FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Monday, November 30, 2015

READ: ACC Chair Bitter Smith: If I'm Removed, Could "Exclude Almost Anyone" From Commission

Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Susan Bitter Smith responded to the Supreme Court
petition to remove her from office tonight, denying that she had a legal conflict and saying that the Attorney General's reading is "broad enough to be read to exclude almost anyone from serving on the Commission or any state office."

Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced the filing of a Special Action petition this morning. Arizona's Politics published the petition and the exhibits.

At the time, we asked the Corporation Commission and Bitter Smith for their response. The Corporation Commission forwarded the Chairwoman's statement - received through her attorney - tonight.

She begins by attempting to cast it in a partisan light, although Brnovich is a fellow Republican elected official. She then repeats her denial that she lobbied for or was paid by regulated entities.  Finally, she seeks to frame it as a "policy issue" as to how far conflict of interest laws should extend: should a customer of a regulated entity be excluded?





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BREAKING, SETTLED: Democratic AG's Group Avoids Contempt, Files In Arizona As "Political Committee" ...From 2010

In advance of a contempt hearing today, the national Democratic Attorneys General Association ("DAGA") gave in and registered their blandly-named 2010 Arizona "Committee For Justice & Fairness" ("CJF") as a "political committee" with the Secretary of State's Office. The finance reports also filed showed no surprises, although AZ Secretary of State Michele Reagan had expressed hope they would.

The filings represent one of the final chapters in a five-year book that began with vicious attacks against the soon-to-be Attorney General Tom Horne by a group of Attorneys General trying to remain undercover. It then became a stretched-out legal battle over whether Arizona law was tough enough to force the group to file.

Arizona's Politics was the first to report on the true identity of CJF, on the apparent illegality of their hit job, and on the irony that Arizona law required then-AG Terry Goddard to investigate a group that he was a key member of. We have periodically covered the legal battle since then.

CJF spent nearly $800,000 on the ad, after DAGA had put nearly $1M into the Arizona campaign.  The balance went to polling, research, and then the attorney's fees defending themselves after the election.  CJF attempted to claim that the ad was not a campaign ad, because it was urging voters to contact Horne (then-State Supt. of Public Instruction) about "an issue".

After the Court of Appeals ruled for the government and the Democratic AG's Association did not appeal, the trial court ordered CJF to retroactively file. It did not, until Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery filed for a contempt order. Reagan chimed in with public attention. The hearing was set for today; however, the parties instead filed a Notice of Settlement.

The filings triggered automically-calculated fines by the Secy of State's ofc. The oldest report, filed
1,929 days late and triggered a $450 fine. Total fines are $7,200; there are not yet details on the settlement and whether there was restitution for the state's expenses included.

Reagan has also taken aim at Veterans for a Strong America, which ran an anti-Christine Jones ad in last year's gubernatorial campaign. She is not pushing to extend her authority beyond these two non-filers to pressure dark money groups which are registered but are not disclosing donors.


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WATCH: AZ Supreme Court May Decide Fate Of Ariz. Corp. Comm. Chair; Attorney General "Is Flat Wrong....They Are Separate and Distinct Corporations." --Bitter Smith

Susan Bitter Smith, Chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission believes Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is "flat wrong" in filing a Supreme Court Special Action to remove her from office.

The petition - filed this morning - argues that Bitter Smith is not qualified to be on the commission regulating Arizona utilities because of her lobbying and working on behalf of regulated companies.

Brnovich's announcement follows an investigation of a complaint filed with his office in September by Chandler attorney Tom Ryan.  Following Ryan's complaint, Bitter Smith went on TV (with Channel 3's Dennis Welch) to refute the allegations. She made the case that "They are separate and distinct corporations."
azfamily.com 3TV | Phoenix Breaking News, Weather, Sport
Here is the petition filed with the Arizona Supreme Court this a.m.

The Corporation Commission has referred Arizona's Politics to the law firm of Polsinelli, P.C., for response from Bitter Smith.






