FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Saturday, August 19, 2017

NEW: Ahead Of Rally, Trump Justice Department Confirms It Is NOT Working On Arpaio Pardon

The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed to Arizona's Politics last night that its Pardon Office is not working on any petition to issue a pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. President Donald Trump does have the power pursuant to the U.S. Constitution to grant executive clemency, but there have been federal regulations in place for more than 20 years to rout the pardon process through the DOJ's Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Speculation that President Trump may announce a pardon of Arpaio at his Phoenix rally this coming Tuesday has been running rampant since the President first told Fox News that he was on the verge of granting Arpaio a pardon for last month's misdemeanor criminal contempt of court conviction, Arizona's Politics has been seeking comment from the Department of Justice. As noted in the Monday article, the DOJ declined to comment as to whether the White House had reached out to the DOJ for input.

After further requests, including requests for clarification on the normal process for petitions for pardons, DOJ spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle told Arizona's Politics "I have confirmed with the Office of the Pardon Attorney that there is no such petition pending at this time."

The Office of the Pardon Attorney was set up by the Department of Justice in 1993, although the DOJ has been responsible for advising the President on exercising his constitutional authority to grant clemency for far longer. Under the process set up, Arpaio would not be eligible to petition for a pardon for five years from the time of his conviction, and the process is not even designed to handle misdemeanor convictions like his.

However, Arpaio was an early and prominent supporter of then-candidate Trump's and there is nothing to prevent the President from pardoning him now. However, as his DOJ's website suggests, it would not wipe away the conviction:
A pardon is an expression of the President’s forgiveness and ordinarily is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or completion of sentence. It does not signify innocence. It does, however, remove civil disabilities – e.g., restrictions on the right to vote, hold state or local office, or sit on a jury – imposed because of the conviction for which pardon is sought, and should lessen the stigma arising from the conviction. It may also be helpful in obtaining licenses, bonding, or employment. Under some – but not all – circumstances, a pardon will eliminate the legal basis for removal or deportation from the United States. (emphasis added)
Arpaio's attorneys have filed motions for acquittal and for a new trial in advance of appealing the July conviction. They declined to comment on the possibility of a Trump pardon of their client.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

COMMENTARY: Push Back On Trump's Pro-Kelli Ward Tweet... From Inside The White House; What About Matt Salmon?

UPDATE, 3:55: Henry Gomez of Buzzfeed News reported this afternoon that Matt Salmon emailed him and said that he is not interested in running against Flake. (thanks, Dennis Welch)

(Arizona's Politics is an independent, non-partisan political news blog. When we engage in analysis or commentary, we attempt to label it as such. This article may be classified as "commentary".)

Trump's early morning tweet touting Dr. Kelli Ward's primary challenge against Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (after watching Fox & Friends) apparently surprised some on his political team still pushing for a different GOP savior to rise from these streets.

Politico reported on the internal angst this afternoon, and revealed that Citizens United President and former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie has been trying to woo (twice) former Rep. Matt Salmon into challenging his former colleague.

As was the case with yesterday's Washington Times article, sources are quoted mentioning anyone but Ward - this time, both Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former AZGOP Chair Robert Graham.

One can easily imagine a tense scene onstage at the Phoenix Convention Center next Tuesday, with several vying for one (or more) roses. (Psst, is that Kyrsten Sinema stage left?)

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Lobbyist Jim Norton Appeals To 9th Circuit In Arizona Corporation Commission Corruption Case

Lobbyist Jim Norton has appealed to the 9th Circuit, challenging a trial court's order restricting what information about the wider corruption investigation can be publicly disclosed by defendants. The appeal is part of the case alleging a scheme to bribe Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce on behalf of utility owner George Johnson.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi ordered prosecutors to turn over the documents to defense attorneys, but restricted defendants and their attorneys from releasing information, so as not to interfere with ongoing investigations. The two protective orders are posted below.

Norton filed his interlocutory (i.e. while the case is continuing) appeal on Tuesday.  The trial is currently set for October 3. Besides Norton, Pierce and Johnson, Pierce's wife Sherry Pierce has also been charged.




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SURPRISE: Trump Echoes J.D. Hayworth/Fox & Friends In Pro-Ward/Anti-Flake Tweet (WATCH)

In advance of next Tuesday's Phoenix rally, President Donald Trump tweeted about Arizona's upcoming Senate race this morning. His 3:56am (Arizona Time) blast at Senator/antagonist Jeff Flake - and touting primary challenger Kelli Ward - came 35 minutes after former Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth talked about the race and rally on Fox & Friends.


