Center for Arizona Policy: A Witches’ Brew of Spine-Tingling Politics and Legislation

Photo: Ryan Godfrey

For nearly 20 years, CAP has been injecting their extreme interpretations of Christian doctrine into Arizona law. Photo: Ryan Godfrey

The Center for Arizona Policy is a far-right Christian organization that was founded in 1995. According to its mission statement:

Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty.

Its political purpose is stated in the next sentence:

The fact is, what happens at the state Capitol impacts real lives. CAP works with state legislators and other elected officials at all levels of government to ensure that public policy promotes foundational principles.

Its founding president, and its second and current president Cathi Herrod, are both lawyers, and Herrod was a lawyer on staff before becoming president. Therefore it is no surprise that CAP is more than a lobbying group — they actually write legislation, including the vetoed SB 1062, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQ customers under the guise of religious freedom.

They are proud of the legislation they have written or supported over the years. A Huffington Post report from February 2014 says:

Since the group’s 1995 establishment, 123 CAP-supported measures have been signed into law, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod. Twenty-nine bills backed by CAP have been vetoed by various Arizona governors after being passed by the state legislature.

Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was just overturned in federal court. Cathi Herrod responded to the the decision with a post on CAP’s Foundations blog.

Today, we grieve. We grieve for the children who now have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. We mourn the loss of a culture and its moral foundation. We mourn a culture that continues to turn its back on God and His principles.

But we do not despair. We do not throw in the towel. We do not give up.

She goes on to cite the religious right activism spawned by Roe v. Wade, and predicts a similar movement building up against same-sex marriage.

A rather terrifying thought, given the terrorism and deaths the anti-abortion movement has generated.

Another terrifying thought is that Herrod has been a major policy consultant to Doug Ducey’s campaign for governor. After all, CAP has promised another version of SB 1062 in the future. Would Gov. Ducey be able to consider, as Jan Brewer did, the economic harm such a law would do to the state, or would he simply sign into law any bill written by CAP?

CAP sends a policy questionnaire to candidates for all state and local offices well before the primary election, and makes the resulting voters’ guide available online and through churches that support its work. I sent for and received a voters’ guide; though it is personalized for my congressional and legislative districts, the statewide candidates’ responses are good for everyone. In general, Republicans and Democrats are opposed on everything. A number of Democratic candidates refused to respond to CAP’s questionnaire.

When I moved to Tucson in 1996, my legislative district was by and large represented by Republicans who were fiscally conservative and moderate or liberal on social issues; the Democrats did not always run candidates against them. Then, in 2006, ultra-conservative candidates ran in the primary and defeated the incumbents, and Democrats won in the general election, since we were a moderate district.

This began to change as CAP and other evangelical conservative groups began working to get out the vote. Their website encourages activism, posting voting records, and tracking legislation through the legislative process for readers, encouraging ongoing contact with legislators as well as prayer as part of their political strategy.

So what does CAP support and oppose? In recent years they have supported legislation that would:

  • allow businesses to refuse to serve the LGBTQ community under the umbrella of religious freedom
  • greatly reduce property taxes for nonprofit groups on property they rent to religious groups
  • make it illegal to give terminally ill patients the means to end their own lives
  • increase the amount of money for scholarships for students to attend private schools or to be home-schooled
  • impose restrictions on medication abortion, in the so-called Women’s Health Act, part of which has been under a court stay. The only connection I can find in it to women’s health is the likelihood of giving women headaches!

CAP has opposed:

  • anti-bullying measures, apparently under the same logic as SB 1062, that not allowing some students to bully gay students is a violation of their religious freedom
  • comprehensive sex education
  • the Affordable Care Act in full, and the part that says employers must provide insurance that covers contraception without cost to the patient
  • Planned Parenthood — of course!

And if that doesn’t scare you, Salon uncovered that CAP’s largest funding source, the National Christian Charitable Foundation, is linked to Hobby Lobby.

That same year [2011], the NCF contributed $236,250 of the Center for Arizona Policy’s $1,662,355 in grant revenue.

Overall, from 2002 to 2011 the NCF contributed $1,481,343 to the Center for Arizona Policy …

And who is funding NCF?

However, a 2009 NCF tax filing, reported here for the first time, offers insights into the deep pockets backing National Christian Charitable Foundation.

The form, viewable here, shows a total of nearly $65 million in contributions coming from a combination of Jon Cargill, who is the CFO of Hobby Lobby, and “Craft Etc.,” an apparent misspelling of Crafts Etc., a Hobby Lobby affiliate company. The document shows that Hobby Lobby‑related contributions were the single largest source of tax-deductible donations to National Christian Charitable’s approximately $383.785 million in 2009 grant revenue.

Is your spine tingling yet?

CAP is a force to be reckoned with in Arizona politics. They have proven effective in getting our legislature filled with people who support their extremist agenda and are pleased to work with them. They effectively promote political activism among their base.

They are also part of a national movement that aims to turn back the clock on all the gains made during the last half of the 20th century for equality and civil rights.

Which makes it all the more important that we keep up with their efforts and work hard to surpass them and get our people elected. To do that, we need to be registered to vote and get out the vote on Election Day.

3 thoughts on “Center for Arizona Policy: A Witches’ Brew of Spine-Tingling Politics and Legislation

  1. Rachel,
    Thank you for this important information.
    I am amazed at the number of otherwise
    politically astute Arizonans that are completely
    unaware of CAP’s existence let alone its influence
    on State politics and policy. We’ve got to make
    sure that articles like yours reach the broadest possible
    audience.

  2. Thank-you Annette. I knew very little when I started the research for this article. Please feel free to share the link.

  3. The Center for Arizona Policy, in my eyes, is an evil group that wants only their voices to be heard, no matter who they hurt. They do not profess the Christianity that I know. If Doug Ducey gets in, we will be in real trouble. But then if he does, we need to uprise against him and Cathi Herrod. She is pure evil!!!!

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