FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Arizona Presidential Race Gets Closer With Trump As Presumptive GOP Nominee (From Cook Political Report)

Although Donald Trump handily won the (closed) Arizona GOP primary, the November general election for the Presidency got closer when he became the presumptive nominee, according to the respected Cook Political Report. Cook moved the state from "Likely Republican" to "Leans Republican".

Of the 13 ratings changes that Cook Political Report announced today, only one Congressional District in one state* moved towards the GOP. (Maine's 2nd CD, which is still "Likely Democratic"; Maine is one of only two states that can split its electoral votes.) Arizona is among the 12 tightest states (tossups + leans), according to Cook's new map.

Hillary Clinton would thump Trump, 304-190, according to this map. The last time Arizona cast its Electoral College votes for the Democratic nominee was after the 1996 election, when Bill Clinton won re-election.

Cook currently has Sen. John McCain as "Likely" victor in his bid for re-election. However, there has been recent speculation that the race will tighten with Donald Trump at the top of the Republicans' ticket.  McCain himself (privately) said last month that if Trump is the nominee, he (McCain) "may have the race of my life".

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(LISTEN) Arizona's Dark Money Guru Sean Noble: "The Most Bizarre Election Cycle...Is Just Starting"

Arizona's nationally-known dark money guru Sean Noble chose his words carefully during a national interview yesterday, concluding that "the most bizarre election cycle I've ever watched, and I think it's just starting."
(click above to be taken to link to listen, new window)


Appearing on public radio's "The Takeaway" program, Noble was noted as "one of the organizers of the #NeverTrump movement" in the GOP primaries; he agreed that some of those people will climb aboard the Trump train, but that many "in the donor community, I think, they may not support Trump but what their thought process will be is 'what do we have to do to protect the House and the Senate to make sure that we have a Republican House and Senate, because they believe Trump will lose to Hillary and so we need to have a check against Hillary, and they don't want to have a situation like we saw in 2008 where you have a Democrat President, a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate."

Although Noble does not have the high position in the Koch brothers' network that he had in 2012, he was then asked to comment on Charles Koch's comment that Hillary might make a better President than Trump. Noble noted that that was not untrue and hinted that Koch money might also be focused on Congressional races.

Since the 2012 elections, Noble has focused much of his political consulting efforts in helping elect Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and on the solar/net metering issue.



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(LISTEN/TRANSCRIPT) McCain At Fundraiser: Trump Means This "May Be The Race Of My Life", Because Hispanics Are More "Aroused and Angry" Than Ever

While publicly claiming that having Donald Trump above him on November's ballot will not damage his chances, Arizona Senator John McCain is privately telling Arizona donors that Trump's presence means "this may be the race of my life."  Someone at the April fundraiser gave a recorded copy of his comments to Politico, which published the article this morning.

Somewhat ironically, the Senator who campaigned in 2010 on completing the danged border fence is not comfortable with the "disconnect" that has helped propel Trump to the Republican nomination. "The first wedge that Donald Trump had that gave him notoriety was to build a wall, rapists, murderers, etc."

McCain tells supporters that Trump has "aroused" the Hispanic community in Arizona and the rest of the nation "in a way that I have never seen in 30 years. And so, it will be a tough campaign."

McCain is favored to survive the primary challengers in August, but a general election matchup with Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is rated as one of the closest in the country by some prognosticators. (Although we all know how prognosticating the 2016 campaign thus far has made weather forecasters look great by comparison.)

McCain has stated repeatedly that he would support the GOP's Presidential nominee, although he has also already indicated that he will not attend the GOP National Convention that will apparently nominated Trump.

TRANSCRIPT:
"I do not take my primary opponent lightly, I'm working hard to make sure we win there. But, have no doubt that, if it is Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30% of the vote being the Hispanic vote, I have no doubt that this may be the race of my life.
People are angry, they're upset. They feel that there's a disconnect.  And, all of that frankly  there's an element of nativism, as well. The first wedge that Donald Trump had that gave him notoriety was to build a wall, rapists murderers, etc. So, and if you have friends of yours or you listen to the Hispanic media in this state or in the country,  you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is aroused and angry in a way that I have never seen in 30 years. And so, it will be a tough campaign."





