FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Friday, August 30, 2013

OFF-TOPIC: National Weather Service Issues Special Shopping Weather Statement As Strong Thunderstorm Moving From East Valley Mall To Other Major Shopping Areas

As a long time news and weather person, I have seen my share of alerts, advisories, warnings and special statements from the National Weather Service.  Tonight's was something I had not seen before.

The "Special Weather Statement" noted that the NWS had detected a strong thunderstorm near the mall in Chandler.  And, as it makes its way to the northeast, it might impact several other shopping areas.

Of course, the reasons for naming landmarks that people will recognize makes perfect sense.  (However, if the storm is moving to the northeast, it could have trouble hitting many of the listed locations.)  It just surprised me, especially since it is not a major shopping day.

* * *

Also surprising me was getting caught in the VERY localized I-10/Warner rainstorm.  I heard it specifically noted on the radio, and I arrived there - with sloooow traffic - about 10 minutes later.  It was indeed STILL raining right at Warner, there was ponding (see Special Weather Statement above) from a 1/4 before Warner to a 1/4 mile after Warner, and the highway was practically DRY before and after.  Remarkable!


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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Martin Sepulveda Writes Off 6-Figure Debt and 2nd Campaign For Congress; Sets Sights On State Treasurer

Martin Sepulveda, former Chandler City Councilmember and candidate for Congress (CD9), has terminated his 2nd campaign for Congress and set his sights on replacing Doug Ducey as the Arizona State Treasurer.  In so doing, Sepulveda wrote off nearly all of a $100,000 loan he gave to his 2012 campaign to win the new Congressional District 9 seat (now held by Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema).

Sepulveda had filed his Statement of Candidacy for the crowded Republican primary field in CD9 back in January, but as of June 30 had not raised any funds.

Then, yesterday, he filed a letter with the Federal Election Commission formally forgiving $96,997.39 of the $100,000.00 which he had lent his 2012 campaign.  He then terminated his campaign committee (which needs to be approved by the FEC).

Today, Sepulveda registered with the Arizona Secretary of State to run for Arizona State Treasurer.  The only other person to have filed for that office - to be elected next year - is fellow Republican Jeff DeWit.  It is widely expected that current Treasurer Doug Ducey will run for Governor; however, he has not filed for any office yet.

Sepulveda finished a very close third place - 1,019 votes behind nominee Vernon Parker - in the seven-person GOP primary contest for the Congressional nomination last year.  He served two non-consecutive terms on the Chandler City Council.

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Sheldon Adelson, Gov. Brewer's Super-Contributor's Company Pays U.S. $47 Million To Settle Money-Laundering Investigation With Ties To Sinaloa Meth Cartel; Gave Brewer $250,000 For 2014 or 2016

(UPDATE, 2:20pm: The initial report on the Las Vegas Sands settlement utilized in this article was from The Daily Beast/Newsweek; there is also an article from the New York Times which fleshes out additional details.)

Last year, Arizona's Politics reported that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer collected $250,000 from "gaming billionaire and Republican Party mega-donor Sheldon Adelson" and his wife, for her eponymous Super PAC.  This week, Adelson and his gaming company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., are agreeing to pay $47 million to the U.S. government to settle a money-laundering investigation allegedly involving ties to the Sinaloa Cartel and its methamphetamine operation.

Jan PAC has more than $328,000 currently in the bank.  The October 19 Adelson contributions - easily the largest ever received by Governor Brewer - were not spent in the waning days of the 2012 campaign and make up the bulk of the current cash on hand.  Brewer can spend that money next year or in 2016, with very few restrictions.

Of course, Sheldon Adelson's contribution to Jan PAC was only one small part of his political campaign last year; he spent more than $92 Million (almost exactly twice the amount of this week's settlement with the Obama Administration - hmmm) on Super PACs advocating for Presidential nominee Mitt Romney and other Republicans.

The money laundering investigation apparently had found that a Chinese "businessman" with a home in Mexico and alleged ties to the Sinaloa Cartel would transfer large amounts of money to the Venetian casino (and other related offices), gamble and then return to Mexico with huge amounts of cash (the stacks found in a 2008 raid had Venetian wrappers).  Potential drug trafficking charges against the businessman in the U.S. were dismissed; they are still pending in Mexico.

Arizona's Politics has asked the Governor's Office for comment on the Adelson report, and on whether the Governor believes that she needs to take some action with the Adelson super-contribution.  Previous efforts to ask questions about Jan PAC have been directed to Robert Hockensmith, the only person (other than the Governor) publicly associated with Jan PAC. Those efforts went unanswered.


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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

LISTEN: "Oh, Whatever": Jeff Flake Stirs Up Major Campaign Donors/Obamacare Defunder Advocates With Tweet, They Fire Back With Harsher Conservative Talk Radio Ads

The Senate Conservatives Fund - founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint - made Jeff Flake's 2012 Senate campaign one of its top priorities last year, sending him more than $175,000.  This week, they began running an ad on talk radio to pressure now-Senator Flake (R-AZ) to pledge to "defund Obamacare" and oppose it at every turn.

