Today the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is announcing a new feature to highlight the growing number of sweetheart deals and special favors that have become commonplace throughout Arizona’s political system: The Crony of the Month.  The Crony of the Month will be awarded to elected officials and political figures that use their position of power and close relationships to benefit insiders and special interests at the expense of taxpayers and the free market.

The first recipient of the Club’s Crony of Month goes to Secretary of State and Gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett. Bennett secured the award for his request to star in ‘voter education’ television advertisements about the upcoming election, which will be paid for/subsidized by Arizona taxpayers.  “One of the worst forms of cronyism is when politicians use their position of power and taxpayer money to benefit their re-election efforts, which is what Ken Bennett is attempting to do.” Executive Director Scot Mussi said. “There is no reason for Bennett to appear in these ads right before an election, except that it improves his political fortune.”

Ken Bennett isn’t the first politician to use taxpayer funded ‘voter education’ ads to boost their public image, but this instance is more questionable and unique given the timing of the ads and the fact that Bennett is running as a clean elections candidate. “Not only is Bennett funding his entire campaign with taxpayer money, but he also wants to leverage his position to get access to special benefits that no other gubernatorial candidate in the race has,” Mussi continued. “Simply put, taxpayers should not be funding political campaigns for candidates or ideas they don’t support. If Ken Bennett believes it is that important for him to appear in these ads, he should pay for it himself.”

Taxpayers will know soon enough if Bennett follows through on his desire to appear in these subsidized campaign ads, but for now we will have to settle for him being the Club’s Crony of the Month.