Lisa Graves, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration, said groups like Goldwater succeed in spreading their ideas because they access funding and expertise beyond the reach of everyday citizens. Graves heads the Center for Media and Democracy, which investigates the activities of conservative political non-profits.
Goldwater, which as a non-profit is not required to disclose the sources of its funding, took in about $4.3 million in 2015 and spent about $5.6 million on salaries, legal expenses, advertising, lobbying, fundraising and other expenses, according to the group’s most recent disclosures.
Graves said elected officials increasingly allow special-interest groups with which they’re ideologically aligned greater say in policymaking — far more than the voters who elect them.
Graves said Goldwater’s communication with state officials shows “the taking away (of) the power of ordinary people to influence policy, and to really, truly have oversight of programs that are being pushed by these really, very narrow special interests.”