Thursday, September 30, 2010

SUCCESS For "Fact Check Follow-up": Rotellini Campaign Removes Primary-Only Endorsements

It is nice to see a campaign acknowledge and correct its mistakes.  And, nice to see one of our "Fact Check Follow-Ups" prove to be a success.

Yesterday, we posted and publicized a piece noting that the Rotellini campaign was still using primary-only endorsements on its website and Facebook page.  Two weeks earlier, our Fact Check had first brought attention to the endorsement abuse, including the active use of the Republic's endorsement in an e-mail.

Within hours of making e-mail contact, the site and Facebook page were scrubbed clean.  Evan Brown, Communications Director, reported: "Thanks for bringing it to our attention - much of our new media effort is run by volunteers, and this was just something that got overlooked."

Overlooking that the September 15 e-mail was not likely "run by volunteers", Arizona's Politics is glad to see the responsiveness and accountability. 

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS: The (Washington) "Nationals" Still Slugging It Out In Mitchell vs. Schweikert race. Or, ARE they?

As we get closer to November, the independent expenditures on behalf of or against Congressional candidates will continue to increase. Arizona's Politics will check in regularly on the reports that these groups must submit to the Federal Election Commission. Here are the details for this week's filings.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ("DCCC") filed their notice with the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") that it had spent $56,715.34 opposing Republican challenger David Schweikert in CD5.  Approximately $10,000 for production of the ad(s), $10 for a website registration, and the rest for air time.  No other Arizona district was mentioned, and here is a rundown of other races around the country that the DCCC put down some money this week.

Interestingly, on this past Monday, a Republican blogger working hard for Schweikert announced that the National Republican Congressional Committee "NRCC" was about to launch a couple of ads against Mitchell within "a couple of days." This blogger has also repeatedly stated that the DCCC has given up on the race.

The claim about the impending assault on Mitchell was interesting for a number of reasons.  (For one, if the Schweikert lead is as imposing as claimed and Mitchell supporters have given up, how do you explain the blazing barrels of the NRCC?)  Earlier this week, we noted that the National Republican Congressional Committee "NRCC" had filed that it had spent $83,000 on ads in the CD1 race against Democratic incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick.  The mandated FEC reports are notices that money has already been spent, not future plans; the notice is required within 48 hours of spending the funds.

The NRCC has apparently not filed ANY reports of expenditures in the Mitchell/Schweikert battle - going back to the August 24 primary. (Here is page with links to their reports.)

Maybe Arizona's Politics is missing something here.  Maybe the NRCC has delayed their expenditures, or maybe the ad was created for free and will only air on their YouTube channel.  Maybe the blogger was blowing smoke or mistook the NRCC for the DCCC.  Maybe we will never know for sure. 

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

FACT CHECK - of a sort - from AZ Star, from Three Sonorans, from ???: Glassman Plagiarized In Thesis

On the surface, John McCain and his campaign seems to be nonchalantly cruising toward November 2.  Yet, below the surface, the opposition research goes on.

David Morales, at the Three Sonorans blog, received a tip building on an earlier post he had done about Democratic candidate Rodney Glassman's doctoral thesis at the U of A.  Yesterday, he documented the plagiarism of several sentences in the thesis (which were not surrounded by quotation marks nor cited).

Today, the Arizona Daily Star pushes the story forward a bit with a couple additional examples of "unattributed" work, and reactions from Glassman's spokesperson (it was reviewed/guided/approved, and others used Glassman's research) and McCain's spokesperson ("these allegations raise serious questions about Rodney Glassman's integrity and fitness to serve....")

"AZ Blue Meanie", at the group blog "Blog For Arizona", sees the McCain camp's handling of the situation as a "good for the gander" opportunity to revisit John McCain's own, less-than-stellar academic career.  (And, he or she gets in a well-deserved jab at the Star's reporter for failing to cite or name the blog that broke this story.)

REPORT CARD:  For the apparent plagiarism AND the lame spokesperson quote, Rodney Glassman earns an "F".  For their apparent opposition research AND the opening the spokesperson gave Glassman (and bloggers) to re-raise McCain's own academic record, John McCain and his campaign earn an honorary "C" (which may be the highest grade McCain has received since that easy teacher in 2nd grade). 

ADDITIONALLY, The Three Sonoran and Blog For Arizona blogs get "A's" for their professional handling of the story, and Rhonda Bodfield gets a "B-" for getting reaction but - ironically - not fully citing the source of the story.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FACT CHECK FOLLOW-UP: AG Candidate Rotellini Continues To Misuse Endorsements

UPDATE (9/30): Within 5 hours of e-mailing a link to this post to the Rotellini campaign, both the website's "Supporters" page and the Facebook page were scrubbed to eliminate the two primary-only endorsements.  More details:

One of the things that bothers me even as Fact Checking has - thankfully - become more prevalent over the past few years is when campaigns/candidates IGNORE the fact checkers publicly calling them out on their falsehoods or misrepresentations. If anything, it got worse in the last election cycle and the trend is showing signs of continuing.

So, Arizona's Politics is going to try to do its part to continue holding false-tellers' feet to the fire. We will try to follow-up on the most egregious misrepresentations to see if and how they have been remedied. If you have any suggestions for this series, please comment below or e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com.

Two weeks ago, Arizona's Politics posted a Fact Check on AG candidate Felecia Rotellini's active mis-use of an endorsement by the Arizona Republic.  The Republic endorsed her AND Tom Horne in the Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively.  The Rotellini campaign used the Republic endorsement in a post-primary e-mail touting her as the "Community's Choice For Arizona".  Her website's endorsement page also noted that she was endorsed by the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce - even though that, too, was for the primary only.  She received a grade of "F" for the false and misleading active mis-use of the primary-only endorsement of the state's largest newspaper.

It was time to follow-up on the subject.  Lo and behold, the endorsements page* does still list the Tucson Chamber's endorsement - interviews with the Chamber for a general election endorsement were scheduled for last week and no general election endorsement has been made.  But, worse than that, the Rotellini Facebook page is actively touting the Republic's endorsement. Her "Donate" page comes up as the default, and boasts "Along with the Professional Firefighters of Arizona, Felecia has over 40 endorsements including the Arizona Republic...."

Another "F" grade, for failing to remove the misleading endorsements.

As is our practice, Arizona's Politics will contact the Rotellini campaign and request that they correct all campaign materials which contain primary-only endorsements.  We will be happy to publish information indicating that the Facebook page and the website have been cleaned up.

*On September 15, the "supporters" page was NOT linked on the home page of the site - though it was linked in the e-mail at issue; on September 29, the "supporters" tab is front-and-center on the home page.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

In Arizona CD8, Quien Es Mas Macho?

NPR's (Tucson-based Southwest Correspondent) Ted Robbins had a very good piece about the CD8 race between incumbent Gabrielle Giffords and challenger Jesse Kelly on "Morning Edition" this morning.  (Here is link to transcript and audio.)  The story focused on border issues, even as Robbins concluded that Social Security, the Bush-era tax cuts, and the health care bill will be the "issues beyond the border (that) will probably decide the race". 

Why? "Because when it comes to border security and immigration, the candidates running for Arizona's 8th Congressional seat seem to have only two lines — hard and harder." 

