Monday, May 22, 2017

READ: Democrats Stretching House Targets To Include Rep. Schweikert's Northeast Valley District #AZ06 (ARIZONA '18)

In what might be seen as a major testing of the waters, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee listed Rep. David Schweikert's solid Northeast Valley District as a 2018 target district. The DCCC seems to be banking on a major rip tide in urban/suburban districts in response to the Trump Presidency.

No major ratings change appears to have precipitated listing #AZ06 in its addition of 20 Congressional districts where they are going to work on "recruitment and possible investment."  The Cook Political Report, for example, still lists the district as "solid Republican".  Schweikert is serving his 4th (consecutive) term representing Arizona.

Schweikert won re-election last November with 62.1% of the vote, while Donald Trump only secured 52.4% of the vote (to Hillary Clinton's 42.4%)) in the same district. Attorney Garrick McFadden filed last month to run as a Democrat against Schweikert.

NRCC Spokesman Jack Pandol gave Arizona's Politics a sharp-tongued response to the news.
“The DCCC is falling victim to its own inside-the-Beltway hype, just like last cycle when the Democrats failed spectacularly to make any significant gains. The truth on the ground is, David Schweikert is well-known and respected as a trusted fighter for Arizona families. We have no doubt Congressman Schweikert will continue to enjoy the confidence of voters who have consistently sent him to fight on their behalf.”
The DCCC and the NRCC - its Republican counterpart - of course are going after each other's swing districts in Arizona. Those are Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) and Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2). Cook lists both in the "Lean" columns for their respective incumbents.

(This is a developing story. Arizona's Politics has reached out to several sources for comment and will update as necessary.)

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

President Trump's Riyadh Speech - as prepared, with ad libs written in

Here are the prepared remarks for President Donald Trump's speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for May 21, 2017. Written in are his changes and ad libs.

The change getting the most attention is on page 7, where he changes "Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires" to "Islamic extremism and the Islamic terro of all kinds. we must stop what they're doing to inspire, because they do nothing to inspire but kill. and we are having a very profound effect, if you look at what's happened recently."

Here is a link to the video:
Here is the link to the remarks as prepared for delivery:

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Crazy & the Clear-Eyed: 2 Arizona Congressmen React Differently To Trump/Russia Developments (WATCH/LISTEN)

An Arizona Senator and a rookie Arizona Congressman - both Republicans - had two very different takes last night about recent Trump/Russia developments. One described the Monday bombshell report from the Washington Post as "rumors" from the "radicalized media" while the other focused on the broadening scandal culture engulfing the Trump Administration.

Senator John McCain was first, accepting the Freedom Award from an organization that he has
chaired for many years and opining on the need for the Republicans to do more than confirm Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court if they wish to maintain the majority in Congress next year.

As he has before, he expressed the view that more shoes will be dropping and he noted that the "Trump scandals" were reaching "Watergate size and scale." His comments came in front of the International Republican Institute that he has led for more than 20 years*.

Here is a one-minute-plus clip from his remarks:

Approximately an hour later, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ5) took to the KTAR (92.3FM, Phoenix) airwaves to trade notes with Reality Check talk show host Darin Damme. After joking that he might be "certifiably crazy" to want to be in Congress in this day and age, Biggs went on to dismiss the "radical media" as being the real problem in Washington, that the Washington Post's unnamed sources inside the Trump/Lavrov meeting last week might be made up. "That's dubious until I see some real substantive evidence, it's just going to be, be a rumor."

"The writer of the story needs to be called in to question," said Biggs, pointing out that news reporters have "flat out made up stuff." He started to say that "odds are" the story is fake, before backing off and saying it is a possibility.  The story "imperils America's future," Biggs said.

Biggs' office declined Arizona's Politics' requests to comment on whether the Trump Administration's claim that Trump's disclosures (that were apparently the Israelis to disclose or not) in the meeting were "wholly appropriate could co-exist with the anonymous sources' characterizations, or on how he interpreted the President's tweets that he had disclosed "facts" that he had a right to de-classify on the fly.  Arizona's Politics also asked whether the Congressman shares host Damme's views on "the Deep State's" efforts to damage President Trump. (The article will be updated with his comments, as needed.)

