FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arizona's Andrei Cherny NOT Joining Katie Couric In Yahoo-ing

Deep within some of the coverage of Katie Couric joining Yahoo! News(?), there was a note that she would be working with other "high-profile hires" such as "author and historian Andrei Cherny."

Arizona's Politics thought that its audience would be more interested in the former chair of the Arizona Democratic Party - and candidate for elective office - joining a bid for internet news dominance (relevance?) than in the network-and-platform-hopping Couric.

However, finding an original - or, even a second - source for the announcement proved difficult.  Until Cherny himself told Arizona's Politics that he had not even heard about his supposed new gig until our e-mail.

When Yahoo!'s PR person later responded that she was checking into the matter, we were able to tell her that she need not bother, but that they might actually consider bringing on Cherny, who has founded a journal ("Democracy: A Journal of Ideas") and blogged for Huffington Post.



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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FEC Dismisses Complaint Against Andrei Cherny; Stemmed From 2012 Arizona Congressional Primary Campaign

The Federal Election Commission ("FEC") announced this past week that they have dismissed a 2012 election complaint against Andrei Cherny, stemming from his unsuccessful primary run for Arizona's new 9th Congressional District.

The Arizona Republic just featured an article about Republicans trying to clear primary races, and noted that Arizona Democrats are less likely to have such face-to-face confrontations.  However, the FEC reminded us just this past Friday of a very recent Democratic tussle.  It announced the dismissal of a complaint filed last year against Democratic Congressional candidate Andrei Cherny in the heat of a three-way primary battle.  (Kyrsten Sinema won that battle and is now part of Arizona's Congressional delegation.)

Cherny was chair of the Arizona Democratic Party in 2011-12, and had personally paid for a poll to gauge his support in the upcoming scramble for the new district then being finalized by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.  Four weeks before resigning, Cherny met with State Senator David Schapira and shared the results of the poll (which showed Sinema winning a 3-way primary, with Schapira and Cherny finishing second and third, respectively).

Once the Yellow Sheet Report reported on the January meeting in May, opponents quickly noticed that Cherny had not reported the polling expenditure in his quarterly FEC report.   A Democratic activist (Sharon Thomas) filed the complaint (with the FEC) against Cherny, calling the violation "serious".  (A copy of the Yellow Sheet Report item is attached to the complaint.)

Cherny's attorney responded with a variety of legal arguments (it was not a "contribution", no possibility of corruption, amount too small, amending report), and the campaign amended the report to show that Cherny had made an in-kind contribution of $2,500 for the poll.

For more than a year, the complaint sat untouched in the FEC's files, until its general counsel recommended that the Commission exercised "its prosecutorial discretion and dismiss this (low-rated) matter."  The report did agree that it was not an in-kind contribution when made because it was below the $5,000 "testing the waters" cap, but that Cherny did have an obligation to report it once he declared his candidacy.

The Commissioners voted 4-0 (one non-vote) at its October 21 meeting to accept the recommendation, and the file was made public one month later.

Cherny acknowledged to Arizona's Politics having received the news, but declined to make further comment.



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Friday, November 15, 2013

UPDATE, READ: Statements from Reps. Barber ("Aye") and Kirkpatrick ("Nay") On Today's Upton/Obamacare Votes

Arizona's Politics was first to report on the individual votes this morning by Arizona's Congressional delegation - particularly the three Democrats representing hotly-contested swing districts - on the GOP/Upton bill to change Obamacare to permit insurance companies to not only renew canceled policies but to sell the non-conforming policies to new customers.  Two of those three have now sent out statements explaining their votes.

The full statements from Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2), among 39 Democrats to vote for the bill, and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) - who voted against it - are below the jump.

Barber emphasized the customers who have received cancellation notices, while not addressing the President's and other Democrats' concern that the Upton bill permits people who did not receive a cancellation to sign up for those policies which likely do not qualify under the terms of the 2010 law.

“Today I voted to give people the option to keep their current plan until these and other issues are resolved. That’s only fair.”

Kirkpatrick emphasized her frustration with the "disaster" of "the stunning ineptitude of the ACA marketplace rollout", while noting that today's bill was part of the "partisan noisemaking" that undermines the reforms instituted by the law.

(full statements are below the jump)


House Passes Upton Bill, GOP Obamacare Alternative; Two Arizona Democrats Vote Aye

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to allow health insurers to renew non-conforming policies and to sell them to anyone else interested (aka "The Upton Bill").  The bill passed 261-157, with 39 Democrats voting along with the Republicans.  Two of Arizona's five Democratic Representatives - Reps. Ron Barber (D-CD2) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) - voted along with the Republicans.

