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Dark Money Influencing Key State Elections

AP/The Republic

New reports show a so-called dark-money group has become the prime source of cash to influence elections for key state offices. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer has details.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club has spent $560,000 to make Justin Pierce secretary of state. Executive director Scott Mussi said Pierce supports the same low-tax issues as his group. And, he said it’s irrelevant, as the secretary of state doesn’t get involved in any of that. It’s what could come next.

“Obviously, seeing what’s happened with Gov. Brewer where she came from, and how Gov. Hull became governor. I think it’s absolutely critical to make sure we have somebody that believes in our issues as secretary of state,” Mussi said.

Mussi won't disclose who is financing the effort. And, it turns out Pierce is the only candidate for what is the state’s chief election officials who does not want to outlaw anonymous campaigns.

“Everything I hear about disclosure, I can’t help but ask the question, just evaluate it on its merits, the message on its merits. What does it matter if David Koch, or whoever it is, gave the money for this thing?” Pierce said.

Mussi’s also won’t say who has provided his club another $448,000 to elect Tom Forese and Doug Little to the corporation commission. That has led to other candidates top charge the cash comes from Arizona Public Service. Spokesman Alan Bunnell will neither confirm nor deny, saying only APS has been under attack from solar interests, and it would be “irresponsible for us not to defend our company.”

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