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Friday, November 27, 2015

WATCH: Huckabee's Thanksgiving Ad


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UPDATE/WATCH: Kasich Also Uses Trump/SNL Equal Time For Anti-ISIS Ad

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has released his ad to take advantage of the 12 1/2 minutes of free ad time from the Donald Trump hosting gig of Saturday Night Live; he also focuses on fighting the terrorists of so-called ISIS.

The ads will run tonight and tomorrow on NBC affiliates in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, as part of NBC's agreement with four of Trump's opponents.

Kasich has posted 15-second and 30-second versions of "Defending Our Way of Life".



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WATCH: Gilmore Uses Trump/SNL Equal Time For 30-second Anti-ISIS Ad

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore is the 1st GOP Presidential candidate to detail how he is using his 12 1/2 minutes of free airtime from Donald Trump's Saturday Night Live hosting gig. Gilmore is using a normal 30-second commercial proclaiming that he is the candidate who "will defeat ISIS... and keep you safe."

The ad will run 25 times on NBC affiliates in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, tonight and tomorrow.

Six GOP candidates requested equal time from some NBC affiliates.  Four of them settled for this 25-spot package, while George Pataki and Rand Paul have apparently not yet reached an agreement.

Here is the transcript of Gilmore's ad (as provided by the campaign):
"We can’t trust our safety to Washingtonpoliticians--- or inexperienced amateurs. I was in Army Intelligence, chairman of a terrorism commission that warned about a possible attack before nine eleven. And. Governor during 9/11. I’m not a Washington politician or an amateur. As President I will defeat ISIS. And, keep you safe. "

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

WATCH: Beyond #DumpTrump, American Encore Goes After Ted Cruz In New Iowa Ad (We Got It Wrong)

The new American Encore TV ad airing in Iowa today goes after GOP Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, accusing him of joining Obama in "leading from behind".

The ad filings, coupled with AE's President Sean Noble's #DumpTrump columns, made it appear that the dark money mega-Super PAC that was once at the center of the Koch brothers' political money network was boosting the Texas Senator.  American Encore had not (has not) answered Arizona's Politics email for more information. Arizona's Politics made what appeared to be a solid inference and published the article.

It turns out that American Encore is hammering Cruz hard - in the Republican primary, it does not get harder than comparing someone to Barack Obama.

The USA Freedom Act was passed by both Houses and signed by the President on June 2.  Cruz was one of 23 Republican Senators to vote for it, as it passed 67-32. The Republican House passed it 338-88. Here is Arizona's Politics' article on the Senate vote.

The electioneering communication ad urges Iowa voters to call the Texas Senator (wink, wink) and urge him to vote for a new post-Paris bill that would delay implementation of the portion of the law dealing with collecting metadata.

Here is a campaign ad-like video that Cruz posted after the measure was signed into law.


In going after Cruz, American Encore seems to be looking further down the field and going beyond #DumpTrump. Noble recently co-hosted a fundraiser for contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The ad is running on Iowa TV through this holiday weekend.  Reports filed with the FCC indicate that the ad buy is at least $69,000, and Noble told Politico that it was $200,000.  American Encore does not disclose its donors, and was previously a main cog in the political money machine funded by the libertarian-conservative Koch brothers.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

AZ's Politics BREAKING: BLACK FRIDAY...and SATURDAY: NBC's 60 Minutes of Equal Time For GOP Presidential Candidates Will Be Spread Out This Weekend

Arizona's Politics is learning details on how NBC and its affiliates are giving equal time to five of Donald Trump's GOP Presidential rivals, in response to his November 7 "Saturday Night Live" hosting gig.  The requesting candidates - none of whom are among those closest to him in the current polls - will receive their 12 minutes of free airtime spread out in small chunks this coming Friday and Saturday.

A reliable source with knowledge tells Arizona's Politics that the time will be allocated on the NBC affiliates in the three earliest-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.  Each candidate will receive network commercial and promo time during primetime hours on "Black Friday"* and Saturday, November 27 and 28, as well as during SNL on the 28th.