Hayworth called Flake "toxic"; the President echoed it in the tweet. Hayworth deftly side-stepped the question about whether the President would rather support a different Flake challenger than Ward; so did the President.

Yesterday, Arizona's Politics reported on Ward's rejection of the anonymous speculation in the Washington Times that Trump had "soured on Ward". Ward called that "fake news."  This morning's tweet certainly seems to validate Ward's remarks, as well as validating people who had told us that current Arizona Treasurer and Trump campaign CFO Jeff DeWit was not going to throw his hat into the anti-Flake ring.

But, the idea that Trump's tweet was a planned-out announcement of support for Ward and a subtle indicator that his campaign CFO was staying out of the race took a hit when viewed in light of Hayworth's Fox & Friends appearance several minutes earlier.

After dismissing Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton's call for a rally delay as "grandstanding", Hayworth hit his stride. "Jeff Flake is toxic! According to one poll, he only has an 18% approval rating. Dr. Kelli Ward is out working hard, her spots are already up on radio and television. She gave John McCain a great race in the primary in 2016 - in fact, performed better than I did in 2010 - she's got the momentum, she's gaining some of the money. Keep your eyes on Kelli Ward."

When served a softball about the Trump/Flake relationship, Hayworth swung: "Nonexistent. Jeff has done his best to be obnoxious, to be the smirking Senator that he's really known to be."

Flake and Hayworth were Arizona House Republican colleagues for several years.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

WATCH: Exasperated Fmr Gov. Jan Brewer Loses It On CNN, Defending President Trump

Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was clearly exasperated with media coverage of President Donald Trump's Charlottesville comments when she appeared on CNN last night.

Brewer lost it a couple of times in the extended segment with host Don Lemon and GOP consultant Ana Navarro. In fact, all three of them seemed to spend much of the time talking past each other, and it was Navarro who was in finger-wagging mode.

Brewer was a frequent surrogate for Trump during the 2015 and 2016 campaign, but has not had much airtime recently. It may not have been a coincidence that this appearance was hours before the President's new rally in Phoenix was announced for next Tuesday.




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Amended Complaint Filed Alleging 22 Invalid Petition Circulators For School Voucher Expansion Referendum (READ)

(UPDATES, 8/17, 12:10pm: State Elections Director Eric Spencer informs Arizona's Politics that "at this point we have not issued any final totals or sent any signatures to counties for their review.” 

Also, the Court docket does not yet show any hearing date for the circulator challenge.)


* * * * *

Proponents of expanding school voucher eligibility to all Arizona students have filed an amended complaint and are alleging that 22 petition circulators were invalid and all/most of their signatures to refere the expansion law to the 2018 ballot must be thrown out.

No court date has yet been set on the challenge filed by the Arizona chapter of Americans For Prosperity, and the Secretary of State's Office has now completed its initial review of the petitions. The County Recorders will have approximately three weeks (from when they receive the petitions from the Secretary of State) to verify a 5% sample.

The Save Our Schools Arizona referendum group turned in more than 111,000 petition signatures to halt the law passed earlier this year. If more than 75,321 are found to be valid after the random verifying and the court challenge(s), voters will determine the fate of the law next November.

The court challenge (so far) focuses on some of the petition circulators - both volunteer and paid - rather than on individual signatures. One of the more unique allegations is that eight circulators marked on some petitions that they were "volunteers" but then filed registrations with the Secretary of State indicating that they were "paid circulators".

Approximately 300 signatures might thus be tainted, according to attorneys Tim LaSota and Kory Langhofer for the plaintiffs. Toward the end of the petition-gathering period, the Save Our Schools committee decided to hire some circulators to increase their numbers; they may have hired some who had been volunteers.

Langhofer tells Arizona's Politics that Elections Director Eric Spencer has not yet determined what positions he will take on either the circulators issues or the separate issue of whether the petitions should be disqualified because they were improperly worded.



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"FAKE NEWS": Ahead Of Rally, Ward Disputes Washington Times Article Claiming Trump "Soured On Her"

Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward was immediately put on the defensive after next Tuesday's Trump rally in Phoenix was announced this morning. The Washington Times published a news article speculating that the President would spurn Ward's primary challenge to Senator Jeff Flake and instead endorse State Treasurer Jeff DeWit. In doing so, the unnamed Arizona sources said that Trump "soured on (Ward)" since meeting with her.

"Fake news," Ward told Arizona's Politics in a statement. "Our private discussions with the White House have been extremely positive and any report that say (sic) otherwise is utterly false, or fake news."