Flake responded very publicly - on his Twitter feed - with an eyeroll/brushoff/blowoff "Oh, whatever..."  He even linked to the ad.

Today, the Senate Conservatives Fund ("SCF") fired back, releasing a new ad for talk radio, advising conservatives to just say "oh, whatever" the next time Flake asks for support.  (Flake does not stand for reelection until 2018.)

Flake was one of the biggest recipients of SCF contributions in 2012, and is the only such recipient to be targeted with their ads.  The other six ad targets are Republicans Richard Burr (NC), Lindsey Graham (SC), Lamar Alexander (TN), Johnny Isakson (GA), Thad Cochran (MS), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) - and Flake is the only one to respond in a way to earn the second ad.

SCF is keeping a scorecard of how Republican Senators are responding to the "Don't Fund Obamacare" campaign; Flake is still listed as a question mark.

One noteworthy line in the second ad puts Flake on the bad guys side with Arizona's senior Senator, John McCain: "'Oh, whatever'. That's something we expect John McCain to say, not Jeff Flake."

1st ad, titled "Nowhere":  

2nd, "Oh, Whatever", ad:  



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YEAH, WE'RE LOOKING AT YOU, ARIZONA: Gay Slurs Fly In Tucson School Board Battle, Directed At Gabby Giffords Shooting Hero

(An occasional series featuring national coverage of Arizona.)

A Sunnyside School District (Tucson) recall battle has apparently gone very dirty, with fliers circulating with gay slurs directed at boardmember Daniel Hernandez.  Hernandez is nationally-known as the intern who helped save former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' life when she was shot in the head in 2011.

The issue of the fliers was first published on Right Wing Watch, and then picked up by the widely-read Huffington Post.  The Tucson Weekly has been the only Arizona publication taking note of the story so far.

Both of the national websites have posted denials from either the School Board President or his brother-in-law who is managing the effort to collect recall signatures against Hernandez and one other boardmember; the dispute is over approval or disapproval for the district's superintendent.


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OFF-TOPIC: (Not-So-)Serious Thoughts About Miley Cyrus and the VMA's

(The unfortunate performances by young, no-longer-remembered-for-Disney-stardom Miley Cyrus on Sunday probably need no further analysis... or links, for that matter.  Instead, here are a couple of the goofy conversations I had earlier on Facebook.)

#1:  Twist and Shout!  If I had any expertise in Photoshopping or video editing, this would be fun.  Perhaps someone can help out:

People are acting like "twerk" is some new word and some new thang. 

In fact, the word's been around forever. (Everyone knew that.) Did you know... that the Isley Brothers and the Beatles were specifically singing to Miley's grandma backalmost 50 years ago (this week): "Shake it up, baby! Twist and shout! (Twist and shout.) C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon baby, now! Come on and TWERK it on out! (TWERK it on out.) Wooooooooooo!" http://bit.ly/TwIsT


#2:  Weekend Update.  You need to be of "a certain age" to remember these original bits in the first couple of years of Saturday Night Live.  For those younger (or, older), I am embedding a clip:

(Emily Litella) What's all this I keep hearing about people being upset that Ms. Cyrus is working? Shouldn't we be proud of her? I thought we wanted all of our kids to grow up and start working! 

Sure, unemployment is slowly starting to come down, but there are still lots of people who aren't working, and this young lady has become a working woman, and we're upset about it? It is just not right!

And, I just heard that in this week that we're remembering that civil rights leader who dreamed about more people in the Negro community working, that the unemployment rate for Black people is STILL twice that of the White population. We shouldn't be upset about someone working, but we should have had more people of all races and nationalities up on that stage working. More working!

And, I think that young woman is properly named, too. Why should you be Smiley while you're working. Almost like those seven elves who used to work...

(Jane Curtin) Emily, Emily, MILEY Cyrus was not WORKING! People were upset because she was TWERKING. Twerking, not working. And, those seven WORKING guys were DWARFS, not elves.

(Emily) Oh. I see. Then, what the hell is TWERKING?

(Jane) You don't want to know. Just, get out of here. Please!

(Emily) All right, all right, never mind..........Bitch!

http://bit.ly/LiTeLLa



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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Not-Yet-Presidential-Candidate Scott Walker Endorses Sal DiCiccio In Phoenix City Council Race (DEAR MOM AND DAD - AND EVERYONE - PLEASE SEND MONEY)

Hard on the heels of an Arizona Republic editorial comparison between Phoenix City Councilmember Sal DiCiccio and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, DiCiccio's campaign obtained an endorsement from the potential 2016 Presidential candidate and is using it for fundraising purposes.

The unsigned editorial compares DiCiccio's feud with local unions (including a failed recall effort) to Walker's similar feud (in which he survived a recall election).

