Posted by Kellie Ryan on January 22, 2016 at 2:46 PM
Team of Arizona Rivals Introduce Open Primaries & Dark Money Disclosure Constitutional Amendments
Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, now an independent. Former Phoenix Mayor and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat. Republican consultant Chuck Coughlin. The three of them have done political battle against each other many times over the years. Throw in at least $1M from a Texas philanthropist/election reform advocate, and an independent voters' group, and you have quite a coalition.
The coalition came together today in central Phoenix to announce their effort to put two separate initiatives to amend the Arizona Constitution and to fundamentally change Arizona election law. Open & Honest Elections will need at least 225,963 valid signatures on the initiative to open primaries up to put independent candidates on more equal footing with those from the major parties, and on the initiative to require disclosure of the original source of funding for campaign contributions of more than $10,000.
When Johnson talked about the difference between this new effort and the open primaries initiative that was soundly defeated in 2012, he cited this broad-based coalition and team of rivals. When he started to talk about the long view and said it may not get a majority of votes this time, either, Coughlin immediately jumped in and flatly stated "we WILL win."
The national Open Primaries group, primarily funded by Texas philanthropist John Arnold, has made a $1M contribution to the Arizona joint effort, with hopes to raise $13M more. They promised that they will "over-disclose" who contributes to the effort, even though current laws do not require it, and pointed out that the opponents to the measure will not be disclosing.
SIDENOTE: The Open & Honest Elections group and Goddard cite Arizona's Politics' $15M+ figure of dark money in Arizona in 2014 elections. Here is that article, from shortly before the November election day. Much of the methodology and definitions used is included in that article. (More detail is available in our series of #50ShadesOfDarkMoney articles.) As expressed to other reporters, more detail is available upon request.
(This article contributed by Tempe election law attorney Paul Weich.)