FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Unraveling Some of the Mystery Behind Governor Campaign Ad; READ: Mystery Ad Ignites War of Words Between GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Ducey, Smith

The somewhat-unusual attack ad that calls Arizona gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith "Obama's Favorite Mayor"* may have already had its true intended purpose - to spark a debate on who is behind the ad.  Arizona's Politics has been digging around about the $173,000 ad buy, and can set out some data points without drawing a conclusion.

Background: the ad is from a group calling itself the Legacy Foundation Action Fund ("LFAF").  It attacks Smith's record - not as the Mayor of Mesa, but as the current President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  LFAF as audio of nearly-identical radio ads against Smith and the two Vice Presidents of the Conference - who happen to be Democrats.  Arizona's Politics has not confirmed whether those radio ads have actually aired in Sacramento (former Suns' star Kevin Johnson) and Baltimore; the true target of the LFAF may be Smith's gubernatorial run.

(Review Arizona's Politics' previous articles on this ad here, here and here.  The ad is here.)

Yesterday afternoon, Mayor Scott Smith sent out an email to his list titled "The political games have begun.  He claimed that "On Friday, the political games began when an out-of-state special interest group tied to one of my opponents – Doug Ducey – began running negative ads against me.  Actually, describing them as negative would be generous since they contained a series of lies so distasteful that they do not deserve to be repeated."  (The full email is reproduced below the jump.)

Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey wasted no time in responding.  His email hit inboxes at 7:46 this morning, titled "False accusations that have no merit."  He leads with "Amazingly, Mayor Smith’s campaign has reacted…by blaming me! For the record, I want you to hear it from me directly: no one involved in my campaign had anything to do with that ad. Period. The charge is false, and there are no facts to back it up."  (His full email is also below the jump.)

Of course, both of their statements can be true at the same time - and very well might be.  Smith claims that LFAF has ties to Ducey, and Ducey retorts that "no one involved in (his) campaign" was responsible.  (If someone in the campaign was involved, that would evidence "coordination", which could result in trouble under Arizona campaign law.

Here is what we have been able to learn of the new LFAF:

--LFAF is relatively new.  It has not filed a statement of organization with either the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") or the Arizona Secretary of State.  However, it has filed a couple of independent expenditure reports with the FEC, indicating that it has spent $350,000 in the last few months supporting a conservative candidate (Ben Sasse) for Nebraska's open U.S. Senate seat.
--Those FEC reports link LFAF with the Legacy Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that does not disclose its donors.  Former Iowa lawmaker Christopher Rants heads it up.
--The Legacy Foundation dates back to 2008, and has had some pretty close ties with Arizona in the last five years.  One of its first major projects, in 2010, was supporting Arizona Sheriffs Larry Dever and Paul Babeu in their BorderSheriffs.com organization.
            That first year, Legacy Foundation collected more than half-a-million dollars ($570,677) for the Border Sheriffs, and sent nearly half of it ($242,000) to the Scottsdale-based Rose Law Firm to represent the Sheriffs in defending anti-illegal immigration law SB1070 in the case that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court.  In 2011, they sent $538,229 to Rose Law Firm and in 2012 - when the Supreme Court decided the case - they paid Rose $403,502.  Total = $1,183,731.  (The 2010 and 2011 IRS filings are below the jump, the 2012 filing can be found here.)  (Here is the amicus brief funded through the Legacy Foundation.)
--In those years, the Legacy Foundation also sent more than $1.5M to the Phoenix-based Direct Response company for printing and mailing services.  Direct Response has also been a vendor for Ducey's gubernatorial campaign, and owner Jack Padavano contributed to Ducey.
--Finally,  it granted $80,000 to Center for Arizona Policy in 2012 and $200,000 to the like-minded American Family Association.  There has already been news coverage about CAP's President being an adviser on Ducey's campaign team.
--Legacy Foundation's 990 filings show that its revenues have climbed steeply, from $770K in '10, to $4.8M in '11, to $6.6M in '12.  In that last year, $2.1M came from direct mail contributions, with the rest coming from anonymized donors.  In 2011, one (anonymous) person gave $1,625,000 to Legacy Foundation.
--The ad firm behind Legacy Foundation's pro-Sasse ad in March, and presumably the anti-Smith/U.S. Conference of Mayors' spot is the well-known attack ad guru Larry McCarthy.  McCarthy has not done any work for Ducey's campaign (no ads yet), but Ducey hired him to produce spots for the No On Prop 204 (sales tax continuation) campaign (which Ducey headed).  (Direct Response Group also worked for Ducey on the No On Prop 204 effort.)

While it is not uncommon for different campaigns to have vendors in common, the data points can be very informative when attempting to ascertain where anonymized, "dark money" may be coming from and why it is flowing in certain directions.