The Facebook post/fundraising appeal (posted below, click to enlarge) includes an endorsing statement from the Governor with a simple plea to "join Governor Scott Walker in supporting Sal DiCiccio."


It is certainly not unheard-of for presidential candidates to name-check local politicians, but it is noteworthy for a Governor from a faraway state to endorse a City Council candidate (long before announcing a run for national office).  Yesterday, Politico analyzed Walker's stealth strategy.

(The most note-worthy statement in the endorsement/fundraising piece is the last sentence, making it appear that the city of Phoenix does not presently have its "fiscal house in order".)

("Dear Mom and Dad - and, Everyone - Please Send Money" is a recurring series highlighting fundraising appeals from various Arizona elected officials and candidates. Please send any fundraising items you may come across to info@ArizonasPolitics.com.)


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ARIZONA GAY CONVERSION UPDATE: Huppenthal: "Arizona Schools Are NOT Straightening Out... At Least Not Without My Input!" (SATIRE ON SATIRE)

(UPDATE, 3:15pm: updated to reflect that Arizona Congressman Trent Franks (R-CD8) will participate.)

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal held an impromptu news conference this afternoon in front of Arizona's self-proclaimed "Gayest School in Phoenix", to throw a temper tantrum and deride Governor Jan Brewer's announcement that she was implementing a mandatory gay conversion therapy program in all Arizona schools on November 1.
Not a real Arizona school, but
Huppenthal printed out a banner
of this picture and stood in front
of it for his news conference.

"The Governor cannot do this!  Arizona's schools are not straightening out on November 1st,"  Huppenthal screeched.  He paused dramatically before adding: "At least, not without my input!"

Huppenthal then went on to detail his own gay conversion program, which will entail  school visits and counseling sessions by high-ranking elected officials.  Huppenthal announced that he, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, State Treasurer Doug Ducey and Congressman Trent Franks - all Republicans - will divide the state into quadrants and each begin their visits.  
Not from today, but from
another Huppenthal
screeching session

Huppenthal's main initiative as state school's superintendent had been to convince the Legislature to better fund the Department's computer system;  he promised that this new effort would be his top priority.  "This will not require taxpayer's money and will only impact gay students' standardized testing scores, as already-straight students will not need to be taken out of class for the counseling sessions," Huppenthal said.

To most-effectively reach the target audience, Huppenthal has asked his staff to compile a list of the faculty advisers and meeting dates/times for all high school, middle school, elementary school, and kindergarten Gay-Straight Alliance clubs.  "We did not include preschools only because I have no authority over them.  But, I would be happy to counsel their students on my own time," Huppenthal proclaimed.

The Schools Superintendent also invited Brewer to drop her curriculum in favor of his program, and said he would give her first pick as to which schools she'd like to visit, no matter which quadrant they were in.  Brewer could not be reached for comment this afternoon, as she was in a closed-door meeting with close friend Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband to work out curriculum.

Huppenthal did say he rejected a couple of potential participants, though he would only identify one. "Former State Senate President Russell Pearce (recalled) called me to volunteer his time.  I appreciate that, but we are not trying to replicate "Scared Straight" programs.  Have you seen that guy when he gets going? It's UG-ly!"

He also offered free Greyhound bus tickets to all of the counselors in New Jersey who are effected by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's campaign decisions.

***
(UPDATE, 2:55: Updated to reflect that Phoenix New Times was the first to report the spoof.)

Satire typically requires some degree of reality to make  it believable.  Such was apparently the case this week when a satirical news site published an article about Governor Jan Brewer's new gay conversion school curriculum.  The Phoenix New Times had the scoop this morning (followed by the Arizona Republic  this afternoon on the flood of reaction to the satire.  The Republic article notes that the satirical article got further attention when it was "converted" into a news release format and posted on a press release distribution website; unfortunately, that satirical news release has been removed.

We briefly considered posting this humorous-yet-typical focus on Arizona politics as a "straight" news story. We think that the "satire on satire" format was more fun and - hopefully - effective.





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NEW SERIES: Arizona Political Fundraising, or, "Dear Mom and Dad - and, EVERYONE - Please Send Money"

Arizona's Politics is beginning a new series today, "Dear Mom and Dad - and, EVERYONE - please send money!"  (Yeah, it's a long title, but everyone really likes that Sugarland song, "Baby Girl".)  We hope that it is valuable because it often shows another side of the officeholder/candidate/campaign, and may contain statements that we will then try to Fact Check.

We will be posting those constant e-mails, snail mails, Facebook posts and ads wheedling for campaign funds.  We get a lot of the fundraising appeals in our mailboxes, but we are soliciting your help, too.  If you receive something that we might like to publish, PLEASE send it to .  (Let me know if we can use your first name/last initial, or if you wish to remain anonymous.)