There are five settling candidates - Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former NY Gov. George Pataki, and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

With each receiving slightly more than 12 minutes of unfiltered airtime, NBC's tab will run to approximately 120 30-second spots.  No word yet on how the candidates will be using their 12:05.

Arizona's Politics was the first to report on NBC's Saturday Night Live equal time memos this year, and has been providing comprehensive and breaking coverage. Here are links to our previous articles.

*As the SNL cast joked this past week - during the opening parodying Fox & Friends - what is so special about "Black Friday"; I think ALL Fridays matter.

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BREAKING: NBC Grants At Least Four GOP Candidates Equal Time Following Donald Trump's "Saturday Night Live Hosting" Gig, VP Tells Arizona's Politics

(UPDATE, 3:55pm: The NY Daily News' Adam Edelman is reporting that GOP Presidential candidate George Pataki has announced that he has also reached an agreement with NBC for airtime on affiliates in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The quote is incorporated in the article.
5:02pm: CNN is reporting that Pataki has NOT reached an agreement with NBC.)

NBC Vice President of Corporate Communications Lauren Skowronski has told Arizona's Politics
this afternoon: "In compliance with FCC regulations, NBC has come to an agreement with John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, James Gilmore and Lindsey Graham on each candidate’s equal time requests."

Adam Edelman (NY Daily News) is reporting that former New York Gov. George Pataki has also reached an agreement with NBC. The Pataki campaign told supporters: "As a result, we will have the equivalent of 12 minutes of free airtime on NBC affiliates covering Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina," the former New York governor's presidential campaign said in an email to supporters. "This amounts to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in free advertising on NBC affiliates."
Arizona's Politics was the first to report on NBC's Saturday Night Live equal time memos this year, and has been providing comprehensive and breaking coverage. Here are links to our previous articles.
Trump hosted SNL on November 7, and the other GOP candidates had seven days to request equal time from the stations which aired the program.  Trump had 12 minutes of airtime on the program, and the candidates will get unfiltered equal time.

Arizona's Politics will update this as details become available.


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Top 3 Articles For the Week: Mormons and Trump and Casinos, Oh My!

We have not done this before, but we probably have not had this busy, varied and well-read week in a long time. Especially, not one year before election day.  So, let's count down the most-read articles here on Arizona's Politics (past 7 days).

3.  WATCH: Arizona Congressmen Go At It Over Glendale Casino, Before Vote To Stop It Falls Short; McSally, Kirkpatrick Cross Party Lines (11/16)

With the casino slated to open on December 20, the mega-lobbying battle between three Arizona Native American Nations - gaining national attention - brought the perennial bill to stop the casino to the House floor.  This time, however, with the Congressional Budget Office warning of a potential $1Billion cost, the House could not muster the 2/3 majority needed to put it in the Senate's lap. As part of Arizona's Politics' raisons d'etre is to provide context you won't find elsewhere, we were the only website snipping and featuring the entire Arizona-focused debate; that attracted a few hundred readers and 100 people who watched the debate.

2.   "Beyond "Dump Trump"; Infamous "American Encore" (fka CPPR) Enters Iowa Air War Attacking Cruz (11/22)

Arizona's Politics' original reporting was picked up this morning by Politico's "Morning Score". Arizona's Sean Noble has been advocating to #DumpTrump for months, and his dark money mega-Super PAC American Encore (fka the Koch brothers' network's go-to anonymizing Center To Protect Patient Rights) is now looking beyond and beginning to air attack Ted Cruz ads in Iowa. (This article initially indicated that the ads supported Cruz, based upon American Encore's labeling, and its anti-Trump columns; it had failed to respond to requests for clarification.

