Questions & Answers

Questions you may hear

Download this page as a PDF

Frequently Asked Questions

Dirty Money (aka “dark” money) in the ODM Amendment means contributions from anonymous donors which are used to pay for political campaign advertising.

Most of us are required to disclose if we make a contribution of over $50 to a candidate, to a political party or to a PAC. We must give our name, address and employer. Plus, there are legal limits on how much we can contribute.

Only a very few organizations are exempted from disclosure and contribution limits.

Some are legitimate public welfare groups, but today most are designed to provide very rich people and corporations a huge loophole in the disclosure laws so they can hide.

ODM is dedicated to closing this special interest loophole.

  1. A healthy democracy depends upon a well-informed electorate.
  2. During election season, we are bombarded by ads from organizations with “motherhood and apple pie” names, names which tell us nothing about the source of their funding. It is up to us, the voters, to “consider the source” of the information and determine what we can trust. But under current Arizona law, these Dirty Money organizations do not have to tell us where their money comes from. If we can’t identify who is paying to influence our vote, how can we make an informed decision?
  3. When the real source of campaign money is hidden, the contributor has no reputational risk when ad content is slanderous or false. When no one is responsible, campaign ads become even more cutting and negative.
  4. When we have no idea who is paying for political ads or why, we aren’t casting a knowing vote.
  5. Therefore, Dirty Money seriously undermines our trust in the democratic process.
  1. No. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that there is no Right to Hide in the Constitution when we make a political contribution. Today in Arizona, only a very few are exempted from the requirement to disclose. Why should only very wealthy persons or corporations be exempt from the disclosure that you and I are required to make?
  2. The Outlaw Dirty Money initiative proclaims our right to know the source of major Political contributions. Specifically, it will require disclosure of the “original source” of all “major contributions” which seek to influence our vote. ODM will eliminate the current Dirty Money loopholes and treat all political contributors the same.

The Amendment provides that if someone can demonstrate that they or their family will be vulnerable to physical harm, they may be relieved of their disclosure obligation by the Clean Elections Commission.

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “there are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance”.

Some nonprofit organizations that today use anonymous contributions to impact elections do not oppose disclosing their contributors, if the law is changed. In fact, some like Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood support Outlawing Dirty Money. Others are organized to shield their donors’ identity and oppose disclosure requirements.

  1. Name changed from Stop Political Dirty Money to Voters’ Right to Know.
  2. Raised the expenditure amount that triggers disclosure in STATEWIDE elections to $20,000.
  3. Major contribution definition raised from $2,500 to $5,000
  4. Added “dues” to the list of funds not considered original sources.
  5. Defined election cycle as two years.
  6. Debate notices, door to door canvases and communications from an organization to its members are not campaign media expenditures which require disclosure.
  7. Disclosures must identify all intermediaries through which a major contribution passes.
  8. The last contributor to the person making the disclosure must identify on request from that person the names of the original sources of all major contributions which made up the amount contributed.
  9. The Amendment does not require disclosure of anyone contributing less than $5,000
  10. Citizens Clean Election Commission must be independent of outside control regarding the proclamation of rules and conducting investigations under this Amendment.
  11. Anyone who structures their contribution to avoid disclosure violates the Amendment.
  12. Established a funding source, if needed, of up to 1% of civil and criminal fines (the same source that funds the Citizens Clean Elections Commission).

Outlaw Dirty Money is non-partisan. Democrat and Republican candidates, liberal and conservative causes have been supported and attacked by dirty money groups. Dirty money has been especially effective in party primaries, resulting in the defeat of moderates from both parties. We know that strong disclosure rules for election spending are popular with all political stripes. After all, you don’t get the 91% vote in favor of the Tempe full disclosure charter amendment and the 85% vote for a similar proposition in Phoenix from just one party or group.

The disclosure rules adopted in Montana teamed Republican legislative leaders with the Democratic governor. Most of us agree with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia when he wrote “requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.”

If this were a law instead of a constitutional initiative, it would be more possible for the Legislature (many members of which benefit from undisclosed political contributions) to change or rescind the disclosure requirements.

Putting ODM in the Constitution means changes can only be made by Arizona voters. The Amendment establishes a constitutional Right to Know. A law can’t do that.