Friday, January 14, 2022

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, ARIZONA: Fallout From Sinema's Filibuster Speech, LCCs Most Likely To Spread Misinfo Because They Like Chaos

("Here's looking at you, Arizona" is an occasional series highlighting coverage of Arizona's politics, as seen through the lens of media outside of the state.)


Links to these articles:
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Thursday, January 13, 2022

WATCH: Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Remains "Stubbornly Optimistic" That She Can Help Cure "Disease of Division"

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema delivered her 19 minute defense of why she is remaining steadfast on opposing changes to the Senate's filibuster rule, stating that she remains "stubbornly optimistic" that the country can come together and cure the "disease of division".

Her hastily-announced speech on the Senate floor came shortly before President Joe Biden was to arrive at the Capitol to meet with Senate Democrats about moving forward on voting rights measures, and throws the plans to pass the bills into more uncertainty.

We were going to post C-Span's transcript of the speech, but their automated transcribing system leaves to much to the imagination. We will post a better transcript once received. 



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Friday, December 17, 2021

NEW: Longtime Arizona GOP Political Consultant Helped Hide $4.7M Worth of Kanye West's Campaign Expenditures; Scheme May Have Violated Federal Laws

Kanye West's doomed 2020 Presidential campaign spent $14.3M. Nearly $4.8M of it was run through Arizona's Fortified Consulting, which a Daily Beast report today explains how it was used to hide Republican fingerprints from Ye's "independent" campaign and how that might have violated federal law.

Fortified Consulting shares the same Tempe address as Lincoln Strategy Group, run by GOP consultant Nathan Sproul. Sproul has a long history of pushing the envelope for Republican candidates and causes. Sproul acknowledges that he set up the new company to support independent campaigns.

Today's Daily Beast article, however, suggests that the purpose was to make it harder to show that Republican operatives and attorneys around the country were behind the efforts to get West on the ballot in various states.

Federal Election Commission reports show campaign money being put into the Fortified funnel, but do not show where that $4.7M came out.

Arizona Republican attorney Tim LaSota received $10,000 directly from the campaign (he may have received more from Fortified) - he represented the West "campaign" in Arizona and acknowledged in the Daily Beast article that Republicans realized they could use it "to influence things."

Arizona law firm Fennemore Craig was also paid $37,000 directly by the campaign to represent the West electors in Arizona who were the defendants in the court challenge (which led to them being removed from the ballot).

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Friday, December 10, 2021

VICTORY FOR GOVT OVERSIGHT AND DEMOCRACY: Lawmakers applaud AZ DOCRR for removing offensive patches from uniforms

State Rep. Mitzi Epstein (D-LD18) and former Rep. Diego Rodriguez praised the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry for ordering the removal of offensive patches from the uniforms of special operations officers. The lawmakers intervened after the Arizona Republic's Jimmy Jenkins reported on the patches and challenge coins made up of lightning bolts, skulls and cross bones and crossed shotguns - symbols that could be likened to Nazi and gang imagery.

The ADCRR sent a letter to the lawmakers this week confirming that they would remove the patches, and admitting that the Department had been responsible for permitting them in 2018.

Epstein told Arizona's Politics that it was a victory for government oversight and democracy:
It's a great thing when people work together and listen.  Just listen.  The ADCRR chose the correct action: stop using the patch. They wrote that they want to be, "sensitive to the way that others may interpret its meaning."   This is how democracy and government oversight should work.  I spoke up to the prison authorities as a representative of the people, and they listened.  
Rep. Rodriguez brought years of experience in justice reform to the table, and together our teamwork has yielded a very good first step.
Rodriguez and Epstein met with ADCRR officials in early November, and just learned of the results of the investigation with Tuesday's letter. Rodriguez also praised ADCRR:

The department made the correct decision. That patch and it’s images should never have been produced with taxpayer funds and the patches should never have been approved for use by sworn officers.  I am hopeful this decision is a small signal that the department understands its obligation to take all available information into consideration when it is forming policy meant to serve all the people of our state. Rep. Epstein showed real leadership and I was happy to team up with her and our caucus staff on this issue.

Epstein quipped the Department may again change its formal designation. "I look forward to more work with the AZ Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, Re-entry and Sensitivity."  


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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A Crazy Defamation Suit Threat? Kari Lake's Attorney Threatens GOP Consultant, Invites Depo On Lake's Stability (READ Classic Ryan Retort)

A "nonsensical claim of defamation" could open Kari Lake up to a deposition to "explore the entire range of her mental health and stability."

When more than half of the social media universe is wondering whether the campaign of an Arizona gubernatorial frontrunner is just crazy or crazy like a fox, perhaps it is not the best idea to sic your attorney on a GOP political consultant.

Kari Lake ordered GOP attorney Tim LaSota to issue a cease and desist letter to Brian Murray, who also has been the Executive Director of the AZGOP. Murray had the temerity to question Lake's presumptions about Gov. Doug Ducey and her "media obsession". It was a mild tweet in questionable taste that only garnered one "like" and a couple of responses. (All the responses questioned his use of the word "bipolar".)

LaSota followed through, claiming that that word was defamatory, and that Murray does not have "carte blanche" just because Lake is a public figure. LaSota did not count on Murray retaining Chandler attorney and retorter extraordinaire Tom Ryan to respond on his behalf.

Ryan did not hold back. And, he invited LaSota to sue everyone who wonders about Lake. Read his response here: 

RESPONSE to Nonsensical Claim of Defamation by arizonaspolitics on Scribd

A lawsuit and ensuing deposition are unlikely.