And now, the best part of this post:





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Reps. Kyrsten Sinema, Tulsi Gabbard Hold Joint Fundraiser In Phoenix

(UPDATE, 11:30am: Updated to reflect date of joint fundraiser as Friday night, per Sinema campaign spokesperson.)

Two of the youngest members of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a joint campaign fundraiser in Phoenix on Friday night.  Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) hosted Hawaii's Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).

Posted on Twitter by college
student Lindsay Robinson:
"Doodle of two beautiful and
inspiring ladies!!"
The two did not publicize the fundraiser, but Arizona's Politics became aware of it after the "Gabbard Sinema Joint Victory Fund" filed its Statement of Organization with the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") last week.  The Democratic National Committee is holding its summer meeting in Phoenix this week, and Sinema welcomed her counterpart via Twitter.

Gabbard (32) and Sinema (37) are two of the youngest members of Congress - their combined ages are still several years less than the dean of Arizona's Congressional delegation, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 76).  (They also represent two of the youngest states, so you could even call them the youngest pair.)












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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

UPDATE: Activist Randy Parraz Greatly "Disappointed" That He Had To Dismiss Case Against Maricopa County Sheriff's Office And That Joe Arpaio Attacked Him

Arizona's Politics reported yesterday on the morning-of-trial dismissal of the civil harrassment suit filed by activist Randy Parraz against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, noting the ironic MCSO's taunting news release accusing Parraz of "chickening out" and that we had reached out to Parraz for an explanation.

Parraz stated today - on his Facebook wall (re-posted below) - that "no one was more disappointed about the final outcome of this case than me", while declining to explain "the circumstances, factors and legal considerations" behind his decision.

He then bemoaned the MCSO news release (posted in full in yesterday's article), calling it "retaliatory behavior... that attacks me and inaccurately describes what actually occurred yesterday."  (Arizona's Politics' article yesterday also included the Court's Minute Entry and noted that there was a mutual agreement to dismiss the case because both parties agreed to bear their own attorney's fees and costs incurred in the three years of litigation.)

In some respects, however, today's statement confirms the MCSO's account, in that it was apparently Parraz pursuing the negotiated dismissal and then-declining to discuss the "confidential" factors that led to his "very difficult decision".

Commenters on his Facebook post were mixed, with one supporter noting that Parraz is a public figure who asked for people's money (for the failed effort to recall Arpaio) and needs to be transparent.


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READ: Arizona Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence For Tucson Addict Who Let His Kids Die Of Starvation In Closet

The Arizona Supreme Court today unanimously upheld the death sentence for Christopher Payne, who locked his two toddlers in a closet, where they starved to death.  After their deaths sometime in 2006, Payne stuffed them in bags and hid them in a self-storage unit, although only one small body was found.

In a 44-page opinion (posted below), the Court cleanly rejected the many claimed reversible errors made by public defenders in the mandatory appeal.

Accounts of the 2009 trial were - in the words of a nameless Arizona Daily Star editor - "disturbing". Suffice to say, it is clear that Payne certainly was in the grips of a heroin addiction when he and his girlfriend shut the kids in the closet and starved them.  And, he claimed that his ex-wife was addicted to meth at the time.

The ex-wife sued the Tucson Police Department and Arizona's Child Protective Services for failing to help her recover the children from Payne well before the children are believed to have died.  CPS settled the case for $1 Million, and the case against TPD was dismissed, as the judge found that the officers did not act unreasonably given the circumstances at the time they were called to Payne's apartment.


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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"CHICKEN!!!" Sheriff Arpaio's Office Gleeful At Day of Trial Agreement To Dismiss Harassment Case By Activist Parraz

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was downright gleeful today after the morning-of-trial dismissal of a federal court harassment suit against it by activist Randy Parraz.  The news release taunted Parraz - who led the failed effort to recall Sheriff Joe Arpaio - with the following headline:


The full news release is published below.

Parraz had brought the federal harassment case following his arrest outside a County Board of Supervisors meeting, protesting Arpaio and his policies.  The charges against Parraz were later dismissed, and Parraz filed a harassment claim in federal court, in 2011.  

Parraz announced the dismissal on his Facebook page this morning, stating only that "my case was dismissed this morning. No need for anyone to attend. Thank you for your support."  Arizona's Politics has asked Parraz for more details, and will supplement, if necessary.

The MCSO news release focuses heavily on the costs incurred in the three years of litigation, claiming that Parraz was responsible for the frivolous waste of taxpayers' dollars.  The claim is interesting, as both parties agreed to the dismissal and agreed to bear their own attorneys' fees and costs, indicating that the Sheriff's attorneys were not overly confident in a favorable verdict, and is somewhat ironic in that the MCSO has settled other cases on the eve of trial and has not claimed that they wasted taxpayers' money in fighting them to a settlement.

Also published below is an order from the Court last week, excluding some evidence that the Plaintif wanted to introduce and permitting others that the Defendants had challenged.  Finally, is this morning's minute entry ordering the dismissal of the case.








