FCC docs shed light on Phoenix dark money group


The president of a dark money nonprofit that’s spent at least $600,000 on TV ads and mailers bashing candidates for an obscure Arizona state commission is a Phoenix realtor named Todd Bradford, according to a document filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

The down ballot contest to choose commissioners of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulate the state’s public utilities, has uncharacteristically drawn a flood of high profile money attributed to groups whose backers and organizers are unknown. The document filed with the FCC is the first public disclosure of the name of the president of Save Our Future Now.

What role Bradford has in running the group is unclear. The group’s treasurer–veteran political consultant Joyce E. Downey–and past president both have ties to Coleman Dahm & Associates, a Phoenix public affairs company that has worked for GOP party and campaign committees, and business trade associations including realtors, home builders and small businesses. Asked about the group’s recent ads, Bradford, a realtor in the Biltmore office of Homesmart, only said “I can’t talk about that.” Downey, reached at her office at Coleman Dahm, declined to comment.

One of the ads aired by Save Our Future Now attacking a candidate for Arizona Corporation Commission.

The big spending on the Republican primary–voters will choose between four candidates vying for two vacancies on the commission–has drawn local press attention. Most have described the fight as being between the Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility, and solar advocates in the sunny desert state.

APS has all but acknowledged getting involved in the race. Last week a spokesman refused to deny involvement in a statement to the Huffington Post: “Although we typically do not comment on individual contributions, we routinely support public officials, candidates and causes that are pro-business and supportive of a sustainable energy future for Arizona, regardless of party affiliation.” As the Huffington Post noted, APS secretly funded nonprofits to run anti-solar ads last election.

Save Our Future Now is just one of two nonprofits involved in this year’s race. The other is the Arizona Free Enterprise Fund, which has spent $1.1 million this cycle, including about $450,000 in the Corporation Commission race.

Because nonprofit groups do not have to disclose their donors, there are few avenues for outsiders to determine who’s funding the groups. Federal rules, however, require that these nonprofits don’t make electoral politics their primary purpose. After an outrcy over the attacks, the Arizona secretary of state’s office sent letters seeking more information about the spending of Save Our Future and four other nonprofits.

In published reports, the Arizona Republic has linked Save Our Future with the state homebuilder’s association, noting that Save Our Future Now shares a mailing address with Save Glendale Now, a group who’s treasurer is president of the Home Builder’s Association of Central Arizona. That mailing address: 3104 E. Camelback Road # 1126, is just a mailbox at “Mail Boxes at the Biltmore.” The Central Arizona Homebuilder’s Association is also a client of Coleman Dahm & Associates.

Documents uploaded July 31 by Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV to the FCC list Todd Bradford as president and Joyce Downey as treasurer of Save Our Future Now.

Tax documents filed with the IRS for 2012 list Troy Hyde as the group’s principal officer. Hyde, who’s listed in state records as president at Phoenix-based Sun Door and Trim, Inc. said by phone that he was no longer involved with the group. Hyde didn’t use his address in the tax filing. Instead the document, which certified that Save Our Future Now raised less than $50,000 in 2012, listed the mailing address of Coleman Dahm & Associates.

Joyce Downey, the woman listed as treasurer of Save Our Future Now in the FCC disclosure, has listed her role at Coleman Dahm in state and federal campaign contributions as consultant and “administrative assistant”. Joyce E. Downey is actually a veteran political operative, who was quoted in the New York Times as a “close friend” of former U.S. Rep. Sam Steiger when he died in 2012. She said she couldn’t comment on Save Our Future New because she wasn’t the spokesman.