FTX Arizona PAC Operative Received Over $1 Million From Mark Kelly, Katie Hobbs

FTX Arizona PAC Operative Received Over $1 Million From Mark Kelly, Katie Hobbs

By Corinne Murdock |

The operative whose political action committee (PAC) received $27 million from fallen crypto giant FTX also received over $1 million from committees for Senator Mark Kelly and governor-elect Katie Hobbs. 

The operative, Dacey Montoya, also served as the treasurer for these committees. Montoya has been behind numerous other political committees and PACs in Arizona and across at least 16 other states. Usually, those committees also pay her consulting firm, The Money Wheel (TMW).

Montoya serves as the treasurer for the Mark Kelly Victory Fund and Mark Kelly For Senate. TMW received over $832,000 from the two committees over the past two years. 

Katie Hobbs’ secretary of state and gubernatorial committees paid TMW about $188,500 over the past four years, with the greatest payouts occurring over the last year. Although Montoya wasn’t listed as the treasurer for either of Hobbs’ campaigns, her firm’s email was listed in the contact information.

That combined $1 million doesn’t include payouts from other political action committees (PACs) and political candidates. (Note: AZ Free News discovered that Montoya’s PACs didn’t always file timely reports, so funds like expenditures, income, and TMW funding may be underreported).

Arizona-based PACs or campaign committees that paid TMW: Outlaw Dirty Money, $61,900; Arizona Pipe Trades 469, $54,000; Invest in Phx, $10,700; Rural Arizonans For Accountability, $10,500; Arizonans For a Just Democracy, $5,500; No On Proposition 126 Committee, $1,200; Solutions for Arizona, $500.

Arizona-based PACs that Montoya ran, and how much they paid TMW: Invest in Education, $504,400; Protect Our Future PAC, $134,500; Way to Lead PAC, $67,800; Moms Fed Up, $52,000; Way to Lead State Power Committee, $49,600; Invest in Education Committee, $40,700; Arizonans For Fair Elections, $40,000; Arizona Families First, $38,900; Change for Arizona 2024 PAC, $31,000; Arizonans For Fair Lending, $27,000; Arizona Future Fund, $25,000; Invest in Arizona, $25,000; Guarding Against Pandemics PAC, $16,000; Families United For Freedom, $15,000; Opportunity For Tomorrow, $11,000; Lead the Way 2022, $9,800; Not Our Faith, $9,200; Liftoff PAC, $3,500; E Pluribus PAC, $9,100; Win the West 2020, $3,100; Win Blue 2020, $2,600; Restore Hope, $2,500; Arizona Washington Victory Fund, $1,800; Arizona Maine Victory Fund, $1,800; Arizona New Jersey Victory Fund, $1,800; Kelly, Cisneros, Rouda, Smith Victory Fund, $1,700; Yes For Phx, $1,400; Saguaro Victory Fund, $1,100; and Arizona New Mexico Victory Fund, $800.

Political candidates for whom Montoya served as treasurer, and how much they paid TMW: Mayor Kate Gallego, $76,300; Reginald Bolding, $51,800; and Jevin Hodge, $42,000.

Political candidates whose campaigns paid TMW: Kirsten Engel, $46,900; Judy Stahl, $11,500; Ann Kirkpatrick, $118,500; and Heather Ross, $36,000.

At minimum, Montoya’s firm has made over $2.7 million over the past few years through Arizona political candidates, committees, and PACs. 

Montoya also founded and ran an influential PAC that didn’t pay TMW: Will of the People Arizona, a PAC dedicated to defeating Propositions 128, 129, and 132. In their tweets, the PAC tags multiple progressive organizations in their effort, including Pro-Choice Arizona, LUCHA Arizona, Mass Liberation Arizona, Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro, Poder in Action, CASE, AZ Coalition 4 Change, Healthcare Rising Arizona, All Voting is Local – AZ, ACLU of Arizona, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

The PAC identified The Arizona Republic as an endorser of their efforts.

Prop 128, allowing the state legislature to amend, divert funds from, or supersede an initiative or referendum found to contain illegal or unconstitutional language, failed; Prop 129, limiting ballot initiatives to a single subject, succeeded; and Prop 132, requiring initiatives and referendums seeking a tax change to receive at least 60 percent of votes, succeeded.

As AZ Free News reported in October, outside funding accounted for 99 percent of the PACs funds. However, the PAC claims on its website that outside funds only amount to 20 percent, and their mailers claimed that number was 43 percent.

The PAC received over $2.1 million from the Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers (SEIU-UHW): the California union that largely financed the dark money-fueled Predatory Debt Collection Act, Proposition 209, which voters just approved. Prop 209 essentially makes all debt collection futile. That PAC also received $250,000 from the National Education Association (NEA); nearly $258,600 from the Fairness Project, established by SEIU-UHW; $60,000 from Every Single Vote; and over $51,000 from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC). Nearly all of these funds derive from organizations dedicated to influencing the outcome of state-level ballot referendums in favor of progressive policy. 

Will of the People Arizona spent over $1.6 million on communications like ads and mailers, and over $66,500 on polling and consulting. 

