In March 2022, AFP and AFPF filed suit against the Commissioners and Executive Director of the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) and the Arizona Secretary of State, seeking to overturn the newly enacted Proposition 211, also known as the Voters’ Right to Know Act.
Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 211 in November 2022, with 72% in support. By shining light on the original sources of secret spending, also called “dark money” campaign contributions, the Act enhances robust debate and provides voters with information critical to choosing, and holding accountable, their elected leaders.
The Act requires major campaign media spenders to disclose the original sources of large donations they receive, including information about persons who act as intermediaries between the original sources of money and the spender. Those spenders must also put their donors on notice that their money may be spent to influence elections and give them an opportunity to opt out of having their donations so used.
On April 28, 2023, CLC Action filed a motion to intervene in the District of Arizona on behalf of Voters’ Right to Know (VRTK), the committee originally formed to create and support Proposition 211 as a ballot initiative. VRTK is seeking to enter the case to help defend Prop 211, alongside the CCEC Commissioners and the Arizona Secretary of State.
What’s at Stake
Before the passage of Proposition 211, Arizona’s existing campaign finance disclosure system was described as “one of the most pro-dark-money statutes imaginable,” resulting in a flood of secret spending each election cycle.
AFP and AFPF argue that Arizona’s new traceback disclosure and disclaimer provisions under Prop 211 violate their rights under the First Amendment, alleging that the disclosure provisions chill protected speech and improperly compel association between upstream donors and campaign media spenders.
The plaintiffs’ complaint includes both a “facial” challenge—seeking to declare the entire new statute unconstitutional—as well as an “as-applied” challenge, seeking a special exemption for themselves. VRTK asks the court to dismiss both of these challenges.