Petition gatherers in MAGA hats at Trump rally

Sabrina Johnson collects signatures for Petition Partners at the Trump Rally in Phoenix, Arizona

(The Center Square) – Several workers employed by a company hired to collect signatures for ballot initiatives that seek to increase taxes, legalize recreational cannabis and permit the early release of prisoners convicted of non-violent offenses donned MAGA hats and worked the crowds at President Donald Trump’s campaign rally Tuesday in Phoenix. 

The workers, employed by Phoenix-based Petition Partners, were spread about the crowd outside of the Dream City Church, where Trump spoke to about 3,000 young conservatives.

Petition Partners and the Arizona Education Association, supporters of the tax hike initiative, were not immediately available to comment about the petition gatherers working the rally.

One signature gatherer, Sabrina Johnson, showed her petitions for the Second Chances, Rehabilitation and Public Safety Act; the Smart and Safe Arizona Act; and the Invest in Education Act.

When asked about the education initiative, she said it was simply “to help teachers in Arizona.”

The Invest in Education ballot initiative would tax an individual's income over $250,000 at an additional 3.5 percent for a single filer. Joint filers with income over $500,000 would see additional earnings taxed with the extra surcharge. It’s similar to a 2018 measure that was tossed from the ballot by the Arizona Supreme Court just weeks before the election.

Pre-pandemic estimates say the measure, if approved in November, would bring in more than $900 million in additional revenue for Arizona Public Schools.

Many had discounted the education ballot initiative filed in January. When Gov. Doug Ducey enacted a stay-at-home order in March, it meant petition gathering ground to a halt. Efforts to use online petition gathering, similar to what candidates can use, failed.

Petition gatherers must submit their signatures by July 2 to get the initiatives on the Nov. 2 election ballot.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.