Many Democrats were in favor of an alternative that will be considered in the Senate that is more along the lines of what President Obama proposed yesterday - allowing policyholders with plans that are being canceled to renew them for another year.  The Upton bill expands that and allows insurance companies to sell those non-conforming policies to people who do not currently have them;  opponents believe that that will torpedo the heart of the health insurance reform law widely known as Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.

Barber and Sinema are both in very close, swing districts.  Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) is also in such a district; she voted "nay".

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) did not participate in any of the votes today.

The bill's chances in the Senate are iffy, and President Obama has promised to veto it if it gets to his desk.


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WATCH, READ: Rep. Grijalva On Crossfire - Obama's Action Yesterday "Took a Lot of Guts"

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD8) placed himself in the crossfire yesterday on the current debate surrounding Obamacare fallout.  On CNN's "Crossfire", that is.  And, he stated that President Obama's announcement yesterday to administratively permit non-conforming policies to be renewed for one more year "took a lot of guts."

Former House Speaker and Crossfire co-co-host Newt Gingrich repeatedly questioned Grijalva about the reports that some working on the healthcare.gov website had warned about the site's inadequacies, and whether he worried about "an Obama insurance disaster" on top of the "IT disaster."  Grijalva allowed that he was not defending the unfortunate website issues, but that what he was "defending is the substance of this legislation that was passed."

(below the video, and the jump, is CNN's rush transcript from the program)




Arizona Congressional Delegation Toes Party Line On Preliminary Vote On GOP Obamacare Alternative Bill

Arizona's Congressional delegation did not stray from party lines this morning on the vote to consider a bill to allow health insurers to renew non-conforming policies and selling them to anyone else interested (aka "The Upton Bill").  The House of Representatives voted 228-189 to bring the Upton bill to the floor this morning.

Six Democrats voted with the Republicans, but none of Arizona's five Democrats were among them.  Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) had been reported yesterday morning (by NPR) to be considering voting in favor (depending on what President Obama would propose to fix the cancellation notice problem);  however, he did not cast a vote this morning - probably because he was the ranking minority member at a hearing going on concurrently about the Department of Homeland Security's accounting systems.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) also did not vote this morning.

The debate on the Upton bill is proceeding at this moment (10:05am, Arizona Time), and should be going to a vote shortly.  Its chances in the Senate are iffy, and President Obama has promised to veto it if it gets to his desk.




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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WATCH: While Avoiding ENDA Vote, McCain Misdirects Thousands Of Potential New Followers Of GOP Senator From Arizona

Arizona's Politics reported yesterday that Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ducked yesterday's key (and, close) vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") by going to New York to tape Late Night With Jimmy Fallon at the same hour his colleagues were voting;  as it turned out, he was also (unintentionally, I assume) misdirecting thousands of potential followers.

Much of the six-minute interview was spent discussing the Senator's use of his cell phone - both for Twitter and for video poker.  More than once, McCain (and Fallon) encouraged viewers to follow him on Twitter:

"I have 1.8 million followers, and it's @SenatorJohnMcCain, sooo, follow me on Twitter.... And, if you have trouble sleeping, follow me on Twitter."

Fallon and McCain both repeated that Twitter "handle".

Unfortunately, you will not find Arizona's senior Senator if you type that in to Twitter's search bar. (We tried.)  Because, his handle is ACTUALLY @SenJohnMcCain.

It is a valuable Twitter feed to follow;  it was at the correct feed that Arizona's Politics learned that the Senator would be out of town during the ENDA vote - a vote which McCain was trying not to take a specific position.

Fallon did not ask about any issues other than Obamacare.



By the way, McCain's truly funny line was in their conversation about the video-poker-during-hearing picture.  Fallon was trying to say something about what the hearing was about ("It was a Senate hearing, and it was, what...") and McCain broke in to finish the sentence ("...boring!")

Arizona's Politics was also happy to have its question about that incident answered: he was not playing for real money.  He indicated that he had been winning that afternoon, and was up to $19 million. (Cue Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) scoffing and pointing out how many seconds of government spending that would have covered if it had been real money.)


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Monday, November 4, 2013

ENDA Moves Forward For Substantive Vote, 61-30; Sen. McCain Taping Late Night Show In New York During Vote

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") barely reached the 60 votes necessary in the U.S. Senate to advance to a substantive vote, falling one vote short.  

Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) missed the vote after he decided to go to New York City to tape Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.  While it is true that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) did not announce the schedule for the ENDA vote until Halloween, it is unclear when McCain first scheduled the comedy appearance (to air tonight at 11:35pm on NBC stations in Arizona).  And, of course, the Senator could have appeared with Fallon by satellite.

