FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Friday, September 27, 2013

WATCH: Speeches By Individual Arizona Reps. During Resolution Copper Debate

Grijalva:


Gosar:


Salmon, supporting:


Kirkpatrick, supporting:


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WATCH: House Debate On Resolution Copper/Land Exchange; Amendments Fail, Delay On Final Vote

The U.S. House of Representative debated the land exchange bill that would permit the Resolution Copper mine near Superior (Arizona), and would transfer Apache Leap wilderness to the federal government.  Although they voted down two amendments during the debate on Thursday, they delayed voting on the overall bill.

The bill, H.R. 687, is sponsored by Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1).  Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) led the opposition in the two-hour debate, and Rep. Matt Salmon (R-CD5) also spoke during the debate.

Below is the entire debate; we will supplement with separate clips of the Arizona Representatives' speeches later.

For more information and the text of the bill, see the Arizona's Politics article from last week.




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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WATCH: Rep. Kirkpatrick On House Floor Calling For U.S. Hearings In Arizona Re: Mexican Wolf Endangered Species Status and Re-Introduction

Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) took to the House floor today to call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("FWS") to hold hearings in Arizona regarding the Mexican (Gray) Wolf's listing on the endangered species list and its re-introduction program.

Kirkpatrick notes that there has not yet been a hearing set for Arizona, and states that it is "imperative" that there be a hearing near the re-introduction area in eastern Arizona.  A hearing has been set for October 4 in Albuquerque.

The changes are being proposed as FWS reached legal settlements with the Center for Biological Diversity in August.  They would remove most gray wolves
from the endangered species list, with the Mexican Wolf being the only subspecies to remain on the list.  It would also make changes to the re-introduction program in New Mexico and Arizona.  The full proposed rule changes can be read here.

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) has already spoken out against the proposal; although Kirkpatrick did not follow suit, her one-minute speech was to push for her rural constituents to be able to better make their voices heard.

The public comment period - if an Arizona hearing is not set or if you are unable to attend a hearing - has been extended and runs through October 28.



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FEC Surprises Arizona Democrats, Republicans With Opinion On 2006 Complaint By AZ GOP

The three Republicans on the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") issued an opinion this past week explaining why they thought that an Arizona GOP complaint against the Arizona Democrats had needed to be dismissed.  The Democrats on the FEC wanted to go after the Arizona Democrats.

Confused?  You (hopefully) won't be, after this week's episode of "Arizona's Politics Meets FEC Politics".

This past week, the Republican Commissioners released a "Statement of Reasons" in the AZ GOP vs. the AZ Dems file.  Turns out, they were doing house-cleaning as the chair (Donald McGahn) was leaving the Commission (and two new members were coming on).

On the eve of Arizona's 2006 election between then-Sen. Jon Kyl and Democratic challenger Jim Pederson, the state GOP filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.  It alleged that commercial real estate developer Pederson and the Democratic party had "concocted and implemented" a scheme that permitted Pederson to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars more than permitted, to benefit his candidacy.  (He lost to Kyl 53% to 44%.)  Part of the evidence was a quote in a newspaper article that the GOP felt proved that some of the monies were spent improperly.

Pederson and the Arizona Democratic Party separately filed responses in January 2007 - claiming that the complaint had no legal basis and was just done for publicity - and in November 2008, the FEC met to consider the complaint.  The FEC is required to be made up of three Republicans and three Democrats.

Not surprisingly, they deadlocked 3-3 on whether to proceed against the Arizona Democrats and dismiss Pederson and the other parties.  Showing their philosophical differences and ignoring their partisan differences, it was the Democratic Commissioners voting to go after the Arizona Democrats and the Republican Commissioners dissing the Arizona GOP's reasoning.

After the deadlock, they voted 6-0 to close the file.

And so it remained until this past week.  With McGahn's exit, the three GOP Commissioners decided to file a "Statement of Reasons".  They blasted the Complaint as suggesting "a novel legal standard that has no basis in law, statute or practice," and took notice of the Arizona GOP's "speculation."

Arizona's Politics has asked the Arizona GOP and the Arizona Democrats for reactions to the FEC's closing shot, and will supplement as needed.

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Arizona's Privatized Privies - Company Moves Forward While Waiting On ADOT To Sign Public-Private Partnership Contract

(Clarifications/addendums, 9/26/13, 3:00pm:  Explained at bottom of article.)  

Last week, Arizona's Politics reported that Arizona's Department of Transportation had agreed to privatize control of 25 highway rest areas in the state, paying Tennessee-based Infrastructure Corporation of America ("ICA") to maintain the rest stops and ICA/ITSAA to sell advertising in and around the rest stops.  The proposal was not discussed at public meetings, and the contract had not yet been finalized.  To Arizona's Politics knowledge, the contract has still not been signed.

However, as the below screenshots from ITSAA (this afternoon) show, the companies are moving forward. (ICA did remove its Arizona page the day after it was pointed out to ADOT by Arizona's Politics.)



