/ Modified apr 18, 2014 7:43 p.m.

AZ Illustrated Politics: Friday, April 18, 2014

Bill to expand 'empowerment scholarships" dies in Arizona House; fundraising totals for congressional races; campaigns' "dark money."

(VIDEO: azpm)

Play the video above to see these stories on AZ Illustrated Politics for Friday, April 18:

Host Jim Nintzel sat down with Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Lea Marquez-Peterson, Pima County Democratic Party Chairman Don Jorgensen and Arizona Capitol Times reporter Hank Stephenson to talk about the week in politics. Among the topics:

EDUCATION LEGISLATION: With the Legislature expected to wrap up next week, a bill to expand “empowerment scholarships” died on the House floor this week, but Stephenson said he expected that Republicans would make an effort to bring the bill back to life next week. Jorgensen said the bill would take a lot of money away from the underfunded public schools, while Marquez-Peterson said her organization generally supports school choice, although she has heard some misgivings about this particular legislation from some of her members.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES: Congressional candidates released their fundraising totals this week. Stephenson said that the big numbers in Congressional District 2 showed that the race was likely to be one of the most watched in the nation. Jorgensen pointed out that Martha McSally was accepting contributions from the Koch brothers, while Peterson said both candidates were very active in their interactions with the business community.

In the Congressional District 1 race, Stephenson pointed out that the Republican candidates—Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, rancher Gary Kiehne and state Rep. Adam Kwasman—were struggling to raise money. Jorgensen said that incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who raised more than $300,000 in the reporting quarter, had more than $1 million on hand for the upcoming campaign.

DARK MONEY: Stephenson said that this year’s campaigns will see a big increase in so-called “dark money," which comes from anonymous donors through nonprofit organizations. Jorgensen said the anonymity was bad because voters don’t have a clear idea who is funding the negative campaigns, while Marquez-Peterson said the outside groups often are a distraction from the message that candidates are trying to express.

AZ Illustrated Politics is produced by Jim Nintzel. Contact him at jnintzel@azpm.org.

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