PNT: Arpaio Leads in Sheriff’s Race Cash, But Just 1 in 8 of His Donors Are Arizonans
This is the first in a three-part series on money in the 2020 Maricopa County sheriff’s race. Parts two and three will be published on Wednesday and Thursday.
When longtime Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ran for a seventh term in 2016, he raised over $12 million — largely from out-of-state donors.
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The controversial ex-sheriff has far out-raised all the other candidates in the 2020 sheriff’s race up until this point, but has done so by relying heavily on out-of-state donors, according to a Phoenix New Times analysis of campaign filings.
Seven in eight of Arpaio’s reported donors this election cycle are from out of state, the data shows.
Meanwhile, Arpaio’s competitors, Democratic Sheriff Paul Penzone and Republican Jerry Sheridan, the former chief deputy under Arpaio, have amassed fewer dollars and donors than the 87-year old Arpaio. But they’ve culled nearly all of their support from local sources.
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For this story, New Times mined roughly 3,000 individual contributions and hundreds of pages of 2019 campaign filings, reviewing the names, addresses, and donation amounts for all contributors who gave the candidates more than $50 in 2019.
Of the 1,838 people who gave Arpaio’s campaign more than $50 last year, only 230 of them — or one-eighth — hailed from Arizona.
By contrast, Penzone received donations over $50 from 527 individual contributors, and all but 16 of them were from an Arizonan.
The millions of dollars that fueled Arpaio’s last campaign have yet to be seen this time around, but he and Penzone, the two top-raising candidates, each have earned hundreds of thousands in individual contributions. Arpaio has raised just over $480,000, and Penzone has raised nearly $380,000.
Sheridan, who hopes to emerge victorious against his former boss in the August 4 primary election, is far behind both front-runners in fundraising at this point, having raised $46,000. But he also got most of his support locally — only six of his 78 donors who gave over $50 lived outside Arizona.
New Times’ analysis of the contributions revealed that most people who gave over $50 to Arpaio were from California. The next top states for Arpaio donors were Arizona, Texas, Florida, and New York. The non-Arizona donors hail from every state in the union except the smallest — Rhode Island.
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Arpaio said the comparatively low local support his campaign filings show is “misleading” because it doesn’t include donations $50 and under, which make up about half of what he’s raised so far.
“Every elected official gets money out of their jurisdiction,” Arpaio continued. “If you’re running for Congress, you don’t just get it for your little district. People do support me around the country. I got more money than Penzone — double it.”
According to the latest campaign filings, Arpaio actually has more than double what Penzone has in cash to start out 2020. Arpaio began the election cycle with over $460,000 in cash reserves, and he's spent over $280,000. The latest data shows Arpaio has about $656,000 in campaign funds, while Penzone has $270,000.
But he declined to share the names or addresses of donors who gave $50 or less, which he’s not required to release according to Maricopa County policy.