The public-private partnership has raised eyebrows because ICA donated $10,000 to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's personal Super PAC ("Jan PAC"), and apparently hosted a successful fundraiser for Jan PAC, the same weekend that ADOT put the rest area privatization plan out for Requests for Proposal.  (ICA had earlier submitted an unsolicited proposal which prompted the state's RFP.)

(Clarifications/addendums, 9/26/13, 3:00pm:  Explained at bottom of article.)  As of this afternoon, ADOT informs Arizona's Politics that "there is not yet a final signed contract."  

Also, the lede sentence below has been modified to indicate that it is only control of the rest areas - maintenance, advertising, improvement - that is being contracted out; use of the word "privatize" does not mean that the state is turning over ownership of the rest areas. The updated lede adds the words "control of".  The definition of "privatize" varies depending upon the source - to some, it indicates change of ownership while to others, it indicates change of control.  e.g. Merriam-Webster

Finally,  in response to a comment below and Arizona's Politics' e-mail, ADOT indicates that it did provide the Federal Highway Administration with a copy of the RFP, as a courtesy, and that there was no formal signoff required.)

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WATCH: McCain Strikes Back At Cruz Following Obamacare Defunding Filibuster/Talk-a-thon

After Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished his 21-hour filibuster/talk-a-thon to try to defund Obamacare, Arizona Senator John McCain took to the Senate floor to take issue with his colleague's taunting of fellow Republican Senators for not working hard to "replace and repair Obamacare."

(WATCH McCain's full remarks below.)

McCain noted his efforts and votes against the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) in the past and said that "elections have consequences." He argued that Cruz' effort was not a filibuster and called it an "extended oratory."

But, then McCain got to his main point.  He was upset that Cruz had spoken about the events that led to World War II and had speculated that the same people who had thought that we could not stop the Germans would be saying that we could not stop Obamacare.

"I resoundingly reject that!  That allegation in my view does a great disservice"  A disservice to those who did "stood up and shouted at the top of their lungs" or go to war.  McCain said he spoke to Cruz about this afterwards and that Cruz indicated that he did not intend it to apply to any Senators - only to "pundits".

McCain received scattered applause from his colleagues.

(Click on picture below for video, in new window.)


(As part of his filibuster/extended oratory, Cruz read "Green Eggs and Ham", by Dr. Seuss.  Arizona's Politics noted that Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) had adapted that famous story to attack Obamacare more than 14 months ago, on the House floor.  Video and other tidbits are available here, and a follow-up featuring Tucson progressive blogger/attorney Michael Bryan's counter-version is available here.)


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FLASHBACK, WATCH: Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar Put More Creativity In Adapting "Green Eggs and Ham" to Obamacare Than Sen. Cruz

Apparently, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz just read Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs And Ham" during his filibuster, and the Twitter-verse went crazy.

He would have done much better if he had asked supporter Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD 4) to use the version that he read on the House floor last July.  Arizona's Politics posted about it back then, along with a retort/completion from progressive blog Blog For Arizona the following week.

In case you don't want to click on the links above, here is the video (and the text):



Gosar:
Here is the transcript, as written up by Arizona's Politics (apologies if formatting doesn't match the stylings of Drs. Seuss or Gosar):
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the resolution, 6079.  The Court said Congress can impose new taxes and the individual mandate is constitutional as a tax.  And, as Dr. Seuss would rhyme: 
If it walks like a tax, talks like a tax and quacks like a tax,
the Supreme Court will tell us surely it is a tax. 
And so it did.
Maybe we can serve it with green eggs and ham.
Uncle Sam, I still don't think Americans will like this Obamacare sham.
Uncle Sam, loyal to patient-centered choice I am.
And as the ledgers on exploding costs are already showing this and the courts declare that day,
A tax burden is what Obamacare (is), and Americans remain in dismay.
Bryan:
I will NOT try Obamacare, Sam I am.
I do not like it like it now or then,
I'm going to repeal it, yet again!
You do not like kids getting care?
You do not want to make insurance fair?
You want not to cover conditions which pre-exist?
You wish to allow a no-coverage list?
You hate the mandate, or so I hears,
But you were FOR it for twenty years!
So repeal it all, root and branch you say today,
But to millions now covered what would you say?
You were given care yesterday, but not today!?
Ask you friend, Romney, called Mitt.
Before he was against it, he was all for it.
Try it! Try it!
And like it again you may.
Try it now, and you may, I say.


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FLASHBACK WATCH/READ: Senator McCain's Floor Speech Opposing Americorps Program

In the previous article, we posted video and a transcript of Arizona Senator John McCain's speech on the floor of the Senate yesterday honoring the 20th anniversary of the Americorps program.  Because he was so fulsome in his praise, Arizona's Politics was prompted to take the time machine back to 1993 and see how closely his speeches matched.  They do not.

McCain spoke out strongly against the Americorps program in 1993, acknowledging that it was about to pass, and saying "what we have done in the name of national service, which is a concept which I support, is created another bureaucracy at a cost of untold billions of dollars which undermines other programs and in some ways undermines what voluntarism is all about in this country."


