Monday, December 22, 2014

BREAKING: $1.5 Million - The Cost (So Far) Of Gov. Brewer's Unsuccessful (So Far) Fight To Deny Driver's Licenses To DREAMers

DACA recipients in Arizona began applying for driver's licenses today, even as Gov. Jan Brewer has the taxpayers' attorneys' meters running for a costly re-appeal of the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The state confirmed to Arizona's Politics this afternoon that the legal bill in the two-year long battle has already passed $1.5 Million.

DACA recipients (aka DREAMers) flooded MVD offices today, after only three U.S. Supreme Court Justices (Scalia, Thomas, Alito) stated that the driver's license should not be issued until the Court has a chance to consider the yet-to-be-filed appeal.

The Arizona Department of Transportation confirmed that legal fees in the case paid by ADOT total $1,522,949.66.  The Phoenix-based law firm of Fennemore Craig has represented the state in the federal case filed by the Arizona Dream Act Coalition in November 2012.

Arizona's Politics' review of state expenditures had come up with a much lower figure, but the review has been complicated by the apparent switching of which state agencies and funds are responsible for paying the legal bills.  ADOT appeared to only take over the responsibility with the beginning of the current fiscal year; the $212,099.91 paid in legal bills since August 2014 have come out of the State Highway Fund.*

While Governor-elect Doug Ducey was publicly noncommittal about continuing the legal battle even after this month's setbacks, Governor Brewer's defiant order to pursue the appeal is committing the government to what could be at least another $100,000 in legal expenses.


* Review of bills paid as detailed by Arizona Open Books. Because the entries do not describe what legal matters they apply to, Arizona's Politics is making the assumption that all ADOT payments to Fennemore Craig are for the ADAC v. Brewer case, because ADOT did not (directly) retain Fennemore Craig in previous years, and the previous years' payments to Fennemore Craig from the Department of Administration promptly ended with the current fiscal year.

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BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court Sets Oral Argument On Legislature's Redistricting Appeal For March 2

The U.S. Supreme Court has set March 2 for oral arguments on the Arizona Legislature's appeal of the Independent Redistricting Commission set up by Arizona voters 14 years ago.

The Legislature's case is based on the argument that the U.S. Constitution requires a state Legislature to handle all aspects of how Congressional elections in that state, and that the constitutional amendment approved by Arizona voters violates that by setting up the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

The Arizona case will be heard by the Justices two days before the high-profile case challenging the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act.




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Friday, December 19, 2014

READ: Gov. Brewer Banking On ChangingTwo Supreme Court Justices' Minds That Arizona Can Refuse To Issue Driver's Licenses To DREAMers

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is banking on convincing at least two more U.S. Supreme Court Justices that Arizona should be permitted to decide whether or not to issue driver's licenses to DREAMers (aka DACA recipients).  Notwithstanding that only 3 of the 9 Justices felt that Arizona had a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of the case - thus requiring that the state start issuing the licenses (starting this coming Monday, December 22) - Brewer is moving forward with an appeal.

Arizona's Politics reported yesterday that U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell has also set January 7 for oral arguments on motions that will grant a permanent injunction against Arizona's refusal, or will dismiss the DREAMers Equal Protection claim

Brewer is instructing the law firm of Fennemore Craig to fight the permanent injunction, but last night's statement is also indicating a push for a U.S. Supreme Court appeal of the 9th Circuit decision to require the issuance of the driver's licenses.  

The State had asked the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month for permission to continue the Governor's refusal to issue while the appeal was pending.  Only Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito agreed with Brewer's position.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's Statement from last night:
“The right to determine who is issued a driver license is reserved for the states – not the federal government or an unelected judiciary. It is outrageous that Arizona is being forced to ignore longstanding state law and comply with a flawed federal court mandate that requires the state, at least temporarily, to issue driver licenses to individuals whose presence is in violation of federal law, as established by the United States Congress.
“At stake in this case are the fundamental issues of constitutional law and state sovereignty. Arizona has the constitutional right and authority to enforce state statute. This right must be protected. It must be defended. And as long as I am governor, I will do exactly that.
“It is important to remember that courts have yet to consider the full merits of the case, and I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail.
“Consequently, I have instructed my legal team to move forward in pursuing a full review of this matter before the United States Supreme Court as soon as possible.”
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

BREAKING UPDATE In DREAMers v. Brewer: Judge Sets January 7 Oral Argument On Permanent Injunction Vs. Arizona, and State's Equal Protection Argument

Now that the battle over a temporary injunction has been to the Supreme Court and is completed - with the State of Arizona being ordered to accept driver's license applications from DREAMers (aka DACA recipients), U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell is looking to wrap up the case with oral argumnt on January 7.

The oral argument will be over the Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment seeking a permanent injunction against Governor Jan Brewer and her Executive Order prohibiting the state from granting driver's licenses to the young men and women who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children (and who meet certain requirements).

