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Critics worry that so-called 'dark money' organizations allow big donors to hide their influence in elections. But supporters say campaign funding is political speech, and that anonymity is needed to protect political free speech.

Dark money spending reached record levels this fall, with little sign of abating, even as polls showed overwhelming numbers of Americans troubled by the practice. In one poll, 80 percent of voters said they were worried that donors were "abusing" the system for their own gain. Read more»

Dark money in politics is an issue nationwide but in the words of one expert, Arizona “really is a special place for dark money.” The state, because of its laws or its culture, has become ground zero for a growing number of politically active tax-exempt organizations. Read more»

President Barack Obama during the Nov. 20 speech when he said he would take immigration action on his own since Congress had failed to act. Several states, including Arizona, have sued to stop what they call an illegal overreach by the president.

Legal experts on Friday dismissed as groundless a lawsuit that 18 states, including Arizona, brought this week against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The suit claims that deferred deportation of illegal immigrants and other initiatives“ amount to a unilateral suspension of the nation’s immigration laws.” But a top immigration lawyer derided the suit as “a factually challenged press release." Read more» 2

Blackwater high school senior Darius Jackson, 18, was picked to represent the Gila River Indian Community at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, one of 36 youths tapped to represent their tribes at the 2014 event.

Darius Jackson wants to make a difference for the people of the Gila River Indian Community – and meeting with the vice president of the United States on Wednesday wasn’t a bad place to start. Read more»

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified that President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions were 'within his legal authority.'

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he will return to Southern Arizona early next year to meet with residents and talk about steps his agency is taking to secure the border and further reduce illegal immigration. Read more» 1

Richard Hurles, 55, was sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of Buckeye librarian Kay Blanton, who was stabbed 37 times and left to die. The Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision that could give him a new hearing.

The Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s ruling that Arizona death-row inmate Richard Dean Hurles should get a new hearing in the 1992 stabbing death of a Buckeye librarian. The court considered Hurles' case for more than a year before deciding against hearing it. Read more»

President Barack Obama said he will lay out a plan to move on immigration reform on his own, without waiting for Congress to act on a problem that has been allowed to “fester for too long.”

Arizona lawmakers were holding their fire after President Obama said he would unveil plans for executive action on immigration reform - but previous statements leave little doubt where they stand, with Democrats criticizing delays and the GOP chiding his "overreach." Read more»

The Arizona Constitution since 2006 has prohibited bail for felony suspects who are in this country illegally. A federal court last month overturned the law, but Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy delayed it temporarily at the request of Maricopa County officials.

The ACLU said Maricopa County had not shown harm if a lower court ruling, overturning the state's ban on bail for felony suspects who are here illegally, was allowed to take effect. But county officials argued that the ruling could release "potentially dangerous criminals." Read more» 1

Even though they were turned off by the campaigning this fall, some voters said they still felt a duty to vote and did so, overcoming their disenchantment to perform what they feel is a civic duty.

Buffeted by torrents of negative advertising, flummoxed by the lack of transparency about funding for those ads and generally angry with politicians themselves, that “election fatigue” among voters this year was palpable. Just over a third of registered Arizona voters cast ballots this fall. Read more»

Rep.-elect Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, will not be sworn in to Congress until January but is already saying he will move quickly toward leadership and hopes to spend 25 to 30 years in the House.

When the primaries ended in August, most candidates turned their attention to this week’s general election, but Ruben Gallego was looking farther down the road. Much farther. At a September fundraising event, Gallego told donors that he plans to spend the next 25 to 30 years in the House, all but ruling out a future run for the Senate. Read more»

A coalition of immigration, religious and labor groups gathered Thursday to tell President Barack Obama to keep his pledge to act on immigration reform. Obama had said he would do so this summer, then delayed action until after the elections.

Immigration advocacy groups from across the country urged President Barack Obama on Thursday to act swiftly to “end the deportation enforcement machine” that is separating parents from their children. Read more» 1

Advocates fielded calls in Washington, D.C., from voters around the country on Election Day in an effort to make sure minority voters knew where and how to vote and to head off any problems with voters being turned away.

Latino voters went to the polls Tuesday focused on immigration reform and jobs, according to a pre-Election Day poll of Latino voters across the nation and in 10 key states – including Arizona. Read more»

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, overcame a deluge of out-of-state cash to beat GOP challenger, state House Speaker Andy Tobin, by 53 to 47 percent. She wound up outspending him by an almost 3-1 margin.

Amid a wave of Republican victories across the country and state this week, Arizona Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema stood out as rare bright spots for Democrats. Both were seen as highly vulnerable incumbents, but both won handily Tuesday. Read more» 1

Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Phoenix, has packed up nearly most of his Capitol Hill office as he prepares to retire. He said he hopes his legacy in Congress will be his ability to help people.

Observers say Rep. Ed Pastor's legacy can be measured in projects he brought to the state, like light rail, as well as people he helped. That's just how Pastor, retiring this year, hopes to be remembered. Read more»

Timothy Allen Pawlak, left, marries Jason Grant Bannecker before Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Kevin Kane on Friday, just hours after a federal judge overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton looks on.

Gay couples rushed to Arizona courthouses to get married Friday, just hours after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as a violation of the right to equal protection. Read more» 3

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