Certainly, Smith's email alleging ties between Ducey and LFAF has some amount of truth.  And, while the above-described ties were discovered by Arizona's Politics - and, were not received from any tipster - the Smith campaign might be aware of even more connections.  On the other hand, Ducey's email denying involvement by any in his campaign on the ad is correct - although his charge that Smith's allegation is false with no facts to back it up is incorrect.

The true intent - and victory - of this ad may not have been to make voters think that Smith is really "Obama's Favorite Mayor", but to draw Smith into battle with Ducey.  The most recent polling showed the men in 3rd and 5th place, respectively, for the GOP nomination.


5) My article in 11/13 re: Ducey's Noble connection in the Prop 204 situation: http://bit.ly/AZp690
Legacy Foundation assisting BorderSheriffs.com: http://borderlinesblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/last-best-chance-to-defend-arizona.html
http://www.examiner.com/article/the-legacy-foundation-and-bordersheriffs-com

Legacy's/Dever's amicus on SB1070: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/briefs/11-182_petitioneramcusheriffldever.authcheckdam.pdf

Legacy's 2012 990: https://bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2013_08_EO/26-3853831_990_201212.pdf

kpnx nab:


* Preview of Fact Check: it is highly unlikely that the President prefers Smith to Obama's former Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel!










Friend,

On Friday, the political games began when an out-of-state special interest group tied to one of my opponents – Doug Ducey – began running negative ads against me.

Actually, describing them as negative would be generous since they contained a series of lies so distasteful that they do not deserve to be repeated.

This type of political campaigning is why Americans are so fed-up with politics. Instead of building our state and our country up, all some politicians and their campaigns know how to do is try to tear others down.

It's shameful.

We should all expect more from our leaders, shouldn't we?

My campaign is about Building a Better Arizona and I ask that you stand with me today by clicking here now. Your immediate donation is needed to help me respond to these negative attacks.

Building a Better Arizona is about building a world-class education system that has high standards and expectations for our children.

Building a Better Arizona is about creating high-paying jobs and bringing the companies who are the best of the best to Arizona. We did this recently with Apple and there is more to come.

Building a Better Arizona is about building our infrastructure needs to be ready for the future growth of our state. Our infrastructure needs include state of the art technology in all of Arizona, building and maintaining roads that are safe for families to drive on, and bringing high-quality universities to our communities like we did in Mesa.

Building a Better Arizona is about you and I working together to create a state where our children are safe, educated and have the endless opportunities that all parents want for their children.

I believe Arizona is a state that can achieve greatness. I believe Arizona's best days are ahead of us. If you agree, I ask that you join me right now and together we will Build a Better Arizona.

Sincerely,

Scott Smith

P.S. Unfortunately, if we don't respond to these negative attacks voters will start to believe these lies as being true. That is why I need your immediate donation today by clicking here now! Let's Build a Better Arizona together.



*****************************************************************************************************


False accusations that have no merit
Friend,
As you may have seen on TV, Scott Smith’s record as the head of the liberal U.S. Conference of Mayors has received some scrutiny in recent television ads.
Amazingly, Mayor Smith’s campaign has reacted…by blaming me! 
For the record, I want you to hear it from me directly: no one involved in my campaign had anything to do with that ad. Period. The charge is false, and there are no facts to back it up.
I have dedicated the first months of this campaign to staying on the high road. I’ve criss-crossed the state, sharing my vision for Arizona’s future and recruiting support from people in all corners of the state.
You know that’s my nature – to be upbeat and positive and emphasizing the good things that can happen in Arizona over the next four years. That’s a candidate’s job – to articulate a positive vision and build support for it.
It’s also clear now, unfortunately, that others in this race don’t share that approach. And I need to be prepared to fend off their attacks, no matter how baseless the charges are.
So I’m asking you to go to www.dougducey.com and view the videos that we’ve put out, and consider making a contribution to the campaign. We’re going to need an ample warchest to fend off the negativism and attacks that are clearly headed our way.
Thank you for reading this, and thank you for your consideration. We won’t let false charges throw us off our game, and we’re going to be prepared for a very competitive next few months, regardless of what others throw at us.
Respectfully,
Doug


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.

Legacy 2010 990: 
  990

Legacy 2011 990: 

Legacy Foundation assisting BorderSheriffs.com: http://borderlinesblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/last-best-chance-to-defend-arizona.html
http://www.examiner.com/article/the-legacy-foundation-and-bordersheriffs-com

Legacy's/Dever's amicus on SB1070: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/briefs/11-182_petitioneramcusheriffldever.authcheckdam.pdf

Legacy's 2012 990: https://bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2013_08_EO/26-3853831_990_201212.pdf

kpnx nab:

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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