1.  WATCH: Trump Spokeswoman Incorrectly Claims U.S. Has Investigated and Shut Down "Mormon Churches"(11/18)

The Muslim-American woman in the arresting Stars-and-Stripes hijab on Fox News got a lot of Arizona's Politics ear was that Donald Trump's national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, incorrectly claimed that the federal government had investigated and "shut down"..."Mormon churches".  Arizona was the home of the illegal FLDS congregation that had long been disowned by the "Mormon church" because of its polygamous practices.  Arizona's Politics' article was circulated - and, widely discussed - on Mormon Reddit categories.
people's attention. However, what caught

Honorable Mentions:
Bill Clinton Schedules December 4 Paradise Valley Fundraiser For Hillary's Campaign (11/17)


Finally, don't forget to check out our running blog on "Following Money in 2016 Presidential Politics". (There's also a link just under the mast on our home page.)

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beyond "Dump Trump"; Infamous "American Encore" (fka CPPR) Enters Iowa Air War Attacking Cruz

(UPDATE, 11/24, 5:10pm: American Encore, which did not respond to Arizona's Politics' request for clarifications, posted its ad today. It hammers Cruz, rather than supporting him. See the ad here. The article below has been adapted; Arizona's Politics regrets any confusion caused.)
(UPDATE, 11/23, 1:15pm: Additional details on size of ad buy are coming in (slowly). KCRG, the ABC affiliate in Cedar Rapids, has uploaded details of a $22,000 purchase for this holiday week. That brings the sure-to-grow total to $69,000. The updated total is reflected in 2nd paragraph.)

Sean Noble, former money "wizard" for the Koch Brothers' political network, has been preaching "Dump Trump" for several months now; this week, his American Encore organization looks beyond, and begins airing ads in Iowa attacking Ted Cruz's Presidential bid.


The $69,000 ad buy focuses on "national security", and will begin airing tomorrow (Tuesday) in Des Moines.  American Encore - formerly known as the Center to Protect Patient Rights - remains a major player in conservative independent expenditures and contribution anonymizing.  Its President/Treasurer, Sean Noble, has been publicly campaigning against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump since this past July.

Arizona's Politics has requested more information from American Encore, as well as a copy of the ad, and will update as needed.
 Like items like this one? (Of course you do!) Then, check out our special, limited-time edition "Following Money in 2016 Presidential Politics" page right now! Check back often.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

FLASHBACKS & IRONY: NBC Reporter Questioning Trump Re: Muslim Registry Skewered Steve King/Russell Pearce While At ASU (WATCH)

Arizona's Politics was delighted to see that it was Arizonan/ASU grad Vaughn Hillyard who so effectively questioned GOP Presidential front-runner Donald Trump about creating a database of Muslims in the U.S. last night.  Trump's comments are getting widespread attention, from media and from other Presidential candidates.

Five years ago, Hillyard was at the Cronkite School at ASU and was helping the Arizona Republic with their (so-called) fact checks; he reported the heck out of comments by then-State Senate President Russell Pearce - and Iowa Congressman Steve King - that people in the U.S. illegally kill 25 U.S. citizens each day.

Unfortunately, even though Hillyard found no supporting evidence for the numbers, the Republic gave Pearce and King a pass by deeming it "inconclusive."  Arizona's Politics did a "Fact Checking the Fact Checks" praising Hillyard and blasting his editors and the newspaper. (The article is re-published below the jump.)

Here is Hillyard asking the right questions to get good answers from Trump yesterday, and then holding his ground when Trump seemingly starts to realize the impact of what he has said:


Ironically, Hillyard today covered the same Iowa Rep. Steve King (and Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)) that he reported on five years ago.

By the way, Hillyard's 2010 Fact Check - still with the editors' shameful "inconclusive" tag - is still available here.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

READ: Syrian Refugee Bill House Passed Today; One Arizona Democratic Rep Votes "Aye": Here're Sinema's Comments

Here is the Syrian refugee bill that Congress is currently debating and is about to vote on:

There are 89 co-sponsors listed to Rep. McCaul's bill. None of Arizona's nine Representatives are co-sponsoring.

Here is the roll call vote. Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) is among the 47 Democrats to vote for it. Only two Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Steve King (Iowa) and Walter Jones (NC). The final vote was 289-137.

