Christine Jones and her former boss, GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, together have contributed the vast majority of the money raised to help Jones get elected Arizona governor.
State campaign finance reports show that as of May 31, Jones has contributed $2.1 million of the roughly $2.3 million she's raised. Parsons said this week he's donated $1 million to an independent expenditure (IE) group dedicated to putting Jones in office, and may contribute more. That's 94 percent of the money she's raised up until May 31, though presumably she's received some more contributions from other sources since then.
Jones has said from the beginning she'll have the resources she needs to run a solid campaign, says her spokeswoman, Anna Haberlein.
That being said, Haberlein denied that any coordination -- which would be illegal under state law -- took place between Parsons and Jones as far as Parson's contributions to the IE committee, Better Leaders for Arizona.
Jones and her former boss would "talk regularly," up until the point that Parsons decided to donate to Better Leaders, Haberlein says. Since then, they "definitely haven't spoken," she says.
Parsons, on vacation this week in Hawaii, told other news media outlets that he decided to reveal his involvement in funding Better Leaders after Republican candidate Doug Ducey criticized Jones' work history with GoDaddy during a July 27 debate.
"You were a line employee at GoDaddy with no leadership experience," Ducey told Jones during the debate. "And I don't know what qualifies you for this race besides your own wallet."
On Tuesday, Jones lashed out at Ducey in an interview with the Arizona Capitol Times, saying, "Being a condescending, misogynistic jerk is not the way to win an election."
Better Leaders for Arizona first filed with the state in October. Virginia Simpson, a retired pharmaceutical sales executive who's been involved in Republican politics, is the treasurer. She describes the group's chairman, Neal Moody, as a young entrepreneur who lives in Arizona. Both are big fans of Jones, with whom they're acquainted personally. Moody she knows from various business conferences, while Jones worked with Simpson on American Cancer Society projects, Simpson says.
Soon after they formed the group, they sought out Parsons. Neither Moody nor Simpson knew him, she says, but they figured he'd be an "obvious" source of help for Jones. Parsons has "assurances" his money "will only go to one cause," Simpson says.
Nothing about the arrangement is inappropriate, says Kim Crawford of the Arizona Secretary of State's office, which oversees elections.
Parsons as an individual could contribute just $2,000 to Jones' campaign directly for each of the upcoming elections, primary and general. But Crawford points out that he could use his fortune to buy ads for Jones directly without ever going through an independent expenditure committee. He and the IE committee can work together on how to spent his money, as long as neither are coordinating their effort with Jones, Crawford says.
That's why we asked Jones' campaign about any coordination with Parsons and Better Leaders.
Call Parsons' million-plus contribution "bright money," to set it apart from the dark money being spent against Jones -- nearly $400,000 worth as of May 31, and plenty more since then.
Voters prefer to know who plunks down $1 million on a candidate, clearly. But now that they know -- do they respect the contribution?
The latest poll numbers seem to show that money can't buy happy news: Jones is reportedly now trailing at 13 percent, several points behind potential leaders Ducey and Scott Smith.
Jones' "misogynistic jerk" comment isn't going over that well with some Republicans, either. Greg Patterson, the former legislator and current Arizona Board of Regents member, ran a post about Jones today on his popular political blog today entitled, "Hey, Nice Beaver." As we've done ourselves, Patterson pokes fun at GoDaddy's sexually charged -- and highly effective -- TV ads.
"Misogynistic?" scoffs the conservative Patterson. "Seriously? No Christine, THIS is what 'misogynistic' looks like."
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Patterson follows with the below still-shot from a GoDaddy ad that features a sexy model holding a strategically placed beaver.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.