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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BREAKING: Arizona Taxpayers Have Spent (Approximately) $4.5M In Legal Fees Defending Republican-Backed Challenges To Redistricting

In the wake of today's unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the legislative maps approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission ("AIRC"), it is time to re-tally the amount of legal fees Arizona taxpayers have paid to date because of the multiple legal challenges.

The bill was $3,649,239 as of last June 19, as Arizona's Politics and the AIRC tallied up at the time.  While the AIRC is still reviewing and allocating the legal bills paid since then (when the SCOTUS killed the case brought by Arizona's Republican lawmakers), Arizona's Politics notes that more than $850,000 has been paid by the state to law firms from the AIRC's account in the current fiscal year.

As almost all of that will be related to the Harris (decided today) and Leach cases (and not general
legal expenses), the total is now very close to $4.5M. The breakdown among the seven firms is to the right; it totals $853,724.55.

The $4.5M total does NOT include the amount taxpayers have paid for Assistant AG's and other Arizona-employed attorneys (at the Legislature, the Secretary of State's Office, the Governor's Office, etc.) while they have been working on these cases. We have also not included those challenges that were mounted by the AG or the Governor. It also does not include any payments that may have been made between last year's article and the close of the fiscal year at the end of that month.

For details on how Arizona's Politics and the AIRC reached the previous $3.6M total, please refer to last year's articles.

It is also worthwhile to note here that the AIRC received several hundred thousand dollars' worth of pro bono legal services by top Supreme Court advocates Seth Waxman and Paul Smith, in both the cases brought by the Arizona GOP legislators and the Harris case (partly funded by GOP-philic dark money).

(Here is a complete list of links to articles Arizona's Politics has published regarding the AIRC and the legal challenges.)

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AIRC On Today's Unanimous SCOTUS Opinion: "Yes, we are very happy with the court’s decision. Only one more case to go."

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission ("AIRC") is "very happy" with today's unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Arizona's legislative maps.

"Yes, we are very happy with the court’s decision. Only one more case to go." That is the comment to Arizona's Politics from Kristina Gomez, the Deputy Director of the AIRC.

That, of course, refers to the ongoing Maricopa County Superior Court action Vince Leach v.  Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Arizona's Politics provided an update on that case earlier today.

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READ: Redistricting Eyes Now Turn To Superior Court, Where AZSOS Reagan, AG Brnovich Would Rather Fight AND Switch

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has today knocked down Republicans' challenges to Arizona's redistricting process and maps (for the 2nd time), all interested eyes will turn to a 3rd, still-active case in Maricopa County Superior Court.

There, last month, the judge (Hon. Roger Brodman) denied the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's ("AIRC's") motion to disqualify Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich from taking an active role on behalf of the Plaintiffs...even though they are named as Defendants.

The 7-page minute entry from March 14 (posted below) concludes that the politicians can fight and switch because they are only nominal defendants and since it will not end in a jury trial, there will be no prejudice, and "(i)t will not be decided on political posturing of any of the participants in this case."

The judge notes that discovery in the 2012 case will be cut off shortly, and that the AIRC raised the close issue of whether the AG's office should be disqualified under the rules of ethics was not made in time. Reagan and Brnovich's offices made the declaration of fighting and switching to the Plaintiffs' side in September 2015, but the motion to disqualify was not made until December 16.

You may recall that the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia joked around with Brnovich about the identical side-switch on December 8 when the Attorney General argued on behalf of the Republican-backed plaintiffs in the Harris case. "What happened? Was there an election in between or something," asked Scalia. "Yes, and I won overwhelmingly," was Brnovich's reply.