Here is the statement which Sinema put out after the vote:
“The Islamic State is a legitimate, immediate threat to the United States. Congress and the Administration have a duty to keep our country safe from terrorism, and this legislation provides an added level of security to our robust refugee vetting process.
"Welcoming refugees is part of America’s legacy, and we must continue to be a safe haven for the most vulnerable in our world. Today’s bill strengthens our already thorough refugee screening process so we can both keep our country safe and continue to shelter those in need.
"After recent events, the American people deserve the assurances included in this bill. The Administration should not stop the program; it should certify refugees if they pass a thorough and rigorous screening process.
“More work remains to keep our country safe. Threats, like the security gaps in the visa waiver program, remain and require sensible, bipartisan action. I am working on a proposal with both Republicans and Democrats to close this loophole and reduce the threat of terrorists entering the United States from other countries."

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WATCH: Trump Spokeswoman Incorrectly Claims U.S. Has Investigated and Shut Down "Mormon Churches"

GOP Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has linked "radical Islam terrorism" to Islamic mosques in the U.S., and to defend his linkage, Trump's national campaign spokeswoman is meshing outlawed fundamentalist Mormon polygamous sects to the mainstream Mormon church.

Katrina Pierson went on Fox News' "The Kelly File" last night to explain and defend the GOP candidate's comments about investigating and shutting down some mosques that are radicalizing members.  She started to cite Christian churches and Mormon churches as previous examples, but only came up with the latter.  "You've had the DOJ investigate Mormon churches, and shut them down, and said they've been in churches." (comment at about 2:30 mark)

Of course, federal and state authorities have gone after a polygamist group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ("FLDS"), for a number of alleged illegal activities.  However, the mainstream Mormon church ("LDS") has long banned polygamy and vehemently denies any connection to the FLDS group.

Pierson's comments therefore seem to mesh well with her candidate's, by painting with a broad brush and linking peaceful, law-abiding practitioners of religions with their fundamentalist, law-breaking factions. (Of course, Christianity and Judaism also have their fundamentalist groups to deal with; other religions might, as well.)  The difference is that the Mormon church has officially broken ties with groups that practice polygamy, and has sought to prevent them from using the name "Mormon".

Kelly gave both guests an opportunity to explain themselves, but seemed to lean away from government getting (staying?) involved in investigating religious congregations, rather than investigating the people visiting them.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

WATCH: McSally: "This Is Insanity!...We Need To Unleash Air Power" Vs. ISIS

Arizona frosh Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) went "On the Record" on Fox News tonight to say that the U.S. has to "take the gloves off" in combatting ISIS. "This is insanity! We can do this if we use our air power in a much stronger way."

McSally has been repeatedly pushing the military and the Administration on the issue of combat pilots not getting approval to deliver their ordnance if there is any chance of civilian casualties.  She states that France and Russia are now leading the way, and that the U.S. "need(s) to unleash all that air power brings to this fight. ISIS has declared themselves a state; we need to treat them like a state."


(Other quote: "A very anemic response with pin prick strikes")

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WATCH/READ: Arizona's "Other Senator" Re-Urges Congress To Do Their Constitutional Duty and Authorize Use of Military Force Vs. ISIL

Jeff Flake - Arizona's "other Senator" - took to the Senate floor this afternoon to re-urge Congress to do its Constitutional duty and pass an AUMF ("Authorization for Use of Military Force") against the ISIL (aka ISIS) terrorists.

Sens. Flake (R-AZ) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) followed Sen. John McCain's stemwinder against President Obama and his foreign policy, leading to Flake's recognition as "the other Senator from Arizona."

Kaine and Flake had introduced the AUMF (read, below) in June, but it went nowhere. In the wake of the ISIL terror attack on Paris and its other recent killings, Flake and Kaine are rebooting their effort.

The Congressional AUMF would last for three years and would repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF that has been used by both the Bush and Obama Administrations.



