O’Connor Institute to host panel discussion on ‘Dark Money’

(Submitted Photo)

The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute is hosting a free credentialed panel discussion on the topic of “Dark Money” or Anonymous Free Speech at an upcoming Issues and Answers Forum at the Arizona Heritage Center Steele Auditorium, 1300 N. College Ave. in Tempe.

The event is from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29 and will discuss “Dark Money,” which is funds given to nonprofit organizations, including 501(c)(3) (charities and foundations), 501(c)(4) (social welfare), 501(c)(5) (unions) or 501(c)(6) (trade association) groups, according to a press release.

These nonprofit organizations can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions, a release states. Some of these organizations can spend funds to influence elections, but, unless they contribute directly to a candidate, they are not required to disclose their donors to the government.

The U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010 is a landmark U.S. constitutional law, campaign finance and corporate law case dealing with regulation of political campaign spending by organizations.

The Court held (5–4) on Jan. 21, 2010 that the free speech clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for communications by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.

The Court also upheld requirements for public disclosure by sponsors of advertisements, according to a press release.

Steve Goldstein of the local NPR-affiliate KJZZ will serve as guest moderator to a panel that will include Terry Goddard, Jodi Remke and Jon Riches.

Mr. Goddard is the head of the Outlaw Dirty Money petition drive, which has been gathering signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment for the 2018 general election.

If approved by voters, it would require disclosure of the original source of all major contributions seeking to influence Arizona elections.

Mr. Goddard served as the Mayor of Phoenix from 1984-90 and was the 24th Arizona Attorney General from 2003-11. He has twice been the Democratic nominee for Governor of Arizona.

Ms. Remke is chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commissions, which is responsible for regulating statewide campaign finance, financial conflicts and lobbying activity.

During her tenure, the commission has created some of the most stringent laws in the country to improve disclosure of large campaign contributors. Ms. Remke will provide additional insight into California’s efforts to increase transparency while balancing First Amendment protections.

She previously served as a trial judge and then the Presiding Judge of the California State Bar Court, hearing attorney disciplinary cases. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois and her J.D. from McGeorge School of Law.

Mr. Riches is the director of national litigation for the Goldwater Institute and general counsel. He is also a trial and appellate litigator in several constitutional law areas, including free speech.

The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and several other news outlets have covered his work.

Previously, he served on active duty with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, clerked for Sen. Jon Kyl on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, on the Arizona Senate Rule Committee, and in the Office of Counsel to the President at the White House.

The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute Issues and Answers Forums are free educational programs to address important issues and present fact-based information to help inform citizens on issues, ballot initiatives or propositions.

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