A proposition intended to provide transparency to certain, alleged dark money networks may result in more danger for certain nonprofits.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) says it’s faced threats of violence and endured vandalism last year, and expressed concern that Prop 211, the Voters’ Right to Know Act, would exacerbate these issues.
AFEC President Scot Mussi told AZ Free News that some of the threats of intimidation were so severe that they filed police reports. Mussi said that the forced disclosure of the names, addresses, occupations, and identities of employers for any donors who gave over $5,000 to them would be subject to the same evils they face.
“Our supporters should be able to exercise their speech rights without fear of harassment or intimidation,” said Mussi.
Mussi predicted that Prop 211 would result in donors enduring retaliation and harassment. He pointed out that the proposition lacked substantive protections, except a provision protecting individuals from a “threat of physical harm.” However, Mussi was skeptical that the provision had any teeth for most organizations, save for the wealthy and powerful.
Any group or entity that spends over $50,000 on campaign media spending in a statewide race or $25,000 in any other race must adhere to those disclosure requirements. The top three donors for that cycle must also be disclosed, even if their funds weren’t used for campaign media spending.
Campaign media spending includes any public communications promoting, supporting, attacking, or opposing a candidate within six months of an election; referring to a candidate 90 days before a primary election; or even researching, designing, or producing content in preparation for public communication about a candidate. This expansive definition would include blog posts, articles, press releases, or social media posts.
Mussi told AZ Free News that the forced disclosure was tantamount to doxxing. He said the disclosures are a “well-known tactic” to silence dissent, referencing the ousting of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich after he donated to fund a California initiative declaring that marriage belongs between a man and a woman.
As a result of these concerns, AFEC filed a lawsuit to overturn Prop 211 last month. The nonprofit insists that First Amendment free speech protections also afford the right to not be forced to speak.
Joining AFEC is the Center For Arizona Policy (CAP), a conservative nonprofit, represented by the Goldwater Institute. The named defendants include Governor Katie Hobbs in her former capacity as secretary of state, as well as the Arizona Clean Elections Commission.
In a press release, Goldwater Institute (GI) Senior Attorney Scott Day Freeman stated that Prop 211 would force donors to choose between supporting causes and organizations they believed in or having their donations and private information publicized on a government list.
“The result will be less free speech, more harassment, and an uglier political discourse,” stated Day Freeman.
As AZ Free News reported, Prop 211 provides neat carveouts for primary sources of leftist dark money: corporate media, Big Tech, labor unions, and “nonpartisan” PACs, for example.
The main financier of the measure, David Tedesco, is the founder and CEO of the Phoenix-based venture capitalist firm, Outlier. The leader of the effort was Terry Goddard, the state’s former Democratic attorney general. Both men toldThe Washington Post that they disagreed with characterizations of Prop 211 by AFEC, CAP, and GI.
Tedesco also pushed back against the Wall Street Journal editorial board opinion opposing the proposition.
“Transparency and sunshine are happy words, but in reality disclosure laws have become a weapon used by the left to intimidate conservatives from engaging in politics. Groups trawl records for names and then organize social-media campaigns to harass and discourage donors,” wrote the board. “Americans looking to participate in campaigns can, and often do, see their names dragged through the mud. Many donors decline to engage, and political speech is chilled before it even happens.”
Tedesco rebutted that Prop 211 doesn’t present a free speech threat because it was backed financially by registered independents and Republicans. He said that voters had a right to know any financial sources behind free speech.
In this past November’s election, Arizona voters were misled into passing Prop 211. Billed as the “Voters’ Right to Know Act” that’s supposed to “Stop Dark Money” in our state, it sounds harmless enough. But that was all a part of the clever messaging from its campaigners—like former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard—to scare the average person into voting “yes.”
Unfortunately, it worked. But Prop 211 is unconstitutional, and that’s why the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, in partnership with the Center for Arizona Policy and the Goldwater Institute, filed a lawsuit to stop the Act from being enforced…
There’s a powerful, secretive infrastructure gunning to flip Arizona blue. Its elements appear disparate, coincidental at best. In truth, each element has a specific role to play: some transient with the fervor and impact of an October surprise, others established with the consistency and familiarity that eludes scrutiny. It is the seeming disconnection of these elements that makes the left’s secretive infrastructure that much more powerful.