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Bill Clinton Schedules December 4 Paradise Valley Fundraiser For Hillary's Campaign

Former President Bill Clinton will be dropping in at a Paradise Valley Friday lunchtime fundraiser for his wife's Presidential campaign.


Politico reports that Hillary's husband is making a 20-city tour between today and December 14. The Phoenix-area stop will be in between L.A. and Seattle on the 3rd, and Laredo (TX) later on the 4th.

The fundraiser report gives some insight into the seemingly-sudden announcement by freshman Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) that he is endorsing Clinton.

(Arizona's Politics is looking for a friend on the Democratic side of the aisle to email a copy of the fundraiser invitation. As we have done in the past with campaign mailers, we will hold a drawing for a gift card at the end of this election cycle; the first person to send this invitation will receive five entries.)


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U.S. House Republicans Quietly Repeal Part Of Their Obamacare Repeal

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that would defund Planned Parenthood and undo several parts of the Affordable Care Act. Today, House Republicans quietly repealed part of the repeal, on a party line 243-181 vote.

The Obamacare repeal and Planned Parenthood defunding measure was passed on October 23, 240-189. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-CD5) was the only Arizona member to cross party lines (one of 7 Republicans to vote "nay").  However, he announced that his no vote on the "Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015" (H.R.3762) was because he did not feel the repeal went far enough:
“Today, as millions of Americans are suffering under the weight of Obamacare’s oppressive mandates and increased premiums, the House had an opportunity to act boldly and fully repeal this terrible law. Many of us were elected on this very promise, but sadly, House leadership chose not to do this. For that reason, because this bill didn’t go far enough to keep our promise and rid Americans of the onerous effects of Obamacare, I chose not to support it.”
Today, as a one-sentence note slipped in at the bottom of a Rules resolution regarding other, unrelated bills, the House repealed its repeal of the Obamacare provision that "certain employers automatically enroll their employees in a health plan."

H.Res.526 was debated this morning, and the Democratic opposition did briefly note the repeal repeal, although both sides focused on the other aspects of the Rules resolution, and the fact that it was "yet another closed rule" that suppresses amendments and debate.

The repeal and defund measure still will contain Planned Parenthood defunding and repeals of the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the medical device excise tax and the tax on so-called "Cadillac plans". It will be re-sent to the Senate.




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Monday, November 16, 2015

WATCH: Arizona Congressmen Go At It Over Glendale Casino, Before Vote To Stop It Falls Short; McSally, Kirkpatrick Cross Party Lines

Arizona's tribal and partisan battles were front and center in Congress today as the House of Representatives again debated and voted on a measure to try to stop the Tohono O'odham Nation from opening their Glendale casino next month.  The House fell shy of the 2/3 majority needed to pass the bill tonight, with a final 263-146 vote.


Earlier in the day, the House (and loyal C-Span viewers) were treated to 40 minutes of Arizona-focused debate, with bill sponsor Rep. Trent Franks (R-CD8) and co-sponsor Paul Gosar (R-CD4) arguing on behalf of the Gila River and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Nations, and Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) and Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) speaking for the Tohono O'odham.

Near the end of the debate, Alaska Republican Don Young (the Chair of the House subcommittee dealing with Native American affairs), claimed that he brought the bill "on behalf of the mostly unanimous Arizona delegation." The boast was not even close, as Arizona's nine Representatives split 5-4, more closely than the rest of the House.

Democratic co-sponsor Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) was one of only 32 Democrats to vote "aye", and Republican Martha McSally (R-CD2) was one of only eight Republicans to vote "nay".

The casino is currently scheduled for a grand opening on December 20.


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Saturday, November 14, 2015

BREAKING: Prop. 123 Air War Begins NOW: Dark Money Group Airs Pro-Ducey Plan Ad Sunday

The advertising campaign for the Gov. Ducey-led Proposition 123 plan for education funding starts tomorrow (Sunday), as a dark money group begins a small ad buy on Phoenix TV stations.

The American Federation for Children has purchased $2,000 worth of spots on Sunday news shows in Phoenix.

