Elections have profound impacts on public health – good and bad.  Persons that get elected to public office at the federal state and local level routinely make decisions that influence public health.  Elected officials at the federal, state and local level make funding decisions about important agencies that impact public health and pass or fail to pass important national public health policy laws. 

Elected officials also make important appointments at state and federal agencies (like CDC, HHS, HRSA, CMS & EPA at the federal level and ADHS, AHCCCS, ADEQ etc. at the state level).  The persons in those positions set agency priorities, have wide latitude to make important decisions and who to hire.  They also have broad Rulemaking authority and establish or don’t establish public health policy that can has a profound impact on public health.

In short, elections have a big impact on public health. That’s why it’s super important to have an informed electorate, so people can make informed decisions about what they decide in the ballot box- whether it’s a person running for elected office at the state, federal, or local level- or whether it’s about a voter initiative.

Sadly, voters aren’t as informed as they could be about the decisions they make at the ballot box because it’s legal in the US and in Arizona to spend money to influence elections and not disclose whose money it is or why they’re spending it.  Sometimes you might hear this being called “Dirty Money” or “Dark Money” – referring to political spending when the original source remains secret.  All sorts of organizations, corporations, and wealthy individuals spend large sums of money to advertise and otherwise influence elections while the source of those funds remains hidden from the voters.

Since 2010, more political advertising has been secretly funded in Arizona as a percentage of total campaign spending than in any other state.  In part that’s because Arizona law has essentially no requirement that folks disclose political spending.

That’s where the Outlaw Dirty Money voter initiative comes in.  It’s a voter initiative that has been filed with the Secretary of State to change the state constitution that, if passed by the voters, will mean that at least Arizona voters will have a right to know who is spending money to influence elections.  You can read the text here.  Here are the elements of the Initiative:

  • Organizations spending more than $20,000 in state races or $10,000 in local races would be required to report the original source of their funding;

  • Organizations would be required to disclose all original contributors who gave $5,000 or more in an election cycle, removing the existing practice of creating a maze of organizations to hide the original source;

  • The Citizens Clean Election Commission would write and enforce the regulations to implement the Outlaw Dirty Money Constitutional Amendment;

  • Voters can file a complaint directly with the Clean Elections Commission to report violations; and

  • Local governments can pass more stringent requirements than those set forth in this Amendment.

You Can Play a Part

It will take the signatures of 357,000 Arizona voters to put the Outlaw Dirty Money Initiative on the November 2020 ballot.  That’s a lot of signatures.  This is a grassroots effort, so the signature gathering is being done by volunteers- meaning that many people need to be involved in the signature gathering effort.

Terry Goddard, the Chairperson for the Initiative, recently paid a visit to an AzPHA Board Meeting and described the Initiative and provided me with several initiative petitions.  I am already busy gathering signatures for the Initiative, and I’m hoping that you will gather some signatures as well.

Simply contact me at willhumble@azpha.org and I will get you some petitions and describe what you need to do.