FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Natl Republicans Raise Stakes Vs. Dems In #AZ02, Call in #AZ01, Fold (For Now) In #AZ09 (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

Today was the National Republican Congressional Committee's ("NRCC's") turn to place some of their chips on the table for the autumn battle for votes, and has folded their hand - for now - in Arizona's 9th Congressional District, matched their counterpart's wager in CD1 and raised the stakes in CD2.

The Democrats' DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) announced 2 1/2 weeks ago where it was placing some $44 Million in advertising bets, committing nearly 10% of its announcement to Arizona's three "swing" districts - all currently held by Democrats.

The NRCC announced $29.5 Million in reservations today - and, nearly 10% of that is headed towards Arizona.  However, the NRCC avoided mentioning CD9, where Wendy Rogers and Andrew Walter are seeking the GOP nomination to contest Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.  (DCCC reserved $2.0M to attack the GOP nominee.)


The NRCC continues to express its confidence in Martha McSally to knock off Rep. Ron Barber in CD2.  They are planning to spend $1.0M on Tucson TV, which is greater than the $700K the DCCC announced.

CD1 is pretty evenly matched at this time, in the NRCC vs. DCCC battle of the negative campaign ads.  The NRCC announced $1,950,000 in Phoenix TV spots, which is within (venom-)spitting distance of the DCCC's $2.2M reservation.

For comparison purposes, in 2012 the NRCC spent $2.6M in losing CD1, $1.6M in CD2, and $1.5M in CD9.  (Keep in mind that that is for the entire election cycle, and was easily obtained by consulting OpenSecrets.org.)

Of course, today's announcements are not written in legally-binding stone, and independent outside spending groups look to have a much larger impact on these ad wars.

Deal another round of cards. (That next round will likely be following the August 26 primary.)

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WATCH: Arizona Reps. Franks and Barber Questioning Sec'y of Defense Chuck Hagel Re: Bergdahl/Taliban Swap; Don't Doubt Sincerity - Doubt Judgment

Arizona Reps. Trent Franks (R-CD8) and Ron Barber (D-CD2) were both tough questioners of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel this morning, as the House Armed Services Committee explored the exchange of five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Hagel told the Committee that there were difficult decisions that could be second-guessed.  However, he repeatedly defended against Republicans' claims that the exchange increases danger to U.S. troops.  "If I believed it was going to increase the risk to our soldiers, I would've never, ever signed off on it," said Hagel.

Franks' reply: "I don't doubt your sincerityin that regard, sir; but I do, profoundly and with all due respect, doubt your judgment on that front."  To which, Hagel conceded "That's fair."


Moments later, Barber had his five minutes to question Hagel and/or Defense Department General Counsel Stephen Preston.  (Contrary to many hearings in Congress, Hagel did not get gentle questioning from a Democratic Representative.)

Barber said he "found it hard to believe that these individuals in their positions in the Taliban government had no role in attacks on Americans," and he pressed on whether the U.S. "could have gotten a better deal" than releasing the five former Taliban leaders.  Hagel reiterated that "there are risks" that we needed to mitigate, and that "we think we've done that."


(Also interestingly - shortly before Franks and Barber's turns in the questioner role - there was a discussion about a signing statement that President Obama had issued when he signed the law requiring the Administration to give notice to Congress before the release of Gitmo prisoners.  The statement indicated that the Administration believed the law was an unwarranted intrusion onto the Executive Branch's powers.  The discussion had echoes of the uproar over signing statements that previous President George W. Bush had tacked on to a number of laws.)



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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Politico Feature Profiles McSally: "The House GOP's Top Recruit"; "Shrugs Off" Wishy-Washy Criticism (YEAH, WE'RE LOOKING AT YOU, ARIZONA!)

Part two of Politico's featured articles on Arizona's CD2 race profiles likely Republican nominee Martha McSally - calling her the "Top Recruit" in the nation for the House GOP.

The profile centers on reporter Alex Isenstadt's Tucson visit in late April/early May, and follows last month's article that focused more on incumbent Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2).

