Monday, October 15, 2018

BREAKING: DefendArizona Has Spent $13.7M On AZ Senate Race; Most Funding From Adelsons, National Funders

DefendArizona, the king of Arizona-centric Super PACs that has - literally - gone nuclear, has now spent more than $13.7M to try to tip the Arizona Senatorial race to Republican Rep. Martha McSally, with non-stop advertising against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

More than $8M of the funds - and, likely more than $11M - has come from the Senate Leadership Fund. That Republican leadership Super PAC is funded largely by mega-donors and casino owners Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

DefendArizona filed its first major disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission tonight. Previous reports had shown most of its first million was raised from Arizona Republican stalwarts. Today's report (below) lists $8M coming from the Senate Leadership Fund, and a few other other national individuals making six-digit contributions.

The million-dollar-plus donors to the Senate Leadership Funds $50M+ bank account are shown in this screenshot from the Center for Responsive Politics. The Adelsons hold the top two spots there, with a total of $25M.

Arizona mega-donors are Randy Kendricks - an attorney whose husband is the managing owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks - and Robert Parsons (formerly of GoDaddy). Each had contributed $250k as of September 30.

The Senate Leadership Fund typically directly makes independent expenditures in targeted races. Funneling such a large percentage of its spending - approximately 15% - through a separate SuperPAC seems to be a new strategy for the SLF.

However, the national dominance of DefendArizona is clearly shown in its disbursements. Almost all of them are to consultants and firms in the DC/Virginia area. Small payments to Marson Media, Lovas Consulting and Richard Sales Media are the only Arizona payments.


Methodology note: The $13.7M of expenditures was calculated by using the $9.3M of disbursements shown in the third quarter report, and then adding the subsequently filed independent expenditure reports, through today.

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ARIZONA ELECTION CASH REGISTER: McSally Had $600k Cash Edge Over Opponent Headed Into October Homestretch

Saturday, October 13, 2018

OOPS, I Did It Again: FEC Tells McSally Campaign Its "Best Compliance Team" Still Not Cutting It

After putting together what her spokeswoman said was "the best compliance team in the country", the Federal Election Commission is telling Rep. Martha McSally that she is STILL not complying with reporting laws. The most recent campaign reports demonstrate that more than 20% of the contributions received this year for the Senate campaign do not properly indicate the employers or occupations of the donor.*

Martha McSally's House campaign committee had significant problems with complying with these basic Federal Election Commission requirements, and were the subject of a long-running complaint that led to a thorough audit of the campaign's 2014 election cycle finances. It was concluded earlier this year with findings that more than $600,000 of contributions were not properly identified. (Other findings were that the Committee had overstated its receipts by $94,000, that more than $300,000 was collected above and beyond contribution limits, that timely 48-hour reports were not filed for $100,000 of contributions, and that $32,000 of political committee contributions were not properly itemized.

The FEC adopted the audit findings and indicated that future enforcement actions may be taken. McSally for Senate spokesperson Torunn Sinclair told the Arizona Republic that "we built the best compliance team in the county, compiled of former FEC auditors, accountants and smart legal minds to address any issues and help us stay in compliance."

That was this past May. However, at that very moment, the campaign was taking in thousands of donations for the Senate race and not obtaining employer/occupation information from the donors. The FEC was watching, and has sent the campaign what are titled "Requests for Additional Information," for both the 2nd quarter report (April-June) and the pre-primary report (July-Aug. 8) The McSally campaign has two more weeks to respond, although no amended reports have been filed as of this date. (And, the September quarterly report is due on Monday.)

Ms. Sinclair has not responded to repeated requests from Arizona's Politics for comment.

A review of the McSally for Senate reports indicates that more than 2,000 of the approximately 9,000 individual contributions are not properly identified. (By comparison and in the same time period, the Sinema campaign has not been able to identify 23 such contributions.)

Arizona's Politics has posted the audit report, the most recent McSally campaign filings and the FEC's RFAIs below, and will update this article once the campaign responds to our questions and/or files a response to the FEC.













*The purposes of the disclosure requirements that are part of both the laws and regulations are clear -  so that regulators and the public are able to view where a candidate's monies are coming from.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

WATCH: Flake Says GOP Should Have Requested FBI Investigation Of Kavanaugh/Ford Allegations Earlier, Doesn't Believe Feinstein Leaked

 Arizona Senator Jeff Flake sat down with C-Span for a retirement interview, and suggests that in the
Dr. Blasey Ford allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, "we Republicans should have called for an FBI investigation earlier". He also is not happy with his GOP colleagues "kind of spiking the ball" after Kavanaugh was confirmed on Saturday.

Flake held up the confirmation vote for one week by asking for a brief FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations. Flake believes that the GOP would have been better served if they requested the investigation soon after Dr. Blasey Ford's claims were made public.

He also reiterated his hope that "somebody" will challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 GOP primary. There has been speculation that Flake will attempt to do that.

C-Span released these excerpts of the interview, and plans to air the entire interview this coming Saturday night (7pm, Arizona Time). The partial transcript provided by C-Span is below.



