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Outside spending dominates statewide races

cash-money-620Outside groups that want Doug Ducey as Arizona’s next governor have spent enough to give every man, woman and child in the state a dollar – and still have $1 million left over.

And that doesn’t count the $2.2 million that Ducey has spent in the general election, on top of the $5 million he expended just getting to be the Republican nominee in the first place.

That far exceeds the $1.1 million in outside cash that has come to the aid of Democrat Fred DuVal. And DuVal’s own campaign spent a combined $3.2 million for both the primary – in which he had no opposition – and the general election.

The biggest source of outside cash comes from the Republican Governors Association, which has so far spent close to $5 million trying to elect Ducey, all of it on attack ads against DuVal.

Most of that group’s money comes from across the nation, put into a single fund from which RGA can draw. But there are some large sources of Arizona dollars that can be identified.

That includes $100,000 each from Paradise Valley resident Richard Burke, chairman of the board of UnitedHealth Group, and Robert Parsons, CEO of YAM Worldwide, a private lending and investment firm based in Scottsdale.

American Encore has put another more than $750,000 into anti-DuVal ads, plus an additional $650,000 promoting Ducey.

That group is the successor to the Koch-brothers-financed Center to Protect Patient Rights run by Phoenix political consultant Sean Noble. The group is organized under federal tax laws as a “social welfare” organization and does not disclose its donors.

Its ties to Ducey and Arizona politics actually go back two years to when Ducey was leading the campaign to defeat Proposition 204 which would have implemented a permanent 1-cent sales tax, largely to fund education.

Americans for Responsible Leadership put $500,000 into that 2012 effort. But facing charges of violating campaign finance laws in California, former Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams, head of that group, had to reveal its money came from the Center to Protect Patient Rights – now American Encore.

But it’s even more complex than that: Noble disclosed that CPPR’s money came from Virginia-based Americans for Job Security, which does not disclose the source of its funds.

In this year’s gubernatorial race, another group that does not disclose donors, the 60 Plus Association, has spent more than $550,000 attacking DuVal.

And Conservative Leadership for Arizona spent $50,000 promoting Ducey in the general election – on top of $200,000 it spent helping him gain the nomination – and another nearly $120,000 in anti-DuVal efforts. Its largest donor is Christine Toretti, a Pennsylvania businesswoman and political activist.

On the other side of the equation, most of the more than $900,000 spent in the general election so far on anti-Ducey ads comes from Restore Arizona’s Future, with the biggest source of its cash being the Democratic Governors Association. There also is another $155,000 from Revitalize Arizona.

That group’s finances are a bit of a Russian nesting doll.

Reports show all of its money coming from yet another committee called Residents for Accountability. While some of that is traceable back to labor unions, a big chunk comes from yet another group, Revive Arizona Now, whose contributors include education groups.

The only other statewide race that comes close in the flow of dollars is the hotly contested bid to become the new state attorney general.

The Republican Attorneys General Association has poured $2.9 million into commercials attacking Democrat Felecia Rotellini, with another $39,000 into ads supporting Republican nominee Mark Brnovich.

For Rotellini, a group dubbed the Grand Canyon Committee for Justice and Fairness, financed by the Democratic Attorneys General Association, has spent $1.3 million on anti-Brnovich ads, with another $450,000 from Revitalize Arizona.

Rotellini has spent another $1.4 million in her election bid.

Brnovich, by contrast, has had to rely on the outside cash being spent to defeat his Democrat foe, reporting only about $200,000 in expenses. And virtually all of that was spent in his primary fight against incumbent Tom Horne.

The contest for secretary of state also has turned into a situation where the outside funds rivals – and sometimes exceeds – what the candidates themselves have raised and are spending.

Republican Michele Reagan spent more than $150,000 on her general election fight against Democrat Terry Goddard. But Reagan, who spent another $400,000 in the Republican primary, reported she has another $150,000 on hand for last-minute campaigning.

Goddard has accepted public financing, prohibiting him from taking outside donations other than a series of $160 donations as seed money. He listed close to $275,000 in general election expenses on top of another $245,000 he spent in his unopposed primary bid.

At the same time, the 60 Plus Association has spent more than $300,000 attacking Goddard.

And Arizona’s Legacy, the political action committee formed by Gov. Jan Brewer, has pumped close to $320,000 into commercials promoting Reagan. Brewer has shown a particular interest in this race, as it was Goddard who challenged her for governor four years ago.

All four candidates seeking the two open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission also are running with public money. That means $97,620 for their primaries and $146,430 in general election cash.

But the spending on the race has been far greater.

Save Our Future Now lists more than $1.3 million in commercials attacking Democrat Sandra Kennedy, a former commissioner seeking to get her old job back.

Democrats have charged that group is being financed by Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the parent company of Arizona Public Service, a utility regulated by the commission. An APS spokesman will neither confirm nor deny that financing involvement other than to say the company believes it has a right to weigh in on political races where its interests may be affected.

Save Our Future Now has put another $77,450 into promoting Republican Doug Little’s general election bid and close to $760,000 for Republican Tom Forese. That doesn’t count the more than $400,000 the organization spent promoting Little and Forese in the GOP primary.

So far, though, the group has not aimed its financial guns at Jim Holway, the other Democrat in the race.

The contest for superintendent of public instruction has been the lowest-profile of all the contested statewide races.

Republican Diane Douglas, using public funds, is limited to the same totals as the corporation commission candidates. Her profile has pretty much been limited to signs.

Democrat David Garcia reported spending about $200,000 so far in his race against her, on top of a nearly identical amount in his successful primary race over Sharon Thomas.

But Thomas also has benefitted from more than $500,000 in outside cash, more than half of that coming from Restore Education Funding Now. And that group, in turn, gets all of its money from Revive Arizona Now which is financed by education and labor organizations.

Republican Jeff DeWit, having spent more than $300,000 to win the three-way GOP primary for state treasurer, lists general election expenses of less than $37,000, as he has no opposition.

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