The spot is not yet available, although the media buyer for the AFC did tell Arizona's Politics that he would pass it along as soon as he could.

The American Federation for Children spent more than $310,000 on Arizona elections in 2014, most at the state legislative level.  Arizona's Politics assigned AFC a #50ShadesOfDarkMoney shade of 40 at the time. Here is how that was arrived at:
AFC is a 501(c )(4) social non-welfare corporation that has received notoriety for its lack of disclosure, for its founders' backgrounds, for name changes and campaign fines. It is led by Betsy DeVos, from the Amway and Blackwater families, and has received several million dollars from Walton family members. These have not been disclosed by AFC (here is their most recent IRS filing from 2012), but has been uncovered by reporters during their involvement in otherschool choice campaigns in other states. The website does not disclose any funding sources, either.
AFC receives a very dark gray shade of dark money - a number 40 on our scale.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

BREAKING: U.S. House Re-Sets Vote On Blocking West Valley Casino For Next Week; Casino Scheduled To Open In 5 Weeks

Just five weeks before the Tohono O'odham Nation is set to open their West Valley Desert Diamond casino in Glendale, the U.S. House of Representatives has re-set a vote on Rep. Trent Franks' bill to block it.

The re-set comes just three weeks after it was removed from the House's calendar due to an "ethics concern", one week after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Tohono O'odham's claiming of the land in the West Valley was legal, and only five weeks before the planned December 20 grand opening of the already-constructed casino.

While there is no official word on why the Keep the Promise Act was taken off of the calendar last month or why it is back on the calendar, the impending grand opening, the latest legal chapter, the intensive lobbying - by both the Salt River and Gila River Nations - and the new House leadership could all be factors.

The bill has the support of more than half of Arizona's Congressional delegation (Franks, Gosar, Kirkpatrick, Salmon, Schweikert) and the vocal opposition of Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) (who represents much of the Tohono O'odham Nation).

The Congressional Budget Office put a possible price tag of $1Billion on the bill, because of the certainty of legal action if it was signed into law and the lost opportunity costs to the Tohono O'odham Nation.  Politico today notes "a Budget Committee aide said the committee made its own determination that there is no definite score because it's too unpredictable."



(h/t Politico)

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Jeb, Ted First Two Presidential Candidates In Arizona's Blocks, Ready For March 22 Run

Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are the first two candidates to submit their paperwork for Arizona's Presidential primary scheduled for March 22.

The Arizona Secretary of State's Office confirmed this morning that operatives for the former Florida Governor was first in the door with the paperwork this morning, followed by the Texas Senator's. Today was the first day presidential candidates could file. (December 14 is the last day to file.)

Arizona's Presidential Preference Election is slated for the fourth Tuesday in March, and will be the largest of the three states* voting that day.  Candidates for either the Republican or Democratic nomination must file 500 valid signatures, or demonstrate that they are on primary ballots in at least two other states.

*Utah will be having a primary for both major parties that day, and Idaho will have its Democratic caucuses.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WATCH: "Arizona Fire Districts Are In Crisis"; $55K Ad Campaign To Remove Taxing Caps

(UPDATE, 11/11 at 9:20am: If you watched the GOP Presidential debate(s), you likely saw that the ad ran several times during it. Cable providers do have to keep political files that are similar to broadcast stations; however, they do not have the same FCC requirements to make them available online. Arizona's Politics does not have the resources to visit them regularly to view their files, and is attempting to work with the major cable providers to make that information available to our readers. If you support that effort, please let both us and the cable providers know.)

Painting a desperate picture of fires running wild in Arizona, the state's 156 Fire Districts are beginning a $55,000 targeted TV ad campaign tomorrow to lobby state lawmakers to remove taxing caps. The ad paints a picture of Their proposal would eliminate some of the need for budget override elections.

Fire districts are mostly rural service districts - though some encompass municipalities - formed under state law. Similar to school districts and other special districts, Arizona law caps how much tax revenue they can raise without going to voters for a budget override or bond election.

