FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Monday, May 22, 2017

READ: Democrats Stretching House Targets To Include Rep. Schweikert's Northeast Valley District #AZ06 (ARIZONA '18)

In what might be seen as a major testing of the waters, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee listed Rep. David Schweikert's solid Northeast Valley District as a 2018 target district. The DCCC seems to be banking on a major rip tide in urban/suburban districts in response to the Trump Presidency.

No major ratings change appears to have precipitated listing #AZ06 in its addition of 20 Congressional districts where they are going to work on "recruitment and possible investment."  The Cook Political Report, for example, still lists the district as "solid Republican".  Schweikert is serving his 4th (consecutive) term representing Arizona.

Schweikert won re-election last November with 62.1% of the vote, while Donald Trump only secured 52.4% of the vote (to Hillary Clinton's 42.4%)) in the same district. Attorney Garrick McFadden filed last month to run as a Democrat against Schweikert.

NRCC Spokesman Jack Pandol gave Arizona's Politics a sharp-tongued response to the news.
“The DCCC is falling victim to its own inside-the-Beltway hype, just like last cycle when the Democrats failed spectacularly to make any significant gains. The truth on the ground is, David Schweikert is well-known and respected as a trusted fighter for Arizona families. We have no doubt Congressman Schweikert will continue to enjoy the confidence of voters who have consistently sent him to fight on their behalf.”
The DCCC and the NRCC - its Republican counterpart - of course are going after each other's swing districts in Arizona. Those are Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) and Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2). Cook lists both in the "Lean" columns for their respective incumbents.

(This is a developing story. Arizona's Politics has reached out to several sources for comment and will update as necessary.)





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Sunday, May 21, 2017

President Trump's Riyadh Speech - as prepared, with ad libs written in

Here are the prepared remarks for President Donald Trump's speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for May 21, 2017. Written in are his changes and ad libs.

The change getting the most attention is on page 7, where he changes "Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires" to "Islamic extremism and the Islamic terro of all kinds. we must stop what they're doing to inspire, because they do nothing to inspire but kill. and we are having a very profound effect, if you look at what's happened recently."



Here is a link to the video: http://bit.ly/2qLZvwn
Here is the link to the remarks as prepared for delivery: http://bit.ly/2r6Tr4B

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Crazy & the Clear-Eyed: 2 Arizona Congressmen React Differently To Trump/Russia Developments (WATCH/LISTEN)

An Arizona Senator and a rookie Arizona Congressman - both Republicans - had two very different takes last night about recent Trump/Russia developments. One described the Monday bombshell report from the Washington Post as "rumors" from the "radicalized media" while the other focused on the broadening scandal culture engulfing the Trump Administration.

Senator John McCain was first, accepting the Freedom Award from an organization that he has
chaired for many years and opining on the need for the Republicans to do more than confirm Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court if they wish to maintain the majority in Congress next year.

As he has before, he expressed the view that more shoes will be dropping and he noted that the "Trump scandals" were reaching "Watergate size and scale." His comments came in front of the International Republican Institute that he has led for more than 20 years*.

Here is a one-minute-plus clip from his remarks:


Approximately an hour later, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ5) took to the KTAR (92.3FM, Phoenix) airwaves to trade notes with Reality Check talk show host Darin Damme. After joking that he might be "certifiably crazy" to want to be in Congress in this day and age, Biggs went on to dismiss the "radical media" as being the real problem in Washington, that the Washington Post's unnamed sources inside the Trump/Lavrov meeting last week might be made up. "That's dubious until I see some real substantive evidence, it's just going to be, be a rumor."

"The writer of the story needs to be called in to question," said Biggs, pointing out that news reporters have "flat out made up stuff." He started to say that "odds are" the story is fake, before backing off and saying it is a possibility.  The story "imperils America's future," Biggs said.

Biggs' office declined Arizona's Politics' requests to comment on whether the Trump Administration's claim that Trump's disclosures (that were apparently the Israelis to disclose or not) in the meeting were "wholly appropriate could co-exist with the anonymous sources' characterizations, or on how he interpreted the President's tweets that he had disclosed "facts" that he had a right to de-classify on the fly.  Arizona's Politics also asked whether the Congressman shares host Damme's views on "the Deep State's" efforts to damage President Trump. (The article will be updated with his comments, as needed.)



(thanks to KPNX's Brahm Resnik for helping locate the McCain video.)

* McCain's IRI caused a small amount of controversy in his 2008 Presidential campaign. Former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe is now a Vice Chair of the Institute.


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Friday, May 12, 2017

POLITICO: Sen. Flake Backs Away From Bucking Trump, Calling For Special Prosecutor

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was one of the first GOP Senators to publicly question President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, but today he is on the front cover of Politico as one who will not "buck Trump" on the matter.



Here is Politico addressing the situation, and the Flake quote regarding whether or not there should be an independent (or, special) prosecutor named to conduct the investigation of any possible Trump campaign-Russia ties:

Even Republicans who’ve criticized the timing behind the abrupt firing aren’t yet willing to trigger a confrontation with the Trump administration by demanding an independent counsel.