The principal source of power is money, and though the left often complains about dark money, they are its principal cultivator by far. Despite this fact, they’re very much in favor of a purported solution to dark money on the November ballot: the Voters Right to Know Act, or Proposition 211. Upon closer examination, the rationale for their support is clear: this proposition comes with neat carve outs ensuring that leftist dark money critical to their Arizona infrastructure remains untouched — namely from corporate media, Big Tech, most labor unions, and “nonpartisan” political action committees. If the proposition is successful, it will enable leftist actors to continue building onto their secretive infrastructure to gain a greater hold of Arizona politics.
If money is the lifeblood, then the body of the left’s secret infrastructure exists in the coordination of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofits (C3 and C4, respectively), pop-up groups run by nonexistent people and entities that only exist for a few weeks around elections, mystery shell campaigns acting behind a veil on behalf of the Democratic Party and leftist organizations, and political action committees (PACs) dressing up their activity as grassroots work.
Dark money describes a shuffling of funds that intentionally obscures its origins and, ultimately, shapes its targeted political landscape to its liking. This shuffling is accomplished through networks of nonprofits, national organizations backed by a powerful few whose resources eventually shuffle down to more localized organizations.
As you read this article, more discernible traces of this leftist infrastructure are busy at work all around you. In the coming weeks, you will likely notice their fingerprints in campaign ads from groups with unfamiliar, novel names online, on the radio, on TV, and in your mail.
Some of those ads will originate from the Future Forward (FF) PAC, a D.C.-based organization funded initially by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and a favorite of Silicon Valley Democrats. According to a trigger report, they paid nearly $246,500 collectively in recent weeks for ad campaigns opposing three of former President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidates: Mark Finchem for secretary of state, Kari Lake for governor, and Abraham Hamadeh for attorney general. Their ad buys were estimated to be a little over $82,100 per candidate.
Since nonprofits aren’t legally obligated to disclose their donors, even for election expenditures, they may trade funds back and forth in the dark at will. Effectively, the leftist infrastructure “washes” the money before it reaches its final destination — they’re arguably the best at it.
The leftist infrastructure far outspends the right. For example, in the 2020 Arizona Corporation Commission race, the left backing Democrats had around $10.2 million in outside spending versus Republicans’ $156,000.
A vast majority of this “washed” money traces back to a few with deep pockets: the Arabella Advisors (Washington, D.C.), the Tides Foundation (San Francisco, California), and George Soros (Katonah, New York). Each boasts revenues and expenditures in the billions annually.
Arabella Advisors issues funds through five distinct nonprofits: the Hopewell Fund, the Sixteen Thirty Fund, the New Venture Fund, the North Fund, and the Windward Fund. In the 2020 election, Arabella Advisors’ nonprofits funneled vast amounts of money into Arizona. The company has nearly $10 billion at its disposal. Their current president and CEO is Rick Cruz.
Arabella Advisors launched in 2005 under Eric Kessler: a self-described “serial entrepreneur” whose career began elsewhere within the left’s network, working as a national field director for the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). When the LCV executive director at the time, Bruce Babbitt (also former Arizona attorney general and then governor), moved up in the political world with the election of President Bill Clinton, Kessler got a boost, too. He became an Interior Department appointee under Babbitt. Once the Clinton administration ended, Babbitt joined former secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s National Democratic Institute (NDI), and shortly after, he launched Arabella Advisors. He remains a senior managing partner for the organization.
The Tides Foundation is one of many nonprofits within a larger network underneath the Tides Network, which is part of the Tides Nexus. It’s similar to another nonprofit within the network, Tides Advocacy (formerly the Tides Advocacy Fund, the Advocacy Fund, and the Tsunami Fund). The Tides Foundation is chaired currently by Roslyn Dawson Thompson, the former president and CEO of Texas Women’s Foundation (formerly Dallas Women’s Foundation), another left-wing nonprofit.
The Tides Foundation began in 1976 with Drummond Pike, a liberal political activist allied with Wade Rathke, who founded the defunct advocacy group esteemed by Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The organization received initial financial backing from Reynolds tobacco heiress Jane Lehman, who chaired the organization until her death in 1988.
Finally, George Soros is considered a principal financial backer for a wide array of Democratic Party efforts. Soros channels funds to various Arizona PACs and organizations through his Open Society Foundations (OSF). He also channeled funds through his Democracy PAC, which funneled over $1 million at least into Arizona for the 2020 election to Not Our Faith, Arizona Wins, and ProgressNow Arizona, respectively. The Democracy PAC gave $100,000 last year to Way to Lead PAC, chaired by Dacey Montoya. Montoya, also former chair of the now-inactive Not Our Faith, also owns the Money Wheel: a consulting firm that Democratic candidates and groups have paid hundreds of thousands into since 2018.
