The Republican Legislative Victory Fund (RLVF), a PAC run by Camelback Strategy Group (CSG), filed a quarterly campaign finance report this past week revealing that between the middle of July and the end of September it raised over $1,606,795, but only about $7,500 was spent to help Republican candidates. Instead, the RLVF spent about $735,000 on operating expenses for consultants, fundraisers, accounting, polling, and the like.
“Democrat groups are outspending Republicans in these key legislative races by over 2 to 1, we don’t have the luxury to be inefficient with our resources,” Scot Mussi, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, told The Sun Times. “It’s hard to understand how the Victory Fund can spend over $700K and almost nothing goes out the door to help Republicans get elected.”
Other than $7,398.45 for flyers/handouts/door hangers for one candidate, RLVF’s only expenditures helping candidates during this crucial point of the primary race and the beginning of the general race was $5,619 each for campaign websites.
Maricopa County Republican Committee Member at Large Brian Ference, who designs websites for a living, told The Arizona Sun Times, “$5,619 for a simple website is considerably overpriced in the Arizona market. I have created dozens of political sites including candidates and the most a candidate should be paying is $2,000 to $3,000 for a simple campaign website.”
Ference looked at one of the websites, created for State Representative Jennifer Pawlik (D-Chandler), and told The Sun Times, “I’d probably charge only $1,000 to $2,000 for a site like that, tops.”
Ference said CSG is the consulting group in Arizona most associated with the late Senator John McCain and now his wife, Cindy, who is still very active behind the scenes in Arizona politics. Partner Jon Seaton worked for McCain’s presidential campaign in various capacities. CSG’s campaign finance reports reflect that mostly moderate Republicans use its services, with former gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson’s campaign paying them the most of any candidate this past year.
“Any consulting group associated with either the late Senator McCain or his wife, Cindy McCain, should be avoided like the plague,” Ference told The Sun Times. “Making that mistake may be one of the reasons why Karrin Taylor Robson lost so badly.”
The RLVF’s leadership includes Robson as chair and former House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), who was voted out of office in the August primary mainly due to his efforts blocking election integrity bills. Political candidates who use their services include former State Senator Paul Boyer (R-Glendale), who declined to run for office again after the conservative base became angry with his record, and State Representative John Joel (R-Buckeye), who received the lowest rating of all Republicans in the Arizona Legislature from the Arizona Conservative Union in 2021. CSG and RLVF also help some Democrats like Pawlik.
The Arizona Daily Independent traced how CSG’s Arizona Grassroots Advocates, which CSG describes as “an independent but affiliated company within Camelback Strategy Group,” has ties to money from George Soros.
CSG is associated with Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL), which backs the Committee for Arizona Leadership PAC (CAL). Democrat Neil Giulano, an LGBT activist who formerly served as the mayor of Tempe, chairs CAL and serves as the president and CEO of GPL. While CSG supports mostly moderate-leaning Republicans, a handful of conservative Republicans also use their services.
GPL is listed as the top donor to CAL by Transparency USA, contributing $790,000 in recent years. Records show that CSG was the top recipient of CAL’s funds over that same period, receiving almost a quarter of a million dollars.
CAL also just filed its quarterly report. CAL spent thousands of dollars opposing conservative stalwart State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) this year, including $137,470 to Cox Media for ads against her. Barto is known for her leadership championing pro-life legislation.
CAL spent a considerable amount of money supporting moderate Republicans. They spent $10,000 on election fraud-denier Thomas Galvin for Maricopa County Supervisor, $10,000 supporting State Sen. Tyler Pace (R-Mesa), who tied for the lowest rating in the Arizona Senate last year from the Republican Liberty Caucus, and $10,000 supporting State Sen. Ben Toma (R-Peoria), who grassroots conservatives are trying to stop from becoming House Speaker next year.
GPL’s mission is “is focused on enhancing and strengthening equity,” with “sound public policy in alignment with socially responsible community partnerships.” Their achievements include implementing light rail and backing Prop. 300 to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates. GPL’s partners include The McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Karrin Taylor Robson” by Karrin Taylor Robson. Photo “Russell Bowers” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 3.0. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.