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Could SCOTUS dark money ruling affect Arizona campaign finance law?

By: - September 25, 2018 10:00 am
The state seal for Arizona

The state seal for Arizona on a door into the House of Representatives at the Capitol. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Last week, the Supreme Court made a decision which has sent ripples through the world of “dark money” campaign finance at the national level, but don’t expect it to result in more disclosures of anonymous spending at the local level.

Conservative group Crossroads GPS was appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking them to reverse a decision made by a lower court that would require the group to disclose its donors. America’s highest court declined to freeze the lower court’s ruling and has left the Federal Election Commission’s regulation in place through the midterm election.

In Arizona, earlier this year, Rep. Vince Leach (R-SaddleBrooke) sponsored legislation that makes it illegal for any government agency to force disclosure of donors to nonprofits, partially in response to a Tempe campaign finance disclosure ordinance. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law after it was approved by Republican lawmakers.

But the SCOTUS ruling won’t affect the new law, and there is no indication that the attitudes among Arizona Republican legislators toward anonymous campaign spending have shifted in favor of letting voters know who is trying to influence their vote.

“It only affects spending in federal elections,” Joel Edman, Executive Director for Arizona Advocacy Network said. “That said, it’s certainly good to see the Court once again siding with transparency.”

It’s still unclear how far back the ruling impacts, how it will be enforced and what the FEC will do next.

For now, advocacy groups, politicians and non-profits will have to wait for SCOTUS to make a more permanent ruling to see where dark money goes next.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.