State Capitol News
8:30 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Lawmakers Move to Limit Dark Money in State Campaigns

State lawmakers took the first steps Tuesday to cut down on so-called “dark money” in political campaigns amid questions of whether that’s even legal. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Sen. Michele Reagan

State law requires the top funders of independent committees that seek to elect or defeat candidates to be listed in campaign materials. But, those top funders are often other committees that in turn are funded by other committees. Secretary of State Ken Bennett compared it to Russian nesting dolls. This legislation requires these groups to list the three largest real donors, not some shell organization. Mike Liburdi who lobbies for one of these groups said this interferes with the free speech rights of individuals, corporations and labor unions.

“So when we’re talking about these First Amendment rights we need to be aware of the fact that disclosure of some of these speakers may result in a chilling effect. And this chilling effect could suppress speech,” Liburdi said.

But, Sen. Michele Reagan who crafted the measure lashed out at foes.

“Everybody that signed in in opposition to this bill wants one thing. And that is nothing to happen. They don’t want this discussion. They don’t want changes. They want status quo. And that’s fine. I understand. They have clients. They’re doing the job. But they don’t want changes. Their clients do not want us to see what they’re doing,” Reagan said.

The measure was approved by the Senate Elections Committee, but faces an uncertain future.