Proposition 211 would get rid of ‘dark money’ for Arizona political advertisements
PHOENIX — A proposition on the ballot for next month’s midterm election aims to rid Arizona of “dark money” in political advertisements.
Prop 211 would put an end to anonymous spending on the state’s political advertisements and organizations who don’t abide will face fines.
Supporters argue that people should know who is trying to persuade your vote, while opponents say that the measure is an attempt to limit free speech.
Disclosure would be required for individuals who give at least $5,000 to a committee that spends at least $50,000 on a state race during a two-year election cycle and $2,500 to a committee that spends at least $25,000 for a local race in the same period.
Terry Goddard, former Arizona Attorney General and co-chairman of Stop Dark Money, says the measure is vital since the state has few disclosure laws.
“Arizona is virtually unique in having none,” Goddard said. “If you’re a dark money operation, Arizona basically bends over backwards to make sure you can hide your donors anyway you can figure it out.”
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy Action, opposes the measure.
She believes that there could be a constitutional free speech challenge if the proposition passes.
“Prop 211 is a clear attempt to chill speech of some individuals, opening them up to harassment and bullying and is likely unconstitutional,” Herrod said.
If passed, it could be difficult for the organization that would oversee the initiative, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, to enforce the rule.
Organizations who fail to disclose would face a face of up to three times the amount contributed.
“What we see here, although it’s not illegal, but the techniques they use are the same techniques the cartels use to launder money,” Goddard said.
“They do everything in their power to keep us from knowing who it is that is actually the source of the money.”