The C3-C4 Relationship
Leftist C3 and C4 nonprofits have a unique codependency in Arizona. While both receive tax-exempt income, C4s may engage in political activities like lobbying and campaigning while C3s generally may not.
Since C4s may engage in election activities, politically driven C3s fund C4s. However, those C3s don’t stop there. They ensure that their funds are spent properly by coordinating through grassroots lobbying. In contrast to direct lobbying, grassroots lobbying mobilizes the public on political issues.
In Arizona, major politically driven C3s include AZ Wins, One Arizona, ProgressNow AZ, and Save Our Schools Arizona (SOSAZ) Network.
One Arizona exemplifies the C3 to C4 relationship. This C3 nonprofit is a coalition of leftist groups, among which is Mi Familia Vota, a C4. One Arizona routes funds to Mi Familia Vota and coordinates grassroots lobbying efforts. Their biggest funders include the Tides Foundation, George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation, and several different organizations under Arabella Advisors.
C3 resources and support put the wind in C4 sails. In 2020, it was Mi Familia Vota that successfully sued to extend the voter registration deadline another 18 days — just 11 days before the Election Day.
The Pop-Up Groups
Another integral component of the left’s secretive infrastructure exists within various “pop-up groups.” These are political groups that appear shortly before an election and become inactive after the election ends, made up to appear like an authentic group of concerned citizens and not political activists working on behalf of a party.
Oftentimes, the identifying information given by these pop-up groups upon registration is untraceable: faulty or fake phone numbers, addresses, and personnel. Yet somehow, even with their tight deadline and obscurity, these pop-up groups manage to have enough voter contacts and resources for mass outreach efforts.
This year, a pop-up PAC by the name of “Defend Arizona Rights” registered in late June. As of this report, nearly all of their income — which came from Damon Ely, a Democratic state representative and attorney from New Mexico — went toward a website to oppose Proposition 309 (SCR1012), the ballot measure to require voter ID.
A prominent example of a pop-up group from 2020 was “Arizonans for Energy Independence,” which focused on the Arizona Corporation Commission race. They registered with the secretary of state about two weeks before the election. Their listed phone number led to an alarm business, their address was a shipping service location, and the only listed officer appears to be a ghost. Those who signed petitions from NextGen America received text from Arizonans for Energy Independence in late October.
NextGen America (formerly NextGen Climate) is one of multiple major leftist C4s that bankrolls the leftist infrastructure.
The Shell Campaigns
Much like pop-up groups, leftist shell campaigns are driven and largely funded by a political party. Unlike pop-up groups, however, these shell campaigns last for the entire election year and usually hire several identifiable staffers. Markers of a shell campaign include political attack-dog websites, ad campaigns, and artificial demonstrations staffed by professional activists staged to look spontaneous.
One example of a shell campaign from 2020 was Arizona Families First — not to be confused with Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T., an Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) program for parental substance abuse.
The Arizona Families First PAC was live for all of 2020, then went inactive after the election. The Arizona Democratic Party was the primary bankroller, pouring $1.7 million total into the PAC; the party launched the PAC with $45,000 contributions from February to March of 2020.
The PAC spent close to $2 million altogether on outreach: over $1 million on mailers, $916,900 on digital ads, $25,000 on radio ads, and $10,800 on its website. It also spent nearly $21,000 on legal services from Coppersmith Brockelman — a go-to law firm for Democrats, from which the newly appointed Biden nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Roopali Desai, hailed. The director of Arizona Families First, Ramon Alvarez, earned over $70,400.
With the 2020 election concluded and their work done, the PAC refunded their remaining $15,400 back into the Arizona Democratic Party last February.
Other major funders of the Arizona Families First PAC included tens of thousands respectively from the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, Healthcare Rising AZ, Working for Working Americans Non-Federal Arizona PAC, 314 Action Victory Fund, and Trilogy Interactive.
Several corporations gave thousands to the PAC: Zillow, Pepsi, Intuit, and Sanofi. Additionally, the PAC received a smaller donation from one of the prominent families contributing to the state’s leftist infrastructure: Abby Rockefeller.
An example of a shell campaign from this year was Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections PAC. They launched last December with the purpose of getting their eponymous initiative on the ballot, which aimed to roll back voter ID, allow same-day registration, allow outside money into elections offices, and thwart challenges to future ballot initiatives and election results. AZ Free News issued a detailed report in July on the leftist infrastructure funding behind this shell campaign.