Great closing line.  And, Robbins had a quotable line near the beginning of the four-minute report:

"There's an old saying in Spanish — Quien es mas macho? (Who's tougher?) — that sums up the debate in the district over border security and immigration.

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, the two-term incumbent, can't afford to look soft, so there isn't any talk of immigration reform. Instead, she reminds voters how she fought to get $600 million for border security this summer."
(I tried fact checking the origin of the "quien es mas macho" line, to no avail. My guess is it belongs to Bill Murray.)

By the way, the Morning Edition hosts got some mileage out of the theme for this story.  At the top of the hour tease, Steve Inskeep promo'd the story and then claimed to be tough; fill-in host Ari Shapiro introduced himself as being "not tough".  My vote for toughest of the day goes to Ted Robbins!

(Disclaimer: The paths of mas macho Ted Robbins and I crossed in Tucson for a brief period more than two decades ago.  We covered stories for different organizations, and spent a small amount of time in the same newsroom.)

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FACT CHECKING THE FACT CHECKS: Pearce, Arizona Republic, Rep. Steve King All Get "F's"; Arizona Republic's "Illegal Immigrants and Crime" - Wimpiest Fact Check Ever?

Arizona's Politics hearts Fact Checking (in case you had not yet noticed).  And, given the responses to several Fact Check articles on this site, I am not alone in loving accountability when a candidate/officeholder tells a whopper.  However, much of the benefits of good (and well-distributed) fact-checking can be completely undone by wimpiness in expressing an opinion as to the truth or falsity of the item being checked.

Now, it is unlikely that the reporters at the Arizona Republic/Channel 12/Cronkite School are the individuals determining what the final rating of a statement is.  Especially, when it is an ASU journalism school student doing the reporting.  Because it is hard to imagine that an award-winning student reporter who has already demonstrated a journalist's (good) strong principles would do the reporting that he has on State Sen. Russell Pearce's (R-LD18) use of statistics and still come up with a finding of "inconclusive."

Background: Pearce sends out a fund-raising, get-your-attention e-mail for "Ban Amnesty Now".  In it, he states as fact that "an estimated 9,000 American citizens are killed every year by illegal aliens.  That's 25 American citizens per day killed by illegal aliens, averaging 12 by stabbings and shootings and 13 by DUI and related crimes."

Student reporter Vaughn Hillyard did a thorough job trying to track down ANY backup for Pearce's stats.  He learned that Pearce attributes it to a report released by conservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in 2006.  Interestingly, Hillyard learns that King's office has tried, but cannot find a copy of their report.  Nor, can they figure out how they came up with the numbers.

Hillyard tracks down a GAO (Government Accountability Office) report from 2005 - which King has apparently asked the GAO to update - and finds that it does not support the Pearce/King numbers.  Hillyard checks the FBI's uniform crime report, two organizations that study immigration, and the Department of Homeland Security - none of which has wanted to and/or been able to come up with such a number. For good measure, the reporter reaches an author/university professor in the area, who flat-out states that the statistic "is complete fabrication."

"The Finding" from the Arizona Republic? "INCONCLUSIVE".  Wow.  Even the source's office says that they cannot find the report or back it up.

The Republic published that bold fact check in the paper on September 21 - it was on the website a couple of days before that.

Interestingly, just as Arizona's Politics was researching this article last Friday, we found that the Republic had removed the Fact Check from its database.  Completely gone, no explanation.

Today, we were going to research THAT, when we re-checked and found that an UPDATED version was posted last night.

King's office apparently found the missing report, and learned that it does NOT include the statistic in question.  So, alas, the new version adds another nail in the coffin yet retains the "INCONCLUSIVE" finding!

So, does the "inconclusive" finding have any justification?  After all, a Congressman must have had something to back up his trumpeting of an inflammatory number, right?  It comes down to that old adage of "you can't prove a negative," and the legal version of who has the burden of proof.

The Republic has obviously determined - for whatever reason - to give Pearce the benefit of the doubt and to take on the burden of disproving anything Pearce might say.  Even though Pearce and King (and other like-minded individuals) are using the statistic to alarm people, the Republic does not believe that the legislators have the burden of proving their numbers with verifiable information.

Is this a standard determination for others doing fact checking?  No.  While the major fact checkers are accustomed to being criticized from all sides for their difficult calls, they consistently put the burden on the person making the claim in dispute.

The most recent example is likely this one where PolitiFact gave comedian/pundit Bill Maher an unqualified "False" rating for repeating a statement that he had just read in an Associated Press news report.  The claim (that we still have some natural gas pipelines in the U.S. made from wood) is disputed, but Maher got a false rating for innocently repeating it.  Here is the very relevant final paragraph, with the spot-on final sentence:

Does this establish conclusively that there is no wooden pipe currently in use? No -- it's impossible to prove that without exposing every inch of the 2 million-plus miles of natural gas pipe in the country. We also can see why Maher would have trusted an AP report (if that's what he did) since we, too, tend to give the AP a high degree of credibility. Still, if you eliminate the AP's claim of existing wood pipe, since Kocher now disputes it, we see no evidence that wood pipe is currently being used. And since the burden of proof for the Truth-o-Meter falls on the speaker, we rate Maher's claim False.  (underlining added)

That is the ONLY place that the burden of proof should rest for a Fact Check!  A Fact Checker must be bold enough to call a statement without proof "FALSE".  I doubt that a fact check reporter - student or otherwise - would do all the checking that was done in this case, only to conclude that the reporting was inconclusive;  an editor or publisher could/would do that. 

Arizona's Politics will, therefore, hand out the following grades:
1) State Sen. Russell Pearce: "F" for False.
2) Rep. Steve King: "F" for Failing to Find report... or supporting data.
3) Student Reporter Vaughn Hillyard: "A" for Accurately tracking down every possible source of
      supporting data.
4) Arizona Republic: "F" for their Feeble Fact Check "Finding".  (And, a "W" for Wimpiness,
      and a "Q" for the Questionable removal of first story.)

Disclosure: Arizona's Politics has NO connection with any of the parties mentioned in this story.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

FOLLOWING MONEY IN POLITICS: Indie Expenditures For Congressional Races: Dentists, NARAL, and NRCC

Fellow dentists are doubling down to help Dr. Paul Gosar in his bid to unseat Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in CD1, while the National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC") throws another $83,000 onto the air.  Over in CD3, NARAL Pro-Choice America has put $233 into a mailer opposing Ben Quayle (vs. Jon Hulburd).

As we get closer to November, the independent expenditures on behalf of or against Congressional candidates will continue to increase.  Arizona's Politics will check in regularly on the reports that these groups must submit to the Federal Election Commission.  Here are the details for this week's filings.

1) In CD1, the American Dental Association's PAC spent $20,000 more to support Gosar.  The report indicates that the money was for a direct mail piece, and will undoubtedly feature some very white teeth. The ADA had previously spent an identical amount for Gosar (probably in the primary).

2) On the "going negative" side of the ledger in CD1, the NRCC is spending another $83,000 ($82,959.70, to be exact) in ads against incumbent Ann Kirkpatrick.  This brings the NRCC's total in this race up to more than $262,000.

3) In comparison, the NARAL-Pro Choice America expenditure of just $233.32 to design and proofread campaign material opposing Ben Quayle in CD3 seems like small potatoes. 