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Friday, August 16, 2013

Sheriff Arpaio Challenges U.S. Supreme Court Justices To Cross Constitutional Swords In the Desert (READ, IN CONTEXT)

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced yesterday that he will erect crosses in the desert where border desert crossers have died - both as a memorial and as an aid to future people taking "a death march" across the same area.  In so doing, he is taking on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2011 decision to not review an opinion striking down a similar government-funded cross memorial program in Utah.

Tragically, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office announced that it is investigating 14 bodies found in the desert this summer.  Arpaio held a news conference to - in "intentionally dramatic fashion" - to warn off future crossers from the "death march" through the Sonoran desert and to announce the plan to erect crosses.  (A TV news report and the news release are at the bottom of this article.)

Commendably, the crosses to be made by jail inmates and erected by deputies will "be numbered and GPS sensitive" so that anyone who does cross that portion of desert will be able to be located if they call for help.

However, similar memorials - with similar other purposes - were found to be unconstitutional within the past couple of years.  The non-governmental Utah Highway Patrol Association was permitted to erect crosses along highways where patrolmen had died; the crosses were also to include biographical information on the person being thus memorialized.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found in 2010 that the crosses violated the Establishment Clause (First Amendment) of the U.S. Constitution.  (Opinion posted below; please note that the majority opinion does not begin until about halfway through the document.)  They agreed that memorial crosses have become "symbols of death."

"However, we do not agree that this nullifies their religious sectarian content because a memorial cross is not a generic symbol of death; it is a Christian symbol of death that signifies or memorializes the death of a Christian. The parties agree that a cross was
traditionally a Christian symbol of death and, despite Defendants’ assertions to
the contrary, there is no evidence in the record that the cross has been widely
embraced as a marker for the burial sites of non-Christians or as a memorial for a
non-Christian’s death. The UHPA acknowledges that when it asserts that it would
honor the request made by a Jewish state trooper’s family to memorialize him
with a Star of David rather than a cross."
The opinion was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in October 2011, the Justices decided not to review the 10th Circuit's decision.  Justice Clarence Thomas published a 19-page dissent to this decision (posted below), stating that it would be a new opportunity for the Court to clarify what violates the Establishment Clause and that the lower court opinion was "incapable of coherent explanation."

The Sheriff did not indicate that private money would be spent to produce and erect these crosses;  to the contrary, he made it appear that this was solely an MCSO project.  Even if he did enlist one or more of his posses - which privately raise funds* - this would not differentiate itself from the Utah project found to violate the Constitution.  (Side thought: it is unlikely that the County owns the land where these crosses may be erected; more than likely, it will be on Arizona- or federally-owned land.)

It would appear that Arpaio is announcing a plan that challenges the current Constitutional law of the land, as recently determined by the current U.S. Supreme Court justices.

* There are reasons to question the independence of some of the MCSO-affiliated posses.  This article explains that the Cold Case Posse - the one investigating President Obama's birth certificate - needs to be filing IRS returns.  The Sheriff's Office denies any involvement in the finances of the posse, but the Cold Case Posse was using its governmental status to not file otherwise-required returns.  The author filed a complaint with the IRS after the Sheriff's Office declined to give any financial information in response to a public records request.  Arizona's Politics notes that other MCSO-affiliated posses HAVE filed the annual returns.







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Thursday, August 15, 2013

UPDATE: Judge Refuses To Throw Out Suit Challenging City of Tucson Pension System

The lawsuit challenging the validity of the signatures turned in to the Tucson Clerk by the Committee for Sustainable Retirement ("CSR") will continue, following a ruling by Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner denying CSR's motion to dismiss.

In a ruling (posted below) dated Wednesday, Marner found that CSR's argument that the lawsuit needed to be filed within five days of when they turned in the 23,364 signatures was "a strained/overly expansive application" of a 2008 Arizona Supreme Court opinion.  He noted that there are two different subsections of Arizona Revised Statutes Sec. 19-122, and that CSR was relying on the inapplicable subsection that applies to instances where the Clerk (or Secretary of State) refuses to accept a filed petition. (Subsection C applies, rather than subsection A.)

Plaintiffs' attorney Roopali Desai told Arizona's Politics today that "Frankly, the law in this area is abundantly clear and the Committee’s motion was really an attempt to have this judge change the law, which he declined to do."

Desai's lawsuit claims that too many of the petition signatures collected by CSR are invalid, and that the initiative should not be permitted on Tucson's ballot.  Marner has held multiple days' worth of hearings on the validity challenge.

CSR contends that its initiative will put the City of Tucson's pension system on a sustainable path by changing it to a defined contribution plan.






