The Arizona Republic reports that "the state is spending more than $150,000 to put Governor Janet Napolitano's face on billboards that promote Arizona tourism at several well-traveled intersections in Phoenix and Tucson." The headline sums up the question at hand: "Tourism promotion or political advertising?"
Entering election season, a number of the Governor's activities will invariably raise the question of what constitutes doing a job and what constitutes doing a job on taxpayers.
Other activities underscoring that fine line include starring in "Click It or Ticket" seat-belt ads and embarking on "Governor Napolitano's 2005 Arizona Treasures Tour," which highlights unique places in Arizona but also happens to send the governor to Arizona's most populous cities and towns. (Noticeably absent are some of Arizona's most famous tourist attractions such as the Grand Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs, and Lake Powell, which have small populations.)
It's reasonable to ask who the primary beneficiary of these campaigns is. Never mind that the Office of Tourism receives nearly $13 million in taxpayer subsidies in a state where businesses are perfectly capable of paying for their own advertising. There are plenty of Arizonans, from Alice Cooper and Michelle Branch to Rick Schroder and Paul Harvey, whose faces could bring attention to the state, if that were the primary purpose.
The truth is that name ID and face recognition matter in politics, and Arizona taxpayers are footing the bill for this backdoor electioneering.