“I say, let’s see who he nominates to replace Comey,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who tweeted after Comey’s firing that he could not find an “acceptable rationale” for its timing, said of a special prosecutor. “You never rule anything out, but I’m not going there. I don’t want to jeopardize the Senate investigation going on.”
It’s a familiar dance between Donald Trump and the congressional GOP: Trump does something widely seen as a brazen violation of political norms. Even as some Republicans call him out, most defend Trump’s actions or decline to take action directly challenging his administration.
The article goes on to note that Arizona's other Senator, John McCain (R-AZ) has called for an independent investigation.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

PUTTING HIS MOUTH WHERE HIS MONEY IS: Rep. Gallego Heads South To Take Healthcare Fight To Colleague McSally

Arizona's Politics reported Friday on the unusually-strong frontal attack by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) on his Arizona colleague Martha McSally (R-CD2), as a result of her very visible vote passing the AHCA (aka Trumpcare). Tomorrow, with his megaphone at the ready, Gallego puts his mouth where his money is, heading down to Tucson to continue the battle.

The vote was on Thursday. Later that afternoon, Gallego sent out an email (from his campaign committee email) raising funds for whoever the Democrats end up nominating to challenge McSally next year.

Last night, the Arizona Democratic Party announced an evening rally in Tucson "to stop Trumpcare". Rep. Gallego - who went to Congress along with McSally in 2015 - is the featured guest.

As the Democrats' email freely admits, McSally is only one of the intended targets of the Tuesday rally.
"McSally put satisfying Donald Trump's ego over the health and welfare of 24 million Americans.

That's why we're heading to her district with Congressman Gallego on Tuesday to rally Democrats to stop Trumpcare.

Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain are crucial votes if Trumpcare is going to pass the Senate. We need to show them that McSally is paying a big price for her vote."
The battle in the Senate will be intense. No doubt, Gallego will keep his megaphone nearby. (While there has been much speculation about whether Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) might run against Sen. Jeff Flake next year, Sinema's megaphone has mostly stayed in the closet.)


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Friday, May 5, 2017

Despite Cagy Moves, McSally's Trumpcare Vote Prompts Ratings Downshift, Frontal Assault From Arizona Colleague

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) made some cagy moves to offset her status as one of the final votes in favor of the Obamacare repeal and replace measure yesterday, but she faced Friday with her re-election chances being downgraded by the respected Cook Political Report, as well as a searing fundraising email from House colleague Ruben Gallego promising political payback.

House leadership gave McSally the visibility of putting forward a bill (not an amendment) to pull a Congressional exemption from the new AHCA (aka Trumpcare) provisions. The one-sentence measure passed 429-0. McSally then explained her vote in favor of the AHCA by saying it is better than the present system and puts the ball in motion - not a full-throated endorsement of the provisions that passed with two votes to spare.

Cook Political Report this morning downgraded McSally's re-election chances from "likely" to "leans", noting that her vote was an "unequivocal political risk", and that "it will certainly spur Democrats' interest here."

That was a few hours after Arizona's Politics email inbox received a blistering email (reproduced below the jump) from Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7),  From his campaign committee and with the simple/direct subject line "Martha McSally", Gallego flat-out stated that he "can't reason or negotiate with people like that. The only choice we have is to defeat them. I'm going to make sure Martha McSally pays a price for her vote."

It would not appear that there will be much bi-partisan cooperation between these Arizona Representatives.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

BREAKING/READ: Judge Recuses Himself From APS/Dark Money Case Brought By ACC Commissioner Robert Burns

The judge in Arizona Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns' case to force APS to disclose its suspected dark money campaign contributions has disqualified himself. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Blomo gave no explanation for the decision, which comes one week after Burns' attorney asked for an expedited hearing.

Today's minute entry (below) also comes only one day after Capitol Media Services published an article about the case. The explosive dispute focuses on whether Commissioner Robert Burns can force the state's largest regulated electrical utility to disclose whether it funneled undisclosed monies to be spent on the 2014 Corporation Commission election.

Other races, including those for Governor (for Doug Ducey), Attorney General (for Mark Brnovich) and Secretary of State (for Justin Pierce) may have been impacted by APS dark money, as well. APS/Pinnacle West also provided semi-open support that year to the Republican Governors Association and the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Arizona's Politics extensively covered the 2014 dark money influx while it was happening and afterwards, and will continue to provide coverage of the Burns/APS dispute.

Arizona's Politics has asked the parties for comment, and will supplement as needed.


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Monday, April 24, 2017

Arizona's Anti-Semitic Incidents Already Exceed Total 2016 Hate; Plus, Breaking News On JCC Bomb Threats

Arizona has already seen 15 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, easily surpassing the total for all of 2016 by 50%. This exceeds a spike being seen across the nation.  The startling news from the Anti-Defamation League comes the same day that reports from Israel indicate the teen charged with most of the bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers in Arizona and across the country may have been paid by others on the "Dark Net" to place the computerized calls.

The ADL - which monitors and fights bigotry and hate of all stripes - released its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents (U.S.) and supplemented it with news of an 86% surge in the first quarter of 2017 (compared to the same period in 2016).

Arizona suffered 13 incidents between January 1-March 31, 2017, according to ADL Arizona
Goodyear Farm Cemetery,
Avondale, 2017
Regional Director Carlos Galindo-Elvira. Two more incidents (see accompanying pictures) have taken place in April.