The campaign says the meeting(s) happened in the "end of June", and would not disclose who she met with.

Ward has made waves in recent weeks with a mega contribution to her super PAC by the Mercers (who gave heavily to KelliPAC last year when she ran against McCain) and some big hires. Her campaign declined to tell Arizona's Politics whether they are seeking a place on the stage at the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday.

However, DeWit has been a key surrogate and financial officer for Trump and his campaign organization. He has not given any indications that he plans to run against Flake, however, even though Trump would dearly love to knock the Senator out of Congress.

Former AZGOP Chair Robert Graham and Rep. Trent Franks have also been mentioned as possible primary challengers, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is considering running for the Democratic nomination.


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Monday, August 14, 2017

President To Fox News: On Verge Of Pardoning Fmr Sheriff Joe Arpaio; Arpaio "Happy", "100% Not Guilty"

(UPDATE, 3:20pm: The Department of Justice today declined to answer Arizona's Politics' questions about whether anyone from the White House has reached out to Attorney General Jeff Sessions - or, anyone in the DOJ - about either last month's conviction and/or a possible pardon. Added to article.)

President Donald Trump signaled yesterday to Fox News that he is on the verge of wiping out the July criminal contempt of court conviction of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio told Fox reporter Gregg Jarrett that he is "happy (Trump) understands the case,” and “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.”

In an exclusive conversation with Jarrett, the President said he is "seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio. He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”

(Some of) Arpaio's attorneys told Arizona's Politics today that they have no comment on these Presidential comments, and did not answer other questions about the case and legal fees.

The Court has set the sentencing hearing for October 5, and Arpaio and his counsel have promised appeals.

Jarrett notes today that the President could wait for the appeals process to unwind, but that Trump's comments tease a more impatient decision. “I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,” he said.

The Department of Justice today declined to answer Arizona's Politics' questions about whether anyone from the White House has reached out to Attorney General Jeff Sessions - or, anyone in the DOJ - about either last month's conviction and/or a possible pardon.

While neither Arpaio nor his counsel provided additional comment to Arizona's Politics, we did receive a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona reacting to the comments. The ACLU-Arizona has been a key player in the long-running legal action against Arpaio and the MCSO, including the Melendres case that led to the contempt of court charges.

ACLU-Arizona Deputy Legal Director Cecilia Wang said "President Trump would be literally pardoning Joe Arpaio’s flagrant violation of federal court orders that prohibited the illegal detention of Latinos. He would undo a conviction secured by his own career attorneys at the Justice Department. Make no mistake: This would be an official presidential endorsement of racism.”

Trump's pardon comments are not totally out of the blue. Arpaio's allies' calls for a pardon have increased since the July 31 conviction, and Arpaio has quietly fanned the talk while claiming that he is not asking for one from the President.

Arizona's Politics broke the story last week that rather than disburse the $462,000 leftover in his unsuccessful campaign account, Arpaio chose to file a new Statement of Organization. Because no 2016 committees are permitted to exist under Arizona law, the new committee preserves that bank account for future efforts, including the 2020 election cycle should the 85-year old Arpaio choose to run a redemption campaign.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BREAKING: Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio Re-Files His Campaign Committee, Starts With $462k In Bank; "It's Stinky"

Last week, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt and ordered to appear for a sentencing hearing. Now, Arizona's Politics has learned the 85-year old Arpaio re-filed his Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio campaign committee the day after the contempt hearing ended.

Arpaio terminated his campaign committee on July 7, after losing his bid for a 7th term as Sheriff last November.  That termination (below) explained that he had had $462,049.01 left in the bank. Arizona law gives a candidate several options in how to dispose of surplus funds; Arpaio chose to transfer it to a new version of the "Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio" committee.

The paperwork for that new committee was posted yesterday afternoon by the Maricopa County Elections Department, although it was apparently filed on July 7. The next election for Maricopa County Sheriff is in 2020. (Sheriff Paul Penzone filed his new paperwork
on July 12, and has $25,100.92 in the bank as of July 1.)

The former long-time Sheriff signed on again as Chair of the new "Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio" committee. Arpaio has until early 2020 to make up his mind about whether he wants his name on the primary election ballot, but this new filing keeps his options open and allows him to collect and spend money for a campaign.*

In an apparent clever attempt to avoid questions about trying to re-take his office, Arpaio's new Statement of Organization suggests that it is for the now-nonexistent "2016 election cycle."