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Thursday, November 11, 2021

NEW: Dems To Introduce Censure Resolution Against AZ Rep. Gosar Over Violent Anime; Would Be 24th In History (READ Resolution)

UPDATE (11/16, 3:00pm): Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva joined Gallego as one of the original co-sponsors of this resolution. CNN is reporting that the House will vote on the censure resolution tomorrow (Wed.) and that they will also move to remove Gosar from the House Oversight Committee.

Democrats will introduce a resolution tomorrow to censure Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar for his social media posting of a violent anime cartoon which depicts his character slaying fellow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and threatening President Joe Biden.
(Gosar character preparing to kill Ocasio-Cortez character)


Rep. Ruben Gallego confirms to Arizona's Politics that he will be among the group introducing the resolution.

Censure is the worst punishment - short of expulsion - available to the House of Representatives. If passed by a majority vote, Gosar would be the first Congressman censured in 10 years, and would be only the 24th in U.S. history.

The resolution (below) notes that Gosar used official resources in publicizing the video, posting it on his official Instagram account. (On Twitter, he also used his "official" account.) It also references the violence of January 6, but does not mention Gosar's alleged involvement in encouraging the events of that day.

It also makes a point of noting that the depicted killing is against a woman and that that is especially dangerous.

Whereas depictions of violence can foment actual violence and
jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in
this chamber on January 6, 2021;
Whereas violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon
meant to silence women and discourage them
from seeking positions of authority and participating in
public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted;

Cleverly, the proposed resolution also cites Gosar's public defense of the video and attempts to use it against him: 

Whereas Representative Gosar issued a statement on November 9, 2021, defending the video as a ‘‘symbolic cartoon’’ and spreading hateful and false rhetoric about immigrants;

Arizona's Politics has asked members of the state's Congressional Democrats whether they will be co-introducing the resolution, and will update as warranted. 

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Friday, October 15, 2021

CAMPAIGN FINANCE SNAPSHOTS: Mark Kelly In Higher Orbit

Jim Lamon Stays At Trump Hotel, Nabs Jeff DeWit Endorsement

In July, Senate candidate Jim Lamon spent the night at the Trump hotel in Washington, spending $3,165. While he has not received the big payoff yet, he did receive a solid endorsement from Jeff DeWit, a former Arizona State Treasurer and Trump campaign CFO.

However, so far, it has not translated into campaign financial success, as the Lamon campaign is $1.4M under water. Last quarter, Lamon - a former solar energy company executive - lent his campaign $2M. As the 3rd quarter was coming to a close, he wrote another IOU for $3M, so that his report would look positive on the surface. (Without the loan, he raised $135k and spent $727k.)





Blake Masters Raises $1.0M In 3rd Quarter...In Addition To Separate Thiel Fund

Blake Masters showed some fundraising chops in his first full quarter of his campaign for the U.S. Senate, raising more than $1M from donors not named Peter Thiel. Masters shows net cash on hand of $768,000. (He has chosen not to immediately reimburse himself and a couple of the campaign's employees for out of pocket expenses, which explains the "debts owed" figure below.)

His main consultant expenses are to a trio of Phoenix-based groups (Marson, Saguaro Group, Summit).

Of course, as has been widely reported, Masters is receiving a huge boost from Peter Thiel. In fact, earlier today, Thiel's "Saving Arizona PAC" dropped $63,567 on an ad attacking GOP front-runner Mark Brnovich.



Mick McGuire Struggling To Maintain Altitude, Gets Assist From Fox News
One of the primary GOP opponents for the Mark Kelly seat is retired Gen. Mick McGuire. However, McGuire had to lend $50,000 to his campaign in the 3rd quarter, bringing his personal outlay to $249,500 this year. His net cash on hand as of September 30 was $66,000.

Most of his outlays this past quarter went to his political consultants (Lincoln Strategy Group) and to legal counsel (Snell & Wilmer and Holtzman Vogel).

McGuire is battling AZ AG Mark Brnovich, Blake Masters and several others for the GOP nomination.


McGuire received a Fox News boost yesterday, gaining a coveted spot on Fox & Friends to talk about how "the radical left is tearing this country apart."

Mark Kelly In Higher Orbit
Mark Kelly's liftoff already having taken place, Arizona's junior Senator continues to achieve higher and higher orbits. Here is his 3rd quarter snapshot, in which added $5.4M to his campaign's reserve of rocket fuel. Kelly now has $13M ready to keep him in the U.S. Senate beyond next year's election.
(Mark Kelly's 3q21 snapshot)


(Please check back later for full reports and further analysis.)


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NEW, BREAKING THE BANK: Sinema Fundraising Juggernaut Continues, Raises $1.1M In 3rd Quarter, Cash On Hand $4.5M (REVIEW Report)

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema turned in a gargantuan fundraising haul in the 3rd quarter of 2021, raising $1.1M and growing her campaign coffers by $900,000 (to $4.5M) more than three years away from her next election.

For perspective, the numbers are nearly identical to her previous quarter. And, in the comparable off-year quarter of 2019, Arizona's senior Senator (D-AZ) netted *only* $200,000.  

Sinema has been criticized by some for her fundraising from pharmaceutical and other corporate interests. Although the number is made up of monies from different types of PACs, Sinema raised $191,600 from the Political Action Committees in the 3rd quarter, bringing her haul for the election cycle to more than $1.5M.

There are several other key things to suss out of the 671-page report, and many will be looking at it closer. (If *you* see noteworthy items, you can email them our way.)


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