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

FACT CHECK FOLLOW-UP: Candidate Jeff Dial Continues To Ignore Republic's, AZ's Politics' Fact Checks

One of the things that bothers me even as Fact Checking has - thankfully - become more prevalent over the past few years is when campaigns/candidates IGNORE the fact checkers publicly calling them out on their falsehoods or misrepresentations. If anything, it got worse in the last election cycle and the trend is showing signs of continuing.

So, Arizona's Politics is going to try to do its part to continue holding false-tellers' feet to the fire. We will try to follow-up on the most egregious misrepresentations to see if and how it has been remedied. If you have any suggestions for this series, please comment below or e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com.

On September 4, the Arizona Republic did a "Fact Check" piece, finding that legislative candidate Jeff Dial (Repub., LD20) had posted FALSE information on his website.  On September 15, Arizona's Politics did a "Fact Check Follow-Up," noting that even 11 days after the Republic's one-star, false rating, Mr. Dial
had not corrected the false language (while praising him for the positive approach the rest of his issues statements took).

In the unlikely event that Mr. Dial did not learn of the Republic's verdict, Arizona's Politics has left multiple voice and e-mail messages.  We asked him to either respond or to let us know when the website was made accurate, so that we could inform our readers and the general public.  Those messages have gone unanswered.

As of 6:00 p.m., September 27, Mr. Dial has not corrected his website.  At this point, it may be safe to assume that he either still believes in the accuracy of the unsupported "survey" from which he lifted the claim, or he just does not care whether his primary tool for communicating with potential voters is accurate or not. Arizona's Politics would like to think that, somehow, Mr. Dial has not heard about the Republic's article and did not receive my e-mails or voice messages.

However, until we hear from Mr. Dial (please e-mail/phone/Tweet/snail mail/whatever), we have to award him another "F" for "Failing to correct".  This brings his report card to three "F's" in a row.

We welcome your comments about this post. Please post below, or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


For those who have been covering and/or following the 2010 version of "Following Money In Politics", there has been a lot going on, and tomorrow will be a big day.  Arizona's Politics has identified this subject as a key one in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's January ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.  We will continue to emphasize it to the best of our (limited) ability.  (Any ideas or help is welcome, by the way.)

TOMORROW: It looks like the U.S. Senate will take another crack at passing some sort of responsive legislation to the Citizens United case.  It may be a stripped-down version of the DISCLOSE Act which Republicans earlier filibustered, or it may be forcing another attempt at the full version.

TONIGHT: Big Arizona Republican fundraiser tonight at Sheraton. More details tomorrow.

YESTERDAY: CBS News aired a report on "Who's Paying For All Those Political Ads? (I have not yet watched it.)

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Elvis Releasing 4 New Songs... On 78 rpm discs! (What does that Latin mean, anyway?)

One more off-the-politics-track (a fun lunch, indeed):

Elvis Costello is releasing a new album in November.  To get a little buzz going, part of his team (Shorefire Media, also of Bruce Springsteen fame) sent out a release announcing that four of the songs will be released on limited edition 78 RPM discs.  (Although, they put a question mark at the end of the announcement, so did the LA Times get sucked in to treating it as a serious idea?)

The LA Times gave it some attention yesterday, but conspicuously did not address this part of the release (Lupe-o-Tone is the name of the fictional record company):




That motto has GOT to be a joke, or a clue to a joke.  So, I brushed off my old Latin skills - and/or consulted an online translator.  The motto:  "I am beginning to growl."

Ah, well.  I remember that some of those backward-masked messages were not as funny or clever as hoped for, either.

I wonder if you can turn a 78 backwards. Hmmmmm, maybe Elvis will bring that back, too.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

SNAPPING NEWS (that may become fodder for politicians): Kyrene Becomes First(?) Arizona School To Ban "Silly Bandz"; More "Silly Bans" On the Way?

We'll return to more political news in a moment, but this just in:

At least one school in the Kyrene School District - Kyrene de la Colina - is banning Silly Bandz, those fun, fun-to-wear, fun-to-trade, and apparently-fun-to-fight-over hair bands that retain various shapes.  (I have been fortunate in that none of my school-age kids - one in the Kyrene district - have shown any interest in them.  Although, now they might.)

A Google search shows that school bans of the bands have taken off around the country;  however, we were unable to find any coverage of such steps to restore playground and classroom order in Arizona.  'Til now.

Now, I'm not saying that it is an incorrect step for Colina Principal Kelvin Inouye to take.  It certainly gives teachers, administration, playground supervisors, parents, etc. an additional tool to keep students from getting out of hand.  But, I remember when things were banned when I was in school - it just created a black market and a bunch of stealthier students.

Here is the bulk of the letter just received:
Parents and Guardians,

Silly Bandz

Silly Bandz have become a hot new fashion accessory. If you aren’t aware, Silly Bandz are molded silicone wrist bands that come in many different shapes and colors. While Silly Bandz might be fun for your child to collect and trade, they have become a distraction here at school. Teachers were asked to provide input about the level of distraction these bands have become during instruction and it was significant enough that we decided to make a school based decision about whether to allow these bands at school or not. We have seen some conflicts arise because of the trading of these bands out at recess and during lunch time as well.

Starting this week, we are getting the word out that these bands are not allowed at school any more. I will pass the word along to students via the live morning announcements and duty supervisors will begin letting students know today. We appreciate your support with this by not allowing your child to wear or bring any of these bands to school starting tomorrow. Student achievement is our number one focus and anything that interferes with student learning has to be dealt with immediately. Thank you so much for your understanding and your help.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FOLLOWING MONEY IN POLITICS: New Minnesota Ruling Bodes Well For Arizona Law

I was putting together a report the last couple of days on whether corporations could work their way into state elections here in Arizona, post-Citizens United.  I had just come to the conclusion that it would be very difficult, when - BAM! - news came down about a federal judge in Minnesota reaching the same conclusion. 

Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and Coastal Travel Enterprises sued to overturn a new Minnesota law that requires disclosure of corporate contributions to independent expenditure committees.  U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank refused to grant a preliminary injunction to the plaintiffs on Monday.

The judge wrote that he doubted that they could prove that the disclosure law hampers their right to free speech, and said that the law serves an important government interest.

"Such transparency assures that the electorate will be able to make informed decisions and properly evaluate the speakers and their messages.  Invalidating the election laws at issue here would likely result in corporations making independent expenditures without any reporting or disclosure on the eve of the upcoming general election on Nov. 2. This result so close to the election would clearly harm the state, Minnesota voters, and the general public interest."
The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission case this past January opened up new avenues for corporations, labor unions and other groups (such as 501(c)(4)'s) to support (or oppose) candidates.  However, the Justices did explicitly approve of reasonable disclosure requirements.  The Minnesota disclosure laws came to national attention earlier this fall when it was learned that Target Corp., Best Buy, and Regis Corp. had contributed six-figure amounts to a group that was running advertisements for a conservative Minnesota candidate for governor.

Arizona also rushed a new statute onto the books to regulate election-related expenditures by "corporations, limited liability corporations and labor organizations."  A.R.S. Sec. 16-914.02 was signed into law on April 1, 2010 (and went into effect immediately), requiring them to notify the Secretary of State (for statewide or legislative) within one day of the expenditure.  The corp/LLC/union (which includes groups of said entities) must register and provide a copy of the advertisement (etc.), and the Secretary of State has to make the information available on the internet.

