FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Friday, May 20, 2016

BREAKING: "How We Won": Last-Minute $500K From Chamber of Commerce Propels Prop. 123 Proponents; (READ)

The proponents for the school-funding measure - which is leading by approximately 16,000 votes this morning - raised more than $5M for the effort.

Their report (below) included a last-minute $500,000 contribution from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. Arizona's Politics published the first report previously. (Pair of Multi-Billionaire Couples Fund Ducey's $3.7M Prop. 123 Campaign; Opposition Raises $617.00)

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce ranks high on the #50ShadesOfDarkMoney spectrum because it does not disclose which companies or individuals have contributed what to whom.

In addition to the Chamber's $500,000 contribution on April 29 - just three days after Let's Vote Yes... On Prop 123 committee saw the measure slip below 50% in internal polling - the Gila River and Salt River-Maricopa Indian Communities each kicked in $25,000 in last minute cash, putting the revenues just over $5M. (The State of Arizona is siding with the two nations in their ongoing battle over a Glendale casino opened by the Tohono O'odham.)

As of the May 7 reporting date, the committee had spent more than $2.9M on television advertising and $500,000 with the Sean Noble-connected Direct Response Group on communications.


(CORRECTION, 10:40am: The Let's Vote Yes... On Prop 123 committee DID file the pre-election report on time; the report filed May 19 was an AMENDED report. J.P. Twist, the committee's campaign manager, indicates that the amendment was to include a late-received in-kind contribution. Arizona's Politics apologizes for the oversight.)

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

READ: Secy of State Reagan Vents, Stomps On Treasurer DeWit's "Sour Grapes" and "Falsehoods" and Blows Off Pamphlet Violation (#ArizonaElectedOfficialsCageMatch)

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan vented her frustrations with State Treasurer Jeff DeWit today, blasting him for "spread(ing) election law falsehoods" and his "sour grapes" over both the February Presidential Preference Election and this week's Special Election.

In an unsigned-but-1st-person post on the Secretary of State's website titled "Sour Grapes", Reagan minimizes her office's statutory violation - not mailing out all publicity pamphlets before the legal deadline - saying that "we are also confident that Arizona voters had plenty of information about the two ballot propositions...."

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich opened an investigation into the Secretary of State's failure, and had pointed comments about the violation.

With the vote count still too close to call for Proposition 123 and county recorders still counting late early votes and provisional ballots, DeWit posted an "official statement" (below) questioning "the validity of the election results" because of the violation.

Reagan answered back today with her biting response:


Closing the post with a bang, Reagan stated:


What is not fair game is to have a Treasurer, who while moonlighting as a campain operative, continues to throw wild accusations and have public meltdowns when one of his campaigns goes poorly. That's just sour grapes.

DeWit is GOP Presidential presumptive nominee Donald Trump's Arizona Chair. He also was the highest-profile opponent of Prop. 123. Here was his statement yesterday:


As of late this afternoon, Prop. 123 is passing by less than one percentage point, 9,243 votes.




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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Governor Veto-SLAMS Unanimous Legislature For "Weak" Health Profession Regulatory Board Bill; Need More Oversight

The Arizona Legislature unanimously passed a bill this month with changes to the boards regulating psychologists and health professions; today, Governor Doug Ducey not only vetoed that bill, but BLASTED the Legislature for its "watered down and weak" effort.

The veto letter (below) calls for major reforms to the regulatory boards and promises that he will "explore all other options at my disposal to shine a light on this dark corner of state government."

The bill was sponsored by Senator Nancy Barto (R-LD15), chair of the Senate's Health Committee. She has not yet responded to Arizona's Politics' request for comment. The bill passed 29-0 in the Senate, and the House voted 55-0 in the waning hours of the session.

Among other things, the bill would have removed behavior analysts from the purview of the State Board of Psychologist Examiners and gave it to the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. It also would have required non-disciplinary orders against a professional to be placed on the Board's (or, Commission's) website and would have permitted boards to establish confidential monitoring programs.

Ducey said "there needs to be more oversight" because Arizona should not rely on "aggressive reporting" - which he appreciated - to "lear(n) of significant problems that need to be addressed.