Through last June, the AIRC had spent $1M of taxpayers' funds defending the Leach suit ($3.65M for the three cases).  Arizona's Politics has requested an updated figure.




(This article was contributed by Tempe election law attorney Paul Weich. He does not represent any of the parties listed in this article.)

*In a related article, Arizona's Politics reported about how dark money funded some of the redistricting challenge.

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BREAKING/READ: U.S. Supreme Court UNANIMOUSLY Rejects Arizona Republican Challenge To Legislative Redistricting




From 6/19/15: 

UPDATE: Arizona Taxpayers' Bill For Post-Redistricting Legal Battles Greater Than $3.65M, Even With Fmr U.S. Solicitor General Waiving Fees (Pro Bono)


From 2/14/14: 

BREAKING: Sean Noble Double-Uses Federal EIN To Help Hide FAIR Trust; How Koch Brothers' Money Made Its Mysterious Way Into Arizona Redistricting Fight


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Friday, April 8, 2016

BREAKING: Meeting Between Sen. Flake, SCOTUS Nominee Garland On Thursday's Calendar

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake will be meeting with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Thursday, according to reports.

Arizona's Politics has requested confirmation from the Senator's office.

Flake is one of only a few GOP Senators - and one of only __ GOP Senators on the Judiciary Committee - to agree to meet with the Obama nominee. Flake has said he does not support hearings in the Judiciary Committee on the nomination.


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Thursday, April 7, 2016

WATCH: "Fuggedaboudit, Ted!" Pro-Kasich Super PAC Runs Ad Slamming Cruz "New York Values" Critique (FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 POLITICS)

(Updated to include Kasich campaign's ad.)

"Fuggedaboudit, Ted!" is the message of the new ad that a pro-Kasich Super PAC will be running in New York. The ad slams Texas Senator Ted Cruz for his critique of "New York values" earlier in the campaign.  Both Ohio Governor John Kasich and front-runner Donald Trump are determined to spend the next couple of weeks reminding New Yorkers of Cruz's criticism.

The New Day Independent Media Committee filed with the FEC tonight that it had spent $24,459 for a "media buy" in New York opposing Cruz.  However, the Super PAC supporting Kasich announced that the ad will be part of its "seven figure television buy in New York and Pennsylvania."

The Cruz comments in January were part of his  earliest criticisms of Trump in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. They are now front and center now that New Yorkers are about to weigh in on the GOP candidates.



Kasich's campaign ALSO unveiled a new ad today using the Cruz/


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Friday, April 1, 2016

BROKEN, WATCH: Election-related April 1 News Items

Item #1: Don't usually help commercials go viral, but this one is too appropriate to pass up:

Thanks, Esurance!

Item #2: My breakfast fortune cookie today says: Candidates will continue exploring ways to "push the envelope".

(Know of an item that I should add here? Send me an email!)

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

WATCH: Pro-Kasich Super PAC Wraps Trump's "Lyin' Ted" Meme Around Cruz's Neck (FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 POLITICS)

UPDATE, 8:30pm: The New Day Independent Media Super PAC filed tonight with the Federal Election Commission - they are spending $200,000 airing the ad.

A pro-John Kasich Super PAC is taking Donald Trump's "Lyin' Ted" meme and - digitally-literally - wrapping it around Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's neck.

The spot - which will likely run in Wisconsin, where Cruz and Kasich are battling to knock off front-runner Donald Trump in the contest for the Republican Presidential nomination - takes the nickname, lists some alleged lies, and ends with "If Ted Cruz's mouth is moving, he's lying."

Meanwhile, Cruz's naturally-prominent proboscis lenthens and wraps three times around his neck.



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WATCH: "Thank God For the Saudis and Prince Bandar", McCain Said Just Before Saudis Donated $1M To His Foundation

Arizona Senator John McCain has a foundation to raise funds for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU, and it accepted a $1,000,000 contribution from the Saudi Arabian government shortly after the Senator repeatedly praised the Saudi government in the media.

