Monday, January 26, 2015

Dark money is shady business

Dark money is shady business 

Dark money is shady business. Although this type of political expenditure has been around for a long time, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates. Some reports indicate $8.6 million in dark money seeped its way into Arizona’s election process.

“That is an incredible sum of money,” Assistant House Democratic Leader Bruce Wheeler, D-Tucson (District 10), said. “Money influences elections and people have a right to know who spending in our state.”

But dark money makes that difficult. This kind of campaign spending allows certain entities to spend money in political causes without revealing where the money came from. It is clouding the election process.  Right now, Arizona has few restrictions on dark money. Democrats at the Arizona Legislature have proposed some reforms that will help shed some light on this shadowy subject.

Wheeler and Senate Democratic Whip Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix (District 29), are introducing a package of identical reform bills in the House and the Senate. These bills were developed from recommendations from former Attorney General Terry Goddard. 

HB2546/SB1206 Independent expenditures; corporations; funding disclosures
This legislation would require the four largest contributors and any large contribution from out of state to be included and clearly displayed on the disclaimer statement of corporate independent expenditures. It would also require corporations, limited liability companies and labor organizations that make independent expenditures to file campaign finance reports if they receive contributions for their expenditures. This is what political committees must do.

HB2547/SB1207 Campaign finance disclosures; corporations; entities
This reform would revise the “paid for by” disclaimer for political committees to include the names and telephone numbers of the three largest contributors including corporations, LLCs and labor organizations. Currently, the law only requires the disclaimer to include the three largest political committees.  

HB2548/SB1208 Foreign nonprofit corporations; foreign LLCs
This legislation would change the definition of “conducting affairs” for out-of-state businesses to include spending money for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election in Arizona. It would prohibit foreign companies from spending money to influence elections until they are authorized to do business in Arizona and would place the same restrictions on an LLC. The purpose of this legislation is to require any out-of-state entities to register with the corporation commission before they make independent expenditures.

HB2549/SB1209 Independent expenditures; corporations; unions; audit
This reform would authorize the Citizens Clean Elections Commission to conduct random audits of corporations, LLCs and labor organizations that make independent expenditures. The audit would include a review of notifications, related documentation and other financial records to determine whether the entity is complying with Arizona law related to corporate independent expenditures. The audit would be confidential unless the commission finds that a violation has occurred, in which case the commission shall notify the Secretary of State’s office of the violation. This audit provision is intended to ensure corporations are complying with current law and mirrors the audit process that the Citizens Clean Elections Commission conducts for candidates.

"With the recent judge's ruling that throws out the state's definition of political committee, we have the opportunity to make meaningful changes to our disclosure laws," Quezada said. "Voters are tired of the presence of anonymous money in their elections and they deserve to know who is buying their elected officials. The sad reality is that our proposed legislation to eliminate dark money from our state will most likely never see the light of day - kept in the dark just like the people of Arizona."

There are several other bills that Democrats have introduced that would weaken the influence of dark money in the state. Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 30), wants to correct the damage done by Citizens United by introducing HCR 2031, which is intended to lead to the repeal of Citizens United and establish that corporations are not people and money is not speech. 

Senator Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 9), introduced SB1101, which is identical to the bill that Secretary of State Michelle Reagan introduced as SB1403 last year when she was still in the Senate.

ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy described that bill in a February 2014 report:

"(It) would require independent expenditure committees in state and local elections to reveal the “identifiable contributors” to their campaigns, even though these funds came to them through a chain of organizations. The “identifiable contributor” noted in the bill is the specific person(s), corporation(s), or union(s) from within or outside of Arizona that makes the initial donation, not some vaguely named entity that passed the funds along. The independent committee would also be required to reveal the name of the leading three financers in its campaign advertisements, literature and similar materials. 

"A central focus of SB1403 is on Arizona’s many shell corporations or “convenience corporations” that seek to influence elections without revealing the identity of their funders. The bill outlaws attempts to hide the identity of donors by the creation of such entities and by funneling funds from one organization to another. To enforce the law, the Secretary of State, acting upon a complaint, would have wide authority to determine if a group or organization is primarily engaged in electioneering. If so, it would be regulated as a political committee and be subject to disclosure," Farley said.

Additionally, Rep. Ken Clark, D-Phoenix (District 24), has introduced a bill, HB2533, that would require utility companies to disclose contributions made to influence an election. Clark said this reform is necessary because of “what was very likely an unprecedented shift” from utility companies. Many believe that the utility companies were contributing heavily in the 2014 Corporation Commission elections.

