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SB1070 author Russell Pearce raising money to defeat Republicans

Former Sen. Russell Pearce (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Former Sen. Russell Pearce (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Former Senate President Russell Pearce is helping raise money that will be used to target former Republican legislative colleagues who backed Gov. Jan Brewer’s expansion of the state’s Medicaid program last year.

Pearce is headlining a Feb. 13 fundraiser for the Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee at the Paradise Valley home of former Republican legislator Colette Rosati.

Leaders of the conservative independent expenditure committee opposed Brewer’s proposal to restore funding that was cut from AHCCCS during the recession and expand enrollment to comply with the Affordable Care Act and capture additional federal health care funding.  The committee leaders have publicly targeted Republican legislators who voted for the plan.

The committee’s treasurer, conservative activist and political consultant Shane Wikfors, said a lawmaker’s vote on Medicaid expansion will be key when the committee determines which candidates it supports and opposes.

“Our goal is to elect very taxpayer-oriented candidates, whether that’s in the primary or the general (election),” he said. “The biggest vote litmus test we looked at is the Medicaid expansion.”

Wikfors said a candidate’s voting record will be the primary factor, but the Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee will also look at registration numbers in legislative districts and campaign finance reports before deciding how to spend its money.

He said the Feb. 13 fundraiser is the group’s first in years, but is unlikely to be the last, as the committee intends to raise enough money to be a player in elections this year.

According to its Jan. 31 campaign finance report, the committee raised nearly $13,000 in 2013 and ended the year with about $4,500 in cash.

Meanwhile, a committee backed by Brewer is awash with cash that will be used to defend the Republican legislators who bucked their leadership and stood with the governor in support of the Medicaid expansion. The committee, Arizona’s Legacy, reported raising $619,000 in 2013, ending the year with $580,000 in cash.

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