Bloomberg News broke the story today about the major 2014 gift to MIIL.  Although it was disclosed by the McCain Institute Foundation to the IRS in mid-2015* (publicly-available several weeks thereafter), the McCain Institute did not add the somewhat-controversial donor to its website until the Bloomberg reporter inquired.

On January 12, 2014, McCain appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" program, and praised the Saudis: "Thank god for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, we're starting to see a little bit of reversal there (Syria), thank god."


(transcript at link in previous paragraph)

The Saudis and McCain had begun lobbying each other regarding Syria in September 2012 (or, earlier), when McCain and fellow Senator Lindsey Graham (R- SC) met with Prince Bandar "in an opulent hotel suite on the banks of the Bosporus". (That Wall Street Journal article provides a valuable primer on the last few years of the U.S./Saudi/others relationships regarding Syria.)

McCain also publicly thanked God for the Saudis and Bandar at the Munich Security Conference in February 2014.

The million-dollar gift to McCain's Foundation - which in turn provides support to the McCain Institute through the ASU Foundation - came at some point during that year of thanking God. McCain has continued to praise the Saudis, although he has also pushed them at least once on the subject of religious persecution ("The United States should be first among all nations to denounce religious persecution in all its forms and locations, even when it takes place in nations with whom we have important and complicated relations, such as, China and Saudi Arabia, for example.")

Most of the many corporate contributions have apparently been made either directly to the Institute or to the ASU Foundation, according to Arizona's Politics' review of the McCain Foundation's IRS filings. (The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which does not pay taxes, but must file an annual report.)

The Foundation was started with $8.7M left over from McCain's 2008 run for the Presidency. Approximately 3/4 of the campaign's money came from federal matching funds.  The only other sizable contributions reported are the $1M from the Saudis, and $300,000 from the UK-based Eranda Foundation (Lynn Forester de Rothschild is also on the Institute's Board of Trustees).

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BREAKING, READ: Arizona Ballot Initiative Shoots For $12/hour Minimum Wage

(UPDATED 12:45pm to include comments from the campaign committee's chair.)

Arizona's minimum wage would rise to $12/hour over the next three years; a national group will begin collecting signatures for a ballot initiative filed yesterday with the Secretary of State.

The current minimum wage is $8.05/hour. If the measure makes the ballot and is passed in November, it would immediately increase to $10.00/hour on January 1, and then would go up each year until it hits $12/hr in 2020.

Most efforts to raise the minimum wage have set $15/hr as the target.  HoweverTomas Robles, chair of Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families, explains that in their conversations with workers and small businesses over the past couple of years, it became clear that $12 was "the perfect medium."

He expects that there will still be opposition to the $12/hour proposal, but that many small businesses will speak out as part of the coalition and campaign, and that fair-minded voters of either political party and independents will support it.

The measure would also add provisions to Arizona law requiring employers to provide a minimum of 24 paid sick hours per year*.

To make the November ballot, the group must collect more than 150,642 valid signatures before July 7, 2016. A source informs Arizona's Politics that a combination of volunteer and paid circulators will be used to fill the petitions.



*For employers with fewer than 15 employees; larger employers would have to provide a minimum of 40 sick hours/year.

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WATCH: Ducey's Prop.123 Hits Arizona Airwaves Today, Talking Education Funding

The well-financed "Let's Vote Yes for Arizona Schools" committee begins its advertising assault in favor of Proposition 123 today.  The Special Election ends on May 17.


The first 30-second ad featuring Arizona Governor Doug Ducey begins airing today on Phoenix and Tucson TV stations.

The first two weeks of the ad buy proposes to spend $60,000 in Tucson and approximately $200,000 in Phoenix.

The well-funded committee - see this companion story for more on the financing - has not yet posted the ad on its website or YouTube page, but it is likely this condensed version of the 60-second spot below.


