Benjamin Franklin once famously said, “[I]n this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes” — true, unless you’re a leftist political nonprofit. For many of them, taxation isn’t certain, even if they run afoul of tax-exempt status requirements.
Funding sources, expenditure recipients, and even those operating these nonprofits may remain secretive under the current state of lax federal enforcement. These tax-free and opacity perks are possible through two interrelated federal tax classifications: 501(c)(3), or “C3,” and 501(c)(4), or “C4.” There are over 27,000 C3s and just over 1,200C4s registered in Arizona. The big difference between the two classifications is that donations to IRS-recognized C3 organizations are deductible under our income tax code. And the Left has learned how to exploit this tax status for their political benefit.
In Arizona, many liberal C3 and C4 nonprofits work in tandem, each executing symbiotic duties while coordinating their activities and sharing data and resources. Sometimes, these C3 and C4 duos are “sister” organizations — meaning, they’re affiliated rather than independent entities allied over common goals.
These arrangements are legal so long as clear distinctions are made between charitable and non-charitable activities. Over the last several months, AZ Free News has conducted an extensive review of over a dozen different liberal nonprofits in the state, examining their websites, tax documents, and social media accounts. Our research has found that many of these organizations have blurred the lines on their political activities via various C3 and C4 groups. In some cases, there appeared to be no distinction at all, with some C3 organizations providing completely different accounts of their tax-deductible program activities to the IRS compared to what they shared publicly.
How the IRS Intended for C3 and C4 Organizations to Operate
C3s have two major qualifiers: they’re supposed to be nonpartisan and apolitical—meaning, they can’t expend funds or use resources to coordinate with political activity being conducted by C4s.
C3s must organize and operate exclusively for purposes that are one or more of the following: charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.
The IRS defines “charitable” as relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.
The IRS expressly prohibits C3s from being an “action organization”: those engaging in political or legislative activities. Political activities include the direct or indirect participation or intervention in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any political candidate. The IRS also prohibits political campaign fund contributions or public statements of positions, either verbal or written, on behalf of the organization in favor of or opposing any candidate.
The IRS does condone voter education activities, such as get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts like voter registration. However, any evidence of political bias is forbidden: favoritism of a candidate, opposing a candidate in any way, or “hav[ing] the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates.” Lobbying is also largely forbidden.
Comparatively, the IRS classifies C4 organizations into one of two categories: social welfare organizations or local association of employees. The former concerns civic leagues or organizations organized exclusively for social welfare promotion, not profit. The IRS clarifies that social welfare promotion doesn’t include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate. Those that do must not render that activity as their primary activity, and risk being subjected to taxation. The latter concerns membership-based organizations with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.
How Leftist C3 and C4s Operate in Arizona
Our review of leftist C3s in Arizona appears to indicate that their activities are overtly partisan and political. They coordinate with politically active C4s to achieve shared, partisan goals, and receive political action committee (PAC) funding while doing so. Often, these leftist C4s have either direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to one or more candidates.
Progressive activists leading these C3s have effectively mastered the art of exploiting the IRS code for partisan advantage, helping to maximize liberal donor partisan impact with their dollars while still hiding their identity. The C3s will claim that their allowable vote (GOTV) efforts, such as voter registration, are nonpartisan. They will claim they’re reaching out to certain, “marginalized” demographic groups; however, these groups turn out to be known Democratic voter bases.
One example of this is Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, the C3 sister organization of Mi Familia Vota, the C4. The former admitted on their 2020 tax filing to coordinating political activity with the latter. The executive director of Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Hector Sanchez Barba, has publicly advocated for the losses of Republican candidates.
“We will keep working to keep extremism, Trump and MAGA out of our democracy,” wrote Sanchez Barba. “@MiFamiliaVota.”
Sanchez Barba also celebrated the nonprofits’ efforts in assisting Gov. Katie Hobbs’ victory over Republican challenger Kari Lake.
“More voters saying no to MAGA candidates, congratulations @katiehobbs #LatinoVote @MiFamiliaVota #Arizona,” tweeted Sanchez Barba.
In response to a Politico article documenting the GOP’s underperformance in last year’s midterm elections, Sanchez Barba thanked Latino voters for having Democrats win.
“Gracia #LatinoVote,” wrote Sanchez Barba.
Meanwhile, their partner C4s pay for media and partisan activities like ad campaigns for candidates. It’s uncertain whether the funding for these activities comes from their C3 partners since those grant or cost-sharing agreements aren’t public. The IRS requires that C3 funds given to C4s be restricted to charitable uses — not electioneering activity.
