While Arizonans debate the idea of getting big money out of state political campaigns, four Arizonans have been giving big money to federal campaigns. The quartet made the new list of political fat cats put out by Mother Jones magazine--the MoJo 400. Altogether, the foursome accounted for $172,109 of the $35.8 million in contributions to candidates and political parties collected between January 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.
Phoenix entrepreneur John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix and always a big contributor to liberal political causes, gave $48,600, mostly to Democrats, according to figures compiled by Mother Jones in conjunction with the Center for Responsive Politics.
Paul and Alice Baker of Tucson, listed as owners of Arizona Mail Order Company, split $48,400 between Republicans and Democrats. Mesa businessman Ross Farnsworth, owner of Farnsworth Development Company, gave Republicans $39,000; and Norma Zimdahl of Tucson, who listed her occupation as retired, chipped in $39,109 to Republicans.
This is the third year that Mother Jones has identified the country's top campaign cash cows. As always, Chiquita Banana CEO Carl Lindner, a pal of such Arizonans as Charles Keating, is near the top of the list. This year Lindner, of Cincinnati, came in at No. 4, with $536,000 doled out to Ds and Rs alike.
The biggest contributors, however, were Richard and Helen DeVos, founders of the Amway Corporation, who have ponied up more than $1 million to Republicans.
Most surprising this year, Mother Jones reports, is the extent to which less willing players have been dragged into the giving game. For example, the magazine reports that employees of the Outback Steakhouse have contributions deducted from their paychecks every week because their managers have asked them to. That's allowed Outback to put together the largest political action committee in the restaurant industry, which then works for a cap on the minimum wage and against a national health care plan, among other not-so-employee-friendly issues. Go figure.
Big Red Ain't Green
It matters not whether you're a bunny hugger or a bunny mugger. Either way, before voting you'll be interested in the text of a speech Governor Jane Hull gave last October to the Western States Republican Leadership Conference in Reno, Nevada. Imagine these words, spoken in a monotone, nasal drone:
Republicans must unite to end the War on the West. Environmental laws, truly the most egregious of all regulations, must be controlled. I urge all Congressional delegations to consider themselves guardians of our history and our future. These federal laws, onerous and debilitating, must be eliminated. Thoughtful, reasonable laws can be created that are based on sound science, economic prosperity, and the preservation of the quality of life. Our Western industries and traditions must be preserved.
Arizona is currently under attack by the Clean Air Act. We have performed legislative backflips to comply with all of the EPA's latest and greatest programs--to no avail. We suffer beneath the tyrannical fist of law, badly in need of renovation and downsizing. It was originally based on questionable science and therefore produced dubious prescriptions. Simply put, we gave it all we had, and it was still not enough. It is proposed by the EPA that Arizona be reclassified as "serious."
"Serious" is a simple word with profound effect. Despite our cooperation in good faith, and millions of dollars, we are receiving no recognition or leniency. We did everything within reason and enlisted citizen support, yet the threat of reclassification remains. This may seriously jeopardize our ability to retain and attract business. Irrational federal law, and the constant attempt to create a one-size-fits-all solution, strikes again.
The Endangered Species Act is another example. I check weekly to make sure my grandchild's dog Kelsey has not been placed on the list. For if he were, I would probably have to guarantee him a separate room from us humans with a special diet of imported food.
Allow the Flash to stop here and cackle. Big Red pulled a funny!
Grazing is the current hot spot. There is an all-out frontal attack on ranchers. The movement to remove grazing from BLM lands could very well drive ranching out of Arizona. This movement is based on a misunderstanding of the long-term best interests of the state. Attempting to eliminate any industry tends to have a detrimental ripple effect. The timber industry is a powerful example of that.
Give Me Land
The special election edition of the Arizona Farm Bureau News contains a huge and fascinating chart that maps out legislative candidates' responses to questions of interest to farmers. The first question in the survey notes that only 13 percent of all land in Arizona is privately owned--the other 87 percent is in the hands of federal, state and local governments or Indian reservations. Candidates were asked what percentage they'd like to see in private hands. Three respondents said 100 percent of all land in Arizona should be in private hands. They were incumbent Republicans Lori Daniels and Jeff Groscost and Libertarian challenger Ed Kahn.