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.
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.
2) A somewhat-anonymous tipster says that it points back to Noble, and supporting Ducey. Only evidence he's given me so far, though, is that the ad buyer is Noble's. He also passed on a rumor that Noble is not on Ducey's campaign so that he can orchestrate IE's/etc (presumably like this one).
3) My research on Legacy turns up two tangential points of interest - one of its 1st big things, in 2010-12, was funneling about $1M to the Rose Law Group to pay for Sheriff Dever/Babeu's legal efforts in supporting SB1070. And, second, it granted $80K to Center for Arizona Policy in '12 (with Herrod on Ducey's team, hmmm) and $200K to American Family Association.
4) Legacy Foundation's 990's reflect from $770K in '10, to $4.8M in '11, to $6.6M in '12!
5) My article in 11/13 re: Ducey's Noble connection in the Prop 204 situation: http://bit.ly/AZp690
* 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!
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.