Five anti-Semitic incidents were reported in Arizona in 2015. That doubled last year, with a couple of high-profile vandalism examples following the Presidential election.

"The trend we're seeing in vandalism and harassment incidents from 2015 through 2017 is clearly disturbing" Galindo-Elvira tells Arizona's Politics. "ADL is the organization for this time to counter anti-Semitism and all forms of hate, prejudice and bigotry."

Galindo-Elvira also noted in ADL Arizona's news release that it is "fully committed to fighting anti-Semitism in Arizona by speaking-up, speaking-out and working with law enforcement, at all levels, to put a halt to hateful incidents.” 

***

Central Phoenix, 4/2017
Nationally, the ADL reports that anti-Semitic incidents - including acts of vandalism, harassment and assaults - increased 34% in 2016, compared to 2015. The headline notes that the 1st quarter of 2017 shows an 86% surge over the previous year's period. 

However, that includes the more than 100 bomb threats allegedly made against Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. by a young man in Israel (with dual citizenship). On the surface, that may have raised questions about the anti-Semitic nature of those threats.

Coincidentally, the unnamed teen was indicted TODAY in Israel. A report on the indictment in the Jerusalem Post raises the possibility that the young man was paid by unknown persons (with unknown motives) to make the computerized phone calls.
"The Justice Ministry said the defendant also used the so-called “Dark Net” to sell his cyber intimidation and extortion services to clients who paid him electronic currency according to a price list he posted with set fees for calls to police stations, schools or airports.
He was also accused of using the undetectable Web network to deal in illegal drugs and sell computer kits to counterfeit official documents, manufacture poisons and explosives and to hack into social media accounts.
His business landed him roughly $225,000 in bitcoin currency, and at one point he employed two other individuals to operate as subcontractors, carrying out his tasks."
(Even if all of the 146 JCC (etc) bomb threats were removed from ADL's national numbers, it would still show an increase in the hate incidents between 1Q16 and 1Q17.)

This report contributed by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

BREAKING: Arpaio Finds A Tax Exempt Nonprofit For Supporters To Fund Legal Defense, Starts With $250K

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has come up with a way to permit his thousands of supporters across the nation to fund his legal defense with tax deductible money.  His non-exempt Legal Defense Fund has now received $250,000 from the new tax EXEMPT organization the National Center for Police Defense.

Arizona's Politics has been reporting on the ongoing efforts by Arpaio - who is now facing a criminal contempt trial in June for admitted violations of federal court orders in the long-running Melendres v. Arpaio civil rights case. Impassioned solicitations for the Sheriff Joe Arpaio Legal Defense Fund (from Arpaio) have mistakenly informed his supporters that the contributions to keep him out of jail would be tax deductible.

Ironically on Tax Day, this plea for money hit Arpaio's supporters' email inboxes today. It comes from the new NCPL, and includes one of the Sheriff's *personal* emails. (The entire email is republished below the jump in this article.)  It emphasizes the unlimited, tax deductible nature of gifts.

Arpaio's Legal Defense Fund is an opaque entity operated by Summit Group Consulting, the same consulting firm that has run Arpaio's campaigns and made him into an unparalleled fundraising machine. There is no evidence that the fund is incorporated in Arizona (or, elsewhere). No public disclosure of the funds received or expended is required under law.

It is very likely that any monies raised by the fund and disbursed to attorneys on Arpaio's behalf are taxable income for the Sheriff. On his personal financial disclosure statement (filed while he was in office), Arpaio did not divulge receiving any income from this fund, nor did he list any gifts, reportable interests, or personal debts.

Arpaio also maintains control of his campaign committee, which had more than $460,000 on March 31, 2017.  His report filed last week does not show that any transfers were made to the NCPD during March, although that would appear to be one possible way for Arpaio to dispose of the campaign monies.

Arizona's Politics has asked for responses and explanations from both Jim Fotis of the NCPD and Arpaio's longtime campaign guru Chad Willems. This article will be supplemented as needed.

(Phoenix election law attorney and Arizona's Politics' co-founder Paul Weich contributed to this article.)


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

READ: "The Circus Is Over; The Tents Are Coming Down": New Sheriff Closing Expensive "Tent City Jail"

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BREAKING UPDATE: Judge Sets Emergency Hearing In Arpaio Criminal Contempt Case

(UPDATE, 3:45pm: The Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section informs Arizona's Politics that it will attend the Thursday hearing in person, rather than by telephone.)

Outgoing and incoming legal counsel for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are ordered to appear personally at an emergency hearing this Thursday afternoon.  U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued the order this afternoon, after lead counsel A. Melvin McDonald told the Court last night that he needed to withdraw three weeks before the criminal contempt trial. (The Order is published below.)

The prosecuting attorneys for the Department of Justice are permitted to phone in for the accelerated hearing. However, a spokesperson for the DOJ's Public Integrity Section informed Arizona's Politics this evening that they will be in the courtroom. (And/or in the Judge's chambers, if necessary.)

Arizona's Politics reported yesterday on the surprise 11th hour withdrawal application. The Arizona Republic followed up with some possible insights into what may have prompted the ethical quandary that former U.S. Attorney McDonald and the Jones, Skelton & Hochuli firm found themselves in.