To the Senator's credit, he has acknowledged his change of heart.  When he was first running for President in 2000, he flat out admitted, "I was wrongabout AmeriCorps... I was extremely skeptical at first, mostly because I didn't trust the authors. But I've got to say that, over all, the program's been a success. And it was a failure on my part not to recognize that earlier." (originally in The New Yorker magazine)

WATCH/READ: Sen. John McCain On Senate Floor Honoring "Bill Clinton's Americorps", Civilian National Service

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) gave an inspirational speech on the Senate floor yesterday honoring the 20th anniversary of "Bill Clinton's Americorps" specifically, and civilian national service, in general.

McCain concluded his 6-minute exhortation by saying that "Congress must step up.  With so much division and discord throughout the country today, national service can help bring our country closer together."  The full text is below the video.

McCain notes that 15,000 people in Arizona have served more than 16 million hours in the state through Americorps programs and grants; currently, Americorps reports there are 49 active projects in Arizona with more than 3,300 "participants."

McCain was not always a fan of the Americorps program, though.  For a FLASHBACK to McCain's Senate floor speech before the program's passage, please click here.



Text courtesy of Sen. McCain's website, and is below the jump:

Friday, September 20, 2013

On Way To DCCC Fundraiser, Arizona's 3 Embattled Democrats Cross House Aisle On Forest Management Bill (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

Arizona Reps. Ron Barber (D-CD2), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) will face tough challenges in swing districts next year.  This morning, all three crossed the aisle to help pass a forest management bill that would have a significant impact in Arizona, and then are off to a Democratic leadership fundraiser to help finance their re-election battles.

The "Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act" includes the provisions that Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) had proposed separately, and he sent out a news release praising the "common sense approach" of the measure.  It passed this morning by a 244-173 vote, with the Arizona Democrats comprising 3 of the 17 Democrats voting "aye".

The House then recessed (until next Wednesday), and Sinema, Kirkpatrick and Barber were scheduled to be at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ("DCCC") fundraiser hosted by Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Tim Walz (D-MN).  The fundraiser is part of the DCCC's Frontline campaign aimed at "protecting vulnerable incumbent Democrats."  Frontline lists 26 Democratic Reps. around the nation.

The bank balances for Kirkpatrick, Barber and Sinema combined hold more than $1.5 Million, as of June 30.  Incidentally, that is about what  Rep. Ed Pastor (D-CD7) alone has in his account ($1.35M), but more than the other 5 Arizona Reps. combined.


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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Governor Brewer, Personal SuperPAC Benefit From Company Privatizing Arizona Rest Stops

The week that a major Request for Proposals went out to privatize the state's highway rest areas, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was hosted in Tennessee and her personal Super PAC received contributions and underwriting from the Tennessee company proposing the public-private partnership.

Tennessee-based Infrastructure Corporation of America ("ICA") has announced on its website this week (removed this morning after Arizona's Politics pointed it out) that it is now in control of providing maintenance and janitorial services at 25 state-owned rest areas across the state.  (See accompanying article, "Arizona Privies Privatized (Pretty Privately)!  Tennessee Company Takes Over Highway Rest Stops, Now Looking For Advertisers")

In 2011, ICA first proposed a public-private partnership with Arizona for its rest areas, according to Arizona Department of Transportation ("ADOT") spokesperson Laura Douglas.  It previously appeared to Arizona's Politics that a second unsolicited proposal from ICA was submitted in early 2013, although the ADOT link to that information was removed; Douglas indicates that the website was "recently redesigned".

In 2009, Arizona passed the law envisioning P3's - with a focus on toll roads - and ADOT produced (in 2010) the flowchart at right (click to expand) detailing the process for unsolicited proposals.

Whether ICA's proposal was submitted once in 2011 or a second time in 2013, it is clear that ADOT decided to move forward with the idea and put out a Request for Proposals ("RFP") on or about February 22, 2013.  The RFP is not currently available, and Douglas informs Arizona's Politics that, per state law, it will be after the contract is finalized: "The executive summary for the unsolicited proposal is the only document that we can release right now, per state law."  Arizona's Politics has determined that the statute does not envision that the RFP is confidential, and is reproduced below the jump.

On February 19, 2013, ICA made a $10,000 contribution to the Governor's eponymous "Super PAC', Jan PAC.  On February 21 and 23, ICA also made matching in-kind contributions to Jan PAC and the Republican Governors Association for "transportation"; each contribution was for $6,435.

Between February 19 and February 22, Governor Brewer's Jan PAC received more than $60,000 in contributions from Tennessee donors, apparently at a fundraiser on her way to the Republican Governors' Association Winter Meetings in Washington D.C.

Governor Brewer's SuperPAC was the only (federal) recipient of the ICA-sponsored fundraiser, which may have been organized by either ICA,, repeat Brewer contributor Willis Johnson/Copart - which owns automobile auctions nationwide, including Arizona.  Johnson donated $10,000 on February 21, to bring his total support of JanPAC to $120,000 - or another major contributor.

