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Special: Secret Money, Public Influence
Oct 14, 2022

Special: Secret Money, Public Influence

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This election cycle, "Marketplace Morning Report" traveled to Arizona, where, in less than a month, voters will decide whether some of the biggest campaign spenders should have to reveal their true identities. How this measure got on the ballot, what it hopes to achieve and what opponents say about it provide lessons about the so-called dark money that can sway elections near you. We look at the consequences of hidden political spending for everyday people, with a case study of higher electric bills for Arizonans. We also explore how a citizen-led ballot initiative could change the rules and the pushback from those who believe there's a right to anonymity as part of the right to free speech. And, what it takes to get one of these ballot measures in front of voters and where else across the country we're seeing an effort to curb this mystery money.

Segments From this episode

In Arizona, a story of secret campaign spending and rising electric bills

The story of the 2014 Arizona Corporation Commission election campaign and the influence of so-called dark money.
Arizona Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy shows "Marketplace Morning Report" host David Brancaccio one of the binders, about 7 inches think, of ad-spending documents acquired by a subpoena.
Alex Schroeder/Marketplace

An Arizona ballot measure would expose hidden spending in politics

Proposition 211 would make political nonprofits disclose the names of original donors who spend beyond certain thresholds.
Terry Goddard, a former Arizona attorney general, has tried to get a law requiring disclosure of hidden political spending on the ballot since 2016. Arizonans will vote on it next month.
Alex Schroeder/Marketplace

What it takes to get a "dark money" initiative on the ballot

Arizona is one of 21 states where people can submit signatures and petition. But getting something on the ballot is no easy task.
From left, Becky Daggett, Kelly Gibbs and Diane McQueen are among the volunteers who  collected hundreds of thousands of signatures to get Proposition 211, a financial disclosure proposal, on this year's ballot.
David Brancaccio/Marketplace

Which states are doing something about "dark money"?

There's Arizona's citizen-led initiative in 2022. And voters in Alaska and North Dakota passed similar measures in previous years.
Arizona voters will decide on Proposition 211 this November. Voters in just a couple of other states have passed similar measures that came from citizen-led initiatives.
Alex Schroeder/Marketplace

The team

Victoria Craig Host, BBC
Stephen Ryan Senior Producer, BBC
Meredith Garretson Morbey Senior Producer
Erika Soderstrom Producer
Alex Schroeder Producer
Redmond Carolipio Digital Producer
Ariana Rosas Producer
Jarrett Dang Digital Producer (gone fishing)
Jesson Duller Media Producer
Nick Esposito Media Producer