PHOENIX — Mark Finchem is still trying to raise money this week to pay off what he said is the debt for his failed bid for secretary of state.
In a new fundraising email to supporters on Wednesday, Finchem asked people to “donate $25, $50, $100 or more” to “stand with election integrity” and “fight the propaganda.” But it concludes with a disclosure that any money raised will “help pay off campaign debt.”
Only thing is, a campaign finance report filed just the day before his latest fundraising effort shows there is no debt. In fact, it says he had cash on hand of nearly $97,000 after spending nearly $2.4 million on his campaign.
So where are the dollars going?
The Oro Valley Republican who was first elected to the state House in 2014 isn’t saying. He did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.
Finchem also appears to have no ongoing legal expenses.
A trial judge threw out a challenge to the election results which confirmed his loss to Democrat Adrian Fontes.
Finchem did file paperwork with the Arizona Supreme Court seeking review. But the state’s high court threw that out as not being in proper form and he never resubmitted it.
In his fundraising bid, however, Finchem insisted “I have not conceded this election and we still have work to do,” saying he is “calling for a new election” though there is no explanation of how he is doing that without a pending lawsuit.
He and his attorneys, though, may have some future financial obligations. The lawyers for Fontes and Katie Hobbs who was sued in her position of secretary of state, both have asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Melissa Julian to award them their legal fees in defending Finchem’s failed legal challenge.
Finchem’s spending in his ill-fated political outing for statewide office paled in comparison to that of Kari Lake who headed the GOP ticket.
She reported expenses of almost $15.4 million in her just-filed report in her unsuccessful effort to be elected governor.
Lake does continue to seek funds from supporters.
But these are being solicited not in the name of paying off any campaign debt — her new report lists cash on hand of more than $462,000 — but instead through the Save Arizona Fund whose website suggests this is being used for her ongoing litigation to have her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbs overturned by the courts.
The newly filed campaign finance reports do show the pair does have something in common: Both spent some of their available cash dollars at the Mar-a-Lago Club to campaign with Donald Trump.
Finchem’s report lists more than $53,000 in expenses to the club owned by the former president. Lake’s campaign spent even more, exceeding $104,000.
More than just the funds that both gathered directly from donors were at play in the 2022 election.
Reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office showed outside interests spent more than $2.7 million in independent expenditures supporting Lake’s election.
Much of that came from two political action committees, one from the National Rifle Association and another listed as Put Arizona First.
The latter, in turn, reports it got money from SPH Medical LLC though there is no such limited liability company listed with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
But that pro-Lake spending was more than offset by more than $10.2 million in independent expenditures against the former TV news anchor, much of that financed by something called the Republican Accountability PAC. That national organization lists itself as being “run by Republicans, former Republicans, and conservatives who are fighting back against Donald Trump’s takeover of the GOP.”
Finchem, by contrast, got only a tiny bit of outside help — less than $90,000 — but found foes financing more than $4.6 million including funds not only from the Republican Accountability PAC but other liberal organizations like Everytown For Gun Safety and MoveOn.org whose website says its members “are a force for social justice and political progress.”
Hobbs’ newest report showed she managed to end the campaign with more than $540,000 still in the bank after spending $15 million in her successful gubernatorial race.
But here, too, outside interests played a big role, with expenditures urging her election exceeding $6 million coming from groups like Living United for Change in Arizona, Stand for Children, and Future Forward which works against what it calls tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
On the other side of the equation, another more than $11 million was spent in ads against her by the Republican Governors Association, the National Rifle Association and Make America Great Again Inc. formed by Trump allies.
Fontes reported spending nearly $3.7 million in his successful race for secretary of state. Another more than $1.7 million was spent on his behalf by groups like the League of Conservation Voters and MoveOn.org.
In the race for attorney general, winner Kris Mayes listed expenses of nearly $3 million, with another more than $240,000 in independent expenses to help her successful campaign. But there also was nearly $2.6 million spent by outside groups against her.
Republican Abe Hamadeh, who, like Lake, continues to challenge his loss in court, posted $2.1 million in expenses.
But here, too, outside interests weighed in, with nearly $1.4 million spent in his behalf ad almost $1.5 million in commercials by others urging his defeat.