The more than $60,000 (the amount could vary depending on whether all of the Tennessee contributors were as a result of the fundraiser and whether other, out of state donations were related) collected included $10,000 from the Tennessee owners of Pilot Oil, which has highway fuel stations/travel stops around Arizona.  The Haslams also made $50,000 in donations on February 22 to the Republican Governors' Association.

ICA was then the only company to submit a "responsive" proposal to ADOT's RFP - a proposal from a Massachusetts company that partners with several states to provide transportation-related with advertising was found to be "non-responsive", according to Douglas.  The decision to move forward with ICA was made by ADOT Director John Halikowski.

Governor Brewer set up her eponymous Super PAC in 2011.  By law, she is permitted to spend the money in the account on any independent expenditure campaigns of her choosing.  In 2012, she spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on behalf of now-Senator Jeff Flake and three unsuccessful GOP House candidates.  She has also received media attention for using the monies to purchase copies of her book "Scorpions For Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media and Cynical Politicos."

Whether the contributions - to a Super PAC apparently controlled by the Governor, for her political benefit - coming at the same time that the government contractor is avidly pursuing a proposal to privatize state assets runs afoul of any state laws regarding gifts depends on a number of factors.  The recent advent of Super PACs at the federal level has opened up new avenues to support elected officials or candidates - even for those at the state or local level.

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Arizona Privies Privatized (Pretty Privately)! Tennessee Company Takes Over Highway Rest Stops, Now Looking For Advertisers

Arizona has begun privatizing its 25 highway rest stops this month.  The companies taking over management of the places where an estimated 9.3 million people per year stretch their legs, "use the facilities", or take a quick nap are going to maintain the areas and monetize them by attracting advertisers.

Although there are some questions surrounding how this public-private partnership ("P3") has reached this point - see accompanying article "Governor Brewer's Personal SuperPAC Benefits From Privatizing Rest Stops" - the new 5-year agreement puts Arizona into the company of only a handful of states privatizing and/or commercializing their rest areas.

Arizona Department of Transportation ("ADOT") has not yet released the amount that they will pay Infrastructure Corporation of America ("ICA") - out of Tennessee - and their partners, claiming that the arrangement is not yet finalized.  Nor is the percentage of advertising revenues that the state will receive yet known.  However, that is not stopping ICA and its advertising subcontractor ITSAA  from getting to work and boasting about the public-private partnership to potential advertisers (and other states).


ITSAA tells potential rest stop advertisers: "

Arizona Rest Areas are shady oases that have always been a great place to stop, relax and admire the beautiful, natural scenery. Now visitors will also see what your business has to offer and why they should stop by and spend their money with you. For as little as $4.10 a day, your ad can be working 24/7 to increase your business."
And ICA brags about its five-year agreement with the state, states that the revenue streams are a "crucial component" of the arrangement and that it will assume "routine maintenance activities and janitorial services" at the rest stops.

ICA/ITSAA will not be permitted to throw up any just any old advertising.  Although they will be permitted to place ads on the insides and outsides of rest area buildings, other advertising may require approval by ADOT.  

According to the Request for Proposals ("RFP") - not available on ADOT's website but reviewed by Arizona's Politics - the state did give them a host of content restrictions on acceptable ads.  There will be no ads for products or services with sexual overtones, concerning abortion or euthanasia, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, political candidates or ballot measures, nor ads that denigrate other groups (on basis of gender, religion, race, ethnicity or political affiliation).

ICA/ITSAA are to give the state its share of gross advertising revenues twice a year.

The nearly-finalized agreement has been in the works for a couple of years now, and has largely been flying under the (toll road) radar.  In 2009, Arizona passed a new law envisioning possible P3's, but toll roads were the focus.  In 2011, ICA first made an unsolicited proposal to ADOT.  (It appeared that they may have submitted a new proposal in early 2013.)  It was put out for competing proposals in February 2013, but only one other, "non-responsive" proposal was received, according to ADOT spokesperson Laura Douglas.

Although ADOT's flow chart for processing such unsolicited proposals is quite detailed, 
Douglas states that the flow chart "is geared more toward highway projects" and that approval from the State Transportation Board was not necessary.  The Director of ADOT, John Halikowski, had the final decision; Halikowski was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer in 2009.  (The Governor's personal Super PAC received a large contribution from ICA, and ICA apparently hosted a successful fundraiser for JanPAC in February of this year.)

ICA and ITSAA provide similar services for Florida and Missouri, and ICA maintains rest areas for Texas and Virginia.  The other company that submitted a (rejected) proposal earlier this year, Travelers Marketing, provides a variety of advertising services for a number of states, but it is not clear whether rest areas are part of those services.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WATCH: Land Swap For New Arizona Copper Mine Being Considered By U.S. House Committee Noon Today

A federal land swap that would permit a new $6 Billion underground copper mine near Superior (Arizona) is on the House Rules Committee agenda today, along with several amendments.  The meeting will be broadcast live, partly because the Committee is also now set to consider the Continuing Resolution (to keep government activities funded).

(Here is the link to watch the hearing live, or click on picture of Grijalva - with Gosar in background)

The land exchange bill has been a prime reason why co-sponsors Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) have been described as "Arizona's Congressional Odd Couple".  See the companion article for their joint C-Span interview from today.