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Pair of Multi-Billionaire Couples Fund Ducey's $3.7M Prop. 123 Campaign; Opposition Raises $617.00 (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

The campaign to pass Gov. Doug Ducey's Proposition 123 easily surpassed its $3M fundraising target with $1,000,000 contributions from each of two of northeast Phoenix's multi-billionaire couples.


"Let's Vote For Arizona Schools" raised $3.7M by February 23, with more than half coming from Bob & Renee Parsons and Bruce & Diane Halle.  The GoDaddy and Discount Tire founders had each chipped in $1M.

The Committee takes to the Arizona airwaves today with its first advertisement. Watch here.

Prop. 123 will be the subject of a special election on May 17. It was put on the ballot by the Legislature at Gov. Ducey's behest and will provide money for Arizona's education system by altering the distribution of funds from state's permanent land trust.

Besides the Parsons and the Halles, much of the $3.7M raised comes from homebuilders and other corporations. Those contributing more than $50,000 include: Ed Robson/Robson Communities ($50k), Larry VanTuyl ($50k), Ira Fulton ($100k), Greater Phoenix Leadership ($220k), SRP ($75k), Helios Education Foundation ($100k), Cox Communications ($77,700), Blandford Homes ($50k), the ASU Foundation ($75k), DMB ($50k), Grand Canyon University ($50k), and the Arizona Cardinals ($50k).

Millionaire Doug Ducey did not contribute to the committee, but his campaign did donate its email list for fundraising purposes, which it valued at a reasonable $1,116.

Through Feb. 23, the committee had spent more than $300,000, leaving cash on hand of $3.4M. The biggest expenditures were for consultants Lovas Co. ($100k), Sean Noble-affiliated Direct Response Group ($36k), Public Opinion Strategies ($38k) and bpgraphics ($36k).

The committee opposing Prop. 123 had only raised $617 through the first deadline.



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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WATCH/BREAKING: Cruz Super PAC Goes After Kasich In $445K Wisconsin Ad Campaign (FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 POLITICS)

The pro-Cruz TrusTed Leadership PAC began a $445,000 ad campaign attacking Ohio Governor John Kasich in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin GOP primary on April 5 is shaping up to be another pivotal moment in the (now) three-way nomination battle.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is looking to KO Kasich so that he will have a one-on-one race down the stretch with Donald Trump. His Super PAC (one of them) is attacking Kasich as a "liberal" and tries to tie him to both President Barack Obama and Democratic billionaire George Soros.

The Super PAC - initially financed by John W. Childs and a Texas oil company (Kyle Stallings) - yesterday spent $442,000 on an ad (or, ads) hammering Kasich, and another $3,431 on pro-Cruz posters.

Here is the ad that the PAC just uploaded to the internet:



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Friday, March 25, 2016

READ: Christine Jones Tests The Mesa Waters To Replace Salmon In Congress; Won't Be "Beholden To Anyone"

Christine Jones filed paperwork yesterday to explore whether she should run to replace Matt Salmon in Congress.


Her "testing the waters" filing allows her to perform pre-campaigning activities, such as polling and talking to voters to help her decide whether she wants to campaign against State Senate President Andy Biggs (LD12) and State Rep. Justin Olson (LD25) for the Republican nomination in August.

Although she will probably self-fund her explorations, she is allowed to accept a reasonable amount of contributions, which would count against limits if she declares her candidacy.

Jones, former counsel for GoDaddy.com, unsuccessfully ran for Governor in 2014.  She finished 3rd in the GOP primary, behind now-Gov. Doug Ducey and former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.

In her Facebook announcement, she used the Donald Trump-like line that - because GoDaddy blessed her with the opportunity - "I believe I can make a difference in Washington without being beholden to anyone."

Jones spent $5.3M on her gubernatorial campaign, and benefitted from the $2.1M contributed to former GoDaddy boss Bob Parsons to a Super PAC ("Better Leaders for Arizona").  She also received more than $200K from other contributors.

No Democratic candidate has announced their candidacy for the open(ing) seat.



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