“This raises many questions about potential corruption,” Clark said because the Corporation Commission regulates the utility companies. “Regulated monopolies were very likely spending money aggressively in our Corporation Commission election. The public was understandably outraged.”

Clark added that his bill, and the legislation Quezada and Wheeler are offering, would help increase transparency.

“This dark money is terrible for our democracy in Arizona. How can we trust decisions being made by our regulating bodies if the companies they regulate are hiding behind dark money? We should all be calling for more accountability.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hale continues work to promote interests of Native American nations at the Capitol

Hale continues work to promote interests of Native American nations at the Capitol

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), recently introduced a series of bills to promote the interests of Native American nations in Arizona.

“Native Americans nations, while sovereign entities, continue to contribute to Arizona’s economy,” Hale said. “With that in mind, it is important that these nations receive their fair share of the taxes they collect for the state. Additionally, at the state level, officials make choices that affect the day to day lives of Native Americans. So it makes sense that representatives from these communities get a seat at the table when these decisions are being made.  It is helpful to collectively solve issues, such as water rights, that affect all Arizonans.”

Hale added that the bills he introduced this year are intended to  recognize the contributions Native American nations have made to the state and to reinforce the their sovereign status.   
A summary of these bills is below:

HB 2155 – state transportation board; tribal representation
This bill would require the State Transportation Board to include a representative from an Indian Nation. The Board is responsible for planning for the transportation needs of the state. The population of the 22 federally recognized Indian nations in Arizona exceeds 250,000. These Indian nations have unique transportation needs that are not currently being met. There are 1259.74 miles of state roads on Indian reservations. They need immediate improvements to provide a safe public transportation infrastructure. HB 2074 would help bring that about.

HB 2156 – Native American tribes; TPT revenues
The legislation would allocate Transaction Privilege Tax money, or sales tax, back to the Native American lands where it was collected. These funds would be used for infrastructure and community development, including telecommunication infrastructure development and roads on the Indian reservations. Currently, TPT money is collected from businesses not owned by enrolled members operating on Native American lands and severance tax on mineral extracted on Indian reservations such as coal. The tax money is distributed to the state, counties and municipalities incorporated under state law. Indian nations are not included in this distribution formula. Native American nations will be authorized to use the TPT money as collateral to fund projects.

HB 2157 - Native Americas; delayed birth certificates
This bill would make permanent the Arizona Department of Health Services policy that streamlined the process for Native Americans and others to receive delayed birth certificates. Previously, getting a delayed birth certificate required producing four separate forms of verification that a person was born at a specific time and place.  Many Native Americans and Arizonans are born at home and do not get a birth certificate issued at the time of birth. A birth certificate is important documentation for getting social security and other benefits. HB 2157 would codify a process that requires less documentation.

HB 2158 – appropriation; Navajo Nation court complex
This bill would appropriate $7.5 million to help build a Supreme Court Complex on the Navajo Nation.  The entire construction project is expected to cost about $15 million. The Navajo Nation is expected to contribute the other $7.5 million.

HB 2159 – appropriations; water projects; Navajo Nation
This bill would appropriate a little more than $3.4 million from the state general fund to the Navajo Nation for planning and developing water supply and infrastructure projects. These projects are crucial to support community growth and economic development on Native American land.

HB 2160 – TPT; Indian tribe; motor vehicles
Currently, an enrolled member of an Indian nation is only eligible for a TPT exemption on the purchase of a vehicle if the purchase is made by an Indian person who lives on the reservation where he or she is enrolled. This bill would allow an enrolled member of an Indian nation to be eligible for the vehicle purchase TPT exemption regardless of the reservation where he or she lives.

HB 2161 – Central Arizona Project board; membership
This bill would require that the CAP board of directors include one non-voting member to ensure Indian nations are included in discussions about CAP Colorado River water use. The member would be appointed by the governor and selected from a list of three nominees. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona would be responsible for identifying two nominees and the Navajo Nation would be responsible for the third nominee.

“I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and my constituents this session,” Hale said. “I am honored to serve my community.”

Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.


Bolding works to encourage trust between law enforcement agencies and community members

Bolding works to encourage trust between law enforcement agencies and community members

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix (District 27), responding to community concerns, introduced two bills meant to increase trust and collaboration between law enforcement agencies and community members.

