Politicians Spend Millions in Tax Dollars on Self-Promotion

Posted on May 12, 2009 | Type: Press Release
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Phoenix--A new Goldwater Institute report, "Shameless Self Promotion: How Politicians Use Your Money to Get Re-elected," shows Arizona's elected officials spent more than $4 million in public funds between 2006 and 2008 to showcase their names and images in publications and on billboards and television. The report's author, Shawnna L.M. Bolick, calls on the Arizona Legislature to stop this misuse of taxpayer funds.
 
"Official publications and advertisements should communicate information relevant to the public office, not promote the officeholder," Ms. Bolick says.

From former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano promoting Arizona restaurants on billboards, to a slick brochure featuring Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas that was inserted into major Arizona newspapers, these ads help politicians improve their name recognition and chances for re-election. This puts private citizens, who do not enjoy free advertising on the taxpayer dime, at a distinct disadvantage when running for public office.

Adding insult to injury, these tax-funded advertising efforts are often unrelated to the official duties of the public office. It is not the job of a public official to promote restaurants, congratulate little league teams, or pass out key chains, especially on the taxpayer dime. And the cost of these promotional activities is rarely, if ever, disclosed to the public.

The report recommends the Legislature end this practice by adopting a law banning public officials from spending taxpayer funds on publications, billboards, or TV or radio ads featuring their names and faces. At a minimum, the report calls for a disclosure statement to be included on any publicly-funded advertisement. The disclosure statement would announce how much the ad cost taxpayers and which public official approved the expense.

Arizona Senator Jim Waring and Representative Kyrsten Sinema both introduced legislation in 2008 that would have prevented some of these abuses, but each measure was defeated in committee hearings.

The data for the report was compiled through 29 public records requests made by the Goldwater Institute in 2008 requesting financial information from 44 Arizona public officials.

Read "Shameless Self-Promotion" online or call (602) 462-5000 to have a copy mailed to you.
 
The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

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