Arizona's law may be a bit more restrictive than Minnesota's, and may be subject to challenge.  To date, no such challenges have been made (to my knowledge), and it is hard to imagine one being successful at this point in the election cycle.

Arizona's Politics intends to monitor the Secretary of State's website, as well as other notable influxes of independent expenditure funds.  If you wish to bring any instances to our attention, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Monday, September 20, 2010

LEGISLATIVE INCUMBENT Promises To Bury Challenger "Like A Freaking Fish In The Backyard"; Challenger Says "Stop"

Reporters love to get quotes from candidates like the comment from State Sen. Frank Antenori (Repub., LD30).  It does not mean, however, that that is the type of political dialogue that we need in this age of Hyper-Partisanship.  Arizona's Politics is, of course, interested in providing political news that entertains as well as informs.  However, we are NOT encouraging escalation when we seek comment, and we are seeking to find the facts behind the rhetoric.

The Tucson Weekly's Jim Nintzel has posted Antenori's response to criticism from his challenger, Todd Camenisch.  Camenisch has been railing on the incumbent* for skipping the League of Women Voters forum this Wednesday night (6:30) in Sierra Vista (Public Library).  Camenishch is quoted as saying that "“I’m quite surprised, but I guess Frank realizes that a Marine can kick an Army’s guy ass any day.”

Antenori notched the rhetoric up in giving his explanation for not responding to the LWV invitation.  He indicated that he has a fundraiser with other GOP candidates the same day, and that “I’m out raising enough money to bury him like a freaking fish in the backyard.”

Inflammatory rhetoric aside, it is hard to say how much money that that would take.  Looking at the campaign finance reports, Antenori reports having $2,498.58 on hand as of September 13.  Camenisch has not yet filed the post-primary report (due on - coincidentally - this Wednesday); but, he reported $7,421.13 on hand August 4 and - unlike Antenori - did not have a contested primary. 

Reached by Arizona's Politics this morning, Camenisch's response to the "fish" comment is that "He (Antenori) needs to stop these comments and focus on his elected job to help the people get jobs, fix the economy, and improve public education and public safety."

Arizona's Politics has a call in to the Antenori campaign, for more information about the calendar conflict and the fundraising efforts.

*Appointed to fill seat of Jonathan Paton

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Friday, September 17, 2010

FACT CHECK UPDATE: Also Slams 60-Plus Association Ads

Earlier this week, we fact-checked the ads running against Democratic Representatives Harry Mitchell, Ann Kirkpatrick and Gabrielle Giffords.  We gave them a "C-"/misleading.

Today, one of the big kahunas in fact checking,, evaluated these ads, too.  Their conclusion?  Well, the headline says it all: "Misleading Onslaught by 60 Plus".  They did a very good job dissecting the two claims that our article glossed over as "scare tactics": losing your doctors and hurting the quality of care.

I highly recommend reading their article and supporting the non-profit organization that has led the way in fact checking.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

FACT CHECK: Gosar's Declaration of Kirkpatrick's Non-independence; Accusation of Misleading Is, Itself, Misleading

The Tweet from Paul Gosar this morning caught my attention - as Tweets are supposed to do.  The Republican candidate for CD1 stated: "Kirkpatrick doesn't like it when voters tweet about her votes in DC so here are all of them, including Obamacare ." 

Well, that seems kind of odd.  First, I have not heard about Kirkpatrick not liking "it" or getting involved.  Heck, she probably has the only campaign in the state that does not even use Twitter.  Search for "Ann Kirkpatrick" on Twitter and you will find a bunch of people with that name, but none of them seem to be a Representative running for re-election. 

Second, what kind of point is Gosar making posting her entire voting record?  I love Project Vote Smart as much or more than the next guy - heck, it was even started by former Arizona Corporation Commissioner and U.S. Senate candidate* Richard Kimball - but glancing quickly at Kirkpatrick's record there just gave me the impression that she votes AGAINST the majority quite a bit.

I searched Gosar's website for additional clues.  Not surprisingly, I found a news release from Wednesday, with this headline that just begged for some fact checking: "Kirkpatrick Misleads Voters Again; 86% Voting Record with Nancy Pelosi is not 'Independent'".  To support the claim that she votes for the "Obama-Pelosi agenda time and again", the Gosar campaign cites Kirkpatrick's vote for the stimulus plan and the budget.  Finally, they cite a fact check that the Arizona Daily Sun did earlier this week on a Kirkpatrick ad;  Gosar claims that the Sun called the ad "misleading".

However, the Daily Sun did NOT call the ad (or the specific claim of "independence")  "misleading";  it said: "Accuracy: Most points are accurate, but the ad lacks context, and one point is debatable."  The declaration of independence is apparently the point that the reporter concludes is "debatable".

So, let's "debate" that now.  Unfortunately, it is going to be difficult to do this without throwing a bunch of numbers at you - but, we will try to explain them clearly.  Is voting with the majority 86% of the time an indicator of dependence or independence? 

Some context is needed.  Most of the votes are non-controversial, and she may have even been voting on 435-0 votes;  that skews the percentages.  Kirkpatrick's percentage is based on 1,479 votes!  It is thus necessary to compare the 86.2% number with other members.  At the top of the Washington Post's page, the averages for members of each party are given.  In this 111th Session of Congress, the AVERAGE voting-with-party's-majority percentage is 90.6%.  (Parenthetically, the median - which may be more useful because the average can be easily skewed by some of the more "independent" members - is even higher, at about 95.7%.) 

There are 435 members of the House of Representatives.  Of them, only 18 voted with their party's majority a lower percentage of the time.  By the way, two of those are also members of Arizona's delegation: Jeff Flake (Republican, 84.9%) and Harry Mitchell (Democrat, 79.6%). 

(On the other side of the ledger, two of Arizona's Democrats and two of our Republicans voted with their the majority of their party a higher percentage of the time than the average: Ed Pastor (Democrat, 98.2%) and Raul Grijalva (Democrat, 96.6%), Trent Franks (Republican, 92.9%) and John Shadegg (Republican, 90.8%).)

You might notice that the Democrats have a higher average percentage than Republicans (92.2%-88.4%), which would seem to mean that the Democrats march more lock-step than Republicans.  However, it would seem that that could be explained by members of the minority party being more likely to crossover to be able to vote on the "winning" side.   And, sure enough, looking back to the 107th Congress, when Denny Hastert and the Republicans were in the majority, the numbers were nearly-perfectly flipped (85.8%-90.0%).

CONCLUSION:  In a world without context, a claim that someone voted with their party's majority 86.2% of the time might be a reasonable statement.  And, over the past several campaigns, we have increasingly seen challengers use the vote-with-party's-majority percentage against incumbents; I suspect we will see it more in the next few weeks.  However, we should live in a world with context.  And, with that context, Gosar's accusations are completely misleading.  Throw in the outright lie about the Daily Sun's article (and the snarky comment about Kirkpatrick not liking Tweets about her voting record), and Gosar earns an "F".