At least five amendments were submitted to the land exchange bill by this morning's deadline - including two by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) to "guarantee" that jobs created by the new mine will benefit the local community, and to require an environmental analysis on the mining operation before the exchange is concluded.

Here's the text of the proposed legislation (also, below).  It is slated to be considered by the entire House this coming Friday.



(Also on the Rules Committee agenda today is the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, of which Gosar is a co-sponsor.)



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BEYOND HYPER-PARTISANSHIP, WATCH: Arizona's Odd Couple Moves From Stage To Screen - Reps. Gosar and Kirkpatrick This Morning On C-Span

Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) continued emphasizing their bipartisan working relationship on Arizona issues, spending nearly an hour on C-Span's Washington Journal this morning.

The interviewer led off with last month's Politico article that brought more attention to their willingness to work together on issues such as the proposed land exchange to permit Resolution Copper to build a new copper mine near Superior.  (See companion article about committee hearing on land exchange bill.)

Kirkpatrick and Gosar both noted that part of their ability to work together may be that they come from families that contain both Republicans and Democrats.





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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WATCH: 2013 Version of U.S. House Debate On Blocking Tohono O'odham Casino In Glendale; Passed By Voice Vote

The U.S. House of Representatives held its 2nd annual debate today on a bill to block the proposed Tohono O'odham casino in Glendale.  This year, the nearly empty House passed it on a voice vote.

The 40-minute debate - embedded below - featured Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar, Trent Franks (primary sponsor) and David Schweikert speaking in favor of the blocking bill, while Rep. Raul Grijalva again opposed the bill.  Here is last year's Arizona Politics' article and debate.

The bill would put a 14-year moratorium on the proposed casino, basing it upon Arizona's passage of Prop. 202 in 2002 which led to the gaming compact between the state of Arizona and the Native American tribes.

The bill will now head to the Senate, the body where last year's bill quietly died.



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Friday, September 13, 2013

WATCH: Tim Shriver In Arizona Today For Special Olympics, Very Conscious Of Political Environment

Approximately 1,000 athletes, volunteers, law enforcement officers and donors gathered at the Arizona Biltmore this morning for the "Breakfast of Champions", celebrating and raising funds for Special Olympics of Arizona.  Today's keynote speaker was the Chairperson/CEO of Special Olympics International (founded by his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver) Tim Shriver, and he was very aware of Arizona's reputation as a very conservative state.

While emphasizing that Special Olympics transcends partisan politics, he nevertheless returned to the subject a couple of times.  He spoke of an encounter this morning in the hotel elevator.  Shriver noted that one of the several ladies (he humorously/awkwardly described how dressy they were) asked him if he had ever been told that he looks like he could be a Kennedy (he really does).  After acknowledging that he has heard that before, Shriver said one of the other ladies said something like "Doesn't that piss you off?"  Never mind that other hotel guests are also likely not from Arizona, but it still drew a good laugh.

As part of his very good presentation, Shriver played a video from a teenaged girl with a brother that has Down Syndrome that has been on YouTube for a couple of years:  

If you have never been to a Special Olympics event or volunteered, you should  - let me know and I can fill you in on some dates.

And, if you would like to support this worthy organization and today's Breakfast of Champions, here's a link.  (Where it asks for "Table Captain", either leave it blank or fill in ArizonasPolitics.com.)


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READ: Arizona Legislature/Governor Brewer's Law Changing Judicial Merit Selection Process "Unconstitutional", Rules Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Arizona this morning unanimously declared a new law that would have changed the judicial merit selection process as being "unconstitutional".  The decision is a defeat for the Republican Legislature and the Governor who passed and signed the statutory change months after voters had overwhelmingly defeated the proposed change.

The new law would have increased the number of candidates that the judicial selection commissions would have to send to the Governor for her or him to choose from.  As Rep. Justin Pierce (R-LD25), the sponsor of the measure said, it would not "bo(x) the governor into one of their (the commission’s) choices.”

The Supreme Court focused its opinion (posted below) on rejecting the state's argument that the law would only represent a "procedural change" to the Arizona Constitution's language on the number of candidates would be submitted to the Governor:

Under Turley’s analysis, H.B. 2600 cannot be said to “reasonably supplement” Arizona’s Constitution. Instead, H.B. 2600 materially changes the process of submitting judicial nominees to the governor as established in Article 6, Section 37. It works a fundamental change in the constitutionally prescribed balance of power between the Commission and the governor. By increasing the number of nominees the Commission must submit, H.B. 2600 simultaneously increases the governor’s discretion and narrows the commissioners’ constitutionally granted discretion to nominate no more than the three candidates whom they determine best meet the constitutionally mandated selection criteria.
Significantly, when the Legislature had referred the change to the voters for the 2012 ballot, they did it as a proposed amendment to the Constitution.  It was defeated by nearly a 3-1 margin.  Given the make-up of the current Legislature, Pierce did not propose it as a Constitutional amendment, but only as a statute.  It passed the House, 34-24, the Senate 16-13, and was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 5.

