January 23, 2018

Efforts to Track Campaign Dollars in Arizona

With election season underway, big money is expected for Arizona campaigns.

Some campaign finance dollars are traceable. Some are not — they are "dark."

The traceable dollars are easy to follow. For local and state races campaign finance reports are on the Arizona Secretary of State's website. For federal races the information is publicly available on the Federal Election Commission's website.

Those two sites can be difficult to navigate especially if you are trying to cross reference different campaigns or donors.

Sec. of State Michele Reagan has new website, See The Money.com, to make following the money easier.

The site lets users search a number of categories for state and local races beginning with individuals.

You can see who a person received campaign contributions from or all the campaigns they give to.

The site does not show dark money, though it tries to shed a bit of light on that spending.

"We pull in the IRS 990s of that group because, remember, these groups have to file somewhere and where do they file, they file with the IRS. Now, this isn't as detailed information as some people would like but it still starts to give you some names and address," explained Reagan.

Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is leading petition drive to outlaw hiding campaign contributors.

"I'm a criminal prosecutor and I used to go after people for money laundering. And this is money laundering," said Goddard. "It's legal money laundering, trying to keep voters from knowing where they money comes from."

Since becoming Sec. of State four years ago, Reagan has not taken on dark money. She filed an anti-dark money bill as a state lawmaker but none since.

Reagan said it is not something the Legislature would pass, so she stopped fighting.

But Goddard is hoping for a better outcome.

"I think we have a right as citizens to know who is behind a campaign," he said.

Reagan agrees and hopes Goddard is successful.

"I personally believe that given a choice between transparency and no transparency, transparency is always going to be better," she said.

The See The Money website is still in beta testing and Goddard's proposal is still collecting signatures.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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