Rep. Reginald Bolding (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
Rep. Reginald Bolding (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer. Black Political Cultivation AZ is a electoral organization based in Phoenix, and is not acting on behalf of any person or entity.

Arizona Secretary of State candidate Reginald Bolding has been under attack for his attempts to restore ethical elections and voter rights to Arizonans. What’s sad is that in this climate, we expect no less from our broken government: It’s what happens when people—especially Black people—who don’t support the conservative agenda rise to power. 

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The hidden arms of White Supremacy continue to fund and operate our state without consequence behind the facade of a democratic and equitable electoral system. Bolding, having won three consecutive elections for Arizona House representative, ran for higher office. In Arizona, our secretaries of state have been white since statehood and have been Republicans for almost 25 consecutive years (Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, took office in 2019).

A supporter of Bolding’s opposition in the race for office is asking the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to investigate Bolding on counts of criminal political bribery.  And not just Bolding—Jevin Hodge and Kiana Sears were called into question, too. In case you were wondering, both Hodge and Sears are Black.

Turning Passion Into Public Service

Hodge, like Bolding, is a textbook example of Black Excellence with a long list of accomplishments and qualifications that should carry him through the election and into the position of US. House Representative for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. Kiana Sears, co-author of Arizona’s Safe Baby Haven Law, served as a water and wastewater executive consultant for the Arizona Corporation Commission. In 2018, she ran for the Arizona Corporation Commission, and along with Hodge, she met and worked with Bolding.

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More often than not, the people who run for public office are business owners who hold LLCs, 501 c3s, 501 c4s and are hired as consultants for the like. It’s not uncommon for those who engage in public service to play significant roles in organizations that support what they believe in. Bolding believes in fair access to ballot boxes for all Arizonans and uplifting the visibility, needs, and voices of BIPOC populations and that is exactly what his nonprofit Our Voice Our Vote (OVOV) and the AZ Coalition for Change work toward. 

Double Standard for Black Candidates

Additionally, complaints were filed with the IRS and Federal Elections Commission claiming that Bolding’s nonprofit OVOV directly coordinated with him to offer financial support, even though Bolding has provided documentation of the firewall in place which prevents coordination between the organization and himself during his candidacy. In the political world it is common knowledge that 501c4 organizations cannot coordinate activities with candidates directly, but are of course free to work in support or opposition of them however they see fit. Isn’t it common sense that the organization he founded would support his campaign without being told to? 

When candidates such as Karrin Taylor Robson, the late John McCain, and even former President Donald Trump engage in clearly unethical campaign practices, the eyes of the law conveniently look the other way. When candidates with clean track records and outstanding accomplishments who happen to be Black run for office, it becomes acceptable for their opposition to throw around unfounded claims about completely legal activities. This is why the complaints leveled against Bolding were harmful and anti-Black, and why he lost his election.

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