Finance reports hint at high profile ballot prop losses

Evan Wyloge//December 7, 2012

Finance reports hint at high profile ballot prop losses

Evan Wyloge//December 7, 2012

State offers grants to improve shooting rangesTwo well-funded ballot initiatives went down in defeat last month, but as their final finance reports showed, their campaign coffers had perhaps foreshadowed the elections’ outcome.

The contributions to Proposition 204, which would have permanently kept a 1-cent sales tax increase, and Proposition 121, which would have overhauled Arizona’s primary election system, were down to a trickle in the dying days of the campaign.

But the opposition camps were still collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars, which showed that the momentum was with the “no” campaigns.

Indeed, No New Taxes, No on Prop 204 received roughly $264,000 between Oct. 26 and Nov. 26, which allowed the group to effectively fund its barrage of anti-Prop. 204 ads in the dying days of the campaign.

The group’s biggest contributor was Americans for Responsible Leadership, a little-known group that refused to disclose who its funders are.

The group gave $175,000 on Oct. 30, bringing its total contribution to $925,000 — more than half of the $1.8 million that No New Taxes, No on Prop 204 received during the entire campaign.

Other big contributors to the opposition included the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which contributed $30,000, the Arizona Chapter of NAIOP, which gave $15,000 and the Salt River Project, which gave $10,000.

In contrast, Quality Education and Jobs, which spearheaded the 1-cent tax initiative, collected only roughly $34,000 during the same period.

The single biggest contribution came from Richard Diebold of Tucson, who gave $10,000 to help the “yes” campaign.

All told, the “yes” campaign received $2.2 million during the campaign, outpacing the “no” campaign’s $1.8 million. The initiative’s supporters had spent the bulk of their money earlier in the campaign.

Indeed, at the start of the recent reporting period, the “yes” side only had $70,000 cash on hand. The “no” campaign, on the other hand, still had $300,000.

The story was similar with Prop 121, which would have replaced the primary system with a system where the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election.

The Open Government Committee, which campaigned for the initiative, got $5,343 from a handful of individuals and business groups just before and after the Nov. 6 elections.

In contrast, Save Our Vote, which opposed the initiative, collected $150,000 from Americans for Responsible Leadership.

All told, the group funneled $575,000 into the “no” campaign, boosting its total receipts to almost $610,000.

The “yes” campaign received a little more than $1.3 million during the campaign. But roughly half of the money was already spent by the middle of this year. The bulk went to the work to gather signatures and put the measure on the ballot.

By late October, the group only had $30,000 in cash left.

The ballot measure groups that collected the most during the 2012 election cycle are listed below:

Income Expenses
Quality Education and Jobs $2,232,185 $2,486,911
No New Taxes, No on Prop 204 $1,801,084 $1,788,305
Open Government Committee $1,335,925 $1,823,320
Checks and Balances in Government* $1,010,514 $1,010,514
Save Our Vote $608,851 $609,313
No on Prop. 115-Save Merit Selection Of Judges $149,033 $149,033
Yes on 117 $148,500 $148,500
Truth & Concerns on Prop. 117 $80,900 $79,597
Yes on Prop 119 $66,032 $65,818
Vote Yes On 116 $57,474 $56,903
Total $7,490,498 $8,218,214

*The initiative supported by Checks and Balances in Government failed to make it to the November ballot.