Monday, September 24, 2018

NEW: APS Broadens Its Campaign Spending In Senate Race, And Ups Its Ducey Support To $175,000+

Arizona Public Service Co. ("APS") has opened up its political playing field in recent months, spending more than $175,000 to re-elect Governor Doug Ducey (R) and directly spending to attack Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) in Arizona's closely-watched U.S. Senate race.

Arizona's Politics has learned that APS - through its parent company Pinnacle West - sent $50,000 to Republican leadership's Senate Leadership Fund in June. The Mitch McConnell-connected SuperPAC is expected to spend heavily to help elect Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) in the remaining weeks.

APS has also squirreled away another $500,000 in the Republican SuperPAC Arizona Grassroots Action, bringing its total contribution to that committee up to $1,650,000. AGA is also likely to jump into the Senate race.

Howard Fischer of Arizona Capitol Media reported earlier today on Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's remarks that he did in fact sign a law to blunt the possible impact of Proposition 127. That "Clean Energy" initiative has been fiercely opposed by APS (to the tune of approximately $11M to date). Arizona's Politics earlier reported that APS had contributed $100,000 of early money to help Ducey's campaign. The Republican Governors Association has spent heavily supporting Ducey and attacking his Democratic challenger.

Arizona's Politics can now report that APS has given another $75,000 to the RGA (see below). The total is $175,000, and that does not include monies given by APS or its CEO (Don Brandt) directly to the Ducey Victory Fund.

APS lists some of its political contributions on its website, and it is still facing legal challenges by Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns to disclose its heavy campaign spending - including that through "dark money" organizations - in 2014.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

FACT CHECK: Sen. Kyl's Lobbying Firm Did NOT Spend $1M+ To Promote Kavanaugh

Arizona's Politics has reported multiple times on Senator-Turned-Lobbyist-Turned-Sherpa-Turned-Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and his activities related to current Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And, Arizona's Politics has questioned Kyl repeatedly for the details of his sherpa'ing and lobbying since President Trump took office. With that in mind, the calls today for Kyl to "recuse" himself from the nomination vote (if/when it takes place) caught our attention.

State lawmaker Daniel Hernandez, Jr. called for the recusal on Twitter (below) and Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini made the case in detail.




Kyl has done both sherpa'ing and lobbying for Trump nominees, which has created some of the confusion. Montini's column is evidence. He states that "Kyl's lobbying firm spent more than a million dollars in TV ads promoting Kavanaugh," and that "as a lobbyist Kyl worked for Kavanaugh." These are not accurate.

Kyl lobbied for the large law firm Covington and Burling. He did NOT lobby for the dark money Judicial Crisis Network. It was the latter that is spending heavily on ads supporting Kavanaugh. Neither Kyl nor Covington benefit from that spending.

Kyl lobbied FOR JCN during the Gorsuch nomination. His firm was paid $215,000 for that lobbying work.

Kyl told Arizona's Politics that he sherpa'ed for Kavanaugh on his own time for the Trump Administration. And, that neither he nor Covington received monies for that work introducing Kavanaugh to Senators, helping him prepare, etc. (Kyl also sherpa'ed Jeff Sessions after he was nominated for Attorney General.)

Arizona's Politics published Kyl's full explanations in this article. We followed up with Kyl shortly before he was tapped by Governor Doug Ducey to replace John McCain in the Senate.

Now, Montini's and Hernandez's call for recusal might still make sense, but it is important that the bases for that call are made accurately.

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UPDATE: Republic Article On AZ AG's Involvement With APS & Prop. 127; APS CURRENT Donations To Re-Elect Brnovich (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

We need to call attention to an illuminating article by Ryan Randazzo in the Arizona Republic about the Arizona Attorney General's Office making changes to the wording of Proposition 127 - the Clean Energy initiative on the November 6 ballot. Arizona Public Service is investing heavily in defeating the measure.

Randazzo includes a focus on the $425,000 that Pinnacle West (APS' parent) sent to the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2014 to assist then-candidate Mark Brnovich in his campaign. (He indirectly credited Arizona's Politics by citing columnist Laurie Roberts' 2014 column citing our initial article.)

Arizona's Politics was also the first to report that APS has contributed $50,000 (so far) to RAGA to re-elect Brnovich.

Our articles have hinted at the oddness of the APS/RAGA monies, as opposed to the more obvious contributions to Corporation Commissioners, the Governor, and lawmakers at both the state and federal levels. And APS has defended itself with statements that it supports what it considers good governance at all levels.

This intervention by the AG's office finally helps answer some of the questions that were raised - here and in Ms. Roberts' new column - by the $475,000 (so far) that APS has sent to help AG Brnovich.

#50ShadesOfDarkMoney: Explanation of how RAGA "went dark" in '14: http://bit.ly/AZp998 It now has a "40" shade of dark on our scale - as much of its money has come from the completely dark Judicial Crisis Network (currently focusing on the Kavanaugh nomination) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

BREAKING: This Should Be Interesting - VoteVets Drops $250k Ad Opposing McSally In #AZSen Race (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

VoteVets Action Fund, a progressive Super PAC focusing on veterans issues, disclosed this morning that it is spending more than $250,000 this week on an ad attacking Republican Senate nominee Martha McSally.