According to the secretary of state’s campaign finance reporting site, the last expenditure for that shell campaign was $50,000 to the Barton Mendez Soto law firm last November — a month before the PAC registered with the secretary of state.
The Left’s Use of Arizona-Based PACs to Shuffle Money
There are over 900 PACs listed as active through the Arizona Secretary of State. Of these, a handful serve as consistent conduits for the leftist infrastructure’s funds under the title of grassroots work. These include One Arizona/Arizona Wins, Mi Familia Vota, Arizona Advocacy Network, ProgressNow AZ, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), Opportunity Arizona, Mijente, PODER in Action, Forward Majority Action Arizona, Way to Lead Arizona (Way to Lead PAC), and Future Now Arizona.
None of them broke the secretary of state’s campaign finance top ten for major income and expenditures this year. There are others who made that list: those who have raised and spent mass amounts of funds in a short window of time this year. They may be classified as shell PACs integral to the leftist infrastructure since they assume a local identity while receiving and distributing funds from out-of-state Democratic billionaires and the three primary financiers of Democratic money (Arabella Advisors, Tides Foundation, and George Soros).
According to the secretary of state’s campaign finance portal, these are the PACs with the top 10 incomes this year:
$8.2 million, The PAC for America’s Future – AZ
$7.6 million, Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections (review previous section for details)
$3.5 million, Arizonans Fed up with Failing Healthcare, or Healthcare Rising AZ
$2.2 million, Put Arizona First
$2 million, Worker Power PAC
$1.4 million, Our Voice Our Vote Arizona PAC
$1.3 million, DLCC Victory Fund
$775k, ActBlue Arizona
$737k, Arizona Pipe Trades 469
$665k, United Food & Commercial Workers Union of AZ Local 99
And these are the PACs with the top 10 expenses this year:
$5.2 million, Republican Governors Association (RGA) Arizona PAC
$3.4 million, Arizonans Fed Up with Failing Healthcare (Healthcare Rising AZ)
$3.3 million, The PAC for America’s Future – AZ
$2.2 million, Put Arizona First
$1.5 million, Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA) Arizona for Freedom PAC
$1.3 million, Arizonans for a Just Democracy
$885k, Planned Parenthood Votes
$817k, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee
$800k, National Rifle Association (NRA) Political Victory Fund
$786k, Arizona Pipe Trades #469
Of all these PACs, a prime example of the left’s money “washing” that’s also most cryptic in its origins and nature would be Arizonans for a Just Democracy. The PAC launched last July, with a mailing address located at the same UPS store in Phoenix as ProgressNow Arizona and Arizona Wins. Their website hasn’t been updated since their launch.
Arizonans for a Just Democracy only has four donors listed, of which three are: Merle Chambers, millionaire Democratic funder; the Arabella Advisors’ Sixteen Thirty Fund, and a ghost of a PAC called “The Future We Want.” That last PAC also has a mailing address at the same UPS store; its chair is Juliana Horwin, a former educator with the Arizona Education Association (AEA).
According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), a similarly named Super PAC was active from 2018 to 2019 and its sole financier totaling $547,000 was a Phoenix-based PAC called “Citizens for Accountable Government” (yet somehow it spent over $716,000). Citizens for Accountable Government’s mailing address is also located at the same UPS store and shares the same treasurer as The Future We Want, Isis Gil of the Puente Human Rights Movement. Citizens for Accountable Government’s chair is Chris Love: the former Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAZ) chair. Their primary funds come from either The Future We Want or Arizona Wins.
Arizonans for a Just Democracy’s chair, Grecia Lima, is the national political director for Community Change (also known as Center for Community Change) and its advocacy arm, Community Change Action. Community Change receives mass funding from the Democratic network: Democracy Alliance, AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood. The PAC’s treasurer is Sarah Michelsen: the senior campaign strategist for the ACLU, and as of June 2021 the owner of “Michelsen Strategies,” a Phoenix-based campaigning firm. From the moment Michelsen launched her firm until present, she’s raked in at least $18,300 from the Arizonans for a Just Democracy PAC.