The article tackles the persistent criticisms that McSally's campaign tactic is to avoid addressing issues that might alienate either the GOP's conservative base or the moderates that cause this southern Arizona Congressional district to swing between the two major parties.  Both McSally and major contributor Jim Click gave Isenstadt interesting answers:
In an interview with POLITICO, McSally declined to say whether she would’ve voted for the deal to reopen the government (“I’m against shutting down the government,” she said) or whether she supported Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s much-criticized budget plan (“I have concerns about the Ryan budget,” she said).
McSally shrugs off the notion she’s wishy-washy.
“When I have a staff and I’m in Congress, I’m going to do everything I can to actually help form the issues in front of us instead of having to answer, ‘Are you going to run on this? Are you going to run on that?’” she said.
Still, even Republicans who see much promise in McSally acknowledge she has a tough fight ahead and that there are no guarantees.
“If she doesn’t win, it doesn’t make a bit of difference, does it?” said Jim Click, the Arizona automotive king who is one of the GOP’s most prolific donors. “First, let’s get her elected, and then we’ll see what happens.”
(OF RELATED INTEREST: Arizona's Politics April 18 "News Analysis: Martha McSally's Main Fundraiser: Did Republican Billionaire and Others Cloak Their Mega-Support For "Winning Women" Candidates? Marriage Equality Is Still Difficult Issue In GOP")


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Sunday, June 8, 2014

YEAH, WE'RE LOOKING AT YOU, ARIZONA: Wait! Wait! Arizona Congressional Candidate Does Not Fool National Radio Program

The amazing story of Scott Fistler-turned-Cesar Chavez and his Republican-turned-Democrat 2nd run for Congress from Arizona's CD7 continues to spread.

This weekend, the national public radio program "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me" featured the story -broken by Evan Wyloge  at the Arizona Capitol Times this week - during its "Bluff the Listener" segment.  Not surprisingly, the humorously-written (by Mo Rocca) summarization of the sad tale DID NOT fool the contestant and did not seem to fool the live audience.  (It is also likely that it will not fool many voters in CD7.

To get confirmation of which story (of the three desperate-to-win entries) was actually true, Wait! Wait! spoke with Arizona Republic political reporter Rebekah Sanders.



By the way, Arizona's  Politics did cover the original campaign filing (with the FEC) of Mr. Chavez (fka Mr. Fistler) in February.  We had made unsuccessful attempts to contact him, but did not attempt to contact the better-known, late activist with the same name.  However, to be completely honest, we could not have imagined the actual story that we got pretty close to breaking; we thought it was a local guy who just happened to have a famous name.

***
Side Note: I am not sure about the other great public radio stations in Arizona, but KJZZ (91.5 FM) just had a $5 Friday* to encourage new members to sign up to become  $5/month "sustaining members".  If you missed it, you can still sign up here.



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Friday, June 6, 2014

WATCH: Ron Reagan In Ad After Fox's Friday Airing Of "Cosmos" Finale; Don't Thank God

A match made in the... er... upper atmosphere - Phoenix' airing of the final episode of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" will be followed by a 30-second spot from Ron Reagan espousing atheism.

The Freedom From Religious Foundation ("FFRF") purchased the time slot today, for $2,562.75, from KSAZ (Fox 10 ).  Because the son of a former President (of the same name, for our younger readers) says that the FFRF is fighting "to keep state and church separate", KSAZ placed it in its Political File (which is how it came to Arizona's Politics' attention).

The ad recently aired on Comedy Central during "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report", but this appears to be the first foray for the spot onto network TV.

Reagan, the "unabashed Atheist", concludes by telling viewers he is "not afraid of burning in hell."



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On the Cover of Politico: Rep. Grijalva, Other Latino Leaders Ask President To "Hire Us"

It is not quite The Rolling Stone, but being the lead story on Politico.com (for something not negative) is likely an object of desire for many in Washington.  This afternoon, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva's pleading face graced the prime spot.

The report leads off with a meeting  President Obama had with Grijalva and other Latino leaders "earlier this year", and that the first "ask" - before immigration reform - was "hire more Latinos".  The article goes on to detail the follow-up efforts to encourage the diversification of the Administration:

“If we don’t start seeding our leadership now, then it’s going to be a deficit for the long term, that’s both political office plus appointeds,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz. ). “It’s one thing to have profile positions, but for many of us, what really counts is the leadership that is coming up in departments and appointed positions across the country.”
Interestingly, Arizona's Politics reported on D.C.'s Latino network coming together last month to raise funds for Ruben Gallego, one of the Hispanic candidates running to replace retiring Rep. Ed Pastor (D-CD7).  Grijalva has endorsed Gallego.





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Thursday, June 5, 2014

BREAKING: Horne Accuser Sarah Beattie Lands On Feet, Fundraises For Republican State House PAC

As Attorney General Tom Horne waits to see if any agencies are going to investigate complaints that his AG's office and staff are pulling inappropriate double duty on his re-election campaign, he will be pleased to know that former employee/volunteer and current complainant Sarah Beattie has landed on her feet and is now performing consulting work for an Arizona political action committee.