* Kimball was the Democratic nominee in 1988 for the open Senate seat; he lost to Rep. John McCain.  Kimball later asked McCain to be on the Board of Project Vote Smart.  McCain accepted, though that relationship has had its ups and downs.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: NPR's Thursday Report On "Secret Money" In This Year's Campaigns

I suspect that Arizona has already started seeing the impact of "secret money", and that we are going to see a lot more of it before Nov. 2.  (see "FACT CHECK: 60Plus Association's Ads Attacking Giffords, Kirkpatrick, Mitchell" and "SUPPLEMENT: Video, Text of 60-Plus' Attack Ads (vs. Mitchell, Kirkpatrick, Giffords)")  We are still actively seeking confirmation of corporations involved in funding these ads.)

Yesterday, NPR's "All Things Considered" broadcast a 3:51 story titled "Campaign Cash Surges From Undisclosed Donors." (you can listen or read transcript)  The chief example cited is a group running anti-Harry Reid in Nevada.  That group is a 501(c)(4) organization, the same as the 60-Plus Association.  And, similarly, neither is saying where they received their swelled election year funds. 

One other interesting note from the NPR report, which I have not yet had the chance to check out in the U.S. Supreme Court's decison on Citizens United: the court's opinion called for transparency, but it is the Federal Election Commission that had previously "drastically undercut" its rules on disclosure.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Minute Of Your Time, Please: I'd like your input on future of this blog


Thanks for clicking here and spending a bit o' time reading these posts.  It has been nearly three weeks of me weaving these posts in with the rest of my daily tasks.  Of course, I am doing this because I WANT to - because I think that there are gaps in election coverage which I can help fill.

I hope that I have written some informative, some entertaining, and some thought-provoking material in that time.  (Heck, some action-provoking would be cool, too!) 

I have received a little feedback in the open, and a bit more privately.  In truth, probably more than I received back in the 80's - the last time I was committing journalism.  However, it is certainly easier for readers/listeners/viewers/etc. to share reactions in this day and age than it was back in those long ago times.

So, I would like to solicit input from you today.  Let me know whether the type of posts I have made are worthwhile (to you), how I can improve this site (I plan to convert to a more website-y format shortly), and what other niches in political coverage I should try to help fill.  ANY ideas are welcome.

To jump start the discussion, let me put out a few of my thoughts.  Give me your reactions.

1) Fact Checking.  I have always thought the idea of fact checking is a critical one, and I have been happy to see the rise of dedicated fact checking - first at the national level and now here in AZ.  I hope that I have been able to add to the body of fact check work and I think the "Fact Check Follow Up" series (begun yesterday) might be the best addition.  I would like to provide a compilation of all of the fact checking that the various reporters have been doing.  If you would like to help, please send me links whenever you spot them.

2) Candidate and proposition profiles.  I would like to provide a bit of a one-stop shopping-type of resource for potential voters.  I have a bunch of ideas on how I want to do this, but what do YOU think would be important in such a profile?

3) Debates and interviews.  I would like to also provide a database of where videos (and audio) are located on the various campaign, YouTube, media websites. 

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I am open to discussing collaborations with you.  I have just begun to speak with a couple of people I know and respect - on both sides of the aisle - about contributing news and/or opinion pieces.  My ears, eyes - and mind - are open.

Thanks again, and thanks in advance for your input!  --MM


Sen. McCain Protested, Speaks Out This A.M. Against Everything Related To How Senate Considering Defense Authorization - And, Pointedly, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

It has been a busy day (so far) for Sen. John McCain in Washington.  First, he spoke - and was protested - at the Armed Services Committee hearing (about Korea).  The silent protest was trying to persuade him to not block the eventual repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" ("DADT") policy regarding homosexuals' service in the military.

Protesters held up signs with messages such as "Senate McCain, repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. It's not too late to change your legacy."  And, apparently, at some point, the protesters interrupted McCain's remarks about Korea.

McCain then went to the floor to rail on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the handling of the Defense Authorization bill.  (The full prepared text of his comments can be found here.)  He again decried the attaching of non-defense-related bills (he protested last year when hate crimes legislation was attached).  He stressed that he was neither opposing nor supporting the DREAM Act (citizenship for children of immigrants) and the banning of 'secret holds'.

But, the highlights of his remarks were related to DADT.  He did not indicate that he would oppose it, nor whether he would actually try to filibuster the Defense Authorization bill so long as DADT was attached.  But, he did come very close to promising a filibuster: "This is why I am opposed to debating and amending the National Defense Authorization Act at this time.  I believe very strongly that we should wait – actually wait, and not take any action on this controversial issue until we hear from our troops on what they think the impact of repeal would be."

McCain concluded by blasting the Democrats playing "political football" with the Defense Authorization legislation, saying that it "disrespects the long standing traditions of the Senate."  Democrats made the same complaints when the Republicans were in control of the Congress.

McCain is running for re-election against Democrat Rodney Glassman.

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

The NEW Wedge Issue For Arizona Campaigns?

This a.m., the Phoenix Business Journal brought this NY Times article to our attention.  It seems we Arizonans are divided by more than just the immigration debate.  The metric system is also dividing us. 

But, the Business Journal got it slightly wrong when they led with "Metric system lost the war to convert the U.S. to its system while ago. But the old battle is blossoming again...."  In reality, only military operations ceased back in the early 80's, and we have been in the diplomatic/peace-keeping/counter-insurgency phase since then.  Now, the unlikely cartel of Sean Hannity, the New York Times and the oft-maligned-but-rarely-declined stimulus package have acted as a detonator.  Thank God that the missile silo "lin(ing)" the freeway is de-activated - though who knows if there are newer, active ones under the hills near Patagonia.

I fully expect to see the press release later today from Sean Hannity/Jan Brewer challenging Rachel Maddow/Terry Goddard to a tag team debate dedicated to this issue and how it relates to the increasing threat of terrorists coming over our borders and feeling too much at home in southern Arizona.  Finally, a debate subject and format that both candidates could agree to sink their bared fangs into.  ("Really, Terry, did you have to tell Arizonans that they should walk a kilometer in the illegal immigrants' shoes?")

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go train for my 10k.

p.s. I've driven I-19 dozens of times, and I still learned a couple of things about it from the NYT article: (1) Never realized the exits were numbered in kilometers; and (2) that it is "lined with attractions".  Don't get me wrong, I've been to the Titan site and Tubac (not the casino), I've camped nearby and love Patagonia, and parts of the drive are pretty - but does that really make it "lined with attractions"?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FACT CHECK FOLLOW-UP: Legislative Candidate Doesn't Pull False Claim

One of the things that bothers me even as Fact Checking has - thankfully - become more prevalent over the past few years is when campaigns/candidates IGNORE the fact checkers publicly calling them out on their falsehoods or misrepresentations.  If anything, it got worse in the last election cycle and the trend is showing signs of continuing.

So, Arizona's Politics is going to try to do its part to continue holding false-tellers' feet to the fire.  We will try to follow-up on the most egregious misrepresentations to see if and how it has been remedied.  If you have any suggestions for this series, please comment below or e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com.

Eleven days ago, the Arizona Republic gave a one-star, "false" rating to State Legislative candidate Jeff Dial.  Dial is running on a Republican slate for Legislative District 20.  His website has seven pages devoted to detailing where Dial stands on various issues (immigration, education, economy, taxes, crime, family, Second Amendment).  To his credit, six of those pages expressed his views in a positive manner, not once attacking "liberals" or his Democratic opponent.

