Conservation dark money group launches $2.15 million campaign to support Democrats for Corporation Commission

Chispa AZ, a little-known political organization in the state, is launching a massive financial campaign to support Democratic Corporation Commission candidates in the final weeks approaching the General Election. The $2.15 million spend launches this week, which includes Phoenix and Tucson network and cable television ads as well as Phoenix radio. The move has many political observers wondering where this unknown organization received the last-minute influx of cash.

Chispa AZ is a project of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF), a progressive left-wing activist organization focused on environmental policies registered as a 501 C (3) under the federal tax code. The group has ties to California billionaire Tom Steyer, who has spent millions of dollars to mandate renewable energy standards in Arizona and against Republican elected officials. George Soros is also listed as a financial supporter.

With polling numbers showing possible defeat for Proposition 127, the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Committee has been pouring money into statewide and legislative races. Recent reports show the Steyer-backed group is now shifting financial resources to competitive statewide and legislative races in hopes of electing Democrats. Now, Chispa AZ is following suit by helping Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Kiana Sears get elected to the Corporation Commission. Both are supporters of Steyer’s renewable energy mandate.

“If Tom Steyer can’t win at the ballot box with Prop 127, then he will try to elect his Corporation Commission that will do his bidding to raise rates on energy customers and implement his solar strategy,” said Barrett Marson, CEO of public relations and political consulting firm Marson Media. “This California-billionaire is making himself quite at-home in Arizona.”

But where is all the last-minute money coming from?

According to the pre-primary report filed with the Arizona Secretary of State earlier this week, Chispa AZ PAC had a cash balance of about $750 at the end of the third quarter, only raising $6,500 during the reporting period. The PAC has previously received funding from the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, League of Conservation Voters Inc., and the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona. The millions of dollars being expended are clearly derived from another source, but at this point the donation remains unknown and Chispa AZ is not revealing its donor.

But there are also questions about the group’s political and advocacy efforts. Reports show that Chispa AZ is a project of LCVEF, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, yet registered a political action committee in Arizona earlier this year.

Calls to Chispa AZ for clarification were not returned.

Lorna Romero

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