Arizona Senate President May Investigate Katie Hobbs for Requiring Donors to Contribute $250k to Dark Money Group

Arizona’s new Democratic governor, Katie Hobbs, is facing criticism for secrecy surrounding the amounts of money that donors contributed to her inaugural events, which previous governors have disclosed in the past. It’s also been revealed that Hobbs asked the donors to contribute $250,000 without explaining where the money was going. Arizona Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge) said he might conduct an investigation.

“I would think it might be something we would look into,” Shope told AZ Family. “We should have the right to know as a citizen what kind of contributions they’re getting.”

State Senator John Kavanaugh (R-Fountain Hills) said he agreed.

The $250,000 contribution to be a “platinum sponsor” got donors 25 seats at Thursday’s inauguration ceremony, signed programs, and a “special gift.” There is no limitation on how much donors can contribute. Hobbs asked for 10 times more money than previous Governor Doug Ducey did for his second inauguration.

While some local left-leaning journalists have criticized Hobbs, progressives have been largely silent. The Arizona Sun Times asked the Arizona Democratic Party if they took a position on Hobbs’ inauguration contributions but did not receive a response by publication. In contrast, federal prosecutors opened up an investigation after former President Donald Trump raised $107 million from inaugural donations. The Washington D.C. Attorney General’s office sued Trump’s inaugural nonprofit, alleging waste.

Progressive Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts denounced Hobbs in an article on Thursday. “[A] a pitch for $250k a pop?” she asked. “Money that then goes to a dark money group — one that doesn’t have to disclose who gave what? So much for transparency and accountability.” She said the more than 100 sponsors are “a who’s who of companies and organizations that are, no doubt, interested in having the governor on speed dial.”

Hobbs defended the lack of transparency to ABC-15 on Tuesday.

“All of the donors are on the website,” she said. “I don’t even know why this is an issue. They’re all on the website.”

Jenny Guzman with the democracy reform and government watchdog group Common Cause told ABC-15 she expects Hobbs to release the financial data since it was a campaign promise. Governor Janet Napolitano issued public disclosures about how her inaugurations were funded after the events.

President Joe Biden’s inauguration committee in 2021 also refused to disclose how the money was being spent. Similar to Hobbs, he ran on a platform that promised more transparency. While he listed the names of the donors online, like Hobbs, he did not specify the amounts contributed. Corporations were allowed to contribute up to $1 million, and individuals $500,000. Although the inauguration was virtual, so less costly, Biden raised $61.8 million.

Progressive groups objected. A coalition called Demand Progress asked for the organizers to issue a blanket rejection of all “major” corporate cash. They cited “the appearance of impropriety.” Over 50 government watchdog groups called for Biden to reject all corporate donations.

Craig Holman, an ethics and campaign finance expert for the government watchdog group Public Citizen, said the best approach would have been for Biden to have a minimalist inauguration ceremony.

“They could have followed in the noble footsteps of Thomas Jefferson, who celebrated his inauguration simply by walking from the White House to the Capitol, made his inaugural speech, and then walked back home,” Holman said. “This also would have cost next to nothing.”

Holman also pointed out, “Wealthy individuals and corporations generally do not give money to an inaugural committee because they want to ensure a glorious televised inauguration. They give to endear the president and the inner circle.”

Campaign Legal Center’s Brendan Fischer echoed Holman’s concern.

He said, “There’s certainly a long bipartisan history of big inaugural donors, at least appearing to get favorable treatment from the new administration, and there’s certainly a record of special interests making big donations to the inauguration, with the goal of currying influence with the administration.”

Democrats have sponsored legislation attempting to restrict corporate donations to inaugurations, part of their sweeping HR 1. It would require presidential inauguration committees to disclose expenditures, and they would be disallowed from spending money raised on expenses outside the inauguration.

The 2023 legislative session begins on Monday.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “T.J. Shope” by T.J. Shope. Photo “Katie Hobbs” by Katie Hobbs. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.



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6 Thoughts to “Arizona Senate President May Investigate Katie Hobbs for Requiring Donors to Contribute $250k to Dark Money Group”

  1. stuman15

    So what is so different about this. Hobbs entire campaign was a secret. Did a Biden and hid in the basement.. We do not need a governor that hides everything. Especially the vote count.

  2. Timothy Burt

    See George Soros or the cartels. They own Arizona now.

  3. Shirley

    She best give the money back as she’s not going to be in office for very long. We have already started a recall to take her out. She never should have been put in office. All you who helped her cheat & buy her way into office please remember….the Lord is watching & you will answer for your part in it. Go ahead laugh you won’t be laughing on judgement days.

  4. Steven

    So rather than investigating the massive fraud in the election process you do this? I’ll get ahead of this and say they will spend a lot of taxpayer money on a fake investigation only to not hold anyone accountable. This will give the RINO’s cover for their own lies while paying dues to the uniparty.