Longform

Cathi Herrod's Center for Arizona Policy Hates Gays, Abortions, and Likes to Tell Politicians What to Do

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Herrod concluded, "Obviously, that type of provision would violate my religious beliefs."

And yet CAP also shows that it is possible to serve both God and Mammon.

In the aforementioned Salon.com story, according to documents obtained by reporter Eli Clifton, an executive for Hobby Lobby is the "largest contributor" to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, which in turn has supported both CAP and its ideological ally, Alliance Defending Freedom, also based in Arizona.

"In 2011," Clifton writes, "the National Christian Charitable Foundation contributed $9,606,281.88 of the Alliance Defending Freedom's $36,379,373 grant revenue. That same year, the NCF contributed $236,250 of the Center for Arizona Policy's $1,662,355 in grant revenue.

"Overall, from 2002 to 2011 the NCF contributed $1,481,343 to the Center for Arizona Policy and $31,024,584.30 to the Alliance Defending Freedom."

This is a significant find for Clifton, a fellow with the Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalistic enterprise of liberal magazine The Nation.

This is because, as a nonprofit 501(c)3, CAP doesn't have to disclose its top donors to the public, though it does have to disclose them to the IRS.

And the Salon.com piece documents a link between CAP's expertise in pushing extremist laws through the Legislature and its source of revenue.

CAP's religious mission dovetails with its ability to raise money. The group's website brags that since 1995, more than 120 CAP-supported bills have become law, 60 during the last five years of Herrod's tenure.

This, of course, helps justify Herrod's annual salary of more than $170.000.

Hobby Lobby's religious objection to Obamacare — specifically providing forms of birth control that it believes (wrongly, according to some sources) induce abortions — probably would have been protected under 1062.

CAP went down a similar path in 2012, when it backed House Bill 2625, legislation sponsored by state Representative Debbie Lesko that allowed certain "religiously affiliated employers" to drop contraception from medical coverage mandated under Obamacare.

Brewer signed the bill into law, but it apparently doesn't protect Hobby Lobby, as the federal government regards Hobby Lobby a secular entity, citing the company's articles of incorporation, which don't state a religious purpose.

Long before left-wingers dubbed the right's attack on contraception and the option to choose as the "war on women," the Center for Arizona Policy was doing everything in its power to end access to abortion in Arizona.

CAP originally was incorporated in 1988 as the Arizona Family Research Institute in close association with evangelical organization Focus on the Family, then led by religious extremist Dr. James Dobson.

According to AFRI's application for a 501(c)3 exemption (which allows for receipt of tax-deductible contributions), the group's stated purpose was to "educate the general public about various issues related to the family."

Its first president was Trent Franks, a former Republican state legislator and future congressman often seen as a candidate devoted to a single issue: the eradication of abortion.

In documents included as part of AFRI's application (on file with stopcap.org), the IRS posed a series of questions to AFRI about its purpose, inquiring about the importance of the abortion issue to the group.

It replied that abortion "is not the only issue" with which it was concerned.

"In fact," AFRI's lawyer noted in a 1989 letter to the agency, "[AFRI] has been more involved with pornography issues since its inception than abortion."

And it is true that the organization has addressed numerous "pro-family" issues over the years.

On the center's website, a list of "CAP-supported bills that became Arizona law" includes everything from a statute banning cloning and the creation of "human hybrids" to requiring filters for Internet porn on library computers.

The group also backed a failed initiative in Scottsdale to restrict strip clubs, and it periodically attempts to restrict adult businesses via legislation, though its zeal for such blue-nose bills has waned somewhat in recent years.

CAP also takes credit for the creation of "covenant marriages" in Arizona, which are more difficult to get out of than ordinary marriages.

It opposes gambling of all forms, including the lottery, advocates for "school choice" and "judicial reform," and rails against gay rights and sex education.

But the group's antipathy to the right to choose, as enshrined in Roe v. Wade, is equal only to its abhorrence for the LGBT community.

In 1992, while still AFRI, the organization helped put an abortion ban on the Arizona ballot as a citizens' initiative.

The effort would have amended the Arizona constitution to prevent all abortions, except those in the case of rape, incest, or a dire threat to the mother's life.

Arizona Prop 110 failed stupendously, 69 to 31 percent.

So the organization, which changed its name to Center for Arizona Policy in 1994, began a scorched-earth war of attrition against abortion that continues to this day.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons