Few Arizona politicians digging deep for presidential candidates
Gov. Jan Brewer hadn’t. Nor had any U.S. senator or representative from Arizona. Or 79 out of 90 state lawmakers.
For those whose role can involve fundraising and who would seem to have more than a passing interest in the outcome of the presidential campaign, few of Arizona’s state and federal elected leaders had made personal campaign contributions to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama through Sept. 30.
Of 111 people holding statewide office, serving in the state Legislature or representing Arizona in Congress, 13 had made contributions, according to a Cronkite News Service review of the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
State Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, the largest donor, gave $5,000 to Obama, split evenly between the primary and general elections. Secretary of State Ken Bennett and State Treasurer Doug Ducey were the highest-ranking officials to donate, giving $500 and $2,500 to Romney, respectively.
The sum of the donations was $12,728, or about 0.12 percent of the overall $10.35 million raised in the state by the two candidates since 2011. Of that amount, seven Republicans donated $6,575 to Romney and six Democrats donated $6,153 to Obama.
Gallego said he donated mostly because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allowed unlimited political giving by corporations. He feared that would put Obama at a disadvantage.
“I felt that as a good Democrat and as a supporter of the president that I needed to do what I could to step up as much as possible,” he said.
His donations were the maximum allowed of individuals for the primary and general elections.
“It was expensive and painful,” Gallego said with a laugh. “But there’s nothing more painful than to have a Romney presidency, so I wanted to do my part.
Cronkite News Service made dozens of attempts to reach those who didn’t give but was only able to speak with Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, who said she contributed to Romney’s campaign after Sept. 30.
The number of state legislators who had made personal campaign contributions wasn’t surprising, Lesko said.
“Let’s face it – state legislators don’t make a lot of money,” she said. “They’re probably working on their own campaigns and using their own money for their own campaigns.
“Most legislators are not independently wealthy people or people with lots of disposable income.”
The other state lawmakers who contributed to Obama’s campaign were: Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, $278; Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, $250; Rep. Lela Alston, D-Phoenix, $250; Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, $250; and Sen. David Schapira, D-Tempe, $125.
Lawmakers contributing to Romney’s campaign were: Rep. Cecil Ash, R-Mesa, $2,400; Rep. Steve Urie, R-Gilbert, $500; Rep. Steve Court, R-Mesa, $275; Sen. Rich Crandall, R-Mesa, $250; and Rep. Justin Pierce, R-Mesa, $150.
Messages left with representatives for Brewer, other statewide office holders and members of Arizona’s delegations in the U.S. House and Senate weren’t returned by Thursday afternoon.
U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake, a Republican U.S. representative from Mesa, has endorsed Romney but hasn’t made a personal contribution. According to FEC records, however, his wife has – a $250 contribution to the Romney campaign in September 2011.
Flake’s opponent for Senate, Democrat Richard Carmona, hadn’t contributed to a presidential campaign as of Sept. 30, according to FEC records. A campaign spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email Thursday afternoon.
David Berman, a senior research fellow at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said elected officials seem reluctant to contribute to other politicians.
“They may contribute in other ways including financially with funds they raised from others in putting together a political action committee,” Berman wrote in an email. “(They) are seldom the big contributors themselves.”
As a super PAC, Brewer’s JAN PAC is prohibited from donating directly to candidates. According to Open Secrets, a site that tracks political giving, the group hasn’t contributed any money supporting or opposing either presidential candidate, though it has to support congressional campaigns in Arizona.
“There’s still the potential that the PAC could decide to make that kind of expenditure,” said Paul Senseman, Brewer’s former spokesman and a volunteer with her super PAC.