“Recently, I’ve had many conversations with people in my district who are concerned about the number of police-involved shootings across the country and in Arizona,” Bolding said. “And I have talked to law enforcement officers who want the public to be more engaged in protecting their communities. I’ve introduced two bills that should help foster a stronger working relationship between our neighborhoods and our law enforcement agencies,” Bolding said.

HB 2511 requires local and state law enforcement officers to wear body cameras while on duty, to ensure both their own safety and the safety of the communities they protect. It would also establish a study committee for law enforcement officer body cameras. HB 2512 would require an external review of any fatal officer-involved shootings. A law enforcement officer who is not from the same agency as the officer involved in a fatal shooting or a county attorney from another county would conduct the investigation. The investigator would be required to submit the report to the county attorney in the county in which the fatal shooting occurred.  This investigation would supplement the internal investigation conducted by the officer’s own agency.

The bills have earned the support of organizations including The National Bar Association, Black Lives Matter, Promise Arizona and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“This is an issue that is very important to the NAACP, and we applaud Rep. Bolding for introducing these bills,” State of Arizona NAACP President Charles Fanniel said. “This is a top priority for our organization.”

Bolding added that these bills would provide mutual protections for both community members and law enforcement officers.  He also said law enforcement agents in some Arizona cities and in at least five other states, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Florida, are using body cameras.  

“These bills are designed to increase transparency and build more trust within the community,” Bolding said.  “The practice of wearing body cameras and requiring external reviews of officer-involved shootings directly speaks to the safety and accountability needs of both community members and law enforcement officers.”

To see a full version of HB 2511, click here. To see a full version of HB 2512, click here.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day brings legislators and Arizona Indian leaders togethe

Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day brings legislators and Arizona Indian leaders together

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Leaders from across the state met today for the 20th Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day, which is dedicated to the 22 Native American nations in Arizona.

Rep. Jennifer Banally, D-Tuba City (District 7), said as a first-time legislator, she was thankful for the chance to meet with and hear from so many people.

“It was a very good day,” Benally said. “I appreciated being able to connect with leaders from the eight tribes in my district and from the other Native American nations. The conversations gave me hope. We were really focused on how to work together to strengthen our voices.”

Arizona statute requires that the Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day be held annually on the second Tuesday after the start of each new legislative session. The purpose of this day is to acknowledge the culture and history of Arizona’s Native American nations and to provide a forum for their leaders to outline legislative and policy priorities.

“It is very important to have this day at the Capitol to recognize all native peoples living in Arizona and their governments. We need to work hand in hand with them to better understand their history and acknowledge all their contributions to this great state and this country,” Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), said.

Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), agreed.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for legislators to learn from tribal leaders about the many issues that impact Native Americans and their communities,” she said.

This year’s events focused on the health and wellness of youth, and Kelli Donley from the Department of Health Services moderated a session on this topic.  It also included a forum on Native Youth Know, a program established to support creative youth-led projects in the state. Additionally, it provided ongoing opportunities to discuss priorities.

Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day presents a unique opportunity for Indian Nation leaders to offer the ‘State of Indian Nations and Peoples in the State of Arizona.’  As state leaders we need to listen to understand the needs and hopes of our Native American constituencies.  It is also an opportunity for Native American leaders and Native Americans to meet with their legislators to express their views concerning issues and how to address those issues.  I encourage all to engage in a continuous dialogue and not limit it to this one day” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), a founding member of the Native American Caucus, said.

Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7), said he looked forward to welcoming everyone at the Capitol.

“The Legislature’s annual Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day is an opportunity for legislators and tribal leaders to come together and share their common and individual visions for our state. This important bridge-building tradition fosters communication between our state government and Native peoples,” Begay said.

A complete agenda can be found at,


Friday, January 16, 2015

Ducey's Budget Shortchanges Schools, Jobs and the People of AZ

Ducey’s budget shortchanges schools, jobs and the people of AZ

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Senate and House Democratic leaders released statements on Governor Ducey’s proposed budget. Also included is a comparison of what the governor said in his Monday State of the State address versus what he did in the budget proposal.