McCain had been leaning towards voting against, but he was being lobbied hard - including by members of his family.  Here is an interview he did last Thursday on the subject.

Arizona's other Senator, Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted against cloture this afternoon.

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Arizona ENDA-round-up: One Senator Out Of Town, One Likely "Nay"; Flake Worried About "T" Suits

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on anti-discrimination legislation this afternoon (resuming at 3:30 Arizona Time), and Arizona's two Senators are being watched closely, as proponents are near the 60 votes needed to advance the bill..

Senior Senator John McCain (R-AZ) opposes the bill, and will miss the vote(s) because he will be in New York taping Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, missing the senatorial action on ENDA ("Employment Non-Discrimination Act").  It was noted last week that Cindy McCain, his wife, signed a peition in favor of the measure, in spite of (or, perhaps because of?) John's opposition to it.

Junior Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) article on The Huffington Post today.  He voted for ENDA as a Representative in 2007, but says he is opposed to this year's model - which adds gender identity.  Flake says he is concerned with increased legal actions, though the article cites studies that say that that has not been in a problem when cities and states have passed similar measures.
is being closely watched and is the subject of an




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Friday, November 1, 2013

NEWS ANALYSIS: Arizonan for Responsible Leadership: Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey Remains Mum On Anonymized Donors of Anti-Sales Tax Campaign Monies

(Arizona's Politics is an independent, non-partisan political news blog.  When we engage in analysis or commentary, we attempt to label it as such.  This article may be classified as "news analysis" because it attempts to "provid(e) interpretations that add to a reader's understanding of a subject.")

Last year, Arizonans defeated a ballot measure to continue the one-cent sales tax that had been dedicated to education funding.  Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey - now, a likely candidate for Governor - led the campaign to defeat the sales tax continuation, and accepted more than half of the committee's budget from anonymized donors.

Americans for Responsible Leadership ("ARL") and their sister organization (Center to Protect Patient Rights, or "CPPR") last week reached a settlement with the State of California's Fair Political Practices Commission in which they paid a $1.0 million civil fine and details of the anonymizing process were opened for public view.

(For more details on the anonymizing process uncovered in the California investigation and subsequent settlement, please click here for Arizona's Politics' accompanying article.)

That new information re-raises questions about ARL's involvement in the two committees opposing Arizona ballot measures last fall, and the State Treasurer's knowledge and understanding about the so-called "dark money" donations and his comfort level with the lack of donor disclosure.  Arizona's Politics has requested an interview or responses from Mr. Ducey on this subject;  when (if) he responds, we will supplement this article.

ARL assisted two different campaign committees opposing Arizona ballot measures in 2012: $575,000 to Save Our Vote, opposing Proposition 121 regarding an open primary process;  and $925,000 to No On 204, the committee chaired by Mr. Ducey.

In the case of No On 204, ARL's $925,000 represented more than half of the $1.8 million ($1,798,000, to be exact).

California's investigation showed that ARL became the primary funding conduit there out of a desire to protect the identities of the original contributors. The campaign committee gave potential donors the choice of allowing their identities to be disclosed, or protecting their identities through the use of a series of non-campaign non-profits (AJS/CPPR/ARL).

Did Mr. Ducey or his committee's political consultants provide potential Arizona donors with the same disclose/anonymous option?  This question becomes even more interesting when considering that one of No On 204's political consultants was DC London, a firm headed by Arizona political consultant Sean Noble.  Noble has been the money "wizard" behind the Koch Brothers' network of organizations last year, and was  praised in an e-mail to Charles Koch released in the California investigation.

It is, of course, possible that the ARL money for the Arizona ballot measure campaigns did not originate with Arizona donors and that it came from persons or businesses elsewhere in the country.  However, that the two ballot measures opposed dealt with local (Arizona) issues that would not likely be part of a national effort makes that possibility less likely.

California's statutory scheme and watchdog agency regarding disclosure of campaign contributions is much closer to the blurry dividing line where regulation oversteps constitutional rights of free speech/association/etc. than Arizona's, Arizona does have some statutes that could be of relevance in this and future cases (although even those statutes may be in legal limbo due to ongoing court cases).

For example, A.R.S. Sec. 16-914.01  places notification responsibilities on large contributions from a "single source" to a ballot measure campaign close to an election.  Sec. 16-907 makes it a felony to make or accept contributions in the name of another, as well as to make or accept earmarked contributions.  (In the California case, ARL/CPPR made sure that the group sending them money included language that there was no earmark, although the interviews made it clear that the group did trust ARL/CPPR to send it to the specific campaigns - and, did in fact, make two successful specific withdrawals.)