However, on the crime page, his views are expressed in a negative form.  As the Republic's Fact Check notes, he attacks... falsely.  The quote that the Republic focused on:  "Some liberal Arizona legislators have recently offered reducing sentence times and prison stays for violent criminals just to help balance the state budget. Jeff Dial strongly opposes such liberal and dangerous practices."  It is unclear whether Dial was trying to imply that his Democratic opponent (Rae Waters) was one of those legislators.

The Republic explains that it was actually Republican Cecil Ash who was "pushing to examine this option," that noone advocated for reducing sentences for "violent criminals", and that a Democratic party spokesperson says no Democratic lawmakers have offered the idea.  Dial told the Republic that he lifted the statement from a GOP voter survey question which had no supporting documentation.

He received a one-star "false" rating from the Arizona Republic.

The false language is still on the website - without explanation or justification - ten days later.

CONCLUSION:  Dial receives a second "F" to go with the Republic's rating.  

And, I guess a special "F" shout out has to go to whoever put together that false and misleading "voter survey" for the Republicans; such combo "push poll"/solicitation direct mail is common, and this shows that even some candidates can be led into promoting the misrepresentations or falsehoods.

As the late President Reagan might have told him: "Mr. Dial, tear down this false web page."


UPDATE (9/27): Arizona's Politics has left both detailed voice mail and e-mail messages for Mr. Dial, to (re-)alert him to the initial Arizona Republic Fact Check and our follow-up.  At this moment, the false language is still in place.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something on your mind that is unrelated to this post, please send an e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

FACT CHECK: AG Candidate Rotellini's AZ Republic Endorsement Abuse, etc.

(Correction: This report has been corrected to properly reflect that the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce did NOT endorse a candidate for the Republican nomination for Attorney General.  The gist is correct, however - that there is still no guarantee that Ms. Rotellini will receive the Chamber's endorsement for the general election.)

While Republican candidate Tom Horne earned double fact-checking attention yesterday for his efforts "... Trying To Make Lemonade In the AG's Race" - an interesting effort to use the Republic's (negative) fact check on Horne to (re-)shed negative light on his opponent - today, the spotlight turns to Democratic candidate Felecia Rotellini.

In an e-mail sent out this morning, with a subject line of "Sneak Peak – Arizonans for Rotellini!" and a not-quite-matching headline of "Felecia Rotellini is your Community’s Choice for Arizona!", the campaign boasts of Rotellini's endorsements: 

"Felecia has over 40 endorsements including the Arizona Republic, Arizona Correctional Peace Officers, Arizona Fraternal Order of Police, the Professional Firefighters of Arizona, and the Arizona Association of REALTORS."
The problem with that claim is that the Arizona Republic only endorsed Ms. Rotellini for the Democratic primary election.  Not the general election.  In fact, the Republic - which has apparently not yet noted this claim - also endorsed opponent Tom Horne for the Aug. 24 primary. (Republic: "Republicans - In a race featuring two flawed candidates, The Republic recommends Tom Horne for his record of progress as state schools' chief. Democrats - She has more experience than her opponents. She is ferociously smart and likely to be formidable in the fall if she wins the Democratic nod. The Republic recommends Felecia Rotellini.")

The other endorsements listed in today's e-mail all appear to be exclusively for Rotellini.  However, the above-quoted sentence links to her website's endorsement page, which still contains at least one primary-only endorsement.  The influential Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce endorsed Rotellini - but not Horne - for their party's nominations; however, Chamber VP Paul Parisi confirms that they are conducting a new round of endorsement interviews next week before determining who they will urge their members to vote for in November.

Both the Republic and the Tucson Chamber made it clear to the candidates (and the public) that the endorsement was for the Aug. 24 primary election only.  Further, most political insiders know that the newspapers tend to endorse candidates for their party's nominations in the primary, and that that does not reflect who will be endorsed for the general election.

To inadvertently leave a primary-only endorsement up on the website is one thing.  But, there is no excuse for a campaign to actively publicize a primary-only endorsement during the general election campaign.

Minor point: The e-mail claims "over 40 endorsements"; the endorsement page on the website lists 16 organizations (and does not include the Republic or other newspaper endorsements).  The only way the campaign gets to more than 40 is by counting the individual endorsements (mainly from fellow Democrats) or by including a lot of new endorsements that are not yet up on the website (unlikely).  It is hard to see the benefit in pumping up the number of endorsements in this manner.

CONCLUSION:  Campaigns brag about endorsements because they help make the case to potential supporters that newspapers, organizations, etcetera have already vetted the candidate and support her (or him).  So, endorsements lie at the union of organizational support (money, volunteers, etc.) and potential voters. Abuse of endorsements is pretty common (fires flared up in both Democratic and Republican primary battles).  And, while it seems minor, it is necessary to police the use and abuse of them precisely because they mean something.

Rotellini's active mis-use of the Arizona Republic primary-only endorsement is false and misleading.  Her claim deserves a grade of  "F".

We welcome your feedback about this post. If you know of other endorsement abuse, or have something else on your mind, please comment here or e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

FACT CHECK: Fact Checking the Spin On a Fact Checker; Or, Trying To Make Lemonade In the AG's Race

This is an interesting one.  Just received this news release from the Tom Horne campaign, strongly implying Felecia Rotellini of lying to the Arizona Republic after stone-walling on Horne's claim in last week's AG debate that she exaggerated her prosecutorial experience.

Tracking down the Republic's Fact Check (which isn't as easy as it should be) shows that the Republic actually concludes that Horne's statement in the debate was more false than true, and does not show that Rotellini mislead.


The Republic gave Horne two stars (more false than true) on his comment in the debate.  That is a pretty fair grade.

Horne then puts out his news release titled: "HORNE: ROTELLINI HAS NEVER TRIED A CASE IN HER ENTIRE LIFE."  He claims that Rotellini "touts herself as a "veteran prosecutor," has in fact never tried a case in her entire life."  The use of the phrase "in fact" connotes that only attorneys who have "tried cases" can be considered "veteran prosecutors".  It is unlikely that Horne could support that claim.

He then implies that Rotellini gave the Republic a list of eight cases as proof that she had tried them.  (He notes that he researched them and, "it turned out that Rotellini did not proceed to trial on any of the eight cases.")  A review of the Republic Fact Check shows that she gave them the list of eight as proof that she prosecuted them before a grand jury, spent time arguing the cases in Superior Court, and/or briefed/argued them in the Court of Appeals.

CONCLUSION: An "A" for effort on trying to turn around the two-star scolding by the Republic's Fact Check, but a "B-" for continuing misleading on his claim that only attorneys who actually try the case before a jury can be considered "veteran prosecutors."

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

SUPPLEMENT: Video, Text of 60-Plus' Attack Ads (vs. Mitchell, Kirkpatrick, Giffords)

[[Yesterday, we ran a Fact Check on TV ads running against three Democratic candidates for re-election to the U.S. House.  We included the text of one of the three nearly-identical ads; today, we run all three and note one interesting difference.]]

