PHOENIX — Are these the dark money groups secretly funding Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs’s inauguration? Public records filed last month suggest that they could be.
Hobbs took office on Monday but will attend a public inaugural ceremony later today. Although her inaugural committee, comprised of lobbyists and campaign donors, have been planning the event since November, the Democrat quietly acknowledged over the weekend that she will not disclose who is funding the events surrounding it.
Records at the Arizona Corporation Commission might hold the answer.
On December 10, five days before Hobbs declared victory in the gubernatorial race, Nicole DeMont — the Democrat’s campaign manager — quietly filed articles of incorporation for a 501(c)(4) nonprofit entity called “An Arizona for Everyone.” (This phrase will be the theme of the inauguration, according to obtained documents.) On December 13, still two days before Hobbs declared victory, DeMont then filed articles of incorporation for another 501(c)(4) nonprofit entity called “Katie Hobbs Inaugural Fund,” which presumably speaks for itself.
The “known place of business” listed on both entities’ corporate records is the address of Coppersmith Brockelman PLC, a politically-tied law firm that has represented Hobbs on election cases in her capacity as secretary of state. Roopali Desai, a former partner at the firm, was the judge who administered the Democrat’s oath of office on Monday.
The financial connection between these two dark-money groups and Hobbs’s inaugural events, such as her ceremonial ball, remains to be seen. But their identities may serve as helpful guidance for oversight activities by legislators — whom she already has antagonized — who want to determine whether any public funds have been transferred between the two groups and state government.
In addition, some of the known ‘sponsors’ of Hobbs’s inauguration, like the Arizona Education Association (teachers union), are similarly structured as 501(c) nonprofit entities. Such sponsors may be forced to disclose any grants that they make (including specific dollar amounts) to “An Arizona for Everyone” and “Katie Hobbs Inaugural Fund” on future tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service, a version of which will be available to the public.