What Ducey Said
(State of the State address, Jan. 12, 2015)
What Ducey Did
(Budget Proposal, released Jan. 16, 2015)
“In Arizona, educational excellence is a priority…That’s why I propose to spend not less in the classroom than last year, but more.”
Ø Cut $13.5 million overall from K-12 schools*
Ø Cut $75 million from universities
Ø Cut 50 percent from the state’s largest community college districts
*See explanation on second page
“The business at hand…is to expand Arizona’s economy.”
Ø Slashed Arizona Commerce Authority’s budget by $100 million
Ø Eliminated general fund support for Arizona Office of Tourism marketing
“I suggest we demand more fiscal responsibility from our government.”
Ø Will spend about $100 million on private prisons over three years, although private prisons cost the state more per prisoner

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs:
“Actions speak louder than words, and today we've seen that the words Governor Ducey spoke at the State of the State were hollow. The budget he revealed today cuts funding for neighborhood schools, universities and economic development efforts, all of which we know give taxpayers a return on their investment,” said Sen. Hobbs. “And while his budget takes from our schools and universities, forcing tuition raises on Arizona's middle class, it gives away more than $100 million to private prisons. Is this what Governor Ducey meant when he closed his State of the State address by saying, "Let's give our best for Arizona"?

“Don't let Governor Ducey's disingenuous marketing campaign fool you. This budget does not put #ClassroomsFirst and it doesn't prepare us to succeed in the #AZFuture. It puts special interests and private prisons first and it takes our state backward.”

House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer:
“Governor Ducey’s budget proposal continues the Republican legacy of undermining Arizona’s economic recovery. In his State of the State address, he said he would spend more in classrooms but in this budget plan he’s again cutting education, and he fails to follow through on his promise to settle the public school inflation funding lawsuit. Since he is taking more resources from schools and universities, our kids will not get the kind of education they need to be prepared for the global economy, and Arizona will continue to fall behind,” said Rep. Meyer.

“His commitment to expanding the economy is all political rhetoric too. He’s cutting the Arizona Commerce Authority’s budget by $100 million. The ACA is tasked with bringing businesses and jobs to our state. Arizonans need a better return on their investment than this budget, which just repackages failed policies.”


Overall, Governor Ducey's proposed budget cuts K-12 operating funding by $13.5 million.

Here's why:

  • It uses $2.9 million in unspent Department of Education fund plus
  • Takes $21 million that last year was available to all K-12 schools as “Success Funding” and uses it to pay for charter school capital costs that only a few charter schools will benefit from IF they are legally able to use the money
  • Increases school funding by $134.1 million ($85.2 million in inflation funding and $74.4 million due to court case)
  • But then requires a 5% cut to traditional schools’ “non-classroom spending” and a 3.5% cut to charter schools totaling $123.7 million

So the math is:
 $134.1M  in new spending
$-123.7M  in reductions
= $10.4M  net increase
  $-23.9M  transferred from Student Success Funding to the Schools Facilities Board
=$-13.5M total net loss to K-12 operating funds

Media Contact:
Aaron Latham, Director of Communication, Arizona State Senate Democratic Caucus, 602-926-4477,
C. Murphy Hebert, Communications Director, Arizona State House Democratic Caucus, 602-926-5848,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hale named ranking member of House Judiciary Committee

Hale named ranking member of House Judiciary Committee
He will also serve on the House Rules Committee

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 2), will serve on two committees during the Arizona House of Representatives’ 52nd legislative session. 

“I am grateful for the opportunity to work for the people of my district for another session,” Hale said. “My goal is always to help ensure we pass legislation that reflects the priorities of the people.”

Hale, an attorney, will serve as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. This committee reviews bills that relate to criminal justice and court procedures.

Additionally, he will serve on the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee reviews every bill that comes out of the other committees in the House of Representatives. The Rules Committee evaluates the bills for constitutional issues, including federal preemption, as well as proper formatting and grammar.

“My appointment to these committees will provide an opportunity for me to support policies that will help move our state forward,” Hale said.


Rep. Hale is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He was born in Ganado and raised in Klagetoh, Arizona. He is Ashiihi (Salt), born for Todichiini (Bitter Water). His maternal grandparents are Hanaghani (Walk About clan). His paternal grandparents are Kiyanii (Tall House clan). He is a 1969 graduate of Fort Wingate High School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school located east of Gallup, New Mexico. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (1973), and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1977), and an honorary Juris Doctor degree from Phoenix School of Law (2012).  He is the former President of the Navajo Nation.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ariz. Legislative Democrats respond to State of the State address

Ariz. Legislative Democrats respond to State of the State address

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28), and Arizona Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 24), made the following statements in response to Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of State address.