California's investigation into ARL/CPPR resulted in the Settlement Agreement in which the groups acknowledged an "inadvertent" violation and paid the civil fine of $1,000,000.  If Arizona's Attorney General (Tom Horne, a Republican) were to conduct a similar investigation, it would be extremely unlikely to result in  any charges filed, a civil lawsuit, or even a Settlement Agreement.  At the most, it would identify the original source of the $1.5 million donated by ARL.

Nevertheless, it is a questionable campaign finance endeavor for a State Treasurer who is likely to run for Governor to be involved in.  Is it appropriate for the State Treasurer to be soliciting and/or accepting large amounts of anonymized contributions?  (While it was not for his personal campaign, his chairmanship of the successful No On 204 committee undoubtedly significantly boosted his political standing with many in Arizona's Republican party.)  And, what will be Mr. Ducey's positions on Arizona's campaign finance and disclosure laws if he becomes Governor?

As noted earlier, Arizona's Politics has requested responses from Mr. Ducey, and will update with his comments.

(For more details on the anonymizing process uncovered in the California investigation and subsequent settlement, please click here for Arizona's Politics' accompanying article.)


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Arizona-based "Dark Money Groups" Pay $1 Million California Fine, Likely Hold Most Of Demanded $15M Disgorgement

While steadfastly maintaining their innocence and good faith, two Arizona-based conservative money groups have paid their $1 Million fine to California, and likely hold on to most of the $15 Million in disgorgement monies owed by their California-based allies.

Americans for Responsible Leadership ("ARL") and the Center to Protect Patient Rights ("CPPR") - both with close connections to major conservative moneymen the Koch brothers - signed the Settlement Agreement with California's Fair Political Practices Commission ("FPPC") last week, and it was announced at an October 24 news conference.  In it, they were found to have "inadvertently" violated California disclosure rules and agreed to the $1,000,000 civil fine; in return, the FPPC closed their year-long investigation and agreed to pursue $15 million in disgorgements from the two California groups (one, defunct) that received the violative contributions from ARL and CPPR.

The FPPC and ARL's spokesperson Barrett Marson confirmed to Arizona's Politics that the two $500,000 fines (one for each transfer back to California groups) have been paid.  For the following reasons, that is not surprising.

(ARL also contributed $1,500,000 to two Arizona committees fighting ballot measures regarding a state sales tax, and an open primary; click here for Arizona's Politics' analysis of what the California investigation says about the Arizona effort.)

The investigatory documents released by the FPPC after the settlement was announced provide a window into the arrangements between the California groups opposing two ballot measures (and their political consultants) and ARL/CPPR.

The California campaigns had initiated a strategy that gave potential donors an explicit choice - they could either donate money directly to the committees fighting the ballot measures and have their contributions disclosed under California laws, or they could become a member of non-profit Americans for Job Security ("AJS") with the understanding that their dollars would go to "issue advocacy" efforts and their names and amounts donated would not be subject to disclosure.

AJS received a flood of "memberships" and realized that a new California rule might result in them having to disclose donors' names for advertising close to the November election.  Because they trusted the Koch Brothers' network of funding organizations, they routed $24,550,000 to CPPR in September and October.  (Their understanding of the law was that this would protect the original donors from disclosure, because they would just identify CPPR/ARL as the donor.)

There was no written commitment that the CPPR network would return all of that money to the California efforts, but the belief was that they could ask CPPR for contributions as advertising bills became due.

However, only $15,080,000 was "contributed" by CPPR/ARL to the California groups before the FPPC took action to learn the original donors of the monies.  E-mails obtained by the FPPC in this year's investigation show that CPPR/ARL told the consultants in California that the legal action prevented them from making any more transfers.

Thus, CPPR/ARL continued to hold on to $9,470,000 in monies received from AJS.  $1,000,000 of that is now in California's general fund.  Even if CPPR/ARL holds on to $1,000,000 more for their expenses (legal, bookkeeping, public relations, etc.), that would leave approximately $7.5 million of monies that went from Donors ---> AJS ---> CPPR with the intended final destination of the two California committees (SBAC and CFF).  One of the two CPPR/ARL donations back to CA was to the American Futures Fund, which held back an additional $3 million for whatever reasons, before passing on money to the California Futures Fund to spend on the campaign opposing the ballot measures.

Thus, some $10.5 million of the original donors' money is presumably still sitting in bank accounts belonging to three major conservative money groups.  That would cover 2/3 of the disgorgement that California's FPPC contends that that state is entitled to under law.

(ARL also contributed $1,500,000 to two Arizona committees fighting ballot measures regarding a state sales tax, and an open primary; click here for Arizona's Politics' analysis of what the California investigation says about the Arizona effort.)




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