Arizona Working Families and The Center For Media and Democracy have just released the results of a joint investigation into the activities of the Goldwater Institute.
Many local observers think of GI as a deep-pocketed corporate lobbying group pretending to be a non-profit "think tank" dedicated to protecting the interests and "liberty" of Americans.
Turns out that many observers think correctly.
Among the findings of the investigation:
- GI took nearly $2 million of organization funds and loaned it to the company of one of its directors (a little eyebrow-raising at for-profit organizations, treads perilously close to stepping over the line into legally actionable at non-profits)
- GI purports to be non-ideological, but hides the name and nature of its donors. However, many of those donors have to report their expenditures. And many right-wing corporate front groups report giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to GI.
- GI, always claiming to act the interest of "protecting liberty" has no problem with taking liberties with and promoting corruption on, the taxpayers' dime. After winning a lawsuit to overturn part of Arizona's Clean Elections law, making it easier for their donors to buy elections again, GI billed the state's taxpayers for the time and effort that it took to screw over the people of AZ. GI received approximately $1 million in public money for their activities, and promptly paid their already highly-paid employees tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses.
The report also spends a lot of space highlighting and explaining GI's close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the shadowy group that works to bring corporate lobbyists together with state legislators, all for fun and profit (the corporations', not the states').
The report isn't terribly long (a little less than 40 pages) but it is a must read for anyone who cares about how laws are actually made in Arizona, and what has truly been behind some of the looniest of the loony measures in the AZ legislature.