Court Ruling Could Limit 'Dark Money'

Published: Friday, August 8, 2014 - 11:40am

A new ruling from the Arizona Court of Appeals could limit the amount of dark money commercials and mailers in state politics. 

The Committee for Justice and Fairness spent $1.5 million in 2010 on a commercial saying when Tom Horne was a lawmaker he voted against tougher penalties for statutory rape. The group refused to disclosing its funding, arguing it was just educating the people. 

But citing the commercial’s timing, the appellate courts aid the clear purpose was to undermine Horne’s bid to become Attorney General. Tom Irvine who represents the committee, says the court got it wrong.

“The U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, said that you cannot engage in a contextual analysis. And the contextual analysis is hey, there's an election. Hey, this person's running," Irvine said.

The court also ruled the words ‘vote for’ or ‘oppose,’ are not needed to conclude a commercial is political and that the funding source must be disclosed. 

Some say the ruling sends a signal to anyone wanting to spend big bucks to influence an election that they need to disclose the source of the funding. 

It was discovered after the 2010 election the ad was paid for by the Democratic Attorneys General Association which supported Horne’s opponent Felicia Rotellini.

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