If the withdrawal is permitted, Mark Goldman (Goldman & Zwillinger) will become Arpaio's lead counsel. Goldman unsuccessfully asked that the trial be continued due to his son's Bar Mitzvah taking place the following weekend.

Late last night, McDonald filed witness and exhibit lists (subject to change by Goldman), showing eight possible defense witnesses in the April 25 trial. Those witnesses are Russ Skinner, Jerry Sheridan, Former Chief Brian Sands, Lt. Joseph Sousa, Chief Jack MacIntyre, Lisa Allen, Lt. Brian Jakowinicz and Brett Palmer.


<p  style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;">   <a title="View Order Setting Accelerated Hearing On Application To Withdraw on Scribd" href="https://www.scribd.com/document/344052458/Order-Setting-Accelerated-Hearing-On-Application-To-Withdraw#from_embed"  style="text-decoration: underline;" >Order Setting Accelerated Hearing On Application To Withdraw</a> by <a title="View arizonaspolitics's profile on Scribd" href="https://www.scribd.com/user/218365445/arizonaspolitics#from_embed"  style="text-decoration: underline;" >arizonaspolitics</a> on Scribd</p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/344052458/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-rEvhzz21kOBizN1VhBl8&show_recommendations=true" data-auto-height="false" data-aspect-ratio="0.7729220222793488" scrolling="no" id="doc_12782" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0"></iframe>
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BREAKING: Trump Pays Approx $2M, Clears Lawsuit & Lien On Old Post Office (NATIONAL NEWS)

President Donald Trump's Old Post Office LLC officially removed the lien and the lis pendens stemming from its failure to timely pay $2 Million to the electrical contractor for work done last year on its new hotel, Arizona's Politics has learned. The taxpayers own the property and lease it to Trump*.

The lawsuit was filed by Freestate Electrical the day before Trump was inaugurated as President. The Trump company's rush to open the luxury hotel near the White House two weeks before Election Day required contractors to incur significant added costs, according to Freestate's lawsuit. The bills were not timely paid, and contractors rushed to file liens on the property. Freestate was still unpaid, so it filed the legal action to enforce its lien.

Three other contractors separately had to file mechanics liens against T.O.P.O. LLC since November. All were (paid and) released in February and March (after hotel revenues began to roll in).

Freestate's legal action was due for a hearing at the end of this month. The dismissal was filed on Friday, and the releases of the lien and the lis pendens were recorded today (see, below). It is unlikely that the plaintiff settled for less than the balance due.

Arizona's Politics has requested comments from representatives of both Freestate and the Trump Organization, and will update this article as necessary.


***************************************************************************


* Trump's interest may or may not be held in a trust and may or may not be able to access monies from the Trump Old Post Office LLC, per recent news reports. For purposes of simplicity, Arizona's Politics refers to "Trump" because he still appears to have a significant level of involvement and interest in the LLC.

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WATCH, IN-DEPTH: Rep. Schweikert On C-Span Re: Healthcare Reform; "I May Be An Outlier" In Freedom Caucus

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert had "fun" this morning discussing healthcare reform in-depth on C-Span.

Although we have not yet watched/listened to this entire interview (he took many calls), we did catch the end where he says he

When asked what the Freedom Caucus wants, Schweikert gave a disclaimer that he "may be an outlier because I was a yes vote within the group". He then said that the group - of which he is a member - wants to lower costs and give states more discretion on how to use Medicaid expansion funds.

If you find some interesting tidbits, please let us know. The uncorrected closed captioning is below the jump.



McCain Still Very Sad, But Will Vote To Go Nuclear (In Senate): "I Have No Choice"

John McCain (R-AZ) says he will vote to go "nuclear" in the U.S. Senate this week because "I have no choice." Last week, McCain said he was "very sad" at the prospect of changing the filibuster rules in order to get Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch confirmed; today, he said he has "terrible
qualms" but will vote with his party.

McCain - possibly in his final 6-year term in the Senate - told Politico: "I have no choice." He warned that the GOP will pay a political price for opting for a simple majority - "Democrats are obviously paying a heavy price for what Harry Reid did, and I believe we will pay a price for this."

Democrats removed the 60-vote threshold for confirming nominations and appointments other than for the Supreme Court (though the rule could have been reinstated) during the Obama presidency, claiming that Republicans were filibustering non-controversial District and Court of Appeals nominations.


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Monday, April 3, 2017

BREAKING: Former U.S. Attorney Moves To Withdraw As Sheriff Arpaio Counsel 3 Weeks Before Criminal Contempt Trial

(UPDATE, 4/4, 7:40am: Arizona's Politics requested a comment from the U.S. Department of Justice. They "decline to comment at this time." We do expect them to file a response with the Court very quickly.)

A. Melvin McDonald, lead counsel for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has applied to withdraw as counsel 3 weeks before the criminal contempt trial set for April 25.

Late Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton denied Arpaio's efforts to delay the trial due to co-counsel's son's Bar Mitzvah at the end of April. Late today, the Jones, Skelton & Hochuli's Application To Withdraw was filed, claiming that to continue to represent the former Sheriff because "the representation will result in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law." The Rules of Professional Conduct refers to ethical rules that attorneys are required to follow.

