Goddard aims at ‘dark money’ | Apache County

Goddard aims at ‘dark money’ |  Apache County

First, he said, any paid circulators will be local and not subject to the same automatic disqualification provisions. This time around Goddard is choosing a course that may make reaching the goal easier. More important, it is being proposed not as a constitutional amendment but a change in state election laws.

In 2020 Goddard moved to an all-volunteer effort to circumvent that problem. A similar 2018 effort failed after foes challenged some of the 285,000 signatures collected in court. And, under the terms of a law approved by the Republican-controlled legislature, the judge had to strike all of those gathered by paid circulators who did not respond to a subpoena.

But the signature gathering faltered during the COVID-19 pandemic which included, for a period of time, a stay-at-home order. Potentially more significant, it is worded to cut through any effort to hide the identity of the actual original donor by having the cash moved — Goddard would say “laundered’’ — through a series of groups.

The heart of the measure is what Goddard calls the “right to know.’’ Current law makes public any donation of $50 or more directly to a candidate or an initiative campaign. But Goddard said he believes the language of the measure is tight enough to avoid tinkering by the Republican-controlled legislature which has approved measures designed to allow for donors to political efforts to hide their identities.

There is a danger going that route. Even though the Voter Protection Act bars lawmakers from altering or repealing statutory changes, they may find work-arounds to effectively undermine the provision. That difference is crucial. It takes 356,467 valid signatures to put a constitutional change on the ballot; a statutory amendment needs just 237,645 by the July 8, 2022 deadline.

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