Friday, May 26, 2017

BREAKING: Are the Boots Made For Running? Fmr Congressman Ron Barber Leads Off "Draft Ann" Effort To Challenge McSally (READ)

Former Arizona Congressman Ron Barber took the public lead this morning on an effort to draft Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) in the southern Arizona swing district.

No committee paperwork is yet on file with the Federal Election Commission, but Barber sent out his email today and a website is up. (The email is published below.) He emphasizes Kirkpatrick's Tucson connections and compares McSally's votes and actions regarding the GOP's efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare are a main motivating factor with Kirkpatrick's efforts to pass the healthcare reform in 2010.

Kirkpatrick served non-consecutive terms in Congress representing much of rural eastern Arizona. She unsuccessfully challenged Sen. John McCain last year. Barber succeeded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in what is now CD2, and was defeated by McSally in 2014.

CD2 has long been and will likely continue to be a swing district heavily contested by the Democratic and Republican parties. A battle between a sitting and former Congresswoman may increase the intensity even more.

Barber's email:
Dear mitch:

Families across Arizona were appalled when Martha McSally voted with Paul Ryan to take health coverage away from 23 million people. My family was one of them. 

Differences of opinion over healthcare are nothing new. But Donald Trump's plan is a new low: delivering giant tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires, and making poor people pay for it by taking away their family health coverage. 

It's immoral. 

To defeat McSally, we need someone with the moral courage to put ordinary families ahead of party politics. Ann Kirkpatrick is the right person for that job. 

Please join me in drafting her to run for Congress.

Ann has been a champion for working people across Arizona since she worked in the Pima County attorney's office. A graduate of the University of Arizona's law school, Ann has been part of the Tucson community for decades. She started her family here, and her children and grandchildren live here in Tucson. 

Let's draft Ann to run for Congress.

When the political pressure was on in 2009 and 2010, many Democrats lacked the courage to vote for the Affordable Care Act, but Ann is strong. She voted for healthcare for Arizona families, even though it cost her her job. Born and raised in Arizona, Ann knows that the needs of Arizona families matter more than orders from Donald Trump or Paul Ryan. I am asking you to stand with me and encourage Ann to run for Congress.

There's no time to lose!

Ron Barber
Tucson, Arizona

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

BREAKING/READ: Arizona Supreme Court Vacates $1.2M Fine Against Fmr AG Tom Horne; Arizona Special Counsel Law Violated His Due Process; Campaign Finance Case Goes To Current AG

More than 6 years after former Attorney General Tom Horne may or may not have illegally coordinated with an independent expenditure effort, the Arizona Supreme Court today unanimously tossed the $1.2M fine against him because of due process violations. The Court found that Arizona laws improperly gave Special Prosecutor Sheila Polk both the investigatory and adjudicative powers over the case.

Ironically, the Supreme Court hands the decision on whether to start from scratch to the man who defeated Horne in the 2014 GOP primary, AG Mark Brnovich.

In 2010, Horne benefitted from an independent expenditure campaign led by friend Kathleen Winn. (Republican) Then-Secretary of State Ken Bennett found that there was reasonable cause to believe that Horne had improperly coordinated with Winn (who had previously been involved with his committee). Then-Attorney General (and Democrat) Terry Goddard appointed Yavapai County Attorney (and Republican) Sheila Polk as the Special Prosecutor to investigate.

After Polk's finding that Horne and Winn did violate Arizona statutes, Horne appealed the fine to an Administrative Law Judge. The ALJ found in favor of Horne, but Polk rejected the ALJ's opinion. Horne then appealed that rejection to the court system.

The Supreme Court, with new Justice Clint Bolick authoring the opinion, found that the law violates Due Process rights - it is set up slightly differently from federal laws setting up special prosecutors.

A key paragraph:
Here, the combination of prosecutorial and adjudicative functions not just in a single agency but in the same official presents “special facts and circumstances” creating an intolerable risk of unfairness. The initial determination of a legal violation here was not akin to a judge finding probable cause to proceed to trial and then reaching a final decision after an adversarial process in which the judge was not an advocate. Rather, under the statutory scheme, the Secretary of State made the probable cause finding. Polk then commenced investigation and issued a lengthy decision finding a legal violation and ordering compliance, which would have been a final determination had Appellants not appealed. In the subsequent ALJ proceeding, Polk admittedly “was involved with the prosecution of the case, by assisting with the preparation and strategy.” Thereafter, she issued a final administrative determination affirming her prior order and rejecting most of the ALJ’s conclusions of law. So we have here not only a single agency performing accusatory, advocacy, and adjudicatory functions, but the same individual performing all three functions. As Withrow characterized the circumstances in Murchison, “the judge in effect became part of the prosecution and assumed an adversary position.” Withrow, 421 U.S. at 53. Beyond even that, Polk was in the position to affirm the very determination and order that she initially issued. See also id. (describing denial of due process where judge could rely on his own “[personal] knowledge and impression . . . that could not be tested by adequate cross-examination” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
No word yet on how AG Mark Brnovich will proceed.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

READ: CBO Cost Estimate of the House-Passed Version of Healthcare Reform

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WATCH: Rep. McSally Leads Congressional Women Carrying The Day Fighting Military Nude Photo Sharing

(UPDATE, 11:00am: The bill passed one minute after this article was posted, 418-0.)

Arizona Representative Martha McSally (R-CD2) led a bipartisan group of female House members on Tuesday in a unanimous "debate" of a bill aimed at tightening up the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice in the wake of the Marines United nude photo sharing scandal. A lopsided vote is expected later today.

The debate's optics were strange, as no other Republicans and no men from either party spoke about the PRIvATE Act sponsored by McSally. Kelly Schibi, her Communications Director, tells Arizona's Politics that that was an unfortunate timing issue because of a large number of committee hearings/meetings taking place at the same time. She points to the almost equal number of GOP and Democratic co-sponsors - which does include a lot of men. (Arizona co-sponsors are Reps. Trent Franks (R-CD8), Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9), Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) and Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1).)

McSally - who served as a pilot in the USAF - powerfully opened and closed the 22-minute debate*, explaining why it is important to make the nude photo-sharing that Marines engaged in on Facebook explicitly action-worthy under the UCMJ.  More than 30 Marines are facing courts martial proceedings.

Schibi indicates that the vote will take place later today. Unfortunately, McSally will not be there to vote "aye". McSally is returning to Tucson on an emergency basis due to the serious illness of a close friend.

Here is the text of the bill, which will head to the Senate after today's passage.

* "Debate" only in the nominal sense. No one spoke in opposition.

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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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