Chandler attorney and election law expert Tom Ryan told Arizona's Politics that the new filing "is stinky."
"In the kindest words, it's sloppy to identify it as for the 2016 cycle. More likely, it is highly disingenuous given his past misconduct. Talk tough and later say he wasn't aware."
The new Statement of Organization is signed by both Joe as the "candidate" and "chairperson", and his wife Ava, as Treasurer. In another sloppy-at-kindest move, the phone number listed by the Arpaios is disconnected and the email address listed is inoperable.

If he decides to, there is little doubt that the 6-term former Sheriff could raise money for a campaign. Arpaio collected - and, spent - more than $13 million in his 2016 campaign committee.

Supporters of the self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff" claimed that the criminal contempt verdict was a "complete travesty of justice" James Fotis - who now claims to have raised/donated at least $300,000 to pay Arpaio's legal bills - and Arpaio's legal counsel said that an appeal would again be filed to seek a jury trial. (Courts all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled against Arpaio's pleas for a jury trial.)

On Thursday, Judge Susan Bolton held a 24-minute telephonic conference with attorneys for both sides in order to discuss procedures leading up to the October 5 sentencing.

*Although he wrote that the new committee is for the 2016 cycle, that is nonsensical and expressly counter to Arizona statutes. The freshly-amended laws required all committees active as of election day, 2016, to terminate; reading the new Statement of Organization as applying to the 2016 election cycle would be a Groundhog Day-esque attempt to set back the clock and would nullify the (required) Statement of Termination filed for the 2016 committee.





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Thursday, August 3, 2017

READ: AZ Supreme Court Breaks From The Herd - Shuts Out California Bar-7 Cattle (Without Re-Branding) (LEGAL ANALYSIS)

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously reversed lower court judges today and rejected a California cattle rancher's efforts to bring its Bar-7 cattle to Arizona without rebranding them.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture had allowed the cattle drive. However, David Stambaugh, the Arizona rancher with the registered Bar-7 brand, protested the Department's decision, even after it was determined that the location of the branding would be on the left rib rather than Stambaugh's left hip-branded cattle.

Both the Superior Court judge and the Court of Appeals judges found that the Department's approval was okay based on interpretations of the Arizona branding statutes.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that the statutes were as clear as the June skies that the cattle were grazing under, and Justice Robert Brutinel authored the 6-page opinion (below) explaining why. Eureka Springs Cattle Co. will have to come up with another brand if their cattle will graze in Arizona.

Incidentally, new Justice Clint Bolick wrote a one-paragraph I'm-with-Gorsuch concurring opinion criticizing the well-known 1984 Supreme Court case Chevron v. NDRC. Bolick boasts that the Arizona Court has not given so-called "Chevron deference" to administrative agencies. ("I trust that, to the contrary, our (Arizona's) constitutional separation of powers remains vibrant, notwithstanding the extent to which the United States Supreme Court has eroded it in the federal context.")




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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

READ, ANALYSIS: Arizona's Minimum Wage Increase Initiative Legit Because Costs To State Are "Indirect", Supreme Court Unanimously Rules

The Arizona Supreme Court issue its unanimous opinion today, explaining why it permitted the minimum wage increase to go into effect in January. The challenge to the voter-passed initiative was brought by several Chambers of Commerce in Arizona, the Arizona Restaurant Association and others.

Written by Justice Ann Timmer, the opinion (below) spends most of its 11 pages analyzing the claims that the Fair Wages and Healthy Families initiative violated the state's constitutional Revenue Source Rule. That 33-year old rule (passed by voters) requires initiatives to provide for a revenue source if it mandates that the state spend money.

The petitioners claimed that the initiative - which passed easily in November - violated the Revenue Source Rule in at least two ways: that contracted providers (especially for the AHCCCS program) will have to pay their employees more and will pass those costs on to the state, and that the Industrial Commission will spend money to create rules and educate employers about the paid sick time provisions.