(transcript of these excerpts provided by C-Span)
Jeff Flake: "We Republicans should have called for an FBI investigation earlier." Steve Scully: Have you since talked to Justice Kavanaugh? Jeff Flake: "I've not. He did send me a voicemail. Frankly, I've looked at what's happened since he's been confirmed and to see our party kind of spiking the ball in the end zone it just doesn't seem right. Doesn't seem right. This is an impartial referee that we're putting on the Court, I thought he gave a magnanimous and appropriate speech at the White House, but the fact that there's even an event to celebrate, with only Republicans there, no Democrats, I just didn't think that that was right. So, I haven't said much about it." Jeff Flake: "Last week when I called for a delay, that was not well-received by leadership. It was not." Jeff Flake: "Leadership was not happy. They weren't, but they knew that that was the only way that they might be able to get our vote. And so, we presented it and they had to accept it." Steve Scully: "Do you think looking back that Senator Feinstein should have at least had a conversation with Chairman Chuck Grassley about the letter early on? Jeff Flake: "Yes, I do. I do. I'm not one who believes that she leaked it. I've dealt with her for a long time and I think that she did her best to protect Dr. Ford. But, somebody leaked it at some point and that was really not fair to Dr. Ford. I do think it would have been better if had sat down early on…"
***
Jeff Flake: "I do hope that somebody does run in the primary against the president." Jeff Flake: "I fear for the future of the party if we don't remember who we are and what principled conservatism really is. And decency, we've got to get back to it." Jeff Flake "The president is who he is and I'm not sure that's going to change but when you see him at a rally, the disturbing thing isn't so much what he says anymore, it’s the cheers from people behind him, the chants of 'lock her up' for example, that's just unseemly. And it does make me fear that it's going to be a longer process to get out of this than it should be. But we will. We have to. Anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy." Jeff Flake: "This is the president's party right now. No doubt. To win in a Republican primary around the country you have to really embrace the president's policies and condone his behavior. That's the bottom line right now, but it won't always be that way."

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

BREAKING - ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO: Judge Brnovich Confirmed As A New U.S. District Court Judge For Arizona; Husband "Still Stunned"

Susan Brnovich will be the newest judge on Arizona's federal bench. With little fanfare following last week's major confrontation, the U.S. Senate confirmed a number of judges - some on voice votes, and others with merely 50 vote. Brnovich was approved with no opposition.

If that name sounds familiar, it is not only because Judge Brnovich has been on the Maricopa County Superior Court bench. Mr. Susan Brnovich is also Arizona's Attorney General and is in a contentious battle for re-election.

The Brnoviches were surprised by the timing of the vote. Mark Brnovich took to Twitter to make the announcement at exactly 5pm, and to say he was "still stunned". The vote had taken place 43 minutes earlier.



With Judge Brnovich taking Judge Neil V. Wake's vacancy (he became a Senior Judge in 2016), Arizona still has two vacancies on the federal bench. No nominations have been put forward for them yet. (Similarly, the Trump Administration has yet to nominate a U.S. Attorney for Arizona.) The process involves the Administration obtaining recommendations from the affected state's Senators; there have not been warm relations between the President and Arizona's (Republican) Senators.

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The NEW "Attack Microsites": Negative Websites Hitting McSally, Kirkpatrick Keep Popping Up, But They're Cleaner Than Past Efforts

Republicans called them "attack microsites" during the last midterms. The shoes (or, boots) are now on the other feet, and the new and improved models this month are generally staying further away from crossing the line. However, it is still a Googler-beware election world out there.

Four years ago, Arizona's Politics was the first to report on three sites put up by the National NRCC changed the donate pages to make it apparent that the money would go to the NRCC instead of the spoofed Democrats.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) attacking Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema, Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber. The NRCC came up with official-sounding campaign committee website addresses, made the sites appear like official sites, advertised them on Google (etc), called the Democrats "frauds" and attempted to get unsuspecting persons to donate to the NRCC. After a wave of negative publicity, the

Now, the Democrats are steering clear from any "donate" pages altogether, in their "MarthaForSenate.com" website. The Arizona Democratic Party does mimic McSally's font and style - sans the faux Air Force eagle logo - but states clearly on the landing page that its central purpose is "Martha on the issues:What McSally doesn't want you to know". There is no button or link to click to donate or interact, and there is no apparent advertising for the site on Google.

Arizona Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson tells Arizona's Politics that "from slashing health care access and retirement security to selling off our private online browsing history, McSally hides her record because she knows it’s out-of-touch with Arizona values. Arizona voters deserve to know where the Congresswoman stands on the issues most important in this election."

Primarily, the microsite is being publicized on the party's social media. And, it focuses on attacking McSally on seven issues - including a brief attempt at humor on the topic of McSally's speaking out about President Trump.

The state party's efforts were duplicated today when Democratic group American Bridge added their own similar attack microsite, with the address of "McSallyHasIssues.com". The opposition research group noted that "Election Day is just weeks away, and Martha McSally still doesn’t have an “Issues” page on her website.  Since McSally’s record speaks for itself, we decided to help her out and make an “Issues” page for her." It focuses on six issues areas and makes no fundraising effort.