Michelsen has worked with the Center for Progressive Leadership, Arizona Wins, NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Then there’s PAC for America’s Future – AZ. Of their $8.2 million in income this year, not even half of a percent came from Arizonans ($16,800, composed of many individual donations ranging from $25 to $1,000). The vast majority of the PAC’s major funding came from Democrat billionaires. This PAC plays an integral role in ensuring Arizona’s leftist infrastructure is relied upon both locally and nationally — it passes along funds to PACs, organizations, and committees across other states. Only $106,000 went to Arizona candidates, all Democrats; $260,000 went to the Arizona Democratic Party. That’s four percent of their income this year.
As AZ Free News reported in August, about half of Healthcare Rising AZ’s funds came from the California union, SEIU United Healthcare Workers. Its main expenses were for signature-gathering efforts for its Predatory Debt Collection Act, a ballot initiative to thwart debt collection efforts.
The RGA Arizona PAC receives its funds from its national affiliate, the Republican Governors Association, and all of its expenditures went toward ad campaigns against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs.
RAGA Arizona for Freedom has spent nearly equal amounts of over $700,000 each on ad campaigns to support Republican attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh and oppose Democratic attorney general candidate Kris Mayes.
Likewise, the NRA Political Victory Fund spent nearly equal amounts of over $400,000 each on ad campaigns to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and oppose Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs.
This is Part One in a series on the Democratic dark money network in Arizona. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to be notified of Part Two in the series.
One of the kingpins of Democratic dark money, 91-year-old George Soros (92 on Friday), lingers still behind the scenes of Arizona’s elections. His millions, traceable effectively wherever a Democratic candidate arises, may define the upcoming Maricopa County Attorney election. One of Soros’ main objectives is to grow his network of progressive prosecutors.
Soros made his mark in Arizona known through the 2016 elections. He was the primary financier of the Maricopa Strong PAC, spending over $2.3 million to defeat Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (a success). Soros was also the primary financier of the Arizona Safety and Justice PAC, spending $1 million in the Maricopa County attorney’s race to defeat then-incumbent Bill Montgomery (a failure).
After 2016, Soros’ personal spending in criminal justice-related races appeared to cease entirely. The contentious 2020 election came and went without word of Soros’ millions flooding county races. Yet, Soros assured the country in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal last month that he remains committed to his goal of establishing liberal, reform-oriented prosecutors nationwide.
Soros may have rejected the media attention for his direct financing, and opted to direct his funds through less overt channels: political action committees (PACs) entrusted to pass on the cash to his desired candidates.
Soros candidates are identifiable by the following criminal justice reform goals: bail abolition, reduced incarceration numbers, mental health response services (as opposed to police), diversion programs in lieu of trial, mental health and drug courts as alternatives to criminal courts,
Those who share a similar vision for criminal justice reform are Julie Gunnigle, Democratic candidate for Maricopa County Attorney, as well as Laura Conover, current Pima County Attorney.
Gunnigle pledged to expunge marijuana-related criminal records, reduce incarceration rates, end cash bail, oppose the death penalty, fight elongated sentences for gang and weapons-related charges, establish mental health response services, and avoid prosecution for abortion offenses. Gunnigle, who earned over 312,000 votes in the primary, faces off against incumbent Rachel Mitchell, who earned over 235,000 votes (beating Republican challenger Gina Godbehere, who earned over 175,000 votes).
Out of the latest PAC donations reported, Gunnigle received over $6,500 from Way to Lead Arizona. That PAC received $100,000 from Soros’ Democracy PAC last year, though it’s primarily funded by its national counterpart: Way to Lead PAC. That PAC has received millions combined from Soros, his family, or the organizations he either funds or founded, according to Federal Election Contribution (FEC) campaign finance records.
Gunnigle has denied that she benefited from Soros funding.
During her 2020 run for the county attorney’s office, Gunnigle received $12,900 from the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAZ) PAC, nearly $10,900 from Arizona List PAC, and over $6,000 from Emily’s List PAC.
The SOS database reflects that PPAZ’s biggest donors are private individuals donating over tens of thousands of dollars each. However, PPAZ’s SOS profile doesn’t reflect their receipt of over $9,100 from Planned Parenthood Votes that year, who in turn received $2.5 million from September 2019 to August 2020 from Soros’ Democracy PAC according to FEC records.
Arizona List PAC received $2,500 from Arizona Wins that year, who received $350,000 from Soros’ Democracy PAC in June 2020. Arizona Wins has given tens of thousands to Arizona List since launching in 2008. Arizona List PAC has also received $6,000 every year, including this year, from Emily’s List PAC. Soros’ Democracy PAC gave Emily’s List a $1 million nonfederal contribution in early 2020.
