PHOENIX — Despite limited success last time, Gov. Jan Brewer is again building up a war chest to try to influence federal elections in Arizona — and elsewhere.
New reports with the Federal Election Commission show Jan Pac collected $230,335 in the first six months of the year. And she already had nearly $215,000 left over after the 2012 races.
Even after spending $116,000 on fundraising, that still leaves Brewer with nearly $330,000 in the bank. That's with more than a year to go before primary elections for congressional races — those the governor tried to influence last year — for her to stockpile more cash.
She's actively doing just that. And she's using her now famous finger-wagging incident with the president last year to do it.
In an e-mail earlier this week, the governor chastised the Obama administration for citing a reduction the number of apprehensions of would-be crossers to show that the border is more secure than ever. But that, Brewer said, is not the whole story.
“The administration refuses to release metrics on how many illegals evade capture, how many are caught multiple times, and what percentage successfully enter the United States,” she wrote.
“What are they hiding?” the governor declared. And, underneath a picture of her pointing her finger at Obama, she said people should send money to her PAC to help demand release of the data.
Efforts so far this year have apparently paid off.
Brewer's largest donor is Willis Johnson, chairman of the board of Copart — a nationwide chain of auto auction houses. He gave her $10,000, plus another $10,000 from his company. And that is on top of $110,000 from Johnson last year.
Another $16,325 came from Infrastructure Corp. of America, a firm that manages government construction projects as well as tollways.
But the governor also picked up a fair amount of change from health care providers, many of whom stand to benefit from her successful push to expand Medicaid in Arizona.
Charles Martin, chairman of Vanguard Health Systems, kicked in $10,000. That firm operates six Arizona hospitals. Iasis Healthcare, with four hospitals, provided another $5,000, with an identical amount from Lifepoint Hospitals which has two facilities in Arizona.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona put in $5,000, with $3,000 from Pfizer and $1,000 from Sanofi Aventis, both pharmaceutical firms.
All those amounts are much more than Brewer could take directly from any individual or political action committee for any of her own campaigns.
Brewer press aide Andrew Wilder said the governor was “unavailable” to talk about taking that kind of money from various interests.
The governor formed the political action committee in 2011, hoping to parlay her time in the national media spotlight on the issue of illegal immigration into some influence in federal politics.
“I think it's important that we change the flavor in Washington, D.C.,” she told Capitol Media Services at the time. “I think that I could be a big participant in having that happen.”
Brewer tried to do that last year.
She spent $40,006 on a mailer urging residents of CD 1 to support Republican Jonathan Paton, and another $35,567 in a separate mailer attacking Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick. Paton lost.
The governor had no better luck backing Republican Martha McSally in her bid to take away the CD 2 seat that Ron Barber inherited from Gabrielle Giffords.
And in newly created CD 9, the only other competitive race, she spent more than $23,000 attacking Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and a nearly identical amount on behalf of Republican Vernon Parker, none of which enabled the GOP contender to take the seat.
Brewer did better with $125,000 spent on behalf of Republican Jeff Flake to beat Richard Carmona for the vacant U.S. Senate seat.
Her reports also show the governor spent nearly $30,000 on robocalls urging people to support Mitt Romney, though it does not say whether these were to Arizona residents. And there was almost $140,000 spent just days before the election for a get-out-the-vote mailer, with no details of the intended recipients.
Brewer's lone effort on behalf of a candidate from elsewhere also did not bear fruit, as Republic Denny Rehberg was unable to claim the U.S. Senate seat from Montana despite more than $5,200 spent there for robocalls.
The governor also took $11,292 from the Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix. She signed legislation this year to extend to multi-state service industries like Apollo a special tax corporate tax break already available to product manufacturers.
Brewer also raked in the cash from the energy industry. That includes contributions of at least $5,000 from officials from Western Refining, Pilot Oil, the independent refining company of HollyFrontier Corp. and Richard Kinder, chairman of Kinder Morgan — the gasoline and oil pipeline company with a presence in Arizona.
Other large donors include the American Teleservices Association, which represents companies that operate call centers; Associa, a firm that manages homeowner associations; and the Susan B. Anthony List, which backs abortion foes.