Transparent Payson is not a newspaper.

Recently there was a discussion on NextDoor.com about Transparent Payson not being a newspaper.  That is a 100% correct statement. Transparent Payson is not a newspaper.

If you are unfamiliar with NextDoor it is a local social networking service for neighborhoods based primarily on zip codes. Many do not use social media, and those that use social media may not use NextDoor.  The full conversation can be found here on Next Door – Transparent Payson is not a newspaper.  A copy of the complete conversation is below in .pdf format.

As with all public forums the original topic took on a life of its own.  There were many sub-topics that were addressed including:

It is clear that our group receives a lot of credit, or blame, depending on your position, for many things we have nothing to do with.  That may be a result of our prior success.  That may be because we have filed suit against the town.  It is flattering, but misguided to paint all activities that occur in the Town, that one side or the other agrees or disagrees with, as a result of our efforts.

Fundamentally, we are responsible for Propositions 401 and 402.  We have been compelled to become a voters’ rights group.  The implications for Payson are limited to the validity of Propositions 401 and 402.  At the state level, we suspect the implications of our effort have a much greater impact.  That is, do citizens, as allowed by law, have the ability to initiate law?  Is that law then valid?  Can it be repealed by Town Council or any legislative group? We are currently working to defend our position, and by extension, the rights of voters to assert rights as found in the Arizona Constitution.

People may disagree with Proposition 401 and 402, and the perceived impacts on the Town’s growth or future. We are hopeful nobody has a fundamental disagreement with voters’ rights.

We thought this would be a good time to address what Transparent Payson is, and is not.

The following are relevant excerpts regarding Transparent Payson’s positions, questions asked, and answers as found on NextDoor.com.  Some comments included significant copy-and-paste information that has not been included below. The deletions are marked as redacted, they can be entirely in the .pdf below.  We have also removed last names.

This is the conversation:

Rebecca:

Transparent Payson is not a newspaper. It is a collection of articles with an extreme bias and not many facts. It is run by a few people who are trying to undermine the political process and wield power. If you don’t like the reporting of the Payson Roundup just talk to the members of the town council. They always give an honest, factual answer. Always go to the source if possible.

Jeffrey:

You are correct, TransparentPayson is not a newspaper. Never has been. We are a 527 Political Action Committee. I can appreciate you think we are “trying to undermine the political process and wield power.” Nothing is further from the truth.

We advocated and were successful in passing two voter-supported propositions as allowed under the Arizona Constitution, and the Town of Payson. The process we used was further codified by the passage of Proposition 105 in 1988.

Currently, we have brought a suit against the Town for the purported repeal of the Propositions. That suit also addresses the use of an “emergency ordinance” by the Town to do so.

I am perplexed how you can state we are undermining the political process when we are supporting and advocating greater input by the voters on issues that face the Town. If the citizens approve funding for any project, or lease of land for any project, that strengthens the political process.

You can learn more here:

The Town of Payson has filed an Answer with a twist.

Are we subversive? We discuss that here:

Is Transparent Payson a subversive group?

Thank you,

Jeffrey S. Aal
Chairperson, Transparent Payson
Info@TransparentPayson.org

 

A new voice entered the conversation

Isaac:

help me understand, if you are a 527 PAC where are your required FEC filings? Also the information about who consists of Transparent Payson is not very transparent. You state you are the chairperson, who else is on your board and leadership?

When I first came to Payson in 2019, I tried to learn more about your organization, but it is well hidden. Why?

Jeffrey:

Good morning,

We are happy to help. You will not find our information with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as we are not a federal group. We are subject to the requirements of the IRS as a 527 group. As this is a local issue, we are formed at the local level. That is done through the Town of Payson. Likewise county issues and groups are formed at the county level, and state issues and groups are formed at the state level.

The information is readily available, and not “well hidden” as you suggest. Various reports are filed and made public with the Town. As it seems you are struggling to find the information, please follow this link:

https://www.paysonaz.gov/departments/internal-services/town-clerk/municipal-elections

Thank you.

Isaac:

thank you for the link, it answers some questions but added more…

Suggestion. Post this link and other information from our exchange on your website in the “About Us” section so those coming after me do not have such an Easter egg hunt.
(edited)

A parenthetical note here. We have done just that at Issac’s suggestion.  Please see our Finance and Expenditure Reports page.

 

Isaac

Then isn’t it misleading stating here and other places “We are a 527 Political Action Committee.”?  Jeffrey I’m evidence, facts, and data driven along with doing my research. My comments have nothing to do with whatever positions or actions TP does.

Jeffrey

I don’t fully understand the question. I apologize for the length of this response, but it may clear some things up for you.

Our statements are not misleading at all. We are a PAC under 527 rules. Transparent Payson is sometimes cited as an incorrect source.

By way of example, after the April 12th, 2023 Board meeting, every citizen who spoke against the purported repeal was labeled as “Transparent Payson.” Only one was a member. I suspect the rest were supporters, but not members.

After the repeal, a recall drive was started. That was again attributed to Transparent Payson. We have no involvement with the recall efforts. See here for further:

Does Transparent Payson support the recall effort(s)?

Above, Rebecca (REDACTED) seems to imply we are a newspaper. We are not. We have a website and a presence on social media. We do not publish “articles.” We refer to sources on our website and encourage people to do their own research. Rebecca may be referring to “The Payson News.” (http://savepaysonaz.com/) We do receive press from that group, but again it is not “Transparent Payson.”

Also above, Candy (REDACTED) maintains “One small group that now is trying to recruit people so they can be bigger that just wants to bring this town down and stop it from growing. ” We do not recruit, and if the citizens want government-funded growth, such as a recreation center or other, and it passes via a general election, we fully support it.

