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High-profile donors, familiar names top '14 campaign contributions

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and wrestling magnate Linda McMahon might make a funny trio for the setup of a joke, but what they actually have in common is their outsized funding of Arizona's 2014 campaign season.

Theirs are only a few of the most eminent names on top of the list of total contributions made to political committees in Arizona that are required to disclose donors during this past election cycle.

  • Bloomberg, who ranked No. 5 for total contributions made to political committees in Arizona, gave $4,000 each to now Rep. Reginald Bolding, a Democrat representing south Phoenix, and Aaron Marquez, a Democrat who ran for the Senate in the same district but lost. But Bloomberg gave the vast majority of his $308,000 to Stand for Children IE Committee, which went on to support moderate Republicans and even one Democrat, Rep. Eric Meyer, and spent money against more conservative Republicans.
  • McMahon, who ranked No. 6, gave solely to the RGA Arizona PAC (Republican Governors Association Arizona political action committee), which spent solely against Fred DuVal.
  • Adelson, who ranked No. 10, also gave sizably to RGA Arizona PAC and Arizona's Legacy, which, spent money on behalf of moderate Republicans in the Legislature.
  • GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons gave more to Arizona political committees than anyone, though he only gave to six political committees. Most of his $2.4 million went to Better Leaders for Arizona, an independent expenditure committee that primarily spent to defeat Doug Ducey during the primary, and to support Christine Jones.
  • Randy Kendrick, whose husband is part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, ranks No. 17, and gave to about a dozen different Republican candidates and outside groups, as well as the Yes on Prop. 122 campaign.
  • Wyoming Conservative activist Foster Freiss came in at No. 34 and gave mostly to Arizona's Legacy and RGA Arizona PAC.
  • Unions representing firefighters in Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa also racked up large contribution totals, mostly to their own political action committees, that then went on to support various candidates of each party running for a variety of offices.

Contributions from the top 20

Contributions from the 20 biggest spenders (blue) to Arizona political committees (yellow).

Less conspicuous, but more reliable campaign contributors fill the rest of the list of top donors.

  • Tucson auto dealership tycoon and longtime Republican contributor Jim Click ranked No. 4., with contributions between $10,000 and $100,000 to a handful of Republican independent expenditure groups.
  • Longtime Democratic politician Jim Pederson came in No. 7, giving almost all of the $243,000 he spent to the Arizona Democratic Party.
  • Arizona Democratic Party Chairman Bill Roe and his wife Alice rank No. 11 and 13, respectively. They gave more than $100,000 to the Arizona Democratic Primary, but also gave to 37 other Democratic candidates or outside groups.
  • While their combined total doesn't come close to the $393,000 in individual contributions from Click and his wife, Longtime lobbyist Don Isaacson and his wife Marie gave to a greater number of Arizona political committees than anyone else. Together, they contributed 411 times to 123 different political committees.

Individual contributions made to Arizona political committees accounted for $39.6 million during the 2014 election cycle. The totals do not account for contributions given to so-called "dark money" groups that do not reveal who funds them, but who spent about $8.6 million during the same time.

Top 20 contributors' totals

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 4 »

Jan 9, 2015, 11:13 am
-1 +1

@Cactus Dave

Fine, I googled it. And, you’ve got to be kidding me. 1976? Vince McMahon wouldn’t purchase the WWF from his dad and his dad’s partners for another seven years after that. He was still young and far from striking it rich at that time. Vince took a couple of shots at what ended up being miserable ideas. He is far from the first person to do that in this country. This is why bankruptcy protection exists, to encourage people to innovate and take chances. It is one link of the chain in why our country was the economic powerhouse for as long as it was. Again, I am not a fan of the McMahons. And, to be honest defending them is somewhat painful for me. But, I have to tell it like it is.

Especially in today’s economic climate, using bankruptcy as fodder to jam up a political candidate will most likely win you more enemies than friends. A lot of good people have ended up filing bankruptcy at some point in their lives, especially during this recession that we’re slowly emerging from now. If you’re going to use a past bankruptcy to judge someone, especially a bankruptcy that happened almost forty years ago, then I say that says a lot more about you than it says about the person filing bankruptcy, and is really just petty.

If you want to vilify Linda McMahon, use the tip-off memo to Zahorian instead. You’ll do much better.

Jan 9, 2015, 10:07 am
-1 +0

Bret I meant Senate…Other than that I stand by what I wrote. I was living in CT at the time and the most certainly did declare bankruptcy…in fact it was a big issue! Google it…I have a problem when rich people are trying to buy offices so they can cut taxes for themselves…McMahon doesn’t do anything if it isn’t for herself

Jan 9, 2015, 9:22 am
-0 +0

@Cactus Dave

All right, now I know you’re lying. I have followed the wrestling business very closely, especially the behind-the-scenes goings-on, since the late 80’s. I am no fan of the McMahons, and truth be told I hate what they’ve done to the wrestling business. But, I can tell you with certainty that they never had to declare bankruptcy.

Oh, and she didn’t run for governor. She ran for US Senate. And, what’s the problem with her spending money out of her own pocket? I wish more candidates for political office did that.

When the McMahons and the WWF were embroiled in the Monday Night Wars (google it), the WWF wasn’t doing so great and closing up shop was considered somewhere around ‘97. That’s the closest the McMahons ever came to any sort of insolvency. But, before it came to that they were able to reverse the fortunes and turn the tide in their favor. Their competition, World Championship Wrestling, self-destructed due to corporate interference as a result of the Time Warner merger and in March of ‘01 the McMahons emerged victorious from the war, and since have had a near-monopoly in the wrestling business.

Bankruptcies are public records. If the McMahons did file any sort of bankruptcy, the documents would be all over the pro wrestling forums just like the docs from the ECW bankruptcy are.

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Evan Wyloge/AZCIR

Gov. Doug Ducey at his inauguration this week.