Friday, January 27, 2023

TODAY: 2 of AZ's 3 Democratic Reps. Vote With GOP House To Prohibit U.S. Petroleum Reserves From Going To China(ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

1/27, 3:30pm: "2 of AZ's 3 Democratic Reps. Vote With GOP House To Prohibit U.S. Petroleum Reserves From Going To China"

Two of Arizona's 3 Democratic Congressman voted with the House GOP (and a majority of Democrats) to prohibit sales from the country's Strategic Petroleum Reserve from benefitting China. The largely symbolic measure passed the House today, 331-97.

Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-CD3) and Greg Stanton (D-CD4) joined all Republicans and 95 other Democrats in voting "aye". Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD7) was the only Arizonan to vote "nay".

The language of the bill could fit on a postcard: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Energy shall not draw down and sell petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve—
(1) to any entity that is under the ownership, control, or influence of the Chinese Communist Party; or
(2) except on the condition that such petroleum products will not be exported to the People’s Republic of China.

The issue arose last year when gas prices skyrocketed and the government sold off a portion of the reserves. The measure is largely symbolic because (a) it is not likely to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Joe Biden, and (b) because even the sales from the reserve are part of a global petroleum market - the price per barrel paid by China would be the same if the reserve barrels were sold domestically or to China.
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1/27, 3pm: "Lake and Senior Advisor Lose In RNC Chair Battle; Latter Makes News For Expletive-Filled Campaigning"

No word on the language former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake used in California today during the RNC meeting, but her senior advisor made some national news for it.

Lake and Caroline Wren were at the meeting trying to help Harmeet Dhillon push Ronna McDaniel out of the RNC Chair. According to Politico's reporting, Wren's efforts as top adviser seemed to focus on dropping f-bombs.

Wren had also been an advisor to former President Donald Trump and was a key fundraiser for the Jan. 6 efforts.

McDaniel retained the Chairmanship. Wren's streak continues.




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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

NEW: Former AZ Lawmaker's Charter Schools Secure New Muni Bond Issue, Bringing State-Blessed Debt Load To $89.5M (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

(CORRECTION: This article has been re-written to reflect that Eddie Farnsworth is not a brother of current State Sen. David Farnsworth. Eddie's brother named David is the current Executive Director of the entity which purchased the Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools from Eddie. Arizona's Politics regrets any confusion resulting from the error.)

Congratulations to former State Senator and Charter School mogul Eddie Farnsworth. His new $19.5M Arizona IDA bond issue hit the market this past week, to benefit the Queen Creek campuses.

Farnsworth's brother, David (not related to the current State Senator David Farnsworth), is the Executive Director of the Benjamin Franklin Charter Schools.  David represented BFCS at the Nov. 30 meeting when Arizona agreed to grant its blessing to make the loan (aka the bonds) tax-free to the lenders (the bondholders). Bond experts Moody’s notes that the charter schools will now have $89.5M in state sponsored bonds outstanding.
 
While with the Arizona Republic, Craig Harris* reported extensively on the former lawmaker's efforts to build a long-term money-making charter school operation.

* Get ready, Coronado (CA, and seasonal AZ refugees), Craig announced yesterday that The Coronado News will be starting up on Feb. 1. He'll be the editor. Congratulations to David AND Craig!


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Thursday, December 15, 2022

BREAKING: Kyrsten Sinema Parts Ways With Longtime Democratic Campaign Compliance Firm (READ FEC Filings)

UPDATE, 1/20, 12pm:



***
ORIGINAL ARTICLE, 12/15, 2:30pm: "Kyrsten Sinema Parts Ways With Longtime Democratic Campaign Compliance Firm (READ FEC Filings)"
Now that Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is no longer a Democrat, she is parting ways with her longtime Democratic compliance firm. Today's development also raises the question of whether she will have to rebuild other parts of her campaign finance juggernaut.

Common Cents Consulting is an Arizona compliance consulting firm that has worked with Sinema since before she entered Congress in 2012. And President Darryl Tattrie notes in his LinkedIn profile that he has been "happily helping democrats win compliantly since 1997 :-)."

