FEBRUARY 12, 2014

Senator Reagan files bill to ban “dark money” in Arizona

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PHOENIX – In January of 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case, which resulted in allowing corporations and other organizations to spend unlimited money for or against candidates. Unlimited donations were deemed proper in the ruling because there is disclosure provided in the Federal Disclosure Act. Here in Arizona, though, we don’t have strict disclosure rules.

Senator Michele Reagan recently filed a bill to address this concern in our state. “I believe everyone has a First Amendment right to free speech, including in the election process. The problem here is the lack of disclosure,” said Senator Reagan.

Special interest groups are using non-profit entities to spend money in a campaign. The individuals contributing are hidden from view.

SB 1403 would prohibit corporations and labor organizations from moving money through a series of transfers with the intent to prevent the disclosure of the identity of one or more of the contributors. The bill also seeks to identify the original source of contributions received by an independent expenditure committee. It also provides guidelines for determining whether an entity’s primary purpose is influencing an election.

“Because of Citizens United and the lack of disclosure rules in our state, we are left with the public policy question: are elections for sale in Arizona? If so, do we have a right to know who the buyer is? I think so,” said Senator Reagan. ”The dark money loophole in Arizona needs to be closed.”

"In Citizens United, the court ruled that individuals and corporations have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on an election. While I may not agree with that decision, I do agree that the people of Arizona have a right to know who is spending money on an election, how much and for what purpose," said Senator Steve Farley. "This bill will begin the process of shining a light on the massive amounts of anonymous dollars that are being spent to skew Arizona's elections. It's about time Arizona voters knew who's behind the dark money curtain."

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