Four members of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments filed this Special Action challenging the constitutionality of the statute, and they were represented by several high-profile attorneys and former Supreme Court Justices.  They requested attorney's fees, and the state did not dispute that they would be entitled to fees if they were successful.  The (current) Supreme Court ordered the state to pay reasonable attorney's fees (with a caveat that the attorneys could only request fees for time spent on the ultimately-successful argument, as they had withdrawn one of their lines of argument).

The new law and the legal challenge attracted attention from across the nation, as Arizona's judicial merit selection process was a trail-blazer and is still viewed as a model for other states to follow.  A couple of national organizations had filed amicus briefs in support of striking down the law.



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Thursday, September 12, 2013

WATCH: Masquerade Ball, As Arizona Solar Fight Bringing In National Players; Conservative Organization Airing Spot Claiming Obama Campaign "Trotting Out" Goldwater (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

This could start looking like one of those many movies or TV shows where a masquerade ball devolves into everyone ripping off each other's masks.

The battle before the Arizona Corporation Commission over solar power and net-metering is looking more like a national energy battlefield today as a national conservative organization largely funded by the coal-based Koch brothers and the American Petroleum Institute is buying airtime in Phoenix.

In the 30-second spot titled "Who is TUSK?", the 60 Plus Association claims that one of the main groups fighting for more solar energy is really President Obama and liberal groups "trotting out" former GOP Congressman and son of Arizona's conservative icon Barry Goldwater to hide its real roots.

60 Plus is purchasing approximately $44,000 in ad time in the Phoenix market, airing their spot this weekend.


It was just this week that national organizations have been reporting on some of the campaign finance mechanisms used by wealthy Koch brothers and fellow conservative moneypeople.  In fact, the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org) reported today that 60 Plus Association has been a key recipient of Koch brothers' and American Petroleum Institute largesse.  (The Koch brothers wealth comes largely from their coal and coal-related businesses.)

Arizona's battle over solar power, net metering and rates is receiving more and more attention as the Corporation Commission is discussing and preparing to make decisions that will influence the future of solar energy in Arizona.  The Phoenix New Times ran an explanatory cover story in July, followed by a similar series in the Arizona Republic.



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GOP Ropes (1st) Candidate To Run Against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick; Eager From Eagar(?)

Arizona's rural Congressional District 1 is rated as one of the most competitive in the nation for 2014, and the Republicans now have an announced challenger to incumbent Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1).  Springerville/Eagar native Gary Kiehne filed his statement of candidacy this week.

Kiehne (pronounced Keen-ee) is a "a 5th generation cattle rancher and business owner" in Springerville who won a professional roping competition earlier this summer.  He has spoken out about "U.S. Forest Service mismanagement" and the need to allow more logging - which is probably why he contributed money last year to Rep. Raul Grijalva's (D-CD3) opponent last year.  (He previously has contributed to Rusty Bowers' Congressional run and Sen. John McCain's most recent re-election effort.)

Interestingly, his papers were filed with the Federal Election Committee on Tuesday by his campaign committee's Treasurer, David Satterfield.  Satterfield works for national law firm Arent Fox and has handled various national campaigns.  (This also explains why Kiehne's paperwork lists the campaign's post office box as being in "Eager", Arizona.)

Although CD1 is listed by the respected Rothenberg Political Report as one of the 14 closest Congressional races for next year ("Toss Up/Tilt Democrat"), no Republicans had announced their candidacy until Kiehne. Kirkpatrick has nearly $450,000 in her re-election bank account. If Kiehne is the GOP nominee, it will be a general election contest between two native eastern Arizonans.

Arizona's Politics has asked Kiehne for an interview, and will update as appropriate.  (Note to candidate: if nothing else, the "Donate" button on your website should  be operational.)

(UPDATE, 9:55am: Added sentence about Kirkpatrick's cash on hand as of June 30.)


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Opponents Of Arizona Election Reform Law File 60,000 More Signatures Than Necessary For Referendum To Go To Ballot; Supporters Of Law "Wait and See"

Democrats, Libertarians, labor unions, Latino activists and more turned in more than 146,000 petition signatures to overturn an election reform law (HB2305) passed by the Arizona Legislature as the clock struck midnight on its session and signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer.

The coalition, known as the Protect Your Right To Vote Committee, needs at least 86,405 of those signatures to be considered valid for the measure to not go into effect unless it passes on the 2014 general election ballot.  The Arizona Secretary of State's office has 20 (business) days - until October 9 - to strike obviously invalid signatures and to pass a random sample of the remaining signatures on to County Recorders for validation.

Two committees have formed to support the election reform measure, and they also have 20 days to decide whether or not they are going to file a legal challenge of the referendum petitions.  (In other words, they will have to do their own validity checks to determine whether they have grounds to bring it before a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

Barrett Marson, spokesperson for one of the supporting committees called "Stop Voter Fraud", tells Arizona's Politics that they are in a "wait and see" mode while the Secretary of State proceeds.  Marson also defends the election reform law, noting that "2305 doesn't disenfranchise one single voter," notwithstanding the claims made by petition circulators.