Sinema's three campaign committees - her principle "Sinema for Arizona", the "Getting Stuff Done" leadership PAC, and the "Sinema Leadership Fund" - all filed amended Statements of Organization with the Federal Election Commission today replacing Common Cents with the apparently-unknown "Santa Rosa Partners"*.

It is unclear whether the major switch was initiated by Sinema's campaign organization or by Common Cents Consulting. Arizona's Politics has reached out to both and will update as warranted.

In the past two years - a non-election cycle - Sinema's three committees paid Common Cents more than $170,000 to make sure that they remain in compliance with federal campaign finance laws. During that period, Sinema raised more than $9.1M. Combined, the committees are holding some $9.7M cash on hand.

Other parts of Sinema's campaign infrastructure could also be in for changes. ActBlue is her contribution-processing platform, and it specifically states that it serves "Democratic candidates". Sinema's principle committee paid ActBlue $126,000 in the 2021-22 fundraising cycle. NGPVan provides voter outreach services (and more) to Sinema's committees; it features its support to "Democratic and progressive campaigns and organizations". NGPVan was paid more than $60,000 this past cycle. Arizona's Politics has reached out to both and will update as warranted.

Those companies do provide services to multiple Democrats running against each other in a primary election. However, if a Democrat is running against an Independent Sinema in the general election, different pressures will likely apply.

* The new email address given to the FEC for the committee is "compliance@SantaRosaPartners.com". No website or search results come up for that entity and no other federal campaigns reported paying that entity in the past two years.

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Monday, November 21, 2022

WHAT TO COUNT ON WHEN WE'RE RECOUNTING"


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Friday, November 18, 2022

BREAKING - WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Caroline Wren Raised $3M For Jan. 6; Today, She's Sr. Advisor For Kari Lake's Post-Election Plans

Kari Lake's trip to Mar a Lago yesterday may have been for more than just schmoozing. Caroline Wren was a major fundraiser for the Jan. 6 rally, and has now popped up as the gubernatorial candidate's "Senior Advisor", and is spreading inaccurate information about last week's election.

Wren was intimately involved with the planning for the Trump campaign's January 6 events in 2021, and boasted that she had raised $3M to support the rally portion. Her appearance on Steve Bannon's show yesterday as Lake's Senior Advisor raises all kinds of questions about how the former newscaster is going to contest the November 8 results. (Lake is currently more than 16,000 votes behind Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs, and is a few thousand votes short of receiving an automatic recount.)

Wren's involvement came to light as the nationally-known Rasmussen organization repeated some of her comments as facts (without attribution). Upon questioning by Arizona's Law, they linked the Wren video as their "source".

Wren stated that she had inside information that "48% of voting centers encountered tabulation problems on Election Day, when voters voted for Kari Lake 3-to-1", after "0% of the voting centers encountered tabulation problems" during the Early Voting period that began October 12.

This is an inaccurate claim in several different ways. First, 48% is a gross overstatement of the Maricopa County E-Day problem. 70 of the 223 Vote Centers is far less than 48%. Each center had two tabulators, so even if only one was having problems (which does not make sense if the problem was the printers' settings), that Vote Center was still able to tabulate ballots.

A bigger misleading statement was her comparison to the Early Voting period. In person ballots printed at those 12 27-day sites or the 43 12-day sites were NOT tabulated at the Vote Centers. As any person who voted then - and they were Democrats and Republicans - will tell you, those ballots were placed in signed envelopes and sent to the County for verification and tabulation (on significantly different tabulating machines).

Wren is a former national finance adviser to Trump's 2020 campaign, and previously worked for Sen. Lindsey Graham and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. She has been subpoenaed by the House January 6 Select Committee.

It has been reported that, at the infamous command center meetings on January 5 (2021) at the Willard Hotel, Wren boasted that she had raised $3M for the Jan. 6 rally and had "parked" monies with Turning Point, the Republican Attorneys General Association and others to support it.

