The Republican Legislative Victory Fund (RLVF), a PAC supporting moderate Republicans, posted its end-of-year campaign finance report recently, and of $1.8 million raised, only about $700,000 was spent on independent expenditures (IEs) to support candidates. Almost all of that was spent during the last 15 days of the general election, which Arizona Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi told The Arizona Sun Times was well after many of the strongest attacks came against Republican candidates in September.
“We keep hearing that the 2022 Victory Fund is taking credit for ‘saving’ the majorities at the legislature,” Mussi said. “If anything, their actions contributed to our slim majorities by wasting most of the money on overhead. They didn’t even help Michelle Pena in LD 23, which if she didn’t win we wouldn’t even have a majority in the House.”
Pena’s race was close, defeating a third candidate for one of the two-state representative slots in District 23 by 3,077 votes. Camelback Strategy Group (CSG) is a consulting firm long associated with the John McCain family, which has ties to many progressive organizations and causes. The email address on file for RLVF is an email address from CSG.
CSG took credit for keeping majorities in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature on Nov. 14, 2022. “Outspent by nearly a 6 to 1 margin, RLVF targeted key legislative districts across AZ to successfully win Republican Majorities in the AZ House and Senate,” CSG tweeted.
Once again, AZ voters have rejected the radical and dangerous agenda of Democratic legislative candidates. Outspent by nearly a 6 to 1 margin, RLVF targeted key legislative districts across AZ to successfully win Republican Majorities in the AZ House and Senate.
— Arizona Republican Legislative Victory Fund (@ArizonaRLVF) November 14, 2022
Instead of helping candidates, 60 percent of RLVF’s funds went to consultants and other operating expenses. Over $306,000 was for operating expenses, with the bulk of it going to CSG. An article in Marketplace discussed how “[p]olitical consultants can create super PACs or political nonprofits to raise money … and then they can use that money to pay themselves.”
Trevor Potter, former chair of the Federal Election Commission and general counsel to John McCain’s two presidential campaigns, told Marketplace, “It’s actually pretty hard to figure out how much administrative costs many of these groups have, and then, how much of that is ending up back in the consultant’s pocket.”
When asked about PACs not spending money on candidates, political consultant Hogan Gidley told Pro Publica, “Any entity that raises money under the banner of a certain cause and then doesn’t spend money on that cause raises serious questions.”
RLVF spent $13,592.29 on an IE on October 31, 2022 to help State Senator Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) in her re-election, and three more IEs for her totaling $26,208.91 on November 4, 2022. However, CSG is associated with Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL), which backs the Committee for Arizona Leadership PAC (CAL). CAL spent thousands of dollars opposing Barto this year, including $137,470 to Cox Media for ads against her. Barto was defeated in the general election by 1,189 votes.
Similarly, RLVF spent money in late October opposing Barto’s opponent, Democrat Christine Marsh for State Senate, while CAL spent money supporting Marsh.
RLVF spent several thousand dollars on an IE in early November supporting State Rep. Maria Syms (R-Paradise Valley), who lost her reelection to a Democrat by 2,909 votes. RLVF spent several thousand dollars in late October and early November supporting Republican Robert Scantlebury in his race for Arizona Senate, who lost to the Democrat by 3,093 votes.
During the primary, RLVF spent an even smaller proportion of its money on candidates, only $7,500 of $1,606,795 raised.
RLVF receives money from groups like the railroad company Union Pacific Corp Fund for Effective Government PAC, which contributes to Democrats too. RLVF displays former State House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) on its leadership page. Bowers was defeated in the primary last year by Trump-endorsed David Farnsworth for opposing election integrity legislation.
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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 “Arizona Capitol” by Wars. CC BY-SA 3.0.