Arizona bill quietly loosens dark money rules

Posted at 12:17 PM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-04 14:17:52-05

A bill moving through the Legislature could significantly expand the influence of dark money on Arizona politics.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan's office touted the proposal as a housecleaning measure to simplify the state's complicated election regulations.

Not mentioned by the bill's backers is a provision buried in the 54-page proposal that could have ramifications for future elections.

It allows dark money groups -- generally defined as political groups that do not report their donors -- to double the amount they spend on ballot measures.

It would also let nonprofit groups spend more money influencing elections without having to reveal donors.

The dark money changes were not mentioned by lawmakers or the secretary of state's office during committee hearings last month as the bill passed along party lines.

State elections director Eric Spencer later confirmed the changes after Associated Press inquiries.