Wren may not have raised money on Bannon's show yesterday, but the host did warn/predict that Lake is "a fighter" and her campaign is going to do something "more aggressive". Wren agreed and immediately noted "the courts are not on our side." 

The implication was left unsaid, but Kari Lake promptly tweeted the interview with the comment, "Caroline gets it."

Her most irony-filled statement was when she leveled the accusation against the County: "It's either total incompetence, or it's malice."

The full interview - complete with misleading and false statements - is here.

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Saturday, November 12, 2022

BREAKING: AZ's CD6 Is Now In the RECOUNT ZONE; Ciscomani's Lead Steadily Dropping

UPDATE: AZ's 2 uncalled U.S. House races are headed in different directions!

CD1: Inc. R @RepDavid's slowly closing in on D @JevinHodge. Picked up 0.3% today.

CD6 (Open): D Kirsten @EngelForArizona also picked up o.3% today, continuing her steady climb vs 
@JuanCiscomani
 
CD1: Hodge up by 2,541 (50.4%-49.6%). Has dropped daily (50.9, 50.8, 50.8, 50.7, 50.4)

CD6: Ciscomani up by 1,382 (50.2-49.8%). Has dropped daily (51.9, 51.2, 51.0, 50.5, 50.2)

CD1: At present time, the recount number would be approx 1,600. Hodge is about 900 above recount.

CD6: At present time, the recount number would be 1,546. Ciscomani is only up by 1,382. IF counting was ended now - it is NOT - there WOULD BE A RECOUNT!



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Thursday, October 27, 2022

NEW: Big Money and Dark Money FLOOD Arizona For Senate Showdown - GOP Outspends Dems $11.7M To $6.5M... THIS WEEK Alone

More than $18 Million has been spent in Arizona's critical U.S. Senate race THIS WEEK alone. And, Republicans groups outspent Democrats $11.7M to $6.5M.

Arizona's Politics has scoured the filings required to be filed with the Federal Elections Commission, and they demonstrate the parties' supporters kicking in big time down the stretch. (Here's our separate article on the Super PAC created to support GOP nominee Blake Masters. )

The Republican effort to play catch-up - Kelly's campaign has greatly out-raised and out-spent Masters' - is demonstrated by the several different groups chipping in major independent expenditures. In addition to the $5.3M spent by the Masters-centric Saving Arizona PAC, Club for Growth spent $5M, the NRA Victory Fund spent nearly $200k on digital advertising today, the Sentinel Action Fund put $500k into TV, American Principles Project threw $300k at digital and the inappropriately-named Women Speak Out spent $272k on canvassing, digital and other media.

The Democratic-philic groups spending to re-elect Sen. Mark Kelly were led by the leadership-associated SMP ($4.1M) and Priorities USA ($1.3M). The SD PAC and Somos PAC each spent about $160k, on digital advertising and canvassing, respectively.

Arizona's race moved today to being rated as a "toss-up" from "leans Democratic" (by Cook Political Report).

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BREAKING: Peter Thiel Gives In, Kicks In; But, His Blake Masters Super PAC ALSO Gets $3M In Dark Money (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

The Blake Masters supporting Super PAC started by billionaire Peter Thiel has gone dark. Dark money, that is.

Saving Arizona PAC received $3M earlier this month from the American Exceptionalism Institute, Inc. It was disclosed in a filing today with the Federal Election Commission, but there is no way of knowing who is funneling that money to help elect Blake Masters to the U.S.  Senate.

The other big news from today's filing is that Peter Thiel - Masters' former employer - has given in and kicked in another $2.5M to support his protege. After spending $10M to get Masters through the primary election, Thiel told Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders that it was their turn to pull Masters through the general.

Saving Arizona then became a vehicle for other big money Republicans wanting to try to snatch back the Arizona Senate seat from Mark Kelly. 

Arizona's Politics speculated earlier this month that dark money may have taken over the Super PAC. We now know it was five days earlier that AEI had already done it.

It has spent $5.3M in the past week. For more on the $18.2M spent in Arizona's race THIS WEEK, go here.
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