Local Government Action Against Dark Money Jeopardized by Arizona Legislature

Popularly Supported Transparency Efforts at-risk Under HB 2153

PHOENIX – Bipartisan efforts to curb dark money in local elections were endangered today by the Arizona State Senate’s passage of HB 2153, a bill that would preempt cities from taking action to ensure transparency in local elections. The legislation will stymie efforts to shine a light on untraceable campaign spending by wealthy individuals, corporations and interest groups occurring in elections at all levels of government.

The city of Tempe, led by the efforts of Councilmember Lauren Kuby, forged a bipartisan coalition to enact a “sunshine” ordinance and charter changes to require the disclosure of groups making campaign expenditures over $1,000. Enactment of the charter amendment required a vote of Tempe residents this month, and the response was an emphatic 91% of voters supporting disclosure of dark money. “In our political climate, any issue that wins the support of 91% among our residents should speak volumes to policymakers and elected officials. Tempe voters have proclaimed loud and clear that they expect more campaign finance transparency, not less,” said Tempe City Councilmember Lauren Kuby.

Tempe is not alone in this effort. Led by the efforts of Councilwoman Kate Gallego, the Phoenix City Council earlier this month voted to commence research on a dark-money transparency ordinance and is slated to hear implementation options next month. “People’s trust in our civic institutions is declining, and when presented an opportunity to enact bipartisan reform that will help restore that trust, we must pursue those policies. I hope the Governor will weigh the popular support for these efforts and veto the legislation,” said Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego.

HB 2153 has passed both chambers of the Arizona Legislature and is now headed to Governor Ducey for further action. Please e-mail or call 602-542-4331 to voice your concern regarding the legislation and its impact on campaign finance transparency in local elections.

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