Yesterday, we ran the text of the anti-Giffords ad.  As it turns out, that was the only one of the three which threw in the accurate (though somewhat misleading, because it is analyzed to be a deficit-reducer and an economy-wide-expenditure-on-health-care-reducer) claim that the health care reform package "will raise taxes."  Without hunting down the Arizonans who appeared in the commercials, it is impossible to say whether the Giffords' constituents added that line or whether the Mitchell and Kirkpatrick constituents removed it.

Also, it is slightly interesting to see how the closing lines of the three ads slightly differ.  In the anti-Giffords spot, the Rep. is "fired".  Mitchell is accused of "betray(ing) us", with the promise that seniors "won't forget".  And, Kirkpatrick is only mildly scolded as having "voted against us."

By the way, I have not yet received the promised return call from the 60 Plus spokesman (who previously worked for the McCain campaign in 2008).  60 Plus is a 501(c)(4) organization, is permitted to engage in this lobbying, is able to accept money from corporations, has received money from corporations, and has not disclosed who is funding this $4 million campaign.

Anti-Giffords Ad:

--Washington liberals like Gabrielle Giffords are not listening to Arizona seniors.

--The Obama Pelosi health care disaster will raise taxes, cut $500 billion from Medicare,

--Threaten seniors' ability to keep you own doctors, and will hurt the quality of our care.

--Giffords pretends she's independent, but when we needed her to stand up for us,

--Giffords voted with Pelosi - just like all the other liberals.

--Arizona seniors have had enough.

--Gabrielle Giffords, you're fired!

Anti-Kirkpatrick Ad:

--Washington liberals like Ann Kirkpatrick aren’t listening to Arizona seniors.

--The Obama Pelosi health care disaster cuts $500 billion from Medicare, threatens seniors' ability to keep our own doctors, and will hurt the quality of our care.

-- Kirkpatrick pretends she's independent, but when we needed her to stand up for us,

-- Kirkpatrick voted with Pelosi. Arizona seniors have had enough.

--How could we vote for Kirkpatrick after she voted against us? Vote no on Kirkpatrick.

Anti-Mitchell Ad:

--Washington liberals like Harry Mitchell aren’t listening to Arizona seniors.

--The Obama Pelosi health care disaster cuts $500 billion from Medicare,

--Threatens seniors' ability to keep our own doctors, and will hurt the quality of our care.

--Mitchell pretends he's independent, but when we needed him to stand up for us, Mitchell voted with Pelosi

--Just like all the other liberals.

--Harry Mitchell, you’ve betrayed us. And Arizona seniors won’t forget

We welcome your comments about this post. If you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.

SIGN, SIGN, EVERYWHERE A SIGN: More Sign Shenanigans In East Valley

(Correction: The signs tampered with belonged to Goddard, Schapira and Arredondo.  NOT Mitchell, Schapira and Arredondo. Corrected below.  My apologies.)

Personally spotted several defaced signs over the weekend, along a Tempe road (at least one).  Someone(s) carefully stuck bumper-sticker-sized pieces of paper on signs belonging to Democratic candidates Terry Goddard (Gov.), David Schapira (Sen., LD17) and Ben Arredondo (House, LD17). 

The stick-ons attempted to label each of the three as "liberal".   While it is hard to imagine that label sticking to those candidates as well as it apparently sticks to the signs - Arredondo has been a Republican officeholder in Maricopa County for years, Schapira has been noted to be an effective lawmaker in the GOP-controlled legislature, and Goddard has led the AG's office and campaigned from the center of the street - the sign-defacer is taking a shot.

While the Schweikert wraparound signs trying to brand Mitchell in the CD5 rematch are legal because they do not touch someone else's property, these stick-ons are obviously illegal.

Monday, September 13, 2010

FACT CHECK (from New Times): Violent Crime Drops (Again) In 2009

The New Times ( ) reports today on the newly-released FBI report, and notes that violent crime dropped 13.9% from 2008 to 2009 - the third consecutive decrease.  Although the report does not cite any specific statements from Gov. Jan Brewer about how it is necessary to scare away illegal immigrants because of the increase in crime that they bring with them, just about any of the interviews that she has done on Fox News this year will likely provide support for their follow-up that her claims are false (as well as for Attorney General Terry Goddard's claim that Brewer's comments are damaging to Arizona's tourism and image).

UPDATE:  Here is one of Gov. Brewer's appearances on Fox News' Greta Van Susteren show.  In it, Brewer states: "We're out here on the battlefield... with all the crime that comes with it."  And, "...the terror that our citizens live with day in and day out...."

FACT CHECK: 60Plus Association's Ads Attacking Giffords, Kirkpatrick, Mitchell

The national organization that bills itself as the "conservative alternative to the liberal AARP" is spending more than $4 million in ads attacking several Democratic Congresspeople - including three in Arizona.  Ads "firing" Gabrielle Giffords, Ann Kirkpatrick and Harry Mitchell are up and running (frequently) in Phoenix and Tucson (and presumably Flagstaff). 

The ads attack the Democrats for voting for the "Obama Pelosi health care disaster" which "will raise taxes, cut $500 billion from Medicare, threaten seniors' ability to keep your own doctors, and will hurt the quality of our care."  They accuse the Representatives of pretending to be independent, but voting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "when we needed (them) to stand up for us." 

"Gabrielle Gifford," concludes one ad, "you're fired."  The anti-Mitchell and anti-Kirkpatrick ads end similarly.

These ads do not provide any supporting documentation for their four distinct claims about the health care reform package that was signed into law in March 2010;  therefore, this article cannot fully address the claims.  A verbal request for the documentation is outstanding.  Let's look at the claims one-by-one:

1) The law will raise taxes:  Yes, the healthcare reform package does raise taxes.  Also of relevance, however, is that the Congressional Budget Office/Joint Committee on Taxation - widely considered as objective and authoritative - have concluded that the laws will also reduce spending by the federal government in many areas, and will result in a total estimated $152 billion reduction of the federal government's budget deficits between 2010 and 2020.   Acknowledging that many Republicans and Democrats are concerned about budget deficits at the federal level, that is an important bottom line.  Also significant is that the CBO's analysis finds that the effect on the overall American economy is to reduce the overall spending increases on health care.  Conclusion: Accurate by omission;  ergo, misleading.
2) The law will cut $500 billion from Medicare:  It is unclear where this figure came from, but it appears to be from an old version of healthcare reform.  The CBO has concluded that the "net reduction in Medicare spending" will actually only be $117 billion through 2019!  Just as important is WHY there will be a reduction.  The new laws will reduce the amounts paid by Medicare to private corporations that are administering Medicare Advantage plans; they will be restricted on how they could utilize "rebates" from Medicare and would have to charge enrollees if they overbid the formula for costs in their area.  Thus, the CBO estimates that the enrollment in the Medicare Advantage problems will be 4.8 million less than if the law had not been passed.  (Those 4.8 million people could receive similar coverages elsewhere.)

The second part of this claim is the inference that Medicare benefits to seniors - including the ones speaking in the ads - are going to be cut.  However, that is not the case, and in fact, Medicare will actually cover annual check-ups and increase reimbursements to primary care physicians.

