There were no statewide or legislative elections in 2017, but the year marked the most prolific campaign fundraising year since the state began keeping the records in an electronic database, setting up the 2018 election for massive political spending.
Political committees reported raising $32 million in 2017, according to campaign finance data kept by the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. By comparison, in 2015, political committees raised only $14 million. And in 2013, in advance of the 2014 election in which every statewide office was on the ballot, political committees raised $17 million.
Those figures may be somewhat inflated, however, due to the way that roughly $1.5 million in contributions were counted by the Arizona Republican Party and Ducey For Governor.
At the top of the list for fundraising in 2017 is Gov. Doug Ducey, who raised $1.7 million for the Ducey For Governor campaign and another $1.7 million for the Ducey Victory Fund Committee, a political action committee that can give to other committees.
Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, the parent company of Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, has put $3.2 million into a PAC called Arizonans for Sustainable Energy Policy.
Matthew Benson, a spokesman for the group, said the money will be used for independent expenditures, focused solely on candidates.
A separate PAC, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, has not received any contributions. But Benson, who is also representing the so-far-unfunded PAC, said it will be focused on campaigning against a proposed ballot measure that would require Arizona to expand the state’s renewable energy production to 50 percent by 2030. Benson said Pinnacle West will be a main supporter, but that others will also fund the effort.
“I expect with the next campaign finance report you’ll see who that is.”
Pinnacle West has put another $200,000 toward various other committees.
Arizona Treasurer Race
The two largest contributions coming from individual contributors were made to Republicans running for one of the least prominent elected positions in Arizona, but one which Ducey used as a stepping stone: state treasurer.
Corporation Commissioner Tom Forese gave $450,000 to his own campaign for the office, while Nelson Mar, the husband of Sen. Kimberly Yee, loaned $400,000 to her campaign.
Labor unions around the state have raised more than $3 million heading into 2018.The Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee raised $865,000 The Arizona Pipe Trades 469 raised $830,000 The United Food & Commercial Workers Union of AZ Local 99 raised $799,000 Arizona Professional Fire Fighters PAC raised $399,000
Several other unions and PACs representing unions have also raised significant sums of campaign money.
The Arizona Association of Realtors has put $1.1 million into a PAC called Citizens for Fair Tax Policy, which will support a ballot measure that asks voters to approve a prohibition on the taxation of services.
The Realtors of Arizona PAC, a separate committee, has also raised $860,000.
The Arizona Democratic Party raised $535,000.
The Arizona Republican Party raised $363,000 in 2017, but also reported a $200,000 contribution from Ducey Victory Fund Committee. The Ducey Victory Fund Committee reported transfering $403,000 to the Arizona Republican Party, but because the party never received the two checks totalling another $203,000 from Ducey Victory Fund Committee. After AZCIR asked about the discrepancy, Ducey Victory Fund Committee cut a new check to the Arizona Republican Party, and the party chairman said it will be reported on the next campaign finance report.