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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

READ: Judge Dismisses Arpaio Recall Lawsuit; Declines To Rule On Constitutionality Or Frivolousness Of Suit

Barring a surprise appeal or further litigation, the lawsuit filed against the organizers of the (now-failed) attempt to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is dead.  Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Lisa Flores dismissed the case today (minute entry dated Sat. Aug. 10 is posted below), declining to rule on either the constitutionality of starting a recall within the first six months of an elected official's re-election or whether filing the lawsuit was improper enough to warrant sanctions against the plaintiffs and/or their attorneys.

Judge Flores noted that the case became moot once Respect Arizona failed to submit the petition signatures they had collected before the May deadline.  Nevertheless, both parties had told her that they wanted her to make a decision on the constitutionality of the quick recall effort;  David Burnell Smith and Larry Klayman, co-counsel* for Citizens To Protect Fair Election Results, compared the issue to that in Roe v. Wade, a case involving abortion that the U.S. Supreme Court had decided to rule on even though the pregnant woman was no longer pregnant** because it was a situation that could repeat while evading judicial review because of the short window.

Flores decided "that this issue would rise again only in a very limited circumstance", and that even if it did, it should not evade review.  She also decided that the state Legislature is the appropriate body to address this issue, even though the plaintiff's argument is that the Legislature did enact an unconstitutional statute that prompted this case.

The defendants had filed for sanctions against CPFER and/or its attorneys, claiming that the lawsuit was frivolous and solely intended to harass, intimidate and delay the recall effort.  Judge Flores denied that motion because she was dismissing the case for mootness and not on the merits of the arguments.

Burnell Smith told Arizona's Politics that he does agree with the judge's finding of mootness, and that she "right on not awarding attorney fees against the Plaintiffs or their Counsel."

However, Christopher Ford, the attorney for the defendants, "strongly" and "respectfully" disagreed.  He noted that "it is not the Legislature's job to rule on or review the constitutionality of its own legislation. That is the court's job."  Ford also challenged the judge's decision on the public importance of the case, and the possibility that a future case could also evade review:  "They filed the case for political reasons, then dragged it out just long enough for the issue to become moot."

The defendants could conceivably file a separate action pursuing the legal fees and/or sanctions, but given that a lack of funding was a key reason why they failed to gather enough signatures to file, such a move would seem unlikely.

* Larry Klayman, a nationally-known attorney, was the initial attorney for the Arpaio supporters; however, he had to be removed from the case because he did not file the proper documents to be an out-of-state attorney representing clients in an Arizona court.  The State Bar of Arizona was investigating Klayman's actions.

** The Supreme Court's opinion does not make it clear what the outcome of "Roe's" pregnancy was; however, it became known later that she had had the baby, who was eventually adopted.




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Thursday, August 8, 2013

READ: Constitutionality Challenge of Arizona's New Judicial Merit Selection Statute Gets Some "Friends", Locally and Nationally (ACLPI, Brennan Center, Justice At Stake)

Both the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest ("ACLPI") and the national Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake filed amicus briefs with the state Supreme Court yesterday, urging the Justices to declare a new statute governing the judicial merit selection process unconstitutional.

After the voters rejected a ballot measure to amend the Arizona Constitution to increase the number of names sent to the Governor for a particular vacancy, the Arizona Legislature passed - and, the Governor signed - a statute this year doing the same thing.

The ACLPI notes that the measure's sponsor, Rep. Justin Pierce, might be correct that the Arizona Constitution permits more names to be sent, they note that the voters definitely knew what they were doing when they soundly defeated the almost-identical measure the year before.

The brief from the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake lauds Arizona's existing judicial merit selection process. ("Arizona’s merit selection system is widely regarded as succeeding in
producing excellent judges.  In its guide for best practices in merit selection, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform identifies Arizona as“lead[ing] the nation with the procedures it has put in place to fulfill the promise of true nonpartisan ‘merit’ selection.")  It suggests that allowing the new law to stand would undermine that process and violate the separation of powers (between the judicial and the legislative branches).

The state (and any amici interested in responding to the new briefs) have until next Thursday to file their responsive briefs.  The Supreme Court will then decide, without oral arguments, on August 27, whether or not to grant the special action petition and determine the case.



 


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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

WATCH: McCain: Egypt "Coup", Walks Like A Duck, Talks Like a Duck

While President Barack Obama was in the (wet) Arizona desert, Arizona Senator John McCain was in the Egypt desert.  He (and colleague/BFF Sen. Lindsey Graham) traveled there after a discussion with the President last week.  McCain spoke with reporters, talking of his meetings and urging Egypt's military to permit the democratic process to resume.

Here is some video (from CNN) of his news conference.  Reporters pressed him on his definition of a "coup".  Eventually, according to Politico, McCain said, "“I’m not here to go through the dictionary. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” McCain said.




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READ: GOP Needles Rep. Sinema For Not Being On Stage With President; Sinema's Statement

Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor (D-CD7) was apparently the only Representative (out of the five Democrats) to accompany President Obama to his speech at an Ahwatukee high school today.  The National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC") anticipated this, putting out a release needling Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) - who represents the district in which the President spent his brief visit.