This week, Horne accused the 26-year old Beattie of spying on him on behalf of his political opponents.  Beattie's fundraising work on behalf of the House Victory PAC - formerly chaired by Rep. Justin Olson (R-LD25) and currently chaired by ex-Rep. Warde Nichols, with former Sen. Jeff Hill as Treasurer - is sure to raise Horne's eyebrows.

The House Victory PAC had previously (February through April) collected $27,000 from several lobbyists and PACs.  On May 21, it disbursed $1,345.40 to Beattie - listing her as a self-employed consultant who performed "fundraising".

There are no obvious connections between the House Victory PAC and Horne's primary opponent (Mark Brnovich) or other Republicans opposing Horne's re-election.  Arizona's Politics calls to Nichols have not been returned, but we will update this article once more information is received.




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Arpaio's/MCSO's Civil Rights Activities: Maricopa County Hires Counsel To Review Monitor's Bill; Wants Detail But Not Too Many Details

Maricopa County has retained additional outside legal counsel to review bills submitted by Court-appointed Monitor Robert Warshaw in the civil rights case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the MCSO.  Maricopa County wants to ensure that those six-figure bills have enough detail to feel comfortable paying them;  however, the County does not want too much detail because it does not want to interfere with the Monitor's inquiries.

Late last week (May 30), Scottsdale attorney Katherine Baker submitted her appearance to the Court in the long-running Melendres v. Arpaio case, in which Judge G. Murray Snow found that the MCSO violated persons' civil rights during immigration enforcement sweeps.  Her purpose is "to communicate with and advise Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson," and she indicates that she "has read...understands...and agrees to comply" with Snow's May 15 Order.

On May 15, Judge Snow ordered the Monitor to submit public bills AND more detailed bills that can be reviewed privately by the parties.

(Yesterday, the Phoenix New Times reported that the MCSO has spent more than $200,000 investigating whether Judge Snow - and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder - are conspiring to "get" the Sheriff.)

Maricopa County Communications Director Cari Gerchick indicates that Baker will ensure that the Monitor's bills "will give us enough detail to make sure we're fulfilling our financial responsibility."  She went on to tell Arizona's Politics that Wilson "understand(s) that the Court Monitor is going to meet with people he can't disclose and we are not trying to get into that kind of detail."

Gerchick notes that the Board of Supervisors did not need to review and approve the new outside counsel, and that Baker may bill the County at a rate of up to $250/hr.  The County expects the Monitor's bills to average nearly $150,000/month.

In addition to Baker and the Monitor, County taxpayers are also paying the plaintiffs' legal fees ($7.3M), the fees for the outside counsel representing the MCSO (more than $1M), and employees in the Maricopa County Attorney's Office working on the matter.  The County has also budgeted more than $7.7M for the remainder of this fiscal year alone for the MCSO to put procedures in place that comply with the Court's orders.


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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

MCSO Still Using Taxpayer Money To Chase Conspiracy Theories Re: Obama Birth Certificate, Per Mounting Evidence

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio backtracked furiously in 2012 when news surfaced that he had spent taxpayer money to further his investigation of President Barack Obama's birth certificate.  He has repeatedly indicated that no taxpayer resources are being used in the ongoing investigation beyond those County-paid trips to Hawaii for one Sheriff's Deputy.

However, two stories broke this afternoon providing mounting evidence that the MCSO has - and, IS - expending further resources.

First,  came the Phoenix New Times investigative report (Stephen Lemons) that lays out the case that the current MCSO investigation that grew out of the long-running birth certificate investigation is actually targeting federal Judge G. Murray Snow and Attorney General Eric Holder for planning to "get" Arpaio.  (Snow is the judge who has found that the MCSO has engaged in racial profiling in their immigration enforcement activities.)

Sources have told Lemons that the MCSO has spent more than $200,000 paying a less-than-reliable informant, overtime to the same deputy who traveled to Hawaii, and Mike Zullo - the "volunteer" leader of the MCSO's Cold Case Posse.

Second, "R.C." - a blogger who has written and spoken extensively on the birth certificate conspiracy theorists - published an article today with metadata that apparently shows that MCSO personnel helped Zullo and World Net Daily's Jerome Corsi write a book that profited the individuals.  (This was in early 2012, before the no taxpayer resources backtrack; however, it does show that the scope of MCSO resources may be much greater than previously revealed.)

Arizona's Politics has also reported on the taxpayer resources issue - those February reports were cited today in the New Times piece and previously discussed on R.C.'s program.

The burning questions of the moment are (1) how will Judge Snow react to the news that he is under investigation by the MCSO? Arpaio has already been on his last nerve; and (2) whether Arpaio will receive renewed oversight pressure from the Board of Supervisors and/or the public?



