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Candidate commentary

Goddard: Dark money tries to deceive seniors

The 60 Plus Association describes itself as a "non-partisan seniors advocacy group," but like anything involving dark money, what they say is far from true.

The 60 Plus Association, in fact, is a Koch Brothers-backed front group that floods our airwaves with political ads paid for with anonymous corporate cash designed to distort our elections and deceive voters.

But it also has another purpose: to advocate for the privatization of Social Security.

60 Plus is a major player in the fight for Social Security privatization. That proposal was the brainchild of hedge fund managers who would profit from privatization and who write big checks to political organizations, not seniors who rely on Social Security.

The focus of my campaign for secretary of state has been stopping dark money. I have made it clear from the first day of my campaign that I am running to stop the anonymous corporate cash flooding into Arizona, one of the biggest threats to our democracy.

So I can't say I was particularly surprised when a dark money group attacked me. But the fact that 60 Plus chose me as a target tells you a lot about the twisted world of dark money.

As your attorney general, I worked tirelessly with AARP to protect Arizona's seniors from fraud. I started the volunteer Fraud Fighters and Seniors Strike Back programs. One major source of fraud comes from fake charities that exist only to scam seniors.

Arizona law used to require charities to register with the secretary of state – which at least gave consumers and law enforcement a good place to start to figure out if a charity was legit. But last year, the Legislature stripped the secretary of state of that authority — a move my opponent supported and the Arizona Nonprofit Alliance opposed.

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That move created not only an opening for scam artists; it also created an opening for dark money. dark money groups are formed as charitable, rather than political, organizations in order to keep their donors hidden. Allowing them to avoid registering with the Secretary of State's Office provided even more secrecy for these groups.

If elected, I'll fight to bring back the requirement that charities register as one important way to protect our seniors from fraud. But 60 Plus — that "non-partisan seniors advocacy group" — just spent $300,000 attacking me for holding that position.

Only in the twisted world of dark money does it makes sense that a "non-partisan seniors advocacy group" would want to privatize Social Security and make it easier for fraud to be committed against seniors. Dark money is a fraud on Arizona voters and we must work together to stop it.

A former attorney general of the State of Arizona, Terry Goddard was the Democratic candidate for governor in 2010, and is running for secretary of state in the 2014 election.

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