(The other committee, chaired by sponsoring Sen. Michele Reagan and called Protect Our Secret Ballot, failed to respond to Arizona's Politics' request for comment.)

Julie Erfle, the chairwoman for Protect Your Right To Vote Committee, did not use the term "disenfranchise" today:  "“It was wrong for career politicians to try and influence elections by putting up roadblocks for voters who might not agree with them and to make criminals out of dedicated campaign volunteers."  She and the committee highlight several of the provisions, including making it a crime for volunteers to collect early ballots from voters and drop them off at the polls, ceasing to send early ballots to people if they do not return them in two elections, and dramatically increasing signature requirements for third party candidates to get on the ballot.

The Protect Your Right To Vote Committee used a mix of volunteers and paid circulators to collect the signatures turned in today.  While they declined to estimate how many were gathered by each group, an educated guess from some people involved in the volunteer effort would be that they (volunteers) collected between 35-50,000 of the signatures.

As there are two committees that have likely each raised money opposing the referendum effort, it is also rumored that some efforts might have been made to subvert the signature-gathering effort.  Thus, even if the Secretary of State and County Recorders believe that a sufficient number of valid signatures were turned in, it is possible that the other groups may challenge additional signatures.

***

Here is the Arizona statute that determines what types of validity checks the Secretary of State's office will begin performing tomorrow.  And, here is the statute that supporters of the law may file their court challenge under.

To read the (voluminous) HB2305 election reform law that is now on hold, click here, or read below.







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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DEADLINE DAY For Medicaid Expansion, Common Core Referenda; "I Doubt We Will Reach"

Today is the deadline for the referenda petitions on the Medicaid (aka AHCCCS) Expansion (aka Obamacare Expansion, aka "The People's Veto") and the Common Core (aka School District Bonding Limits).  And, according to the Chairwoman of the former, it is unlikely that they will have enough to turn in today.

Christine Bauserman sent out the following e-mail to the mailing list for the United Republic Alliance of Principled Conservatives late last night:

I will collect the petitions in Tucson Wednesday morning and then drive to Phoenix for a final count.  We are very close but I doubt we will reach the required number tomorrow.
If you need to meet me along the highway please call:  520-235-2234.
I will be on the Capitol lawn around noon and 
 notaries will be available.
Please wait until this time to bring petitions to the Capitol.
Do not turn your petitions into Linda Brickman, she has no authority to accept your petitions. 

The Common Core referendum had planned to piggy-back its collection efforts on the AHCCCS Expansion effort, and has sought/received very little attention.  Therefore, it is even less likely that they will file.

The deadline for the referendum effort on the election reform bill (HB2305) is actually tomorrow, but they plan on turning in more than the necessary signatures today.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

UPDATE: Arizona Senator Jeff FLAKE Also Shooting Two For Charity Tonight

Arizona's Politics just posted on Rep. Paul Gosar playing basketball for charity.  We even threw in a picture of now-Sen. Jeff Flake from a past Congressmen vs. Lobbyists event.  Little did we know.

We were Tweeting the article to followers of the other Congressmen (yes, all guys) when we got to "Sen. Jeff Blake".  That had not caught our "AZ-dar" earlier, for obvious reasons.  But, after uttering an audible "Hunh, what a coincidence", we realized that it was simply a typo that threw us.  (For once, the typo is someone else's, not ours.)

Sooo, that picture of Flake in action from years gone by IS relevant!  Here it is again, only bigger and centered:



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Arizona Rep. Gosar Banging The Boards - and Some Lobbyists - As We Speak, So More At-Risk Kids In D.C. Can, Too (Play Basketball, That Is)

As we write this, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) is running the hardwood hard, playing in a Congressmen (yes, only guys on the roster) against a group of lobbyists game.  Yes, it is for charity - the Hoops For Youth Foundation, an organization that supports at-risk children in the District of Columbia, mainly by providing opportunities to play team sports.

No word yet on Gosar's strengths (or weaknesses) on the floor, but since the Representatives are playing a team of lobbyists, the possibilities for humor abound.  Example, something about no hand-checking allowed, only handing checks permitted.  PAC'ing the paint also takes on a whole new meaning.

No preparatory pictures have been posted - unlike the annual Congressional Baseball Game between Dems and Republicans.  However, the Hoops for Youth annual classic has apparently also featured now-Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who is (of course) featured on their website!  Once we get a Gosar action shot, we will supplement.

In the meantime, here's where you can donate in Gosar's name.


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READ: Syria's Assembly Speaker Uses FDR Quotes To Persuade U.S. Congress To Not Authorize Syria Strike; Context, History of Quotes

Showing shrewd(?) political chops, the Syrian Congress has sent a letter to members of the U.S. Congress twice quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt in an effort to convince Congress not to authorize a strike against the Syrian government in response to last month's chemical weapons attack.

Talking Points Memo obtained a copy of the 4-page memo from the Syrian Assembly's Speaker, Mohammad Jihad al-Lahham, and posted it on its website.  (We have re-posted it below.)