The NRCC (full post below) tried to make some hay out of the non-appearance of Sinema, and other swing district Democrats Ron Barber (D-CD2) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1), listing "6 Places Arizona Democrats Would Rather Be Than On Stage With President Obama".  The list included Washington, Rocky Point, and MSNBC.

Sinema did release a statement yesterday (text below the jump), saying she "hope(s) he will listen closely to what families in our community say and offer concrete and commonsense proposals to ensure families can realize the American dream of homeownership."  Her calendar was open.

Obama focused on homeownership today.


Namesake of Chandler Construction Co. Being Visited By President Obama Staunch Republican

President Barack Obama is currently in south Chandler, visiting Erickson Construction Co.  He may be holding a small fundraiser there, too.  The Erickson in Erickson Construction Co. is a solid Republican supporter, with he and his wife sending $2,000 to the Republican National Committee in the weeks before Obama's election in 2008, and supporting Arizona GOP candidates for Congress.

The Ericksons have apparently sold the company that bears their name.  However, before and after that, they have contributed to former and current Reps. Matt Salmon and J.D. Hayworth, the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole and George W. Bush, and the RNC.






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Friday, August 2, 2013

WATCH: DiCiccio Begins Airing POSITIVE TV Ads In Contentious City Council Race (with Transcript); Ad Buy 1/4 Of Fire Fighters' Opposing Ad

Phoenix City Councilmember Sal DiCiccio began airing his first re-election television ad today, and - notwithstanding the negative tone of the campaign and the currently-airing fire fighters' union's ads opposing him - DiCiccio's ad is conspicuously positive.

The ad is a straightforward recitation of what DiCiccio considers to be his greatest accomplishments during his tenure on the Council.  The transcript (as transcibed by Arizona's Politics) is below.

Documents filed by KPNX (Channel 12) with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) indicate that the total market ad buy will be for $64,250.  That is almost exactly one-fourth the size of the ad buy by Phoenix Truth and Safety ($231,000).

Early voting began yesterday, and the ads are scheduled to run up to Election Day on August 27.


TRANSCRIPT:
Sal DiCiccio, a fiscal conservative who led the effort to ensure there were no increases in water, sewer and property tax rates.  DiCiccio is the leading voice to end Phoenix's food tax, and voted against the $137 million dollar food tax for pay raise scheme.  Sal DiCiccio created a jobs program that earned him the endorsements from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and small business owners.  Sal DiCiccio, protecting taxpayers by improving fiscal responsibility at City Hall.  Paid for by DiCiccio for City Council.



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Thursday, August 1, 2013

WATCH: Arizona Fire Fighters' Ad Against Phoenix City Councilmember Sal DiCiccio (Transcript)

Phoenix Truth and Safety has posted the 30-second ad that began running on Phoenix TV stations today, as first reported by Arizona's Politics.  The ad is sponsored by Phoenix Truth and Safety ("PTS"), a group funded and run by the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona.

PTS plans to spend at least $231,000 on airing the ad (or, possibly multiple ads) between the first day of early voting (today) and election day (August 27).  The ad will air mostly during news and information programs.

It recites the hotly-disputed argument lines that PTS and opponent Karlene Keogh Parks have been trying to develop the last couple of months, including taking money from developers and lobbyists and steering the money to a non-profit that he controls.  The latter was the main subject of a lawsuit filed by DiCiccio opponents which was dismissed for being the incorrect venue.

The ad features members of police and fire fighter unions, with shirts identifying them as first responders.  The transcript is below.





TRANSCRIPT:  

--Why are we against Sal DiCiccio? He keeps attacking police officers and firefighters. (Graphic: "DiCiccio: Anti-Public Safety", citing "DiCiccio email blasts and social media posts, 2011-2013")
--Typical DiCiccio.
--He took more than $200,000 from lobbyists and developers. (Graphic: "Lobbyist-Owned", citing "DiCiccio campaign finance filings, 2009-2013, www.phoenixtruthandsafety.com")
--Then, he gave most of it to a company he controls.
--Typical Sal.
--Sal controls a bunch of land by the Loop 202.  He keeps trying to steer the new freeway there.  (Graphic: "In It For Himself", citing Arizona Republic, Ahwatukee Foothills News and video interview.)
--Typical Sal.
--We support Karlene Keogh Parks.  She's independent.  A real businesswoman.  (Graphic: "Police & Fire Support Karlene")
--She's in it for the right reasons. Not for herself.  (Graphic: "Karlene:  In It For Phoenix", identifying disclaimer)
--Please join us.  Vote Karlene Keogh Parks for Phoenix City Council.

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Governor Brewer's Personal Super PAC Raises Nearly Quarter-Million Dollars In 2013; Healthcare, Construction Big Contributors (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer refilled the treasury of her personal Super PAC in the first half of 2013, partly as a result of her decision to push for expansion of AHCCCS ("Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, aka Medicaid).  Most of the $230,000+ raised this period was in $5-10,000 chunks.  A company looking to privatize Arizona's highway rest areas also helped her raise money.

