Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Now Has Nearly $1M In Chips To Play With In 2014 - Most Comes From Three Contributors; Enough To Help GOP Lawmakers Who Expanded AHCCCS?

As Jan Brewer finishes her last term as Arizona Governor, she has built two super committees into powerhouses, ready to help her allies in state or federal races this year, and/or in years to come.  Combined, the Arizona's Legacy independent expenditure political committee and her federal Jan PAC, have $915,657 in the bank(s).  More than half of that comes from just three major contributors.

In last year's early summer heat from the AHCCCS expansion battle, Governor Brewer's political consultant  Chuck Coughlin promised that the cavalry was coming to support Republican lawmakers who stuck out their necks to back it in the special session. An independent expenditures group called Arizona's Legacy was formed.

Now, that cavalry is well-armed and ready to go to battle. Arizona's Legacy now has nearly $600,000 in the bank. It is able to accept unlimited contributions, and has received large gifts from some of the Governor's top supporters.  Many of these supporters are also large contributors to Jan PAC.

More than half of the war chest comes from just three major contributors:

(1) Willis Johnson and his company, Copart, run auto auctions around the world, including in Arizona. He - both individually and through Copart - have made six separate contribution over the past 1 1/2 years, totaling $160,000.  This is more than he gave to the National Republican Congressional Committee and all other federal Republican committees during that time period, combined.
(2) Mega GOP donor couple Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who own casinos around the world, gave the Governor's Jan PAC $250,000 just before the 2012 election.  The Governor banked the money, as she had already raised the money to pay for her campaigning efforts on behalf of Arizona's GOP Congressional candidates.
(3) IASIS Healthcare - which owns four hospitals in the Phoenix area - donated $5,000 to Jan PAC in February (when several other Arizona healthcare organizations also contributed).  then, once Arizona's Legacy was formed in May, they were among the first and largest to jump in, writing out checks totaling $50,000.

Among the many other large, noteworthy contributors to Arizona's Legacy was Infrastructure Corporation of America.  ICA donated and hosted a major fundraiser for Jan PAC one year ago, at about the same time that they submitted an unsolicited - and, ultimately successful - proposal to privatize Arizona's highway rest areas.  After Arizona's Politics reported on the $18.3 Million contract being awarded in late September, ICA donated another $5,000 in November to Arizona's Legacy.

Arizona's Politics was curious about the Governor's plans for spending the Arizona's Legacy money, especially in light of Senate Majority Leader John McComish's (R-LD18) announcement last week that he would not run for re-election.  Although Chuck Coughlin's political consulting firm HighGround contributed $5,000 to Arizona's Legacy in May, Coughlin tells Arizona's Politcs that "HighGround is not involved on any professional or advisory capacity."

McComish indicated to Arizona's Politics tonight that he made his decision for other reasons, though he was "never told directly that the Governor's fund would benefit me in my race (though I assumed it would be there if I needed it.)."  He expects the Governor to raise a lot more money for the fund after the current legislative session ends, and figures she will wait to see where the most competitive races will be before jumping in.

The Republicans who stuck their necks out by voting with the Democrats and supporting Brewer are expecting primary fights as a result.  The group that fell short in collecting enough signatures to force a referndum vote on the expansion is actively courting like-minded Republicans to contest what they call "the traitors".

And, this looming battle is what prompted many of the contributions to Arizona's Legacy.  Arizona's Politics communicated today with one contributor who explained his donation:  "When they were beating the crap out of moderate Rs last year over Medicaid expansion, I emailed my R friends and asked how I could help any effort to help them defeat the inevitable primary candidate."  Steve Meissner was then directed to the committee.  He added his share to Arizona's Legacy.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

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