Not to be outdone, a new site popped up this week under the confusing address of "AnnKirkpatrick.org". This site goes with the look of a standard TV attack ad and is clearly marked as an effort by Kirkpatrick's Republican opponent for the #AZ02 House seat, Lea Marquez Peterson. It does have a page to harvest the names and email addresses of visitors, but no fundraising efforts. And, it does not appear to be advertising the site in Google searches. (Marquez Peterson's campaign has not yet responded to Arizona's Politics' requests for more info.)

Now that both parties seem to have figured out how to make these "microsites" more like attack ads and less like fraudulent phishing efforts*, we will no doubt see more of these during the next few weeks. If any catch your eye - especially as ads in search results - please capture the information and send it to us at "info @ ArizonasPolitics . com" (without spaces).

*True, using Kirkpatrick's name with a ".org" extension may be actionable or subject to a cease-and-desist. However, much tamer than the 2014 sites - which ironically called the targeted House members "frauds."


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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

BREAKING: Trump: "I need conservative allies like Martha McSally by my side"; READ fundraising email from President

President Donald Trump is raising funds for Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) in her tight race to replace Jeff Flake in the Senate.  "I need conservative allies like Martha McSally by my side," reads part of the P.S. as he pleads for support.

The email - a copy of which is posted below - began hitting inboxes within the last hour, and suggests that Arizona's close contest "will likely determine the Senate majority."

In an irony typical of fundraising emails from both parties' candidates, it continues:
Blank, we cannot let the Democrats buy this seat, and with it control of the Senate. We've got to come together and defend Martha against the Democratic Machine and dark money attacks.

Will you stand with me and support Martha with an immediate contribution to her Senate campaign?
Through August 8, McSally's Senate campaign had raised more than $7M, and a Super PAC supporting her has also spent more than $7M. More than $5.7M was spent last weekend by outside groups supporting either McSally or Democratic nominee Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9).


Donald J. Trump 
To:Xxx Xxxxxxxxxx
Oct 9 at 10:03 AM

A message from President Donald J. Trump

________,

The United States' first female fighter pilot to fly in combat is running for the open Arizona Senate seat against Chuck Schumer's hand-picked candidate, a self-proclaimed 'Prada-socialist.' It's the seat that will likely determine the Senate majority — and she needs our help to win. 

I'm proud to support Martha McSally for U.S. Senate... are you xxxxxx?

Support Martha ›››

Martha is a remarkable woman and exactly the type of tough-as-nails leadership we need in the United States Senate. But her conservative reputation in Congress has placed her at the top of Democrats' hit list, and motivating wealthy liberals like George Soros and Tom Steyer to pour millions into Arizona to destroy her.

Xxxxxxx, we cannot let the Democrats buy this seat, and with it control of the Senate. We've got to come together and defend Martha against the Democratic Machine and dark money attacks.

Will you stand with me and support Martha with an immediate contribution to her Senate campaign?

Support Martha ›››

Martha McSally will be an unwavering advocate for our America First agenda. I know this because Martha has spent her career fighting for Americans. She's deployed overseas and faced terrorists in combat. Martha understands the true price of freedom better than most — something liberals seem to forget, or simply ignore.

That's why Martha is working alongside me to build our wall and secure our borders. Like me, she's committed to closing the deadly loopholes that have allowed dangerous criminal organizations like MS-13 to flood our borders and threaten our safety.

Xxx, I need conservative allies like Martha McSally by my side this November to protect our Senate majority so we can continue to put America First and extremism last.

I hope I can count on you today to stand with me and help Martha win.

Sincerely,

DJT Headshot
Donald J. Trump
President of the United States

P.S. Remember Xxxxxxx, this race is much bigger than Arizona. Your immediate contribution is not only supporting Martha McSally for Senate, it's deciding who controls the Senate. 

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

ARIZONA ELECTION CASH REGISTER: While You Were Watching Flake & Co., $5.7M+ Spent On Replacement

In the past 48 hours, while Arizonans (and others) were watching Sen. Jeff Flake and others speed towards confirming a new Supreme Court Justice, more than $5.7M was spent* selecting his replacement.

The green wave** crashing down on Arizona's airwaves (and, elsewhere) is another indication that the contest between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and Martha McSally (R-CD2) is seen as one of the most critical in the nation. Recent polls have shown Sinema with a slight lead.

The $5,726,000 was from outside groups - the campaigns are also spending money at a rapid rate - and come as early ballots are about to reach many voters.

The largest spender in the past 48 hours was Defend Arizona, which disclosed spending of more than $2.2M, all attacking Sinema. That brings its total to more than $7M to date. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) added a paltry $958,000 in media time (bringing their total to $4.8M).

Democratic-leaning groups had to try to make it a group effort to keep up. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent $1.1M (total to date = $1.9M), Majority Forward chipped in $860K ($3.5M), and Priorities USA added $334K ($1.5M).

Arizona's Politics is beginning an "Arizona Election Cash Register", focusing primarily on the Senate race and the three swing seats in the House.




* Technically, the $5.7M was *disclosed*. A bit of it was spent in the days prior, some are estimates of spending in the days to come.
**h/t to Tulane

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