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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Renewed Republican Redistricting Revenge! Arizona Legislature Using Budgetary Power To Possibly Limit Map Defense

In the wake of two GOP defeats at the U.S. Supreme Court, Republicans at the Arizona Legislature are using their budgetary powers to sweep $695,000 from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission ("AIRC").  The funds were to be used in defending a state court action brought by key Republican lawmakers (and others) as that case heads towards trial next year.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a new budget into law yesterday. It contains $1.1M for the entire Independent Redistricting Commission budget. That amount is not enough to cover the expected legal expenses for the Leach v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission case, which has already cost taxpayers $1.5M.

Primarily because the Leach case had been placed on the back burner (by the parties and the court) while the (GOP-controlled) Legislature brought its constitutional challenge to the Supreme Court (2015) and Republican interests brought their challenge to the maps to the Supreme Court (2016), the AIRC currently has $695,000 in unspent appropriations from 2014 and 2015.

Discovery has been proceeding hot and heavy - with plenty of disputes - during the past year, and the AIRC estimates it will cost more than $1.8M for the fiscal year ending next month. Much of that is because the individual Commissioners each have had to have separate attorneys.  A conference to set the case for trial is scheduled for November.

Earlier this year, the AIRC requested that the Legislature permit the AIRC to carry over the $695,000 balance to help cover the legal costs through trial.  (A March 30 memo to AIRC Commissioners and cc'ed to legislative leaders is published below.) "The Legislature said no," AIRC Deputy Executive Director Kristina Gomez told Arizona's Politics. "They were not rude, they just did not do it."

Two of the Plaintiffs in the Leach case are Sen. Don Shooter (R-LD13) and Rep. Vince Leach (R-LD11). They are the Chair and the Vice-Chair of their respective bodies' Appropriations Committees.  Both have declined repeated requests by Arizona's Politics to comment on the AIRC's appropriations as it relates to the litigation.*

"You have leaders of one body of government controlling the monies for what is supposed to be a fully independent body of government. This is not surprising, and it is not right," Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Steve Farley (D-LD9) told Arizona's Politics. Farley also noted that voters made the AIRC independent because of the nature of their task - redistricting legislative and Congressional districts.

If the AIRC runs out of taxpayer funds to defend the suit before or during trial, it has a few options available, including asking the judge to order the state government (including plaintiffs Leach and Shooter) to properly fund the defense

There have been suggestions that the Legislature did not permit the carry over of funds because the suit might be settled after the unanimous Supreme Court opinion last month reiterated that slight population discrepancies between districts is generally permissible. However, Joe Kanefield, of Ballard & Spahr, represents the AIRC; he says that there have been no settlement discussions. Kanefield adds that he does not think that the two Supreme Court opinions give the Leach plaintiffs incentive to settle:
"Harris challenged the legislative map under federal law while Leach challenges the congressional map under state law. Given that there are no federal claims involved in Leach, the Arizona Supreme Court will have the final say should the losing party pursue all appeal rights. "

Arizona taxpayers have spent at least $4,671,240 on attorneys' fees for the GOP legal challenges**. The maps have been in place since the 2012 elections, and less than 4 years remain until the next re-districting process begins.


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

*The Plaintiffs in Leach are represented by Snell & Wilmer, it is unclear how the plaintiffs' legal fees are being paid. The Republican plaintiffs in the Harris case were funded by various donors, largely non-disclosed.
**$360,000 paid by the Legislature for Supreme Court representation, plus $4.3M paid by the AIRC on the three different Republican-filed court challenges. (Not including non-court legal costs incurred in response to then-Governor Jan Brewer and then-Attorney General Tom Horne.)

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Monday, May 9, 2016

WATCH, LIVE: Rep. McSally Field Hearing In Sahuarita Re: Border Security


(livehearing will open in new window)
Rep. McSally (R-CD2) said before the hearing that she is conducting the hearing because "(O)ur residents live with the consequences of our unsecure border every day and their perspectives are invaluable to improving our border strategy and making our communities safer.”

Patrick Ptak, Rep. McSally's Communications Director, tells Arizona's Politics that there are about 65 community members at the hearing.

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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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