Economic development in Arizona is now by corporations for corporations and the public is left to in the dark as to how its tax dollars are spent. Last year the state’s Department of Commerce was replaced by the public-private Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), steered by a board of mostly corporate representatives. The ACA’s website picture shows the board of directors as Governor Jan Brewer with 18 corporate titans. The bottom of the page mentions a smaller number of “ex-officio” public officials associated with the board who aren’t named or pictured.
Though not listed on the website, the ACA also depends on corporate donations for its office space, its corporate-sized CEO salary, and much of its operating budget. The arrangement would pose unsettling conflict-of-interest problems for any authority that performs a public function.
But this isn’t just any agency. Its task is to try boosting the state economy by handing out taxpayer-financed subsidies to individual companies of its choosing.