The ad begins running today, although it is not yet available online. McSally's campaign is built around her well-known history as the first female combat pilot, and she has personally been attacking Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema for being a war protester. Sinema has responded by touting her work on behalf of veterans, which makes this new ad an interesting chapter in the battle.

VoteVets Action Fund is teaming up with Majority Forward on this independent expenditure. Both are dark money groups on the Democratic side, with Majority Forward earning a 50 on the #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale. VoteVets is similarly dark, although Issue One has been able to identify some of its largest contributors as various labor unions; Issue One ranked it as the 14th largest dark money spender for the 2010-2016 period.

(Here is more information on the #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale.)

Arizona's Politics has requested a link to the ad from VoteVets, as well as asking additional questions. We will update if/when we get a response. However, if YOU are able to find or get video, please send it to us at info-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com. You will be entered in our thank you raffle that will be announced next week. Thanks.




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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

WATCH: Sen. Flake's 1st Round of Questioning Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh - "Three ZIP Codes Away"

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) got his first chance tonight to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The 2nd day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on President Trump's pick for the highest court in the land is continuing into the night.

Flake opened with a softball question about Kavanaugh's judicial heros (Mom to retired Justice Anthony Kennedy to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall with many stops in between) , before trying to pin him down on how he felt about Trump's Tweets politicizing the Department of Justice. Judge Kavanaugh hawed ("I try to live in the real world") and hemmed before maintaining that he needs to avoid talking about "current events" and saying he wants to not just stay away from the line but "three ZIP codes away from the line." (starts about 14 minutes in)


From there, the questioning moved to legal issues involving public lands and how Judge Kavanaugh understands the importance of that issue to Westerners.

There will be a second round of questioning by Senators, likely beginning tomorrow. The Judiciary Committee will then vote on whether to recommend his approval by the entire Senate.

http://bit.ly/FlakeKavanaugh1

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

BREAKING: Riggs Defeats Branch By 359 Votes For GOP Nomination For AZ Public Schools Supt; Avoids Automatic Recount By 111 Votes

An automatic recount in the GOP primary battle for State Superintendent of Public Instruction has been avoided by 111 votes, and Frank Riggs gets the nod over Bob Branch, incumbent Diane Douglas and the other two candidates by 359 votes.


Maricopa County posted their final tabulations late this evening, permitting the Secretary of State to post unofficial final results. While Riggs and Branch both show 21.8% of the vote in the 5-way race (21.84% to 21.77%, to be precise), the automatic recount is only triggered if the two are within one-tenth of a percentage point when just the number of ballots cast for them is the divisor.

With that in mind, the gap between Riggs' 124,666 and Branch's 124,307 calculates to 0.0014. That just misses the trigger of 0.0010 or less.

This does not mean that Branch (or Douglas, Tracy Livingston or Jonathan Gelbart, for that matter) could not contest the results. It only means that the state does not have to conduct an automatic recount.

Barring a successful contest, Riggs will face Democratic nominee Kathy Hoffman on November 6.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Sherpa Kyl Says Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh's Done "Very Good Job", Ready For Confirmation Hearing Tomorrow

Former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl has been Brett Kavanaugh's "sherpa" for his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. On the eve of Tuesday's confirmation hearing, Kyl tells Arizona's Politics this weekend that Kavanaugh "has done a very good job in his 'interviews'". Kyl also says that he has not been involved in the White House's decision-making process on which documents should be made public for the confirmation battle.
Evan Vucci (AP)

Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee are protesting last week's decision by the White House to assert executive privilege on some 100,000 pages of documents from Kavanaugh's record while he worked for the Bush Administration.* They are insisting that documents currently marked "Committee Confidential" be publicly released in order to question the nominee about them.

In an email to Arizona's Politics, Kyl said that that document production "is handled by White House Counsel" (currently, Don McGahn). The longtime Arizona lawmaker has been involved in "helping follow up on questions, etc" after their meetings with Senators. "I believe he has done a very good job in his 'interviews'."

Jeff Flake, Kyl's replacement in the Senate, is on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be participating in the hearing that starts tomorrow. He has not released any public statements on the Supreme Court nominee since shortly after President Trump named him.

*The attorney for the former Bush Administration stated that they cleared those pages - and, more - for public release. He said the former President told him to err "on the side of transparency and disclosure, and we believe we have done so.”


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BREAKING: A $2.6M September! Democratic Super PAC To Carpet Bomb McSally (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

A Democratic Super PAC focused on key Senate races has purchased approximately $2.6M of ad time for the month of September alone. The ads attacking GOP candidate Martha McSally will be running non-stop in Tucson and Phoenix.

Majority Forward is a 501(c)(4) arm of the Senate Majority PAC and does not disclose its contributors. Samples of the ad orders are below. Majority Forward filed an FEC disclosure tonight (Sunday), but only included $887k of expenditures.

Although the ad has begun to air, it is not yet available online. If you can capture  the video, please email it to us (or, upload and send us a link).

#50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale: Majority Forward earns a 50 for being as dark as dark money comes. The better-known Senate Majority PAC (now aka "SMP") for big Democratic donors spun off Majority Forward during the 2016 election cycle, and it quickly took in - and, distributed - over $35M. Much of that is in the form of grants to other progressive groups.



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