(thanks to KPNX's Brahm Resnik for helping locate the McCain video.)

* McCain's IRI caused a small amount of controversy in his 2008 Presidential campaign. Former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe is now a Vice Chair of the Institute.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

POLITICO: Sen. Flake Backs Away From Bucking Trump, Calling For Special Prosecutor

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was one of the first GOP Senators to publicly question President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, but today he is on the front cover of Politico as one who will not "buck Trump" on the matter.

Here is Politico addressing the situation, and the Flake quote regarding whether or not there should be an independent (or, special) prosecutor named to conduct the investigation of any possible Trump campaign-Russia ties:

Even Republicans who’ve criticized the timing behind the abrupt firing aren’t yet willing to trigger a confrontation with the Trump administration by demanding an independent counsel.

“I say, let’s see who he nominates to replace Comey,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who tweeted after Comey’s firing that he could not find an “acceptable rationale” for its timing, said of a special prosecutor. “You never rule anything out, but I’m not going there. I don’t want to jeopardize the Senate investigation going on.”
It’s a familiar dance between Donald Trump and the congressional GOP: Trump does something widely seen as a brazen violation of political norms. Even as some Republicans call him out, most defend Trump’s actions or decline to take action directly challenging his administration.
The article goes on to note that Arizona's other Senator, John McCain (R-AZ) has called for an independent investigation.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

PUTTING HIS MOUTH WHERE HIS MONEY IS: Rep. Gallego Heads South To Take Healthcare Fight To Colleague McSally

Arizona's Politics reported Friday on the unusually-strong frontal attack by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) on his Arizona colleague Martha McSally (R-CD2), as a result of her very visible vote passing the AHCA (aka Trumpcare). Tomorrow, with his megaphone at the ready, Gallego puts his mouth where his money is, heading down to Tucson to continue the battle.

The vote was on Thursday. Later that afternoon, Gallego sent out an email (from his campaign committee email) raising funds for whoever the Democrats end up nominating to challenge McSally next year.

Last night, the Arizona Democratic Party announced an evening rally in Tucson "to stop Trumpcare". Rep. Gallego - who went to Congress along with McSally in 2015 - is the featured guest.

As the Democrats' email freely admits, McSally is only one of the intended targets of the Tuesday rally.
"McSally put satisfying Donald Trump's ego over the health and welfare of 24 million Americans.

That's why we're heading to her district with Congressman Gallego on Tuesday to rally Democrats to stop Trumpcare.

Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain are crucial votes if Trumpcare is going to pass the Senate. We need to show them that McSally is paying a big price for her vote."
The battle in the Senate will be intense. No doubt, Gallego will keep his megaphone nearby. (While there has been much speculation about whether Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) might run against Sen. Jeff Flake next year, Sinema's megaphone has mostly stayed in the closet.)

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Despite Cagy Moves, McSally's Trumpcare Vote Prompts Ratings Downshift, Frontal Assault From Arizona Colleague

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) made some cagy moves to offset her status as one of the final votes in favor of the Obamacare repeal and replace measure yesterday, but she faced Friday with her re-election chances being downgraded by the respected Cook Political Report, as well as a searing fundraising email from House colleague Ruben Gallego promising political payback.

House leadership gave McSally the visibility of putting forward a bill (not an amendment) to pull a Congressional exemption from the new AHCA (aka Trumpcare) provisions. The one-sentence measure passed 429-0. McSally then explained her vote in favor of the AHCA by saying it is better than the present system and puts the ball in motion - not a full-throated endorsement of the provisions that passed with two votes to spare.

Cook Political Report this morning downgraded McSally's re-election chances from "likely" to "leans", noting that her vote was an "unequivocal political risk", and that "it will certainly spur Democrats' interest here."

That was a few hours after Arizona's Politics email inbox received a blistering email (reproduced below the jump) from Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7),  From his campaign committee and with the simple/direct subject line "Martha McSally", Gallego flat-out stated that he "can't reason or negotiate with people like that. The only choice we have is to defeat them. I'm going to make sure Martha McSally pays a price for her vote."

