Where the money went …
…and how the enemy of clean elections
is raking it in
By Dan Frazier Updated January 31, 2004
In its unsuccessful effort to influence the 2004 Flagstaff City Council election, Citizens for Sensible Government paid nearly all of the $82,000 it raised to a single company in Phoenix.
It is not at all clear what Sproul & Associates did with this money. Maybe they printed fliers. Maybe they made commercials. Maybe they paid for push polls. Maybe they did all of the above. Or maybe they did something else entirely. We will probably never know.
What we do know is that Nathan Sproul, the key figure behind Sproul & Associates, is a political consultant and former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. He is also the founder of the group calling itself “No Taxpayer Money for Politicians.” Sproul organization has been leading the effort to dismantle Arizona’s Clean Elections System. Supporting his group's efforts are various business interests including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Homebuilder's Association of Arizona.
The six-year old Clearn Elections system, which really took off in 2002, channels public funding into political campaigns, allowing candidates with limited resources to run. Much of the funding comes from additional fees tacked onto civil and criminal fines. Advocates say the Clean Elections system increases the diversity of candidates and improves voter turnout. Critics says the money is too often used for negative campaigning. Governor Napolitano participated in the Clean Elections system.
Reportedly, Sproul’s group has
gathered more than enough signatures to get an initiative on the ballot that
would end Clean Elections in Arizona. In September, Sproul said his group was
going to raise $500,000 to get the required 184,000 signatures by July. Keep it
Clean, an organization working to defend the Clean Elections program, reported
in March that “No Taxpayer Money raised
$144,900 as of Jan. 1 and has spent $143,484 – all but $73 of which went to
Sproul & Associates. Keep It Clean has raised $27,000 to date."
have to wonder if this dirty city council campaign is not about winning the
election at all. Maybe it is really about convincing voters that all politicians
use dirty campaign tricks, and therefore no politicians deserve any public
funding for their campaigns. It's a sneaky strategy, and the worst part is, it
just might work!