Jan PAC began the year with $214,533.95 cash on hand, and she increased that to $328,786.76 as of June 30.  Of the amount raised, almost exactly half ($116,082.05) was spent on fundraising expenses - including continuing purchases of her own book from Amazon (approximately $1,370).

As opposed to the previous year's mix of big donor solicitations and small donor direct mail efforts, Jan PAC focused on a few big fundraising events around the country, with large gifts.  The Governor has the freedom to decide how to spend the money on independent expenditures; in 2012, she focused on mailers supporting Arizona Republican Congressional candidates.

Healthcare-related big donations (>$1,000) include:
--Blue Cross/Blue Shield of AZ, $5,000 on 1/17
--Vanguard Health, $10,000 on 2/19
--I-ASIS Healthcare PAC, $5,000 on 2/20
--Lifepoint Hospital PAC, $5,000 on 2/21
--Sanofi-Aventis PAC, $1,000 on 1/9

Energy companies have also been major benefactors:
--APS, $3,631.09 on 1/9 (including in-kind for event)
--Western Refining, $5,000 on 1/16
--Pilot Oil, $10,000 on 2/11 and 4/6
--HollyFrontier Corp., $5,000 on 4/24
--Kinder Morgan, 10,000 on 4/30
--Exelon, $1,250 on 4/20
--Southwest Gas, $1,000 on 1/15

Construction and industrial companies, several of whom do business with Arizona or are seeking to, include:
--Chanen Construction, $5,000 on 1/29
--Infrastructure Corporation of America, $16,435.41 on 2/19-23 (including event)
--M&M Industries, $5,000 on 2/20
--Tratt Properties, $2,500 on 4/22
--CEMEX PAC, $5,000 on 4/16

Infrastructure Corporation of America's major donation plus hosting an event is worthy of note.  ICA recently re-submitted an unsolicited proposal to the Arizona Department of Transportation to privatize rest areas along Arizona highways.  The proposal - submitted within weeks of the contributions - is currently under consideration as a possible public-private partnership (P3).

Copart, a national auto auction company with a location(s) in Arizona, founded by Willis Johnson, continues to be a large funder of JanPAC, donating $20,000 so far this year.  Political consultants also are big contributors.

(Note: JAN PAC has consistently declined to answer Arizona's Politics' requests for responses in the past; we will make an attempt today, too, and will supplement this article with any relevant information.)

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DiCiccio Self-Declared King Of "Unsustainable Pension System", Opponent Can't Spell Own Name, And More Fun With Editing Oversights In Contentious Phoenix City Council Race (ALL IN FUN)

Outtakes are one thing - they are unavoidable errors that are caught and re-done the intended way.  Both Phoenix City Councilmember Sal DiCiccio and his opponent in this month's hotly-contested election, Karlene Keogh Parks, have recently e-mailed out uncaught mistakes that are somewhat embarrassing.

DiCiccio's campaign sent out multiple e-mail missives yesterday, but the one that caught Arizona's Politics' eye is the one (not) citing my article on the TV ad blitz starting with today's opening of early voting.  The eye-catcher - perhaps because of the copy-editing experience in my past life - was in DiCiccio's explanation (that I was really interested in) as to why the fire fighters' union is spending several hundred thousand dollars opposing him.

The second reason DiCiccio gives is quote-worthy:  "I have consistently worked to reign in the unsustainable pension system and end the practice of pension spiking." (emphasis added)

The words "rain", "rein" and "reign" probably rank very high on the list of confusing homophone trios - maybe only falling behind "to/too/two" and "your/you're/yore" - but this error actually changed the meaning of what DiCiccio wanted to say to the opposite of what he was trying to convey.

Coupled with the fact that Keogh Parks has been attacking DiCiccio's city pension (from his previous stint on the City Council), and you have an even more unfortunate error.  (Copy of the e-mail below the jump.)

However, at least DiCiccio knows how to spell his (tricky) name.  Arizona's Politics has received not one, but too two e-mails from Keogh Parks misspelling her own name in the "To" space.  While many voters might want to spell her middle name with a "u" in the middle, she - and, her campaign personnel - should be over that tendency.  (Copy of the e-mail below the jump."

BONUS:  Since Phoenix Truth and Safety is a major player in this very contentious contest - with both the ads and the signs gaining attention here, in other media and from the voters - including them in this article is appropriate.  A sentence on their home page answering the self-posed question about "why Arizona's fire fighters oppose Sal DiCiccio" always gets a chuckle:   "It has never been the fire fighter way to fight."  True, fire fighters also try to prevent fires and to get everyone to help prevent fires; but actually fighting fires that do occur is a key part of the job description.

(link to the tricky lyrics)
(e-mails below the jump)