Montoya also runs one of the most powerful leftist dark money organizations: Opportunity Arizona, which receives much of its funding from the Arabella Advisors’ Hopewell Fund.

As of this report, AZ Free News uncovered Montoya’s influence as campaign committee or PAC treasurer, or TMW payee, in at least 16 other states: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Potential Voter Disenfranchisement Remedy Denied After Senator Mark Kelly Intervenes

Potential Voter Disenfranchisement Remedy Denied After Senator Mark Kelly Intervenes

By Corinne Murdock |

A court ruled against a request to extend Maricopa County polling hours despite mass voting machine failures, after Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) petitioned to reject the request. Kelly is in a highly contested race against one of the GOP candidates that filed suit, Republican challenger Blake Masters.

Two Republican candidates, Masters and Kari Lake, filed an emergency request on Tuesday afternoon to extend the polling hours to 10 pm, after the mass failure of tabulation machines across the county for over eight hours. This extensive failure resulted in issues such as voters spoiling ballots, leaving without voting, or unwillingly casting a provisional ballot. 

One of the lawyers that filed the case, Harmeet Dhillon remarked that Kelly’s intervention was hypocrisy given his public commitments to thwarting voter disenfranchisement. 

“Goes to show you that Democrats’ platitudes about voting rights are often situational, at best,” said Dhillon.

A lawyer for the Arizona GOP, Alex Kolodin, called the court’s rejection “unfortunate” in an interview with “The Conservative Circus.” Kolodin shared that frustrated voters left polls, or were forced to cast a provisional ballot after they checked in at a malfunctioning vote center. The law doesn’t allow for voters to cast a ballot at another polling location after they’ve checked in at one location.

“The campaigns tried to explain to the judge that this was a very unique situation with this widespread issue where voters really were deprived of the right to vote and that made it a unique circumstance that warranted keeping the polls open a couple extra hours,” said Kolodin.

Kolodin said that at least 33 to 40 percent of vote centers were affected by tabulation machine failures. Kolodin stated that the timing marks on the ballots likely weren’t printed properly, which meant the tabulators couldn’t read them.

Kolodin added that printers have been a major issue for Maricopa County since the 2020 election, and were at the root of the SharpieGate controversy.

“It’s funny, the county has known about ballot printing issues for two years,” said Kolodin.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Potential Voter Disenfranchisement Remedy Denied After Senator Mark Kelly Intervenes

Senator Kelly Adjusts Messaging to Attract Independents After Similar Move by Opponent Masters

By Corinne Murdock |

With the primary election over and the general election drawing near, Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) is leaning into his image as an independent candidate.

On Tuesday, Kelly republished an edited version of campaign messaging issued from last month announcing a 50-person bipartisan coalition of constituents. The senator shifted his presentation from an official with bipartisan support to an “independent voice” for Arizonans. 

Last week, Kelly aided the passage of President Joe Biden’s controversial Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) without the hesitation initially posed by Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The senator said that the IRA would lower prescription drug costs, implement funding to combat drought and “climate change,” and reduce the deficit. Kelly promised that the IRA wouldn’t result in increased taxes for small businesses and middle-class Arizonans.

Kelly aligned with the Democratic Party on all fronts concerning the IRA, rejecting across the board amendments that would finish the border wall, approve coal leases, increase domestic oil production, protect those making under $400,000 from additional tax audits, limit price controls for treatments on conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, require oil and gas lease sales in the outer Continental Shelf, provide discounted insulin for low and middle-income Americans, remove $45 million in climate-related expenditures, retain Title 42, strike a tax increase resulting in higher energy prices for those earning under $400,000, hire more Border Patrol agents, reduce drug prices, invest in violent crime prevention, and prohibit tax credits for electric vehicles built with slave labor. 

With Kelly’s support of the IRA expansion of the IRS by 87,000 more agents, it’s likely that most Americans making under $200,000 a year will be audited. 2021 IRS data revealed that over half of their audits focused on individuals making less than $75,000 a year. 

Kelly’s campaign tone shift follows that of his Republican opponent, Blake Masters. As AZ Free News reported earlier this week, Masters opted to describe himself as “independent” in his latest campaign video, rather than displaying his endorsement from former President Donald Trump or interviews with popular right-leaning shows.

Media coverage of Masters’ shift may have prompted the candidate to backtrack somewhat. At some point over the last week, Masters rendered the video “unlisted”: meaning, the video doesn’t appear anywhere on his profile, and remains accessible only through a direct link, like the one we’ve provided above. However, the video remains on his Twitter page.

“Other” voters total just over 1.4 million, tens of thousands more than the 1.2 million registered Democrats. Registered Republicans total well over 1.4 million. 

Throughout his tenure, Kelly has insisted that the issues he represents are neither Democrat or Republican issues. Often, he characterizes his stances as “Arizona priorities.” 

Masters predicted in July that Kelly would shift his campaign tone to attract more independents, especially with Biden’s approval ratings at historic lows. The president’s IRA passage offered a slight boost from a historic low of 36 percent to 40 percent — though his inroads with Democratic and Republican approval numbers weren’t reflected among independent voters, who dropped further in their support.

The GOP challenger has been critical of Kelly’s claim of independence throughout his campaign, even praising Sinema for being a better independent.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.