Since 2020, the Soros-funded Emily’s List has given $525,000 to the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (ADLCC), a project of the Arizona Democratic Party co-founded by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. This year so far, they’ve given $50,000 to the ADLCC.
Arizona Wins — who appears under several different profiles with variations of its name on the SOS database, such as “Arizona Wins!” and “Arizona Wins/One Arizona” — has received money from and sent money to Soros’ affiliated or founded organizations apart from Democracy PAC. This includes just under $100,000 given to Forward Majority Action Arizona, whose primary funder is its national arm, Forward Majority Action. Soros’ Sixteen Thirty Fund issued millions to Forward Majority Action throughout 2020, with an additional individual contribution of $200,000 from Soros’ eldest son, Robert.
Arizona Wins’ former program manager, Josselyn Berry, went on to become the executive director of a PAC that received $650,000 from Soros’ Democracy PAC in 2020: ProgressNow Arizona (sometimes listed as Progress Now Arizona). Berry, formerly the Arizona State Senate Democratic Caucus Communications Director, also serves as a staffer for the Arizona Democratic Party. Arizona Wins and Progress Now Arizona both listed the same address for campaign finance reports.
ProgressNow Arizona also received $25,000 from the Future Now Fund in 2020, whose Arizona arm has received thousands over the years from Soros’ daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and submitted about $509,800 to the Arizona Democratic Party in 2020.
Pima County’s attorney, Laura Conover, has pledged to advance criminal justice reform initiatives that align with Soros’ vision. Her campaign received funding from some of the same sources as Gunnigle.
Last December, Conover pledged to not charge individuals arrested for simple drug possession in order to avoid jail crowding. Most recently, Conover pledged to not give jail time to individuals who seek or assist with abortions. Among her goals: cease prosecutions for the “poor, sick, and addicted,” through efforts like abolishing cash bail and limiting deportations.
In response to a constituent complaint on Facebook in 2020, Conover neither confirmed nor denied that she benefited from Soros funding.
“You may review my financials at your leisure. Bipartisan. Transparent. Sorry to disappoint,” wrote Conover’s campaign page.
According to the secretary of state’s (SOS) campaign finance records, the PPAZ PAC paid $12,900 to Conover’s campaign in July 2020. Conover’s campaign also received over $7,300 from the Arizona List PAC in 2020.
Soros’ money bleeds into other aspects of Arizona’s legal world. Incidentally, traces of his financial support touched the 2020 interests of newly-confirmed Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge: the accomplished, favorite Arizona attorney of the Democratic Party, Roopali Desai.
The funds benefited other left-wing criminal reform agendas in Arizona through Arizonans for Second Chances, Rehabilitation, And Public Safety: another PAC backed by Soros money, in addition to Big Tech’s Mark Zuckerberg. From June to September of 2020, the PAC received nearly $256,700 from the Alliance for Safety and Justice Action Fund, a project of Soros’ Tides Advocacy.
The PAC also received about $552,600 from Fwd.Us, Zuckerberg’s pro-immigration lobbying group co-founded with liberal megadonor Joe Green. Fwd.Us made headlines in late 2021 for bankrolling “farm teams” that produced at least five members of President Joe Biden’s immigration policy team.
From June to August 2020, the PAC paid out about $380,300 to the Coppersmith Brockelman law firm, where Desai has been a longtime partner. They also paid out over $3.3 million to AZ Petition Partners (dba Petition Partners): a signature-collecting company charged in November 2020 by the Arizona Attorney General’s office for illegal bonus programs. Desai is serving as one of the attorneys for the company’s appeal case.
That company also received $1.25 million from “Smart And Safe Arizona,” the PAC behind the eponymous ballot initiative, Prop 207, which successfully legalized recreational weed in the state. Desai authored Prop 207’s language. Desai also provided legal services for Prop 208, Invest in Education, whose eponymous PAC rallying for an additional income tax to increase teacher funding paid at least $150,000 to Petition Partners.
Every American should be free to peacefully support causes they believe in without being harassed or intimidated.
Someone should tell that to Terry Goddard. For years, the former Attorney General of Arizona has been leading a campaign to “Stop Dark Money” in our state. Although the name sounds nefarious, it’s nothing more than clever messaging aimed to scare the average person.
But now Goddard’s new donor harassment initiative is set to file signatures in the coming days. And if it makes it onto the ballot and becomes law, it would be a devastating blow to donor privacy and free speech.