State Capitol News
1:14 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

AZ Secretary of State Wants Tighter Campaign Finance Laws

The state's chief election officer wants to tighten financial disclosure laws so voters get a better chance to find out who's really funding campaigns.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he wants better financial disclosure laws so voters can figure out who is funding campaigns.
Credit Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services

The issue arose most recently when Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership put $1.5 million into efforts to defeat the permanent tax hike in Prop 204 and an open primary in Prop 121. Nothing in state law requires disclosure of the group's funding. But in California, where the laws are different, officials forced the group to reveal that $11 million it spent on ballot measures there came from the Center to Protect Patient Rights. And that organization said all of what IT forwarded came from Americans for Job Security in Virginia. Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Arizona campaign laws are focused on contribution limits.

"We need to think more about how to more immediately provide disclosure as to who's giving and not focus so much on how much they gave," Bennett said. "Because, as we've found out, if you give to one group and they give to another group, those monies can kind of be accumulated. And it's not until well after the election that you know who was really behind the first giving."

Former Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams who heads Americans for Responsible Leadership said the question of disclosure is up to lawmakers.

Former House Speaker Kirk Adams who now heads Americans for Responsible Leadership, a group that has come under scrutiny for the source of its funds for ballot campaigns.
Credit Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services

"We will comply with any new legislation or statutes that are passed at the Legislature and signed by the governor," Adams said. "But we will comply in the context of everyone else complying. This needs to be a playing field where everybody knows what the rules are when they step onto the field."