The Court will also hear oral argument on Arizona's Motion for Summary Judgment as to the Plaintiffs' Equal Protection claim.

However, the outcome of both motions was preordained by the 9th Circuit's ruling overturning Judge Campbell's initial preliminary injunction ruling, and in the District Court's Order earlier today: "The Court accordingly holds that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that Defendants’ policy and practice of denying driver’s licenses and state identification cards to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) recipients violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The Oral Argument will take place at 3:30pm on January 7, 2015, at the U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix. In the interim, Arizona has been ordered to begin accepting driver's license applications by Monday, December 22.

Here are the Motions for Summary Judgment that the Court will be considering:



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BREAKING, READ: Arizona Ordered To Issue Driver's Licenses To DREAMers (DACA), EFFECTIVE MONDAY



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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: 9th Circuit Issues Mandate Ordering Arizona To Issue Driver's Licenses To DREAMers (DACA, aka Childhood Arrivals)





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Sen. Flake's Statement On Release Of Gross, U.S./Cuban Thaw

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a long outspoken critic of the U.S.' trade embargo of Cuba, flew to the nation just south of Florida and accompanied released U.S. citizen Alan Gross.

Here is a copy of Flake's statement:

"This is a wonderful day for Alan Gross, for his wife Judy and their family. The manner in which they have endured this nightmare is worthy of praise and admiration. It was an honor to be with Alan as he touched down on U.S. soil after more than five years in a Cuban prison. When I visited Alan last month, he expressed the hope that his ordeal might somehow lead to positive changes between the United States and Cuba. With today's significant and far-reaching announcements, I think it already has."
Flake is one of several members of Congress being credited with helping negotiate the release and the agreement.

President Obama called on Congress to revisit the long-standing U.S. trade embargo of Cuba. There are already statements coming from Republican leaders in Congress opposing today's developments.


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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Arizona Application For Stay; Driver's Licenses For DREAMers Imminent

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning decided not to grant Arizona a stay to further delay issuing driver's licenses to young DREAMers.  Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito indicated in the brief order that they would have granted the stay pending appeal.

Arizona's Politics is monitoring the lower courts and the Governor's Office for further orders or a decision to begin issuing the licenses.






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#AZ02 MCSALLY/BARBER RECOUNT: Recount Adds 6 To McSally Margin; Barber Will Not File Legal Contest

(filed by Tempe election law attorney Paul Weich)

GOP challenger Martha McSally became the newest member of Arizona's Congressional delegation this morning, when Secretary of State Ken Bennett's office confirmed that the automatic recount in #AZ02 had extended her lead to 167 votes over 1+ term incumbent Rep. Ron Barber.

McSally issued this statement:
“There’s no getting around that this was an incredibly close and hard-fought race. After what’s been a long campaign season, it’s time to come together and heal our community. That’s why my focus will be on what unites us, not what divides us, such as providing better economic opportunity for our families and ensuring our country and community are kept safe.”
“I sincerely thank Congressman Barber for his service over many years to Southern Arizona. I’ll be seeking his input to continue strong constituent services and help ensure a smooth transition. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I know that we’re a community dedicated and united in our love for Southern Arizona – And, together, we can make a positive difference.”
Simultaneously, Barber issued a statement congratulating McSally and promising a "smooth transition."  Here is the text of his statement:
"Today I congratulated Martha McSally on her victory, and wished her well in serving Southern Arizonans. This result is not the one we hoped for, but we take solace in having spoken out loud and clear for the principle that every legal vote should be counted. As in every election system, there are imperfections in ours, and we must work to correct them. When an election is as close as this one has been, we do our best to arrive at the correct result, and then accept it with respect for the voters.
"I love Southern Arizona and serving the people who live here was an unexpected honor. In 1967, I graduated from the U of A and married Nancy--I figured it couldn't get much better than that. Never in my life did I expect to serve in Congress. For me, the work was a joy to do every day, helping veterans get access to the benefits they earned, keeping middle class families from having their homes foreclosed, pushing the EPA into not closing the power plant in Cochise County that provides a good income to nearly 250 families. I still believe that we can be successful when people from both parties work together--that's how we stopped the Pentagon from mothballing the A-10 and increased funding for mental health services.
"There's a lot more work to do to solve the real challenges facing our country, and I will have plenty to say about them in the weeks to come.
"Today, I extend my gratitude to Southern Arizonans, and promise to carry out a smooth transition to my successor.“
The final vote count was 109,714 for McSally, and 109,547 for Barber.

In the recount, Pima County - which had slightly favored Barber - found 20 more ballots that had not been counted on election night, according to Secretary of State Bennett.  He also noted that Cochise County removed one ballot that had been counted on election night, although the reason is not immediately apparent.