Conclusion: False and misleading.
3) The law will threaten seniors' ability to keep your own doctors:  This is apparently based on the assumption that some physicians will not accept Medicare patients.  Although this is always a possibility, there is nothing concrete to back this up.  Conclusion: Scare tactic.
4) The law will hurt the quality of our care: There is nothing concrete to back this up.  Conclusion: See #3.

OVERALL:  This campaign is designed to capitalize on discontent about the health care reform package that was signed into law earlier this year.  While - to its credit - it does not invoke the "death panels" mantra, it does promote other misleading claims and throws in some inaccurate numbers. 

FINAL GRADES:  With an "A" being completely true and accurate, and an "F" being completely false and misleading, this grades out at a "C-".  If the advertiser supplies us with sources to support their claims, we will check 'em out and amend as necessary.  (Unfortunately, there is certainly a tendency to grade political attack ads on a curve, in order to avoid giving out all "F"'s; we try to avoid that trap.)

TRANSPARENCY GRADE: The "60 Plus Association" also receives a grade of "F" for its lack of transparency on the source of funds for this campaign.  The Association's entire annual budget in 2007 and 2008 was approximately $1.8 million; there is no disclosure as to where this sudden expenditure of more than $4 million is coming from.



--Washington liberals like Gabrielle Giffords are not listening to Arizona seniors.
--The Obama Pelosi health care disaster will raise taxes, cut $500 billion from Medicare,
--Threaten seniors' ability to keep you own doctors, and will hurt the quality of our care.
--Giffords pretends she's independent, but when we needed her to stand up for us,
--Giffords voted with Pelosi - just like all the other liberals.
--Arizona seniors have had enough.
--Gabrielle Giffords, you're fired!

Friday, September 3, 2010

WHO SAID THIS? (Special legal-action-to-obtain-govt-records edition)

Who said this on the day legal papers were filed to “unravel a… records dispute”?

“No records were ever produced – not one single document in over one year. The courts have ruled against me in the past for not producing records in a timely fashion. I believe the law should be the same for them as for anyone else.” Link shortened so you can guess before clicking; answer and discussion after the jump, in case you do not want to click on the above link.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Arizona Supreme Court Opinion Removing Prop. 108 (Card Check) From Ballot

(see yesterday's post for more background, link to Aug. 4 news report from Howard Fischer regarding decision)

As promised, the Arizona Supreme Court issued their unanimous opinion (Justice Hurwitz wrote a separate concurring opinion) this morning.  The 19-page opinion can be read in its entirety here.

Defenders of the ill-fated Proposition 108, which tried to linked together secret ballots in all elections for public elections with secret ballots in union representation elections, were done in by the distinction between "interrelatedness" and "topicality".  The so-called money quote from the opinion written by Justice Pelander:

Although S.O.S. Ballot argues that Proposition 108’s

two provisions establish a fundamental right to a “secret

ballot” for public elections and union representation, those

contexts are quite different and wholly unrelated. The type of

“facial relatedness” S.O.S. Ballot urges would reduce that

component of the “interrelatedness” test to a mere repetition of

the topicality requirement. (paragraph 12, pages 8-9)
The Justices were not impressed with the arguments that the two secret ballot provisions were similar to the two separate marriage-related provisions in the Arizona Together initiative in; the connection between the latter was that the first defined marriage and the second made it "exclusive in terms of legal status."

Defenders of Prop. 108 also argued that the proposition should remain on the ballot because plaintiffs waited too long to file the legal action and left the legislature with no time to modify the proposal.  The Court denied that defense, and pointed out that, in fact, the Governor and Legislature WERE able to convene a special session and put Prop. 113 (with only the union election measure) on the ballot.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fox News Hands Drum To Rep. Trent Franks; He Adds Signature Beat To The Tune (video)

Fox News continues to parade Arizona politicians on its programs to ask about the State Department's mention of Arizona's S.B. 1070 in its human rights Universal Periodic Review ("UPR").  It is obviously the kind of drum the network beats until the skin breaks - Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton, United Nations, immigration, border security. 

Today, Rep. Trent Franks was asked on to talk about the arrival of National Guard troops on the Arizona border today (too little, Administration does not understand the national security issues, and more).  But, the anchor did not "want to let you get away without asking about this, because I think this is going to get a lot of attention in the coming days."  She then characterized the mention as the State Dept recommending that S.B. 1070 "be evaluated" at the U.N.*
Franks professed to being "dumbfounded."  Not at the question, of course, but because: "this Administration is the most pro-abortion administration in the history of the nation.  They want abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy for no reason, for any reason, they want taxpayers to pay for it, and they want to export this experiment across the world.  Human rights issues is (sic) the last thing they should want to be talking about."

Franks did proceed to echo Gov. Brewer's criticisms of the UPR, and of the interviewer's characterization.  Finally, he reiterated his frank dumbfoundedness:  "I'm just astonished that this Administration would apologize before the United Nations for protecting our borders."

The anchor promised to keep on this story, Franks thanked her for covering it, and went to commercials.  Because this stuff DOES sell.  And, given that our Fact Check Analysis of Gov. Brewer's outraged comments concluded that it was "completely misleading", we will continue to keep on Fox's keepin' on.

* Question (and answer) enters the conversation at approximately 2:28.

UPDATE: Supreme Court Opinion On (First) "Card Check" Proposition

(very recent post relating to revised "card check" proposition)

Very coincidentally, within 15 minutes after we published the post on Republicans' attacks on Democrats and labor unions - in which we added Proposition 113 to the discussion - the Arizona Supreme Court sent out an e-mail indicating that they would be publishing the opinion on their decision to remove the first "card check" proposition/constitutional amendment (Proposition 108).  It will come out tomorrow morning. (Aug 4 report on court decision)

The opinion will not change anything about the previous post or the upcoming campaign;  however, it is relevant to how we got to Prop. 113 and will likely be relevant for future initiatives.

HONEST QUESTION: Is It Coincidence That Republicans Are Going After Democrats' Union Endorsements?

As many of you probably experienced, as well, my e-mail inbox and Twitter feed filled up with Republican candidates calling on their opponents to denounce "the boycott cartel".  (It sounds much more sinister to call it a "cartel", I am guessing.)  Sure, the coordination of the talking/Twittering points is interesting, but I found myself looking for the story behind the content of the attack.

As the Republic story notes, the political angle makes some sense from the Republicans' POV.  And, how the Democratic candidates respond will help determine voters' perceptions of the Democrats and whether it fires up the union members to kick it to another level in fighting for their candidates.

The pure political angle aside, is there a larger force pushing the Republicans to play this card so early on?  It is worth considering in that the Republicans pushed really hard to get the anti-labor union "card check"-related constitutional amendment (Proposition 113) on the ballot, and that the strongly anti-labor union Americans For Prosperity* is independent expendituring for Republicans in Arizona in a BIG way.  It thus becomes a reasonable assumption to anticipate a boisterous campaign on Prop. 113, and that Republican candidates will be participating at some level.

Prop. 113 AND the union participation in the reaction to S.B. 1070 - the responses from Democratic candidates (and the labor unions) tonight (in the gubernatorial debate) and the next several days will be - as they now say at the start of every sportscast - "one of the keys of the game".  Because it appears that the Republicans'/anti-labor's game plan may be coordinated in more ways than one.

*Americans For Prosperity trumpeted the card check issue last year in its National Save My Ballot tour with "Joe the Plumber."