With a week left before the election, Terry Goddard says he has a stable of elected leaders backing his plans to address dark-money spending in Arizona.
The Democratic candidate for secretary of state announced his coalition of lawmakers — all members of the Democratic minority in the Legislature — willing to sponsor his legislation in the next session.
Southern Arizonans backing Goddard include Sens. David Bradley and Steve Farley as well as Reps. Bruce Wheeler, Stefanie Mach and Victoria Steele.
Dark money, campaign spending by groups that don’t have to reveal their funding sources, has become a major influence, and an issue, in this campaign.
Goddard’s announcement comes only a few days after a dark-money-funded group, the 60 Plus Association, targeted him with $304,000 in critical advertising.
But Goddard isn’t the only candidate being targeted in the secretary of state race.
An independent group, albeit, not a dark-money group, calling itself Put the People, Not Lobbyists, In Charge, has put up $65,000 in radio ads criticizing his opponent, Michele Reagan.
Records filed with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office show two people with the last name Goddard, Terry Goddard’s brother, William, and a Pascale H. Goddard, helped fund the group.
Kyle Moyer, Reagan’s campaign spokesman, said she also wants to see campaign reform to tackle dark money, but notes nonprofit political activity is already regulated by the IRS.
“It is a federal issue,” Moyer said.
Reagan, who has been both a benefactor and a target of dark money in the race, has previously said she doesn’t like the role dark money has played in the current election season.
Moyer said Reagan has said she wished that these third-party groups would give directly to her campaign.
Goddard’s campaign is publicly financed with by the state’s Clean Elections program, while Reagan uses traditional financing.
Best known as a state attorney general for eight years, Goddard’s proposed legislation seeks to require any group that spends funds on any communications mentioning any person or proposition that appears on the ballot within 60 days before a primary or general election to register with the state.
“Arizona has become the Cayman Islands of dark money out of negligence, and even complicity, of our Legislature and secretary of state,” Goddard said.
“Arizona rewards hard, honest work and independent thought. Dark money skews the game for anonymous, out-of- state corporations willing to twist our politics to help their bottom line.”
Reagan, on the other hand, is proposing that any nonprofit that loses its federal tax exemption from the IRS should have to retroactively reveal its donors.
Moyer notes with a slate of only Democrats backing Goddard, it is unlikely his legislation will ever be heard in the currently Republican-dominated Legislature.