
  • Longtime Democratic politician Jim Pederson came in No. 7, giving almost all of the $243,000 he spent to the Arizona Democratic Party.
  • Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Bill Roe and his wife Alice rank No. 11 and 13, respectively. They gave more than $100,000 to the Arizona Democratic Primary, but also gave to 37 other Democratic candidates or outside groups.
  • While their combined total doesn’t come close to the $393,000 in individual contributions from Click and his wife, Longtime lobbyist Don Isaacson and his wife Marie gave to a greater number of Arizona political committees than anyone else. Together, they contributed 411 times to 123 different political committees.

Individual contributions made to Arizona political committees accounted for $39.6 million during the 2014 election cycle. The totals do not account for contributions given to so-called “dark money” groups that do not reveal who funds them, but who spent about $8.6 million advocating the election or defeat of particular political committees during the same time. Those groups also spent about $9.5 million for other purposes, bringing their total overall spending to $18.1 million.

Top 20 contributors' totals




NameTotal Individual ContributionsCount of Individual Contributions
Bob Parsons $2,415,000 11
John Biltis $622,884 17
United Phoenix Firefighters $457,234 92
Jim Click $370,731 45
Michael Bloomberg $308,000 6
Linda Mcmahon $250,000 1
James Pederson $243,000 39
David Higgins $226,000 20
Tucson Firefighters $209,380 68
Sheldon Adelson $190,000 2
Bill Roe $153,362 71
Marcus Hiles $150,000 1
Alice Roe $139,830 79
Richard Hayne $137,844 1
Christine Toretti $133,082 10
Catherene Morton $130,895 34
Randy Kendrick $130,420 22
Richard Burke $104,750 5
Jeff Blandford $104,000 4
Tim Riester $104,000 4

 

Additional spending by so-called "dark money" groups, not directly advocating election or defeat of political committees, was added to an earlier version of this story for clarity.