The C3-C4 duo targets certain voter demographics to achieve a partisan outcome. They contact Democrat-leaning voters to get their vote cast, convince newly registered voters to vote Democratic through mailers and ads supportive of Democratic candidates and causes, and publicly support certain partisan ballot initiatives.
The C3-C4 sister organizations thinly veil their efforts that a division exists between them. For example, Mi Familia Vota spent tens of thousands on TV advertising that advocated for the election of Reginald Bolding ahead of last year’s primary. However, they listed a staffer for their C3 sister organization, Mi Familia Vota Education, as the point-of-contact on that campaign filing.
As AZ Free News reported in Part One of this series, Mi Familia Vota receives funding from One Arizona, a C3, which in turn receives its funding from the Tides Foundation, George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation, and several different organizations under Arabella Advisors.
Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), a C4, also spent thousands for Democratic candidates in the final weeks of last year’s midterm election.
LUCHA also receives funding from One Arizona.
Ahead of the midterm election last June, One Arizona advertised a job opening for an independent expenditure (IE) campaign manager. The position appears to be one for a political staffer, which would constitute prohibited electioneering.
Leftist C3s also hire for both the C3 and C4, resulting in shared jobs and salaries. One Arizona (C3) and Arizona Wins (C4) co-hired staff including a field director, field program coordinator, and finance and compliance director. That shared salary should not be used for political work. One recent example of this was a job listing by Arizona Coalition for Change (C3) and Our Voice Our Vote (C4) for a data manager that would work within the duo’s political and grassroots lobbying arms.
These blurred lines surrounding co-hires don’t just apply to staff. Arizona Center for Empowerment (ACE, a C3) and LUCHA (C4) share an executive director, Alejandra (Alex) Gomez, as well as staffers. This relationship is further complicated by the fact that ACE listed LUCHA as its “Employer of Record” on their latest tax return. Under Gomez, both organizations have expressed their partisanship.
Last year, LUCHA launched an initiative to get Democratic candidates elected: “LUCHA Blue.” The nonprofit pledged to prioritize certain races and voter bases in its GOTV efforts. On its hiring page for the initiative, LUCHA disclosed that it would staff between 70 and 105 people.
“We believe that not all candidates align with the mission of LUCHA, and this is why we created a campaign not only to flip Arizona Blue — but LUCHA Blue!” stated LUCHA. “Overall, the goal of the campaign is to win these targeted races, increase Latin/Hispanic voter turnout, and educate voters on the voting process.” (emphasis added)
In one post following Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) winning re-election last November, LUCHA appeared to affirm that both it and ACE assisted in organizational efforts to assure Kelly’s victory.
Wealthy dark money donors have a greater financial incentive to back C3s. 75 percent of their donations can go to politics and qualify as tax deductible — effectively maximizing their gift-giving while affording them a tax break. C4 donations aren’t tax deductible.
The IRS has long been aware of the disparity between the lawful intent for C3 and C4 entities, and the current reality of C3-C4 relationships. As ProPublica revealed in 2019, the IRS essentially gave up on holding nonprofits accountable.
The following are some of Arizona’s liberal C3-C4 nonprofit duos: One Arizona and Arizona Wins, Arizona Center for Empowerment and Living United for Change in Arizona, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and Mi Familia Vota Victory, Chispa AZ/League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and League of Conservation Voters, Arizona Coalition for Change and Our Voice Our Vote, Instituto Lab and Instituto Power, Rural Arizona Engagement and Rural Arizona Action, and Voto Latino Foundation and Voto Latino.
The relationships between these nonprofits and the awareness of their straining tax law will be further explained in the next installment of this series.
This is Part Two in a series on the Left’s secret infrastructure to turn Arizona blue. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to be notified of Part Three in the series.
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.
On Thursday, three GOP groups intervened in a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s new law requiring proof of citizenship in order to register to vote.
The Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the Republican Party of Arizona (RPAZ), the Mohave County Republican Central Committee, and the Gila County Republican Committee intervened to challenge the plaintiffs: two activist organizations advocating for progressive policies, Mi Familia Vota and Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA).
In their motion to intervene, the GOP groups asserted that voter ID preserved election integrity.
“[T]he question for this Court is not whether Movants have an interest in maintaining an ‘unconstitutional’ law. The question is whether Movants have an interest in preventing a federal court from enjoining a valid law that increases voter confidence and promotes election integrity,” read their motion.
