NewsPoliticalYour Voice, Your Vote | ABC15 Arizona

Actions

Bolding's voter rights group propels him in Secretary of State race

Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 21:26:49-04

Democrat Reginald Bolding spent years trying to get people to the polls through a nonprofit organization he founded, and this year he hopes voters will come to the polls for him in the Secretary of State race.

Bolding, who is also state House minority leader, has become one of the most powerful Democrats in Arizona. He said a combination of experience from legislating, running nonprofit groups, registering voters, and even teaching special education has prepared him for the vast needs of the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

“You not only oversee elections, you oversee lobbying reporting, there's a business function in this office as well campaign finance function,” Bolding said. “My breadth and depth of experience makes me the most qualified candidate.”

The election duties pose a unique challenge, especially after so many Arizona Republicans called the 2020 presidential election a fraud. Last year’s audit confirming Biden’s win has not quelled some critics. The next Secretary of State will have to restore trust.

“Will my office allow any conspiracy theory nonsense to disenfranchise voters? Absolutely not.” Bolding said. “I'm going to protect people's right to vote by mail. I'm going to ensure that folks have access to the ballot box.

Bolding is also an executive director of Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona and Arizona Coalition for Change. The two nonprofit groups are focused on registering minority voters and increasing engagement in elections.

While he often uses this hands-on voter organization experience as a selling point in his campaign, Bolding could also face increased scrutiny over who is donating money to the group and how it is now being used.

Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona, as a 501(c)(4) doesn't have to disclose its donors. Some people call it a political dark money group, but Bolding disagrees.

“There's definitely a separation between community organizing and dark money entities that have been designed to change the election outcome,” Bolding said.

Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona, which has a political action committee, has funded independent expenditure ads urging voters to choose Bolding for Secretary of State.

Bolding told ABC15 that his nonprofit involvement, including fundraising, and the benefits he is seeing from the organization’s political support are not an example of self-dealing.

Bolding said he and his wife, who also works for the nonprofit, have stepped away from making political decisions. By law, he can’t coordinate with groups making independent expenditures.

“I don't run Our Voice, Our Vote’s political realm,” Bolding said. “We've had a firewall in place that allows for Our Voice, Our Vote to do any of their political action absent of me.”

After this story first aired, Bolding's campaign sent ABC15 the firewall policy as well as the Form 990 IRS filings for both Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona and Arizona Coalition For Change as proof everything is on the up-and-up.

ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius is covering the 2022 Secretary of State race. Got a news tip? Email Melissa at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.