It is unclear what specific type of violation could occur or what has suddenly changed in the law firm's relationship with the former Sheriff, although McDonald did state that he is "ready, willing and able to answer, in camera, any questions the court may have relative to this application."  He suggests that he is available for a private hearing in the Judge's chambers during the next three days. McDonald's Application does reference "comment 3" to the ethical rule, which is reproduced at the bottom of this article.

As for the law firm's fees, Arpaio recently has been sending out regular emails soliciting funds from his massive donor base, claiming that he was falling short in his efforts to pay his attorneys. It is unlikely that that is what caused today's Application to Withdraw, however.

Arpaio is still represented by Mark Goldman and his Goldman & Zwillinger firm. In fact, the 8-person firm filed a Notice of Appearance adding its Jeff Surdakowski to the Arpaio trial team.


This is a breaking news story. The documents and more details will be posted shortly.
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Comment 3 to Ethical Rule 1.16:
[3] When a lawyer has been appointed to represent a client, withdrawal ordinarily requires approval of the appointing authority. See also Rule 6.2. Similarly, court approval or notice to the court is often required by applicable law before a lawyer withdraws from pending litigation. Difficulty may be encountered if withdrawal is based on the client's demand that the lawyer engage in unprofessional conduct. The court may request an explanation for the withdrawal, while the lawyer may be bound to keep confidential the facts that would constitute such an explanation. The lawyer's statement that professional considerations require termination of the representation ordinarily should be accepted as sufficient. Lawyers should be mindful of their obligations to both clients and the court under Rules 1.6 and 3.3.


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Thursday, March 30, 2017

McCain "Very Sad", Flake Also Misses Bipartisanship; See "Nuclear" Reaction To Gorsuch Filibuster

This Huffington Post article has key quotes from both of Arizona's U.S. Senators. John McCain is "very sad" because he has "failed" to convince enough Democrats to not filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, and that the Republicans will go "nuclear" in response.


Jeff Flake sees sad parallels to the currently-dead Obamacare repeal and replace effort in the House.

Both seem to acknowledge that they will go along with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plans to invoke the so-called "nuclear option" - changing the Senate rules to require only 51 Senators to close debate on a Supreme Court nominee and proceed to a vote.

Neither Senator mentioned to the Huffington Post reporter that their acquiescence in last year's blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination contributed to this year's (planned) Democratic filibuster.

Here are the quotes from Arizona's Senators:




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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

GET YOUR EXERCISE: Rep. McSally On Her Bill To Conduct Large Scale Anti-Terrorism Exercise Re: Americans-Turned-Foreign-Fighters

(Update, 4:15pm: Rep. McSally's office informs Arizona's Politics that the House vote on H.R. 1302 is now planned for tomorrow (Thursday).)

he House debated a bill from Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) today, which would require that the U.S. Government conduct a large scale exercise probing weaknesses in dealing with Americans who travel abroad and return to commit acts of terror.

Here is McSally's explanation of H.R. 1302:


The bill  is expected to pass the House before the end of the week.


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UPDATE: Gosar Bill Removing Antitrust Exemption From Health/Dental Insurance Passes House 416-7

(Update, 4:10pm: Rep. Gallego's office informs Arizona's Politics that the Congressman "actually voted no by mistake", and that he will submit a statement to that effect tomorrow.)

Yesterday, we reported on the bipartisan support for Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar's (R-CD4) bill removing an antitrust exemption from health and dental insurance companies. Though H.R. 372 only had Republican co-sponsors, the Democratic debaters announced their support for it.

Today, the bill passed 416-7. Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) was among the Democrats who voted against it. (See "update" noting that the vote was mistakenly cast.) (Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) did not vote.)

The debate yesterday focused on how much of an effect the bill would have, the larger healthcare/ health insurance debate, and who should get credit for the bill (House Democrats had passed it in 2010 - with bipartisan support - although it died when it did not become part of the larger Affordable Care Act).

In light of the fierce debate surrounding the Republicans' repeal-and-replace efforts, the prospects for this modest measure is also uncertain.


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LISTEN: Dark Money Group Bombards Gosar, Schweikert, Franks To Support Trump-Ryan Health Insurance Bill; Conservative Talk Radio Ads, Robocalls

The dark money American Action Network is targeting Arizona Republican Representatives Franks, Gosar and Schweikert with talk radio ads and robocalls, in an effort to get them to support the Trump-Ryan-GOP-conservative healthcare reform bill that is set to come to a vote tomorrow.

One small change between the robocalls started last week and the radio ad running on KFYI yesterday through tomorrow? Last week, the AAN - which backs the House GOP Leadership - touted the AHCA as both President Trump's and Speaker Ryan's; the new ad only emphasizes the President's support.

The new ad is costing only $3,000 per day on the state's largest conservative talk radio station, KFYI. No word on how much was spent on the robocalls last week.

Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4), David Schweikert (R-CD5) and Trent Franks (R-CD8) are all linked to the more conservative House Freedom Caucus, which is vowing to bring down the bill.

#50ShadesOfDarkMoney

AAN is a 501(c )(4 ) social welfare organization that does not disclose its donors. A number of "grant recipients" have reported receiving money from AAN in IRS filings.