Bennett boasted of the 99.997% accuracy rate, but said that even that leaves some room for improvement.
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Arizona Sen. McCain Receives Dubious Honor For Role In "Lie of the Year", Helped "Edge The Nation Toward Panic"

Arizona Senator John McCain today received a dubious honor for his role in what PolitiFact named as the U.S.' "Lie of the Year".  The national fact-checker announced that the 10 false exaggerations about the Ebola virus made in October "edged the nation towards panic."

McCain's comment on CNN on October 12 gave the impression that the Obama Administration gave the public a false sense of security which turned out to be wrong.  "Americans have to be reassured here. I don’t think we are comforted by the fact that we were told there would never be a case of Ebola in the United States, and obviously that’s not correct."

Later that day, Politifact rated McCain's statement as "False", and went through earlier CDC and White House statements on the subject.  The statements all emphasized that there could be isolated cases in the U.S. but that the risk of an outbreak was very low.

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U.S. Supreme Court Leaves Block On Arizona Anti-Abortion Law; READ State's Reply Brief

The U.S. Supreme Court declined this morning to hear Arizona's appeal of a decision blocking enforcement of a law limiting medication abortions.  The denial of the writ of certiorari leaves the law blocked.

Here is the State's Petition and Reply to Planned Parenthood, filed with the Supreme Court on November 19:



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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Arizona Senators McCain, Flake Vote "Nay" On Saturday Night Cromnibus; View Bipartisan Mix Supporting, Opposing

Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake were among the 40 Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to vote against the Cromnius tonight.  It passed 56-40 and heads for the President's desk for an immediate signature to keep the government funded.

24 of the 56 supporting votes were Republicans, and the 40 nay votes were made up of 18 Republicans, 1 Independent and 21 Democrats.




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Friday, December 12, 2014

Lobbying Pays Off, As Senate Passes Resolution Copper (& Natl Defense Auth Act)

The long-running land swap soap opera for a Superior copper mine is headed to the President's desk as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.  Why is it one small step away from becoming a done deal?  Besides the bipartisan pushing of Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) and Paul Gosar (R-CD4), one would have to look at Resolution Copper's commitment to lobbying.

Although we will not see how much Resolution Copper has spent on lobbying in the last few weeks, we can see that it significantly boosted its annual lobbying budget over previous efforts (courtesy of the good folks at the Center for Responsive Politics).

$360,000 in payments to four different lobbying firms through the first nine months of the year.

And, of course, Resolution Copper had several friends lobbying alongside it.  Rio Tinto Group, the National Mining Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped, among others.  (Many others also registered to lobby on the land swap, on both sides of the issue; here is the list.)

Here are the speeches made by four of Arizona's Representatives last fall when it was debated on the House floor as a standalone bill on September 27.  It stalled that day, as Congress was on the verge of shutting down the entire government.





For details on the land exchange, which will have Resolution conveying to the federal government several wilderness parcels in Coconino, Maricopa, Yavapai, Pima and Santa Cruz counties, here is the House Report from last year:


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Gov. Brewer's Super PACs: Retirement Fund, 2016 Run Against McCain, Or Just "Stay Active" Money? (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITCS)

Outgoing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and her state Super PAC was very active in statewide and legislative races this year, but she stood on the sidelines in the three hotly-contested Arizona Congressional races. Brewer now controls a $326K checking account that she could use to jumpstart a 2016 Senate or Congressional run, or to travel the nation in comfort and support like-minded candidates.

Or, she could put it in her personal bank account and ride off into the sunset.

The Governor created Jan PAC in 2011 in the wake of signing SB1070, and has collected more than $1.3M from contributors, including from companies doing business with the state and from wealthy individuals who agreed with her political philosophy.  She spent a good chunk of that helping Arizona Republican Congressional candidates in 2012 (and even a couple of out-of-state races), but continued to raise money through the first part of August. (The last sizable contribution was $25,000 from Tenet Health on August 7.)

Certainly, many - if not most - of those generous contributors expected the Governor to use the money and her political muscle in the tight 2014 races.  Two of the Arizona seats targeted by Republicans were lost and the third is in post-election recounting.

She spent zero on federal races in 2014. The reasons why she did not spend the money are currently unknown.  No political consultants acknowledge working with the Governor on Jan PAC, and the Governor's staff has repeatedly declined to answer Arizona's Politics' inquiries.

Here is a closer look at the three options listed at the beginning of this article:

1) Jumpstart a 2016 Senate or Congressional run (the McCain scenario):  While the outgoing Governor has shown little or no interest in any further runs for office, others have been.  Earlier this year, a Citizens United-commissioned poll found her to be the strongest candidate to take on Sen. John McCain in a 2016 primary battle.  (She polled better than either Rep. Matt Salmon or Rep. David Schweikert.)  Similarly, she could be seen as a strong challenge to either Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick or Kyrsten Sinema, or as a successor to Salmon or Schweikert if either moved to take on McCain.

