I have a confession to make: I love "dark money."
When it's used to blast someone I don't like, that is.
In the hands of Tyler Montague, president of the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance, dark money is truly a beautiful thing.
Montague is one of the folks in Mesa instrumental in ousting former state Senate President Russell Pearce from office and keeping him ousted.AZPIA's latest ad skewering Tom Horne
A couple of years ago, Montague created AZPIA as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit to educate the public about unethical politicians like sleazy Attorney General Tom Horne, Congressman Matt Salmon, and state Senator Don "Love Me Some Bourbon and a Free Steak" Shooter, among others.
Montague tells me AZPIA's shelled out anywhere from $600,000 to $700,000 this year, in part to remind Arizonans of the attorney general's many ethical lapses.
His AZPIA is not going to reveal its donor list because, as the law currently is enforced and interpreted, it doesn't have to.
In fact, Montague concedes that if he did not offer his donors anonymity, they would not donate to him.
"I wouldn't get that money if it weren't dark," he told me recently. "Those people wouldn't give it. They're too afraid."
What are they afraid of? Blowback from the far right. Political retaliation. Like or not, that's a reality. When you're dealing with the attorney general of a state, a sheriff like Joe Arpaio, or a powerful state Senate president, for example, payback can be a bitch.
Sure, as a journalist, I would like to be able to "follow the money." But under the law, as it stands now, that is not always possible.Brian Nissen's "Dwain" is back, and he's running for "Sekretary of Freedum"
Until dark money is regulated out of existence, the good guys should not eschew its use, in my opinion, because you know the bad guys are going to use it.
At least this way, the battle is joined.
AZPIA's latest ad detailing Horne's transgressions is, according to Montague, a $140,000 buy in southern Arizona that will run till August 29, a few days after the August 26 primary.
The ad highlights Horne's latest attempt to block an investigation into his ill deeds by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Let's face it: Reporters can scribble till their eyes pop out from exhaustion but will not have the influence that this and other AZPIA ads will have.
People constantly need to be reminded of what Horne has done and is doing in office. So Montague's work here is laudable. What the public does with that information is up to them.
Montague and his AZPIA cohorts have a sense of humor as well, which explains why the group is bankrolling a parody of the Tea Party, called "the Mullet Party," which is the creation of local comic genius Brian Nissen.
You may recall Nissen's dumb-as-dirt redneck character Dwain from the latter's hilarious YouTube commentaries on the Pearce recall, Arpaio's birther investigation, and Pearce's unsuccessful 2012 run against businessman Bob Worsley in the Legislative District 25 GOP primary for state Senate.
As you can see in his latest YouTube ad, sponsored by AZPIA, Dwain is now running as the Mullet Party's "write-in candidate for the write-in job of Sekretary of Freedum [sic]."
Dwain will help Arizonans secure the border with disposable razor technology, ensure that everyone can keep their old, beat-up cars in their front yards, and ban "Floridated water," because "we're Arizonans, Florida can keep its water."
Last night, Nissen, in character as Dwain, was out with his Mullet Party irregulars, posting signs all over Mesa.
I caught up with Dwain via cell while he was out on official Mullet Party business and asked him how he felt about having his candidacy backed by so-called dark money.
"I'm fine with dark money helping me get elected," he told me. "I saw French money once. It was lily white with some pink in it. It's like buying something with a butterfly. Dark green American dollars are like a roundhouse kick to the head.
"How the Frogs ever had the good sense to name their money after something awesome like hot dogs is beyond me."
Without dark money, Dwain might never have had the resources to pay for those signs, much less the gas to get out of Apache Junction for the night.
And if it takes Tyler Montague's dark-money organization AZPIA to make Dwain's twisted, cracker-ass dream a reality, is that a bad thing?
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No more than all those awesome ads AZPIA is running against Arizona's scummy AG Tom Horne.
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