AAN receives a dark gray shade of 45 on Arizona's Politics' #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale.

(h/t to Politico)





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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

READY FOR VOTE: Rep. Gosar Bill Removing Antitrust Exemption From Health and Dental Insurance

(UPDATE, 12:20pm: Gosar Communications Director Steven Smith informs Arizona's Politics that the vote on Rep. Gosar's bill will take place tomorrow, separately from the rest of AHCA (aka Trumpcare). He also notes that the White House came out in favor of it today, as well.

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) has successfully pushed a bill to remove the antitrust exemption from health insurance and dental insurance to the House floor today, as part of a Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The bill - H.R. 372 - is proposed as a way of encouraging competition in the health and dental insurance markets, and is a favorite of the American Dental Association. Dr. Gosar was a practicing dentist before entering Congress, and the ADA has been his biggest Congressional supporter.

Gosar notes that his bill "liberates the insurance industry and doctors and empowers patients" by removing the portion of the McCarran-Ferguson Act that grants an antitrust exemption to  health and dental insurance companies. (Here is his news release on the bill.)


Democrats debating the measure on the House Floor today are indicating that they support Gosar's bill and that they overwhelmingly - and in a bipartisan manner - passed "substantively similar"  (Cecilline) legislation in 2010.  Instead, the Democrats are arguing that HR372 is being oversold and neither permits health/dental insurance to be sold across similar lines nor increases competition on its own. They are also concerned that Republicans are attempting to "put lipstick on a pig". (Jackson Lee)

The American Dental Association has lobbied hard for this measure, and - among other things - has sent this explanatory letter:




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Monday, March 20, 2017

(BREAKING) PARDON ME? Arpaio Not Catching A Break (Yet) From (Trump's) DOJ In Criminal Contempt Trial

While there has been much speculation that former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio might catch a break - even a Presidential pardon - in his criminal contempt trial now that Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice, the DOJ today opposed even a two-month continuance of the trial currently scheduled for April 25.

As reported by Brahm Resnik of KPNX-TV, new co-counsel for Arpaio filed a plea for the continuance on Friday, noting that his only son's Bar Mitzvah was scheduled for April 29. (The Motion for Continuance is reproduced below.) The Motion also claims that the government's inclusion of Tim Casey as a likely witness also warranted the additional time to prepare.

The Department of Justice wasted no time in filing its Opposition to the request, submitting it to the Court this afternoon. The Response (see below) notes that new co-counsel Mark Goldman was actually present at the January 25 hearing which continued the trial until April 25 and that lead counsel Mel McDonald told Judge Susan Bolton that he was going to be bringing on Goldman (or other counsel) to the case.

The DOJ also notes that Casey  - the former attorney hired by Maricopa County -  is not a surprise witness and that he testified in the civil contempt trial. The Government also notes that there are no privilege issues (as Goldman claims) remaining which would justify delay.

Arpaio himself has been busy raising funds to pay his expanding attorney roster (as well as for his new social welfare organization).




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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

READ: Arizona Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects Chambers of Commerce Challenge To Minimum Wage Increase

With the formal opinion to follow, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously made quick work rejecting a post-election challenge to the initiative increasing Arizona's minimum wage and requiring paid sick time.

Proposition 206 passed easily. Rather than waging a vocal campaign before November 8, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce (and other Chambers) decided to try a legal challenge after the fact.

The newly-expanded Supreme Court did not take kindly to the effort, and issued a brief order at 4:50pm (without its usual practice - for opinions - of notifying attorneys in advance that a decision is coming the next day).

Oral argument had just been held this past Thursday.


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SOLICITATION: Sheriff Arpaio's New Dark Money Social Welfare Organization (BREAKING)

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is soliciting funds for his new "Joe Arpaio Action Fund". He has set it up as a social welfare organization under Section 501(c)(4) (of the Internal
Revenue Code), which allows him to accept unlimited donations while not disclosing the contributors, as well as to expend less than half of their funds on political activities.

The fundraising email sent out today by his former campaign manager Chad Willems over Arpaio's signature (published below) repeats his invective that President Obama's Justice Department - combined with the millions spent by George Soros - was responsible for his re-election loss last fall. He says he is forming the JAAF to "build an organization that promotes a conservative agenda, helps conservative ideas become law and help those conservatives win office." The IRS defines "social welfare" as "promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community".

It is possible that the JAAF will voluntarily disclose donors, and it is required to file an annual report with the IRS. Arizona's Politics is seeking additional information about their intentions.

The former Sheriff - who is staring at an impending trial in his criminal contempt case - is not on the Board of Directors of his new social welfare organization. That honor falls to Chris Hegstrom (his last Communications Director when he was the Sheriff), Charles Edwards and Tempe mortgage broker Dan Wickner.

Today's fundraising plea comes two weeks after one from Arpaio - for his equally opaque legal defense fund - admitting that he can no longer afford to pay his high-priced attorneys in his criminal contempt proceedings. Sheriff Joe put out the February 28 emergency plea to his many thousands of contributors in an email.
"Today is the last day of February and my legal bills for the month are due. Thanks to the help of caring and patriotic Americans like you I have been able to pay of (sic) much of my debt, but I am still $2,500 short." 
This IS, in fact, "urgent" as Arpaio is facing an April 25th trial in the criminal contempt case brought against him by the (Obama) Department of Justice, and there has not yet been any sign that new Attorney General Jeff Sessions is backing away from the case.