In some respects, it is flattering that Transparent Payson is credited. I suspect it is because we have been successful in our efforts. I am hopeful we will again prevail.

Ultimately we are a voters’ rights group. That is we believe the power of government flows from the people. The phrase “consent of the governed” best demonstrates the principle. If that authority flows from Divine right, sovereign man, or from the foundation of a democratic system, it is an undeniable right of a citizen. That is not a radical thought. We outlined that thought in 2018. Here it is:

Why are these issues important?

We encourage more citizen involvement as allowed by Proposition 401 and 402.

I do hope that has answered your question.

 

The response above includes a partial response to a separate post.  For context that separate post was as follows:

Candy

I am so glad that you put this on here because I like how the only sources that this post is posting for all the newcomers. Is there beliefs and their feelings about the town. They’re not posting everything and I hope that the newcomers are smart enough to look at both sides and realize that there’s one group. One small group that now is trying to recruit people so they can be bigger that just wants to bring this town down and stop it from growing. Stop it from doing good things.

 

The conversation continued:

Isaac:

thanks for the information, don’t mind the length, but as I mentioned doing my homework/research.

While your Wiki links are certainly a source, here is something to consider since this is the basis I was working from.

527 Political Organization: A 527 refers to a type of tax-exempt organization under section 527 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. These organizations are typically involved in political activities, such as influencing elections, but they are not necessarily political action committees (PACs). 527 organizations can include political parties, political action committees, and other groups engaged in political advocacy. They are not subject to the same contribution limits and restrictions as PACs, but they are required to report their financial activities to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Political Action Committee (PAC): A PAC is a type of political committee formed by individuals, corporations, labor unions, or other organizations to raise and spend money to support or oppose candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislative issues. PACs are subject to federal and state campaign finance laws and are regulated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) at the federal level. They are required to register with the FEC, report their receipts and expenditures, and adhere to contribution limits and other restrictions.

Then moving over to ARS 16-905. Under ARS 16-905.C Transparent Payson (TP) seems to qualify, correct?

If so, TP scope is Prop 401 and 402 from the prior election, correct?

Under ARS 16-905D, did you meet any of the requirements listed under .1-.3?

What is TP status under ARS 16-905E?

(REDACTED – COPY AND PASTE INFORMATION)

Isaac:

you still have not disclosed who the board and leadership of Transparent Payson are, and it’s not on your website from what I could tell. Although your updated filing with the Town on January 28, 2023 does list you and Suanne, but that’s not all who are involved working under your span of control.

Your legal filings list you as Chairman, but nothing else in an official capacity. Even your TP domain registration is shielded.

Jeffrey:

Thank you for the reply. I cited no wiki information. It appears you may have attributed someone else’s post to me.

I am again uncertain as to your question. I do appreciate the information that was copied and pasted.

I think what you are getting at is Transparent Payson a PAC? The answer is yes. The associated documents are on file with the Town, a link was previously provided. I believe we are in full compliance. If you suspect otherwise a call to the Town Clerk may be in order.

The text of the voter approved Propositions provides the authority for Transparent Payson to defend the Propositions. The TOP has asserted that we have no standing, they then file a counter claim against us that would appear to negate that argument. I suspect that question will be resolved by the Court and not on this discussion forum.

All domain names I control are shielded. They tend to generate a significant amount of junk mail if not. Nothing subversive or hidden.

On the question of Board Members, all fillings are with the TOP. They are free to identify themselves, I will not as this appears to be a lighting rod issue and may subject them to unnecessary attention.

Again, I do hope that has answered your questions.

Isaac:

no worries, been a healthy discussion and hopefully more than just me are learning things!

While I appreciate the lightning rod concerns, you ask for and share the personal information for those who donate to TP placing them at a similar risk. Therefore shouldn’t your board and leadership be asked to do the same? Also, what is the legal justification for asking and posting their personal information?

Is TP meeting the legal requirements for securing protected class individuals information?

(REDACTED – COPY AND PASTE INFORMATION)

If your quarterly reports listing your donors include their information you are placing them at risk.

Jeffrey:

You had posted information from ARS 16-905D and E. Reading a little further into Title 16 – Elections and Electors would have brought you to the “legal justification for asking and posting their personal information.”

ARS 16-926. Campaign finance reports require:

(REDACTED – COPY AND PASTE INFORMATION)

We don’t make the rules.

Currently, no donors have listed their occupation as a protected class. If they are retired and a protected class, they would have to notify us. Should that occur, we will address it at that time.

Thank you for the civil discussion, feel free to ask questions as they come up.

Isaac:

likewise! was trying to get past the rumors, opinions, and conjecture floating around to what is actual evidence, facts, and data… 😉

We again appreciate the civil conversation and hope that it enabled people to learn more.

 

 

 

 

One last thing.

We are readily accessible via the web.  We maintain a presence on Facebook which allows people to send us messages.  There is an auto responder generated by Facebook.  Recently we received a message that seems to disagree with our efforts. We have elected to redact the name as there is no need for any of this to become personal.  It appears the sender is not a fan of voters’ rights. 

This was the message:

 

 

There was also a public comment made on one of our Facebook posts.  As this comment is public we have not redacted the screenshot from July 21st.  It appears prior results, and voters’ wishes from that election are to be addressed in the next election.

 

 

Voters’ rights are for all. Even people who disagree.

The full .pdf version (as of 07/20/23 at 6:00 p.m.) is below:

072023 - afternoon Transparent Payson is not a newspaper. — Nextdoor

 

Thank you.

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