Gov. Jan Brewer is out raising money to make good on her promise to protect the Republicans who supported her controversial Medicaid expansion plan.
New reports filed with the Secretary of State's Office show the governor has amassed nearly $620,000 since Brewer first let it be known last year that she wanted to provide financial help for those who have been her allies. That makes what she has dubbed Arizona's Legacy PAC currently the best-funded independent political action committee in the state.
The governor told Capitol Media Services she intends to keep raising money between now and this year's elections.
All that money is on top of the $272,000 she raised separately last year for Jan PAC, her federal political action committee, to try to influence congressional races. Those funds, coupled with what was left over from the 2012 race, give her nearly $345,000 in that account.
Brewer herself pronounced her off-year fundraising “pretty impressive.”
But the governor said she's likely to need all that money in the Legacy account.
“I know that there are people out there that need help,” she said.
At the top of the list are the Republican legislators who broke ranks with most of their colleagues last year and agreed to support Brewer's plan to tap the federal Affordable Care Act to expand the state's Medicaid program. That plan, opposed by most Republicans in the House and Senate, also includes what amounts to a tax on hospitals to cover the state's share of the cost.
A dozen of them are seeking reelection, and several already have announced foes for the August GOP primary.
“Whatever I can do to help them, I will help them,” Brewer said. “They came together and they delivered the goods.”
More significant from the governor's perspective is the fallout that came from some of the elements of the Republican Party who condemned any expansion of Medicaid –especially one tied so closely to the signature program of the Obama administration.
“Awful things were said and done to those people,” Brewer said. “It's a terrible thing to sit and see happening.”
But the governor, who said it made no financial sense to turn away the available federal funds, said those who supported her “did the right thing.”
“And overwhelmingly the public, the people of Arizona, agreed with them,” she said.
Under state law, Brewer can use her committee to spend as much as she wants on behalf of any candidate. The only restriction is that spending, whether on mailers, TV commercials or signs, has to be truly independent and not in coordination with those she supports.
The governor bristled at suggestions that she – and those who supported her Medicaid expansion – are not true Republicans.
“I think what we are is, we are the real Republicans,” she said, saying was a “conservative Republican” long before some of her critics were born.
Brewer's desire to protect those who supported Medicaid expansion does not mean she intends to use her financial largesse for all of them.
The governor said she expects to use some of the funds simply to help elect Republicans in the general election, and that means spending money to defeat Democrats who helped provide the votes needed.
That link between Brewer's Legacy PAC and Medicaid expansion shows up in another way, too.
Much of what the governor collected came from hospitals which stand to financially benefit, even after paying the annual assessment. That's because more people covered by Medicaid means fewer uninsured people showing up at their doors.
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association was the largest single donor, writing out a $50,000 check to Brewer's PAC. That was followed at $35,000 from the Arizona Business Coalition, a group formed by the state chamber of commerce specifically to support Medicaid expansion.
There also were $25,000 donations separately from IASIS Healthcare Corp., Tenet Healthcare and Vanguard Health Management.
But the governor said it's not like the donors were trying to curry influence with her. Brewer said the donations were made months after she first made the Medicaid expansion proposal.
Many of the largest checks from health care providers, however, were written in the weeks when Brewer was making the last-minute push to line up the votes for the plan.
“It got so volatile, so nasty,” she said. And the governor sought to shore up support.
“I said, ‘I will cover your back, I will do whatever I can,’” she said.
Brewer picked up other $25,000 donations from outside the health care industry, including $25,000 from the Gila River Indian Community.