It would not appear that there will be much bi-partisan cooperation between these Arizona Representatives.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BREAKING/READ: Judge Recuses Himself From APS/Dark Money Case Brought By ACC Commissioner Robert Burns

The judge in Arizona Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns' case to force APS to disclose its suspected dark money campaign contributions has disqualified himself. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Blomo gave no explanation for the decision, which comes one week after Burns' attorney asked for an expedited hearing.

Today's minute entry (below) also comes only one day after Capitol Media Services published an article about the case. The explosive dispute focuses on whether Commissioner Robert Burns can force the state's largest regulated electrical utility to disclose whether it funneled undisclosed monies to be spent on the 2014 Corporation Commission election.

Other races, including those for Governor (for Doug Ducey), Attorney General (for Mark Brnovich) and Secretary of State (for Justin Pierce) may have been impacted by APS dark money, as well. APS/Pinnacle West also provided semi-open support that year to the Republican Governors Association and the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Arizona's Politics extensively covered the 2014 dark money influx while it was happening and afterwards, and will continue to provide coverage of the Burns/APS dispute.

Arizona's Politics has asked the parties for comment, and will supplement as needed.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Arizona's Anti-Semitic Incidents Already Exceed Total 2016 Hate; Plus, Breaking News On JCC Bomb Threats

Arizona has already seen 15 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, easily surpassing the total for all of 2016 by 50%. This exceeds a spike being seen across the nation.  The startling news from the Anti-Defamation League comes the same day that reports from Israel indicate the teen charged with most of the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers in Arizona and across the country may have been paid by others on the "Dark Net" to place the computerized calls.

The ADL - which monitors and fights bigotry and hate of all stripes - released its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents (U.S.) and supplemented it with news of an 86% surge in the first quarter of 2017 (compared to the same period in 2016).

Arizona suffered 13 incidents between January 1-March 31, 2017, according to ADL Arizona
Goodyear Farm Cemetery,
Avondale, 2017
Regional Director Carlos Galindo-Elvira. Two more incidents (see accompanying pictures) have taken place in April.

Five anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Arizona in 2015. That doubled last year, with a couple of high-profile vandalism examples following the Presidential election.

"The trend we're seeing in vandalism and harassment incidents from 2015 through 2017 is clearly disturbing" Galindo-Elvira tells Arizona's Politics. "ADL is the organization for this time to counter anti-Semitism and all forms of hate, prejudice and bigotry."

Galindo-Elvira also noted in ADL Arizona's news release that it is "fully committed to fighting anti-Semitism in Arizona by speaking-up, speaking-out and working with law enforcement, at all levels, to put a halt to hateful incidents.” 


Central Phoenix, 4/2017
Nationally, the ADL reports that anti-Semitic incidents - including acts of vandalism, harassment and assaults - increased 34% in 2016, compared to 2015. The headline notes that the 1st quarter of 2017 shows an 86% surge over the previous year's period. 

However, that includes the more than 100 bomb threats allegedly made against Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. by a young man in Israel (with dual citizenship). On the surface, that may have raised questions about the anti-Semitic nature of those threats.

Coincidentally, the unnamed teen was indicted TODAY in Israel. A report on the indictment in the Jerusalem Post raises the possibility that the young man was paid by unknown persons (with unknown motives) to make the computerized phone calls.
"The Justice Ministry said the defendant also used the so-called “Dark Net” to sell his cyber intimidation and extortion services to clients who paid him electronic currency according to a price list he posted with set fees for calls to police stations, schools or airports.
He was also accused of using the undetectable Web network to deal in illegal drugs and sell computer kits to counterfeit official documents, manufacture poisons and explosives and to hack into social media accounts.
His business landed him roughly $225,000 in bitcoin currency, and at one point he employed two other individuals to operate as subcontractors, carrying out his tasks."
(Even if all of the 146 JCC (etc) bomb threats were removed from ADL's national numbers, it would still show an increase in the hate incidents between 1Q16 and 1Q17.)

This report contributed by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich.

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