Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Karen Shafer


Direct democracy was adopted by states to balance the influence and power of corporate

interests. Although corporate money has always been a part of American democracy,

dark money expenditures have increased significantly since the Citizens United v. FEC

case. Corporate money in elections poses a problem because it inconsistent with the

tenants of direct democracy. Little published literature addresses the influence of

corporate money on direct democracy measures. Using Kingdon's multiple streams

approach as the foundation, the purpose of this case study was to investigate the

perceived influence of corporate money on the 2018 ballot initiative and referendum

measures in Arizona. The research question was focused on the perceptions of political

professionals of the influence of corporate money on direct democracy. Data were

collected through using a purposeful sampling that identified 10 political professionals.

Semi-structured interviews with participants were supplemented with document review.

Data were inductively coded, and then subjected to a thematic analysis procedure,

producing 4 thematic elements. The key findings of this study indicated that access to the

ballot, using an effective campaign strategy, running an effective paid media campaign,

and the outcome all hinged on the money available to fund and support, or oppose, a

measure. The implications for social change for the study include informing policy

makers of the perceived influence of corporate money on direct democracy so they are

equipped to implement policy aligned with the original goal of citizen participation in the

state's constitution.

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