The Arizona Fire District Association - which derives most of its budget by charging the taxpayer-financed fire districts membership dues and conference fees - has produced an ad that will begin running on Phoenix TV stations during local news times.

The ad goes right after viewers' basic fears of fire and support for first responders:
"Firefighters and paramedics laid off. Fire stations closed. Public safety budgets slashed. 9-1-1 response times soaring. Arizona Fire Districts are in crisis."
Viewers are urged to contact "the Legislature" to support their measure.

Lawmakers have not yet begun filing bills for the 2016 session, though it is the right time to be getting them ready.

The AFDA notes that 40 of their 156 members are currently at the state cap of $3.25 (on $100 of property's assessed valuation), and that they have had to close fire stations and cut staff as response times "have increased in many districts." It was not immediately apparent how many of those districts have attempted override elections, although Maricopa County has not had any since 2012.

Their cap relief measure would leave in place the 8% annual increase limit on tax levies, which they say will prevent wild increases without an election.

The AFDA receives nearly all of its revenue from taxpayers, through the fire districts.


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Monday, November 9, 2015

(READ/WATCH) Trump Received 12:05 Air Time On SNL; Equal Time Requests Could Fill 2 1/2 Hour Program

Donald Trump received 12 minutes, 5 seconds of air time on this weekend's Saturday Night Live ("SNL") program, according to the equal time notices that NBC stations are uploading into their FCC files.  If all* of Trump's fellow GOP candidates for President asked for equal time, NBC could easily fill a 2 1/2 program.

Trump hosted the long-running satire and comedy program on November 7, and had most of his face time in the opening monologue/bit.  He then appeared sparingly, including a skit portraying an ultra-successful Trump Administration where the American people had, in fact, become tired of "winning".

He also pouted admirably in one of SNL's patented overly-long-near-the-end-of-the-program skits, as a "laser harp" player who was not getting enough solo time because he was always the last band member introduced. Then, all 8 bar patrons left when he started playing.

SNL also took some opportunities to gently skewer the host, particularly during the Weekend Update segment.

Here is the notice that most NBC affiliates will be filing during the next couple of days.  It is the stations themselves that have the equal time requirement, but if any candidates request equal time, it will likely be from multiple stations. Last month, NBC suggested that stations let the network know of any requests, and the network would likely negotiate on behalf of all of them.

Arizona's Politics detailed many of the legal aspects of the current status of the equal time doctrine after the Trump hosting gig was announced.

Democratic candidate Larry Lessig did request equal time from NBC stations in early-voting states and the largest TV markets in the nation, after Hillary Clinton was featured in a skit.  His legal counsel and NBC traded letters on whether he qualified, and negotiations may have taken place.  However, Lessig has since halted his candidacy, mooting his request.

There are 11 other GOP candidates who will be debating (along with Trump) tomorrow, and who could validly claim equal time. At least two others were kicked off the debate stage but could still try to establish their qualifications for the 12:05 of NBC airtime.

Here are the other articles in Arizona's Politics coverage of SNL equal time issues: 

  1.  Breaking the NBC Sunday Morning Memo re: Clinton's appearance: bit.ly/AZp1177
  2.  Breaking the Trump hosting announcement, considering equal time ramifications:bit.ly/AZp1180
  3. "POLITICAL/LEGAL MEMO, To: All GOP Presidential Candidates. Re: 'Equal Time'             Requests":bit.ly/AZp1181
  4. BREAKING (the ice): Hillary Clinton's SNL Appearance Triggers Equal Time Request From Larry Lessig; KPNX Among 47 Stations Nationwide Targeted (READ) http://bit.ly/AZp1185
  5.  (UPDATE) NBC Doubles Amount Of Equal Time That Democratic Presidential Candidates May Be Entitled To, Re-Airing Clinton's SNL Skit bit.ly/AZp1187


*It is unlikely that all - or, even most - will request equal time. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has expressed the most interest, while Ben Carson has said he is uninterested in being on SNL.

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