Of course, Arpaio has nearly $600,000 left in his campaign account ($587,271.60 as of December 31, 2016). However, by state law, that money cannot be converted to personal use.

Arizona's Politics has asked Arpaio's Chad Willems for more information on both the new 501(c)(4) and the legal defense fund, and will update as merited.

************************************************************************
Dear Friend,

You were such a tremendous supporter of mine through the years while I was Sheriff of Maricopa County. I cannot tell you how much your support meant to me and my wife Ava through so many difficult times.

Unfortunately, last November I lost my battle for re-election. It wasn't because I lacked the support of so many great patriots like you.

Rather, I was the victim of a perfect storm comprised of a national and local media that was hell-bent on distorting my record, maligning me personally and not telling the whole truth.

On top of that, none other than the far-left George Soros spent nearly $4 million in attack ads against me that were nasty, vicious, and deceptive. 


And on top of that the Obama Justice Department, in a pure political move, announced they were filing criminal contempt of court charges against me the day before critical early voting started here in Arizona. Finally, with two weeks to go before the election, they formally filed charges against me.

The actions by the Obama Justice Department were completely politically motivated. Their rush to file a misdemeanor charge against me so close to the election was politically calculated in order to cause my campaign for re-election the most harm.

This was the same Justice Department that let so many of their own off the hook. 

Think about this: Hillary Clinton "allegedly" jeopardized national security and destroyed evidence; Lois Lerner as head of the IRS violated the civil rights of thousands of citizens; Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress; and none of them faced any consequences.

Thus, I was defeated at the ballot box - all because of my unwavering support for enforcing illegal immigration laws - and being so outspoken about the federal government's failure to do their job.

But, as I have said to you time and time again, I never back down from a fight and I never surrender. And I'm not about to now. While I may no longer be the Sheriff, I still believe in order for our Republic to stand, we must enforce the Rule of Law. 

So I'm going to continue to fight for the shared conservative values we hold so dear. After serving 55 years in law enforcement as a top director of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, including 24 years as an elected Sheriff, I'll be fighting for our values as a private citizen.

Recently, I formed the "Sheriff Joe Arpaio Action Fund" which I will use to counter the likes of George Soros who use their billions to influence public policy and elections. I learned a lot of lessons during my last campaign, but chief among them is that we can never idly sit by and get comfortable. Our cause must be vigilant, ever-ready to counter the progressive left's lies and deceit.

Obviously, I am not a billionaire who can write a personal check to buy elections across this country (like Soros!). But what I can do is reach out to loyal supporters like you and ask for your help. Together we can build an organization that promotes a conservative agenda, helps conservative ideas become law and help those conservatives win office.

So many of you have reached out to me since the election with heart-felt words of encouragement and support and asked what else they could do to help.

I'm asking for your support now. I know that if we work together we can build an organization that will strike fear into the heart of the progressive left movement and serve as a vehicle to move a conservative agenda forward.

Please don't skip over this email. Please make a contribution today to the Sheriff Joe Arpaio Action Fund. We can and will do great things together, but I need you on board today to get this organization rolling. The mid-term elections will be here before we know it. The radical left in this country is more energized than ever before to defeat President Trump's agenda. We simply cannot go to sleep on this. It's critical we all stay engaged and continue pushing for what we know is right.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I'm excited about this new chapter in my life and I'll never stop doing what I know is right.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Maricopa County, Arizona (retired)

P.S. Please don't delete this email. Your support for the Sheriff Joe Arpaio Action Fund today is critical if we are going to counter the progressive left's efforts to demonize President Trump and conservatism as a whole. If we don't stand up and fight, who else will? 


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Monday, March 13, 2017

WATCH: Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego Blasts Speaker Paul Ryan As "One Of the Best Liars...In the World"

Hours before House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) reacted to the new CBO scoring of the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) took to a national stage (at SXSW) to call Ryan "one of the best liars I have ever seen in the world."

Gallego was a featured speaker at Politico's Playbook Exchange, and he did not hold back. When one of the moderators interrupted to say it was being taped, Gallego replied that he was "being tame" and that "he clearly will go on TV and say, like, well, no one's going to lose coverage, and all these kinds of things that are just clear lies, and for me it is extremely personal."
<iframe src='//players.brightcove.net/1155968404/r1WF6V0Pl_default/index.html?videoId=5357860289001' allowfullscreen frameborder=0></iframe>

Later in the day, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released its cost estimate, estimating that while the repeal and replace measure would further reduce budget deficits by a total of $337B over the next 10 years, it would also increase the number of Americans without any health insurance by 24M over the same time period.

Ryan praised the CBO's report:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">CBO report confirms it → American Health Care Act will lower premiums &amp; improve access to quality, affordable care. <a href="https://t.co/jNzmYFPe9H">https://t.co/jNzmYFPe9H</a> <a href="https://t.co/f0NGuLiztl">pic.twitter.com/f0NGuLiztl</a></p>&mdash; Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) <a href="https://twitter.com/SpeakerRyan/status/841388103529058304">March 13, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Gallego released a statement calling the CBO's estimate "an embarrassment to Paul Ryan, the Republican Party and the conservative movement."

