Matt Roberts, Director of Communications
Phone: (602) 542-2228
Phoenix – Frustrated with a willful disregard of state campaign finance law and a court order, Secretary of State Michele Reagan has called on a dark money group funded by the Democratic Attorney Generals Association to comply with a court order to register as a political committee and file campaign finance reports back to 2010.
In 2010, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett began an investigation into the Committee for Justice and Fairness (CJF) political advertisements criticizing then Attorney General candidate Tom Horne. The advertisement was determined to be “false” and “inaccurate” by an Administrative Law Judge and the ruling was subsequently confirmed by the Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court.
In the court decision, the court found CJF to be a political committee because they had admitted in IRS filings its “primary purpose” was election activity and spent $1.5 million on the attack ad. These admissions by CJF would make it a political committee under both the old and new definition of “political committee” in Arizona law.
“I’m deeply troubled by any political organization that would so blatantly defy a court order,” said Secretary Reagan. “CJF may not be headquartered in Arizona, but it is still bound by our laws, especially when it spends millions of dollars to affect a statewide election and admits being a political organization. Accordingly, I urge CJF to come into compliance with the order immediately. Our staff is standing by, as it has been since the Supreme Court shut them down in April. We cannot tolerate any further delay in this critical matter.”
The Secretary’s appeal to CJF is her second such call upon so-called dark money groups to comply with campaign finance law since taking office. Earlier this year, Secretary Reagan determined that Veterans for a Strong America, an out-of-state nonprofit corporation, failed to file independent expenditure reports related to an advertisement critical of gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones during the 2014 election cycle.
“Until the federal government forces nonprofit organizations—whose primary purpose is to influence an election—to disclose their donors, we will continue to do what we can within the law to shed light on political spending.”