Arizona pollster Mike O'Neill tells Arizona's Politics that "the odds are against it" and that it is "unlikely" that she would  challenge a sitting Congressperson.  "She's bought the option to spend it as she sees fit in the future.

2) Stay active and travel the nation in comfort (the Palin scenario):  Just as former Alaska Governor (and McCain VP running mate, and parttime Arizona resident) Sarah Palin has done, Governor Brewer could use the money to travel the nation in first class comfort... and generate further speaking fees and book sales.  Governor Brewer has shown some interest in this option.

3) Pocket the money, and fund her retirement (the every old-time politician scenario): This cannot be an option, you ask it. Can it?  Well, while state and federal laws have tightened up on this kind of old school personally-enriching politics, the world of independent expenditure committees and Super PACs has become a world of its own.

Brewer's state level IE Committee, Arizona's Legacy, now has only $57,136.01 left in it.  And, based on Arizona statutes - which are currently in limbo land, but that's another story - she could NOT transfer that to the Jan Brewer IRA.

And, IF she had been a federal candidate, Jan PAC would be constrained in her options.  For example, retired U.S. Senator from Arizona Jon Kyl transferred his campaign funds to his leadership PAC, which currently has $242,000 in it; he is spending it down on other campaigns and groups*, but could not use it for retirement.

The Stephen Colbert scenario comes to mind.  The social satirist (and soon-to-be late night host) has devoted time and money to exploring what can be done with Super PACs.  (He received a Peabody Award for the Super PAC series of reports.) He raised more than $1,000,000 for "Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow", and later transferred the remaining balance to a newly-formed non-profit that he just happened to find himself on the Board of Directors of.

Now, that non-profit did, in fact, donate the money to legitimate, non-connected charitable organizations.  BUT, in fact, he could have retained full control over it.

In fact, Arizona's Politics found a Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinion from 1991 (see, below) that would have permitted Colbert to keep the money for personal use.  In the Alliance for Representative Government AO, a California politician was permitted to receive the $30-35,000 in excess funds from his federal committee to support federal candidates. (Advisory Opinion is republished below.) The regulations cited in that opinion have not been changed to include Super PACs.

Arizona's Politics asked Colbert attorney Trevor Potter (a well-known and well-respected campaign finance expert) whether Brewer could follow Colbert's example, join his non-profit Board, or take similar steps (including personal use).  Is it really that wide open?

His response? "You are right- few restrictions on SuperPacs still."

(Efforts to obtain comment from Colbert were as unsuccessful as from Brewer, so maybe they are planning something together. ;-) )

4) Other ideas: Of course, she can return the funds to contributors.  She could start a (legit) charitable organization or fund an existing one(s).

Whatever Gov. Brewer does with the $326,332.16, Arizona's Politics will be there to report on it.




(Tempe election law attorney Paul Weich contributed to this article.)

* After the November 4 election, Kyl's Senate Majority Fund did transfer $10,000 to Prosper.  Kyl is a key "mentor" to incoming Governor Doug Ducey, and Prosper was created and is led by Ducey's Chief of Staff-to-be Kirk Adams.






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Thursday, December 11, 2014

HOW AZ DELEGATION VOTED ON $1.1T SPENDING BILL TONIGHT: AZ's Dems, GOP'ers Bucked Their Party's Positions

The House of Representative passed the $1.1T spending bill tonight 219-206.  The bill passed with 162 Republicans - 67 voted nay - along with 57 Democrats (139 opposed it).

Arizona's delegation was equally ornery.  Of the 5 Democrats, three voted for it (Barber, Pastor, Sinema) and two said nay (Grijalva, Kirkpatrick).

The four Republicans from Arizona all voted against party leadership.

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WATCH: Rep. Pastor Supporting CRomnibus, Thanking People For Friendship, Support (Arizona's Phantom of the House)

As Congress tries to pass what is being called the "CRomnibus" ("CR" from Continuing Resolution, and "omnibus" from all the other stuff included), Arizona's Phantom of the House, the retiring Rep. Ed Pastor (D-CD7) spoke on the floor this morning to support it.

As this is being published, there are reports that the White House is trying to convince a shrinking number of Democrats to pass the measure to avert a government shutdown tonight.  Many Democrats are holding off because of provisions that offend them regarding loosened campaign finance limits and Wall Street regulations.

Republicans - who hold the majority in the House - have a number of members, including Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Matt Salmon (R-CD5), who oppose the $1.1 Trillion spending measure.

Pastor spoke broadly, and emphasized the difficult aspects of reaching an agreement such as this.



http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4518955/rep-pastor-re-federal-spending
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READ: Arizona's Supreme Court Request To Delay Issuing Driver's Licenses To DREAMers




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