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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

WATCH/READ: Sens. Flake, McCain (& Others) Introduce Veterans' Choice Act

Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain joined two other Senators today at a news conference to introduce their Veterans' Choice Act.

Arizona's Politics does not currently have the time to analyze the text of the bill, but here is the Senators' news release.

(Click on image, and the video will open in a new window.)



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BEHIND THE COMMERCIAL: Some of the "Specifics" of Doug Ducey's Plan

A new Doug Ducey ad begins airing tomorrow in his campaign to win the hotly-contested GOP nomination for Governor.  In it, he invites viewers to view the specifics of his plan, and lists a few of the headlines.

Naturally, Arizona's Politics had to check out the plan, and decided to present the relevant portions here:

1) "Defend Arizona's Border."
Although he does not specify which border, it is safe to guess he means the southern border, with Mexico.  Here are the specifics:
It all starts with securing the border. Any progress on illegal immigration starts with controlling our border and stopping the flow of illegal immigrants here. It is government’s most basic responsibility, and yet it’s one the federal government has completely botched.
I will protect Arizona’s citizens. I will use every authority granted to the governor to hold the federal government accountable for its consistent failure to meet this urgent law-enforcement obligation. I will also commit significant new state resources to the prevention and prosecution of violent crimes by persons here illegally. Leadership is all about setting priorities, and ensuring our safety is at the top of the list.
Our immigration system is badly broken. The federal government must begin to do its job and get its priorities straight. Legal and thoughtful immigration is good for our country and part of what makes us different and exceptional. We are a nation of immigrants and we need this fixed.
It does not quite send the National Guard to the border, as the soundbite implies.  But, it does promise to "commit significant new state resources...."  The paragraph on immigration reform gives him plenty of wiggle room.

2) "Lower taxes and eliminate regulations."
In making specific promises here, Ducey flies in the face of a recent Republican mantra against President Obama; Ducey promises to act by executive action:
I will submit legislation to reduce taxes every year, with the goal of pushing income tax rates as close to zero as possible.
. . .
We need a government-wide review of regulations, including strengthening and better publicizing the regulatory review mechanism that quantifies the costs of new rules on Arizona employers. By executive action I will eliminate bureaucratic regulations that are unreasonable and unfair to business owners and employees.
3) "Put Parents In Charge of Education" and "Require American History & Civics."
Interesting promises here, especially the promise to resist Common Core standards; current Supt of Public Instruction John Huppenthal has promised to protect it.
As governor, I will submit legislation to eliminate waiting lists for excelling schools, while advancing broad and bipartisan reforms to apply the best practices of high-performing charter and district schools.
. . .
We also need to include more rigorous civics education standards. Arizona kids should graduate knowing the basics regarding American history and what it means to be a U.S. citizen.
State control, not federal. I will resist over-reach from the federal government, including Common Core, and protect our schools from federal intrusion into the state and local responsibility of public education.
He also calls for more spending in classrooms, and states that throwing money at schools is not the answer.  He supports merit pay, and making "real reforms" and getting "better results from the money we already spend."

4) "Stand Up To Obama Administration."
This is a theme that runs throughout the Ducey Plan.  Too many to pick out just one or two.

Here's the plan, so that you can read the entire platform.


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1st WATCH: New $100K+ Doug Ducey (Himself) Ad - He's Got A Plan (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

Arizona Treasurer-and-Republican-candidate-for-Governor Doug Ducey begins airing a $100,000 ad tomorrow - touting his plan for Arizona.

The ad buy begins tomorrow and runs for the next approximately week-and-a-half on Phoenix TV stations (and likely in Tucson).  The Phoenix ad time costs $98,205.13.

The 30-second spot encourages viewers to read his plan - he says his plans as Governor would be to defend the Arizona-California Mexico border, lower taxes, and address education by putting parents in charge and requiring American History & Civics credits.  However, in keeping with his earlier commercial's theme, "most importantly", he would stand up to the Obama Administration (which will only be in place for half of his gubernatorial term).





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1st WATCH: Pro-Ducey Group's New Ad Touting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Endorsement (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

The pro-Doug Ducey independent expenditure group Conservative Leadership for Arizona is up with a new $68,000 ad buy touting the endorsement by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

CLA disclosed its expenditure on the ad in a filing with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office on Sunday.  The ad was posted to its YouTube site yesterday.  CLA chair Amanda Reeve states the ad will run on cable stations throughout the state, as well as online.

Although the ad uses some of the same controversially-obtained video of Ducey's campaign kick-off speech, CLA did not try to purchase video (or, audio) of Walker's May endorsement; instead choosing to use publicly-available video of Walker speaking generally about conservative candidates and flashing headlines about the Ducey endorsement.





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