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Muhammad Ali shakes hands with GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, right, after Parsons donated one million dollars during Celebrity Fight Night in Phoenix. Center is Jimmy Walker, chairman of Celebrity Fight Night. / Cheryl Evans/The Arizona Republic

GoDaddy Group founder Bob Parsons said Tuesday that he is bankrolling the independent political group supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones and attacking her key primary rival, Doug Ducey.

Parsons said he has donated more than $1 million to Better Leaders for Arizona and may give more. GoDaddy.com is a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Internet domain-registration company. It recently filed for an IPO.

Parsons, who was Jones' boss during her tenure as GoDaddy's legal counsel, was the focus of widespread speculation over the funding behind the anti-Ducey ads. The group is required to report its donations and spending to the Secretary of State on Aug. 22.

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The group has spent $885,000 in the Republican primary race, including $775,000 on ads lambasting Ducey for the dark money spent on his behalf, a 31 percent failure rate among Cold Stone Creamery franchises, his traffic citations and delinquent property taxes dating to 2008 and 2009.

Doug Ducey, currently Arizona's treasurer, is the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery.

Parsons said he donates $1 million every other week to charities, the bulk of which benefits those in Arizona.

"For Christine's election, I have contributed to Better Leaders for Arizona over $1 million -- and I think I may do more," Parsons said in a phone interview with The Arizona Republic while vacationing in Hawaii. "One of the best things I can do for this state is to make sure we have a very competent governor. And in my eyes, that's Christine Jones."

Parsons decided to talk about his contribution ahead of state reporting deadlines because he was shocked Ducey sarcastically questioned Jones' credentials to run for the seat. During a debate televised on July 27, he said: "You were a line employee at GoDaddy with no leadership experience. I don't know what qualifies you for this race except your wallet."

Parsons said Ducey is trying to intimidate his rival. "Nobody likes a bully, and I think that was a very bullying thing that he said," Parsons, 63, said.

He challenged Ducey's characterization of Jones as a "line employee," saying she was instrumental in the 2011 sale of the Internet address registration company for $2 billion.

"If you're general counsel and a person that helped put together a $2 billion deal, and a person that made enough money working to fund her own election campaign -- and put millions into it was a line employee -- then I think everybody ought to get a job at that company."

Jones grew her bank account "the old-fashioned way," Parsons said: "When she came to work for us, she didn't have a wallet. She helped me build a very successful business and she earned it."

Parsons questioned Ducey's business acumen. He pointed out that under Ducey's watch, dozens of franchisees failed and that a dispute over the sale of the ice cream company arose in 2007 and was resolved through arbitration. The details of the dispute are not public.

Parsons said he has nothing to gain with his donation and has no contracts or business dealings with the Governor's Office. He said Jones is pursuing the office for altruistic reasons: "She wants to serve."

"They're scared of her because if she gets in, our Governor's Office is going to run the way we all hope one will run," he said. "It's not going to be everyone standing around scratching each others' backs."

Six Republican candidates are vying for their party's nomination for governor: Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Ducey, Jones, former California Congressman Frank Riggs, former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Polls suggest Ducey and Jones are top-tier candidates and that at least a third of voters are still undecided.

Early voting has begun; primary election day is Aug. 26. The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Fred DuVal.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: GoDaddy founder Parsons bankrolls GOP's Christine Jones

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