House Democratic Leader Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley (District 28)
“While I appreciate the governor’s optimism, the truth is that our state is facing some serious challenges. Nothing Gov. Ducey said indicates that he is pushing for real reform. Instead, he seems to be championing the same failed policies that have stunted our state’s economic recovery. Arizona’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average. And while most states have regained the jobs lost during the recession, we’re still missing almost 100,000 of them. We are not rebounding as quickly as other states because Republicans are prioritizing policies that do not provide a return on investment for Arizonans. 

“They lack vision. A true economic recovery plan will take a balanced approach and will include transparency, accountability and an emphasis on education, at both the K-12 and university levels. Instead, the Republicans have cut funding for public schools and undermined school accountability standards while expecting our kids to be ready for higher education and the work force. At the same time, they have doled out tax credits to special interests with no evidence that Arizonans are getting a return on that investment. If we want true economic growth, we have to make sure our kids have the skills needed to go to college. Right now, only 7 out of 100 kids who enter Arizona’s public high school system graduate from college.

“Gov. Ducey is talking about trimming government. In Arizona, when Republicans say they are trimming government, it means they are cutting back on teachers. About half of the state’s budget is used to fund education. I was on a school board, and every time Republicans decided to trim government, our school district had to lay off teachers. These cuts have contributed to Arizona having some of the largest class sizes in the country. We cannot rebuild on that foundation.

“The first step in establishing a sustainable, stable economy is to invest in public schools and to protect our universities. We have an obligation to restore K-12 inflation funding. Instead of finding a way to meet that obligation, Republicans are wasting money on lawsuits to shirk that responsibility. We can make sure our schools have the resources they need, but it means closing wasteful tax loopholes and potentially postponing special interest tax cuts.

“Arizonans deserve to have a responsive government, committed to passing a balanced, common-sense budget that supports schools, economic development and the middle class. We need policies that will attract businesses and create jobs. Those are the Democratic priorities, and those are the priorities that will get Arizona back on track.”

Senate Democratic Leader Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix (District 24)
“Return on investment is a concept straight out of Business 101 and one that has helped Governor Ducey be a very successful businessman. And it’s a concept that can help him be a very successful governor, too, if he chooses to see our public schools, our universities, our roads and our people as a good investment.

“To balance a budget for true long-term sustainability, we must take a serious look at corporate tax cuts and loopholes to make sure Arizona taxpayers are getting a return on those investments. At the same time we must be diligent in protecting programs that are critical to all Arizonans and to our economy, like our public schools, our roads and AHCCCS.

“We must protect our kids’ schools from further devastating cuts. For years, Arizona students have been studying from outdated textbooks, in crowded classrooms and in buildings that need repair because the Republican-led Legislature has cut their budgets by more than $3 billion since 2007. Those cuts must be reversed.

“A judge has ordered the Legislature to pay Arizona schools the inflationary adjustments that the voters of our state approved and protected with Prop 301 in 2000. It’s encouraging to hear the governor express his desire to settle this lawsuit. It’s time for Republicans in the Legislature to stop wasting taxpayer dollars by trying to get out of paying that money and instead work with the schools to find a responsible solution that works for everyone.

“In his speech, the governor talked about school choice and his desire that every child has access to high quality schools. The reality is Arizona already has the most robust school choice environment in the country, if not the world. Even so, 83 percent of Arizona parents choose to send their children to their neighborhood schools. It does not make sense to open a new charter school down the street from an ‘A’ rated district school or spend taxpayer dollars on a voucher for a child who is already attending a private school.

“Governor Ducey said that he wants the Ninth Floor to get out of the business of litigation. That is welcome news to not only us, but to the Dreamers across Arizona who have fought long and hard to get driver’s licenses. That statement does, however, raise an important question. Will the governor continue to fight the lawsuit from President Biggs and former Speaker Tobin that seeks to reverse Medicaid restoration?

“That answer is not only life-changing for the more than 200,000 Arizonans who are newly covered under AHCCCS, but for the fiscal stability of our state. To undo the bipartisan effort from two years ago would blow a $600 million hole in the state budget and force the closure of countless rural hospitals and medical clinics.

“There’s an old saying that ‘You’re known by your actions.’ Here at the Capitol, that lies in the difference between how you run for office and how you govern. Governor Ducey ran on his business experience, saying that he would bring a business approach to running state government.

“Well, this is his chance to show it. When he releases his budget on Friday, we hope to see that he has made the wise decision to see our public schools, our transportation infrastructure, our vulnerable children and the healthcare of our people as priorities. We’re certain that if he does, we will all see a priceless return on the investment.