Both Mi Familia Vota and LUCHA received help from one of the top lawyers for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign: Russiagate hoax lawyer Marc Elias.
In a press release, GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel defended the new Arizona law as common-sense policy. She added that the law would hold Democrats accountable for their “underhanded election tactic” of rejecting voter ID.
“American elections should be decided by American citizens: full stop. When it comes to non-citizens voting, Democrats are trying to change the rules of the game because their radical ideas won’t win on an even playing field,” said McDaniel.
Democrats argued that requiring proof of citizenship in order to vote was unconstitutional and against federal law.
However, legal experts like former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould clarified that the Constitution never empowered non-citizens with the right to vote. Gould toldArizona Daily Independent that the Constitution actually excludes non-citizens.
“Of course, non-citizens have never had a right to vote under the Constitution, and so it is absurd to argue that HB2492 takes away a legal, constitutional right to vote from anyone,” said Gould. “Requiring proof of citizenship to vote is a neutral, reasonable, non-discriminatory restriction that operates to exclude one group: non-citizens.”
If the new law withstands legal challenges, it wouldn’t go into effect until 2023.
With the help of Hillary Clinton’s Russiagate hoax lawyer Marc Elias, the Phoenix-based Latino activist organization Mi Familia Vota filed a lawsuit Thursday to challenge Arizona’s newly-enacted law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. Republican legislators and Governor Doug Ducey have reiterated that the legislation, HB2492, doesn’t apply retroactively to Arizonans who registered to vote without providing proof of citizenship before 2004, meaning those individuals won’t have to re-register to vote. There’s contention to that provision in question: opponents of the law argue that the new definition of a qualified voter requires all registered voters to have submitted proof of citizenship.
The complaint filed by Elias on behalf of Mi Familia Vota alleged that HB2492 was “confusing, discriminatory, and unconstitutional,” as well as “voter suppression,” claiming it would prevent those already registered without proof of citizenship from voting. The complaint also claimed that HB2492 shared the same faults as Proposition 200, a voter-approved initiative in 2004 that required county recorders to reject any application for registration that didn’t include satisfactory evidence of U.S. citizenship.
The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) struck down Proposition 200, ruling that it was a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) which doesn’t require proof of citizenship when registering to vote. However, as Arizona Free Enterprise Deputy Director Greg Blackie explained during the State Senate hearing of the bill, this law was designed to fall within the bounds of SCOTUS precedent because the NVRA doesn’t prohibit states from denying registration if there’s proof that the applicant isn’t a citizen.
Mi Familia Vota’s complaint further insisted that the new law would undermine early mail-in voting, due to the fact that it would negate the ease of voting provided by that method. The complaint also claimed that around 200,000 registered voters would have to locate and present proof of citizenship in order to vote. For that claim, the complaint cited an opinion piece in the Arizona Republic, which didn’t make a definitive claim that those voters would be scrutinized.
“If you registered to vote in Arizona before 2004 and never provided proof that you’re a U.S. citizen — a number that includes close to 200,000 voters who got their driver’s licenses before October 1, 1996, in the days before proof of citizenship was required — you, too, could be suspect. In the eyes of the GOP-run Arizona legislature, that is,” stated the article. [emphasis added]
Setting aside the potential difficulties presented to voters, the complaint argued that Arizona had no compelling interest to justify requiring proof of citizenship of its voters. It claimed that the lack of proof of non-citizens who’d voted proved that point.
In terms of requested relief, the complaint asked the court to find the new law to be in violation of the rights to vote and due process as outlined in the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
On Tuesday, the Arizona House passed a bill allowing only political parties, county recorders, or election officials to distribute early ballots or active early voter list request forms to voters. The bill, HB2786, passed 31-26 along party lines.
State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) sponsored the bill; his other bill barring illegal immigrants from voting passed the House on Monday. Another election integrity bill passed both the House and Senate on Monday, too: a constitutional amendment proposition that will appear on the ballot for voters to decide.
House Democrats lamented that nonprofit organizations like Mi Familia Vota would lose the ability to engage more voters. Mi Familia Vota is a national organization based in Phoenix that focuses on voter registration and political activism, with a practice of allowing illegal immigrants to work for them. Last summer, Mi Familia Vota in Nevada engaged in door knocking to coax Hispanic neighborhoods into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Mi Familia Vota pledged $10 million to increase the Hispanic voters turnout in their #BastaTrump campaign. That resulted in 2.4 first-time or newly-registered voters, bolstering Mi Familia Vota’s targeted key battleground states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida.