Thursday, July 11, 2019

LISTEN: Scammers Threatening To Rape, Murder Daughter; Hitting Valley Hard (OFF-TOPIC)

I do not normally publish this kind of article, but my wife and I hope that sharing this will prevent others from getting scammed or being subjected to the terrifying emotional pitch. Both of us were - separately - attacked by the same would-be scammers on Wednesday.

A recording of the four times they called me are below. (Well, I did not answer the first call, as it came from a foreign number that I did not recognize.)

It starts with a young woman sobbing hysterically and saying "Dad (Mom) I got in an accident". I never before realized that hysterically sobbing young women all sound like they could be one of my kids. Nevertheless, I repeatedly asked "who is this?"

After they get your attention and hook you, the "daughter" says this man is trying to help her, she hands the phone to him. He quickly morphs it into a kidnapping scenario, and the urgent need to bring him some money if you ever want to see your child again.

It all seems like it COULD be real enough, even with doubts. So, you kind of have to stay on the phone in case it IS real.

I kept asking questions and trying to string him along until a friend in the office* could call 911 - 911 had them keep calling my daughter's phone until she finally answered and said she was fine. The scammers must have sensed that development, as they finally gave up.

Little did I know that they promptly dialed my wife's cell phone, and terrorized her for another 15 minutes until the friendly people at Fry's and the Phoenix P.D. officers were able to verify that our other daughter was also safe.

Both 911 dispatchers and police officers confirmed that this is currently sweeping the Valley - they have been getting calls and that some have been successful. In fact, the FBI's Arizona Field Office issued a warning about it in May.

It is not clear whether they are randomly dialing cell phone numbers or if they somehow choose intended victims. There are some indications that point either way.

We want to help publicize this scam not only because we do not want people to give these guys money, but also because we do not want more parents to go through the 15 or more minutes of emotional terror.

Listening to the recording can help prepare you if you answer a similar call. Keep calm, keep them on the phone while you (or, someone near you) try to contact your (real) child and/or 911. Ask to speak to your supposed child and ask questions that only she would know the answer to. (See the FBI warning for other pieces of advice.)

Here are the recordings. There are graphic references and explicit language.





*That friend, Leila, wrote a very good article on this incident. You should read it once you finish this one.

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"AZ Law" - AG vs. Universities, Bad Braille, Prosecutors Can't Seek Execution vs. Immigrant, and More

Please make your way over to our sister website to stream or download the newest installment of "AZ Law". The new Sun Sounds of Arizona program airs monthly, with additional episodes available to listen to on-demand.

This week's installment features a mix of reporting - original and from the Republic, the AP and CBS Radio - as well as a commentary from Blog For Arizona founder/attorney Michael Bryan.

The program features articles covering Arizona-related court cases in both state and federal courts.

Aired on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability.  Sun Sounds is part of the broadcast operation at Rio Salado Community College, along with KJZZ and KBAQ. You can donate or listen here.



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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

BREAKING: $250,000,000 Air Attack! Arizonans Will See More Political Ads Than Folks In Every Other State (But Two)

Get ready!

Perhaps the strongest indication yet that Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes are in play next year came today, when a major political ad-tracking firm noted that $249M worth of TV, radio and digital ads will bombard Arizona between now and November 3. 2020. Only two states will see more ad spending for the Presidential and Senate general election campaigns.*

Advertising Analytics predicts that $6B will be spent on advertising nationwide for the Presidential, Congressional and gubernatorial races.

Arizonans can expect to see $141M spent on the Presidential race after the nominees are picked. Only Florida ($339M) and Pennsylvania ($288M) will see more.

Add in that Advertising Analytics reports that Arizona will likely see $108M worth of ads in the most heavily-advertised Senate race in the nation - for the special election to serve out the rest of the late John McCain's term - and Arizona two major TV markets will nearly match those in Florida and Pennsylvania (on a per-market average).

Arizona also has three House seats listed as somewhat competitive ("Likely") and approximately $10M of video advertising for those is expected.

*If you factor in spending for the Presidential primary election campaign, New Hampshire and Nevada may see more total spending (and, earlier).

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Emoluments Case Against President Trump Continues; 4 of 5 Arizona Democratic Reps. Among Plaintiffs (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

Emoluments Case Against President Trump Continues; 4 of 5 Arizona Democratic Reps. Among Plaintiffs
3:30p.m.: Four of Arizona's five House Democrats are plaintiffs in a suit claiming that President Donald Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by accepting "emoluments" while serving as President. Last week, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled against the President's effort to delay the action, and ordered discovery to commence.

The decision was publicized today by some of the 215 Congressional Democrats bringing the action. The Arizona Members of Congress participating are Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (CD2), Raul Grijalva (CD3), Ruben Gallego (CD7) and Greg Stanton (CD9). Neither Rep. Tom O'Halleran (CD1) nor Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are parties to the action.

Judge Emmet Sullivan previously denied the President's motion to dismiss the case. The new motion was to permit  the Administration to appeal the previous rulings and to stop discovery during that process.



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Friday, June 28, 2019

BREAKING; Arizona Senators Split On Proposal To Forbid Attack On Iran Without Congressional Approval (READ the amendment)

Arizona's Senators split this afternoon on a proposal that would have restricted the President's abilities to begin hostilities with Iran before getting Congressional approval. The bipartisan amendment needed 60 votes to pass; the vote was 50-40.



Kyrsten Sinema sided with all voting Democrats to add the check to President Donald Trump's ability to launch an attack. Four Republicans (Paul, Lee, Collins, Moran) also voted "aye"; Arizona's Martha McSally voted "nay".