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

McSally's Town Halls Range From Open to Closed; Giffords Tells Republicans (Other Than McSally) To Face Constituents (READ)

As she was about to begin an open town hall in Sahuarita this afternoon, Rep. Martha McSally's (R-CD2) office sent out a release to the media announcing another town hall tomorrow, in Tucson.


A town hall meeting at a manufacturing facility? Sounded a little odd. Communications Director Pat Ptak confirmed to Arizona's Politics that the session would only be for the employees at Arizona Optical Systems.

Town halls have once again become a hot-button topic, as Trump opponents have made Congressmembers' town halls a focal point in expressing opposition to Republicans.

Earlier today, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert invoked the 2011 attempted assassination of McSally's predecessor, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as a reason for Republicans to avoid town hall gatherings. Six people were killed and 13 were wounded in that mass shooting at Giffords' constituent meeting event.

Giffords immediately retorted that her office was open to voters walking in the Monday following that Saturday shooting (while she was still in the hospital), and that Representatives have to have the courage to face their constituents.

Here is her full statement:




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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BREAKING/READ: Arizona Supreme Court Sets Oral Arguments On Minimum Wage Increase Challenge

The Arizona Supreme Court decided today that it would like to hear oral arguments on the Arizona Chamber of Commerce's lawsuit challenging the voter-approved minimum wage increase.

The Justices set a 40-minute oral argument for March 9. They only want to hear arguments regarding the claim that the measure forces the state to spend money and the appropriate relief. They rejected the arguments put forth by the Chambers of Commerce that the initiative violated state law by addressing two different issues (minimum wage and paid time off).

The Chambers will have 20 minutes to argue their case, and the State of Arizona and its agencies will have 10 minutes. The committee that passed the initiative - Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families - will have 10 minutes to defend.



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Thursday, February 9, 2017

TODAY'S TRUMP TWITTER TRASHING TARGET: McCain Again In Crosshairs; Endures It In Silence, While Friends Successfully Come To His Defense

Arizona Senator John McCain remained tight-lipped on becoming Today's Trump Twitter Trashing Target(tm pending), as the President renewed his attacks on "our hero" McCain. However, Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle rushed to McCain's defense.

Trump lashed out at McCain's mild criticism of the U.S. raid on an al Qaeda facility in Yemen which resulted in the death of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. McCain had originally called the operation "a failure", but his statement this week indicated that any operation which results in loss of American lives should not be called "a success".

That was enough for President Donald Trump to re-lash out at McCain in his regularly-scheduled tweets of the morning. Here is the three tweet series (read from bottom tweet, up)


The seemingly-sarcastic "our hero", and the references to "embolden(ing) the enemy" and "losing" all bring back to mind Trump's previous Twitter trashings of McCain and the period (after the Republican National Convention) when Trump and McCain temporarily endorsed each other.

While McCain has remained silent today about the tweets - he is handling a hearing on Afghanistan - other Senators have expressed their feelings about the simultaneously offensive and defensive Trump tweets. As the Washington Post reported:
But other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in both parties, had plenty to say to Trump in McCain’s defense.
“That’s a dangerous error, for President Trump to continue to trash John McCain,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Fla.), adding that McCain “is a guy who knows what he’s talking about” when it comes to the military.
McCain’s closest friend in the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added that the Trump administration should be more careful about how he tries to cast the Yemen raid to the public.
“One thing I would advise the Trump administration is: Don’t oversell success,” Graham said, noting that he thought the Obama administration oversold the success of various missions, to its detriment. He also advised to focus on finding common ground with Congress instead of picking fights with members like McCain.
“I don’t think President Trump will have a better ally in the United States Congress when it comes to rebuilding the military than John McCain,” Graham said.
One of Trump's earliest dust-ups in his successful Presidential campaign was when he said that McCain is not his idea of a war hero because he had been captured. His ability to weather the uproar and outrage from those statements was repeatedly pointed to as his ability to say very politically incorrect things and not only weather the storm but gather strength.

Arizona might also be the only state that has repeatedly seen both of its Senators receive twitter trashings from Trump. The now-President has taken offense to Sen. Jeff Flake's standing up to him last year and his statements that he was not sure if he would vote for Trump in November.


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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

YEAH, WE'RE LOOKING AT YOU, ARIZONA: LA Times Interviews Two AZ Trump Fans, Calls It Reporting; SAD!

The Los Angeles Times published an article this morning that appears solely designed to bolster any stereotypes Angelenos may have of Arizona.

Under the headline "Trump's first week: For many in Arizona, it doesn't get any better than this", LA Times' border reporter (based in Tucson) Nigel Duara wrote up his interviews with two Trump supporters in a Goodyear parking lot and phoned it in.

Interviewing an 84-year old white man and a 36-year old white woman, Duara delivered his sweeping thesis sentence: "Here, more than 120 miles from the border, Arizona voters outraged with President Obama’s executive orders that welcomed the foreign-born to America are delighted with Trump’s first week in office, when his actions seemed to have done the opposite."

As Arizonans' new hero might say (if the shoes had been on opposite feet) SAD!


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