Besides leading off with a quote from Democratic President (1933-45) FDR (that he never spoke*) about the need for peoples around the world to build "human relationships" to achieve peace, the Syrian Speaker uses another FDR quote taken completely out of context: "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made."**

Of course, the latter quote is used in the letter to emphasize that both the U.S. and Syria are enemies of al Qaeda, and therefore should be working together.  The quote smacks of the proverb that is widely - but, not universally - believed to be Arabic in origin: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

The letter does go on to also try to make the claim that the Syrian rebels might be responsible for the August 21 chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,000 civilians, and that the U.S. and Syria "should be walking the road to peace and truth together."

*  " Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships -- the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together, in the same world, at peace."  This quote comes from a speech that Roosevelt wrote on April 11, 1945, the night before he died, to be delivered three days later as a nationwide radio broadcast honoring Jefferson Day.  You can read the text here.  He was looking past the end of WWII, to building the peace afterwards.  He references "science" as he notes that President Thomas Jefferson had been a distinguished scientist who was quoted as saying that science can bring the peoples of the world together.

** "Judge me by the enemies I have made."  This quote is from a speech that Roosevelt made in his first campaign for President ("The Portland Speech", September 21, 1932).  He was not speaking about international relations; rather, he was defending his record (as Governor of New York) regarding regulation of public utility companies.  Utility company executives had attacked his record, and he attempted to cast that as a badge of courage.





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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Arizona Reps. Sinema, Barber Visit Israel During Congressional Break, Look Into Syria; Trip Sponsored By AIPAC, Lobbying Hard For Striking Assad

Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and Ron Barber (D-CD2) took a weeklong trip to Israel in August, meeting separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and wrapping up with a tour of the Israel-Syria border.

The trip, which permitted Democratic* lawmakers to bring their spouses or partners, was sponsored by an arm of the well-known pro-Israel lobbying organization AIPAC ("American Israel Public Affairs Committee").  For Sinema, it was at least her second trip to Israel as part of an elected officials' delegation, and the first for Barber.  (Sinema was in the Arizona Legislature for several years before being elected to Congress in 2012;  this is the first elected office for Barber.)


AIPAC made headlines this past week when it announced that it would pull out all the stops to try to convince Congress to support the resolution approving limited force against the Syria government as punishment for using chemical weapons on its own civilians.  To date, Sinema is listed as a "leans no" and Barber as "undecided" on the eventual** resolution.

AIPAC believes that not taking action to punish Syria's government at this point will send a strong message to Iran and Hezbollah that the U.S. will allow it to further pursue (and ultimately, to use) nuclear weapons.


*A group of Republican lawmakers traveled to Israel for a similar (but, not identical - there's an interesting sidebar) itinerary the following week.  No Arizonan GOP lawmakers went this year, perhaps because of the skinny-dipping "news" that had come out of last year's delegation.

** The actual wording of a resolution - specifically, in the House - is not yet finalized.




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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WATCH: Senator Flake's Questioning of Kerry, Dempsey Re: Syria Strike; Effectiveness of Possible Strike Not Harmed By Delay

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) had his opportunity to question Secretary of State John Kerry and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Martin Dempsey today during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee open hearing.  As he had indicated earlier in the day on Fox News, he was primarily concerned with the strategy of waiting for Congressional approval before striking at Syria.
(click on link to watch video on C-Span's website)

Flake started off asking Kerry about the timing and about asking Congress after the President had already decided.  Kerry noted that the U.S. military even sees some benefits in waiting, because they can monitor Syria's moves and adjust the strike's plans accordingly.  Flake questioned Dempsey on this point, and he agreed that waiting would not harm the effectiveness of any strike.

Flake then asked Kerry what the President would do if Congress does not vote to approve a strike.  Kerry said that in places like North Korea, Iran and Syria, there would be celebrations while others around the world would mourn the setback in the U.S.'s world leadership.




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WATCH: McCain, Flake Back-to-Back On Fox News: Allahu Akhbar, Speaking Strategy

Arizona is the only state that has both of its U.S. Senators on the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  And, one of them is named John McCain.  Which means that it was not surprising that both McCain and Jeff Flake - both Republicans - were practically back-to-back on Fox News this morning.

McCain - fresh off of his high-profile meeting with President Barack Obama on Labor Day - raised a lot of eyebrows when he called out Fox News host Brian Kilmeade for apparently suggesting that a Syrian rebel yelling "Allahu Akhbar" when a Syrian jet was shot down was reason to be concerned about assisting them in their civil war against the Assad government.

McCain's retort:  "Would you have a problem with an American person saying ‘Thank God! Thank God!'?  That’s what they're saying. Come on!  Of course they're Muslims, but they're moderates. I guarantee you that they are moderates. I know them and I've been with them. For someone to say 'Allahu Akbar' is about as offensive as someone saying 'Thank God.'"

Here's the full interview:  

In the very next program, Bill Hemmer interviewed Flake, whose main concern coming out of a classified briefing and going into this afternoon's open hearing seemed to be the strategy of waiting for Congressional approval for the strike:   





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