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Want to know how much AZ governor is getting in campaign donations? You're about to find out

Gov. Katie Hobbs outlines her proposals Monday, May 8, 2023 in Phoenix for the state to deal with an anticipated crush of migrants after Thursday when Title 42 ends.
Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer.
Gov. Katie Hobbs outlines her proposals Monday, May 8, 2023 in Phoenix for the state to deal with an anticipated crush of migrants after Thursday when Title 42 ends.

By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Sometime in July, Arizonans are going to find out how much money Katie Hobbs has amassed in her campaign warchest and who has been donating.
That's all because two GOP lawmakers crafted legislation closing a loophole in campaign finance laws that has so far allowed Hobbs to shield that information.. And the governor on Monday signed it.
Until now, state law has said that those who run for office need file quarterly reports of contributions and expenses starting the year before they are up for election. That works to provide ample public notice of the money collected and spent by legislators who serve two-year terms.
But that meant anyone serving a four-year term -- like Hobbs -- is not required to file until a year out from the election. Sen. T.J. Shope of Coolidge and Rep. Matt Gress of Phoenix said that would allow the governor to avoid disclosure until a report due in January 2026.
No more.
SB 1571 says Hobbs and others with four-year terms now need to file quarterly reports during their whole tenure. And it is worded to take effect immediately on the governor's signature, something she did this week, requiring her to file when the next deadline hits on July 15.
The issue arose after it was revealed that Hobbs, first elected in 2022, did not file reports this January just like what is required of members of the Legislature. That was legal at the time.
But Hobbs, in running for governor, promised to "bring transparency and accountability to the governor's office.
More to the point, Hobbs has been actively raising money since her last report was filed in January 2023, not just for her own reelection but in a bid to get more Democrats elected to the Legislature later this year.
On Monday, the day she signed SB 1571, her campaign sent out an email talking about what she has done to expand healthcare access for kids, worked with a nonprofit to cancel $2 billion in medical debt and unveiled a plan -- not yet acted on -- to lower prescription drug costs.
"If you're able to, please consider pitching in $10 to support my work,'' the request reads.
Two days earlier there was a request based on Donald Trump helping Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake raise more than $1 million at a Mar-a-Largo fundraiser. Hobbs isn't running against Lake. But that didn't stop her from asking for cash for herself.
"It's clear that they're coming after Arizona, and we need to respond quickly,'' the request reads.
Gress said there's no reason for voters here to have to wait until 2026 to see how much she has raised and, more to the point, who is writing checks.
"I do believe that every elected official should be disclosing at some point in their tenure of who's donated to them,'' he said. And Gress, who was the chief financial adviser to Republican Doug Ducey when he was governor, said this information is important to voters -- and not just in the year when someone is seeking reelection.
"I think it's relevant to not only running but governing,'' he said. "People should know if someone's influencing your decisions.''
Shope, who introduced a version in the Senate, said Arizonans have made it clear they want more information.
He cited voter approval last year of Proposition 211. Dubbed the Voters' Right to Know Act, it expanded already existing campaign finance law to require disclosure of not just the name of some group that is seeking to influence elections but also the names of those who gave money to the group in the first place.
Tom Collins, executive director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, agreed.
"The Prop 211 vote results show that, given the choice, voters would prefer to know more about who is in a position to potentially influence a candidate's action,'' he said.
Part of what makes more immediate reporting significant, particularly for Hobbs, is not just that she is soliciting funds while she is the governor and signing or vetoing bills.
There's also the fact that the governor isn't waiting until her 2026 campaign to start spending. She has said she would use some of her money this year to help defeat Republican legislative candidates.
Republicans control the state House with a 31-29 margin; the Senate has 16 Republicans against 14 Democrats. And that has been enough of a margin to block some of the governor's priorities as well as to frustrate her efforts to rein in the program, approved in 2022, that allows the use of taxpayer funds by any parents to pay for tuition at private or parochial schools.
Hobbs even has made an open pitch to would-be donors to give her money so she can help change control of the Legislature.
While the old law did not require those elected to four-year terms in 2022 to file campaign finance reports in January, others did.
Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said that he collected $97,536 during all of 2023.
Attorney General Kris Mayes reported she took in $119,957, with state Treasurer Kimberly Yee disclosing $1,905 in 2023 donations. And Tom Horne, the state schools chief, said he got no contributions in 2023.
On X and Threads: @azcapmedia