The short proposed amendment would have been attached to the National Defense Authorization Act. It would have provided an exception for "defend(ing)" against an Iranian attack.

Here is the entire text:


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Thursday, June 27, 2019

BREAKING: Court Dismisses Effort To Move Up McSally/Kelly Contest To Replace Late Senator McCain (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

2:30pm: As reported on sister site "AZ Law", a U.S. District Court Judge today threw out a case challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona law that has delayed a special election to replace the late Senator John McCain for more than two years.

Plaintiffs were calling for the special election to be held as soon as practicable and said that the law that has permitted Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to appoint first Jon Kyl and then Martha McSally to the seat for a period of September 2018 until January 2021 violates the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Diane Humetewa found Ducey's arguments defending Arizona's law convincing and scolded the plaintiffs several times.

The decision is already - somewhat - under appeal to the Ninth Circuit. But, as it now stands, the likely match-up between appointee McSally and Democrat Mark Kelly is still scheduled for November 2020.
Chandler attorney Tom Ryan notes that the law changed mere weeks before McCain's passing and "effectively deprived Arizona voters".

For more details on the dismissal and the already-pending appeal - including , please visit ArizonasLaw.org. "AZ Law" is a new program on Sun Sounds of Arizona, covering Arizona court cases.

If you would like to show your appreciation for Arizona's Politics reporting, please consider donating to our pool to support OTHER journalism-related nonprofits.  

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"QUESTIONABLE ETHICS": Rep. Gosar Attacks Special Counsel Chief On Discredited IRS/McCain/Tea Party Line, Then Backs Off (WATCH)

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar attacked the head of the Office of Special Counsel for his "questionable ethics" in a hearing today, using a discredited theory that the late Senator John McCain wanted to punish Tea Party groups. When confronted by the witness, Gosar tried to back away.

Confused? That is understandable. This video from today's House Oversight Committee will clarify. And, here are the basics.

The witness is Henry Kerner. He is chief of the Office of Special Counsel, and was testifying about his recommendation that White House Special Advisor Kellyanne Conway be removed from her job for repeated Hatch Act violations. Earlier in his career, Kerner worked for the late-Arizona Senator John McCain.

In that capacity, Kerner met with the IRS in 2013, before the controversy about whether the IRS was targeting the applications of Tea Party organizations burst into the public sphere. Gosar today accused Kerner of recommending that the IRS "harassing non-profit groups until they are unable to continue operating."

"You yourself have a history of questionable ethics," stated Gosar. Kerner used the transcript of that meeting to show that the discussion was about "sham groups" and that there was no mention of conservative or Tea Party groups.

"I would NEVER target conservative groups. I'm here because of the Tea Party victory...in 2010." (Republican former Rep. Darrell Issa hired Kerner for the same Oversight Committee he was testifying in front of today.) "It's just a smear."

Gosar then tried to weave in McCain's enmity towards the Tea Party, to demonstrate that the attack on Kerner makes sense. Kerner explained that McCain was furious that the IRS may have targeted conservative groups and instructed Kerner to go "all out" to show that such behavior from the IRS would be unacceptable.

In full retreat, Gosar responded with "I just wanted to clear it up." He moved on.

(Article has been corrected to fix Special Counsel's name. An unfortunate misspelling, indeed.)



Ironically-related article from earlier this month: "The Ghost of Holiday Bonuses Past: FEC Follows-Up On Rep. Gosar's Questionable Staff Bonuses"


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COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Senate and House Bills To Spend $4.5-4.6B On Southern Border; Senate Routes $145M Thru Military, House Adds $615M To Aid C. American Nations

Update, 7/2 at 12:45: Without fanfare or noting it on the White House website, President Donald Trump signed the $4.6B aid package yesterday. It became law today.

Here are both the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of a $4.6B spending package for the crisis on the southern border. The House approved it yesterday on a party-line vote.

However, that would now appear to be dead on arrival, as the Senate voted today in an overwhelmingly bi-partisan fashion to substitute the Senate's package for a vote. The Senate passed their version, and that will head back over to the House. Arizona's Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally both voted "aye". (Last night, Arizona's four Republican Representatives voted "nay" on the House version.)

Arizona's Politics has compared the money parts of the two versions, and can point out some of the key similarities and differences. (We have not (yet) compared the "guard rails" that were reportedly placed on the spending by the House bill.)

1) DIFFERENCE: The House version would make $615M in assistance available to the three Central American nations responsible for most of the asylum seekers (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) and to other nations in the area. The Senate version does not mention this.
2) DIFFERENCE: The Senate version routes $145M of the funds through the Army, Army National Guard, Air Force and Marines. The amounts are listed as "Operations and Maintenance." It is not clear whether this is done as a result of earlier budget transfers from the Administration's earlier emergency declaration. The House version does not reference the military.
3) SIMILARITY: Both provide $155M to the U.S. Marshalls for prisoners in custody. Both provide monies for the "Legal Orientation Program". (House=$15M, Senate=$10M).
4) DIFFERENCE: The Senate adds $55M for immigration judges, facilities and supplies.
5) SIMILARITY: The House allocated $1.2B to Customs and Border Protection; the Senate $1.0B. The Senate budgets $112M for "consumables and medical care" for the minors (House = $92M). The Senate's has $708M for migrant care and processing facilities and $35M for transportation.
6) SIMILARITY: Both have $85M for CBP facilities.
7) DIFFERENCE: The House provides twice as much to FEMA ($60M vs $30M), while the Senate bill gives nearly twice as much to ICE ($209M vs $128M).
8) SIMILARITY: Both propose spending $2.9B through the Department of Health and Human Services for "Refugee and Entrant Assistance".












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