The Supreme Court feels strongly that the language of the Revenue Source Rule applies only if an initiative EXPLICITLY requires expenditures "or state actions that themselves inherently require expenditure of state revenues." However, Timmer writes, even if the wording of the rule was ambiguous, the Court would be concerned that invoking the rule "whenever an initiative or referendum indirectly causes an expenditure of state revenues would severely hamper the initiative process." (emphasis added) She continued:
It is implausible that qualified electors who seek to propose  an initiative measure could successfully scour the state’s innumerable dealings to anticipate and provide a funding source for any conceivable expenditures of state revenues that a ballot measure might indirectly cause. For example, electors would have to account for the costs to train affected employees, contract for goods and services, or even to publish the new law itself. Our construction of § 23(A) avoids this cumbersome consequence and preserves an initiative and referendum practice that has been a tool of direct democracy for more than a century.
She did warn, however, that proponents of future initiatives cannot blatantly avoid the rule:
We reject, however, the real–parties–in–interest’s assertion that the Revenue Source Rule, § 23(A) applies only when an initiative or referendum explicitly directs an expenditure of state revenues and not when it directs state action that itself inherently requires such an expenditure. If we were to adopt this construction, the Rule could be easily circumvented. For example, rather than directing the legislature to spend one million dollars to establish a new agency, an initiative could simply direct the legislature to establish the agency. This would result in the type of unfunded mandate the Revenue Source Rule sought to remedy....Thus, fairly read, the Revenue Source Rule also applies whenever an initiative or referendum expressly requires state action that inherently requires a non–discretionary expenditure of state revenues.
Nevertheless, the initiative at hand did not run afoul of the Revenue Source Rule because the ICA could control its costs to promulgate and educate until fines and penalties included in the initiative cover such costs. And, the state is not mandated to increase its payments to contractor simply because those contractors' costs have increased as a result of the higher minimum wage.

The Court quickly swatted away the other issues that the Chambers raised, saying that the Arizona Constitution's Separate Amendment Rule and Single Subject Rule were not relevant because the former applies to proposed constitutional amendments and that the latter does not apply to initiatives (only to acts from the Legislature).

In December, the Supreme Court denied a request for an emergency stay to keep the $10/hour minimum wage from going into effect on New Year's, then unanimously rejected the Chambers' action entirely in March, promising an opinion at a later date. That opinion is now here.


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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

LEGAL UPDATE: AZ Supreme Court To Explain Why They Allowed Minimum Wage Increase To Go Into Effect

Tomorrow, the Arizona Supreme Court will issue its opinion explaining why it permitted the minimum wage increase to go into effect in January. The challenge to the voter-passed initiative was brought by several Chambers of Commerce in Arizona, the Arizona Restaurant Association and others.

The Supreme Court denied a request for an emergency stay to keep the $10/hour minimum wage from going into effect on New Year's, then unanimously rejected the Chambers' action entirely in March, promising an opinion at a later date.

The Supreme Court announced this morning that that later date is here, and that the opinion will be released at 10a.m. on Wednesday.

The initiative also put into law allowing employees to accrue paid sick leave.




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Monday, July 31, 2017

READ: Guilty! Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio Guilty Of Criminal Contempt




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Thursday, July 27, 2017

BREAKING: Arizona Reps. O'Halleran, Sinema 2 of 5 Democrats Voting For Appropriations Bill With Border Wall Funding

Arizona Reps. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) were two of only five Democrats voting this evening for the Defense Appropriations bill which includes what Republicans are trumpeting as a down payment on the President's border wall.

The final vote on the $769 billion bill was 235-192. (Five Republicans also crossed the aisle to vote "nay", though none were from Arizona.) The contentious border wall funding was a key part of a so-called "mini-bus" of four appropriations bill dubbed as the "Make America Secure Act".

O'Halleran released a statement calling it a "bipartisan" spending bill, focusing on the benefits to Arizona (veterans, water projects) and decrying the "legislative gimmick" that included the funding for the wall:
“As I have said before, our immigration system must be reformed through a bipartisan process that includes an investment in 21st century technology and additional support for border patrol agents. These are proven methods that secure our border. A border wall is not. House leadership should not be using legislative gimmicks to circumvent regular order and divide Congress on the final passage of a bill that is so critical to our national security.”
Sinema's statement toed a similar line as O'Halleran's, noting the "bipartisan" nature and her opposition to the wall.
“Our top priority is to keep Arizona families and our country safe. This legislation responsibly funds our military to ensure our men and women in uniform have the tools they need to protect our nation. 
"It gives our troops a 2.4% pay raise, funds programs like the A-10, Apache, and F-35 that support good Arizona jobs, and funds the Veterans Health Administration so our veterans can receive the care they deserve. By working together, we can keep our country safe and support servicemembers, veterans, and their families.
“I do not support every provision in this bill and voted twice to remove funding for the border wall. The wall is a waste of taxpayer money that will not ever be built, and won't keep us safe. Congress must work together on effective border solutions and comprehensive immigration reform that secures our country and strengthens our economy.”
On the flip side, Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) voted with nearly all of her Republican colleagues BUT conspicuously failed to mention the border wall funding in her extensive statement about the victory.
“As a 26-year veteran of the Air Force, I am committed to ensuring that our military has the resources it needs to be prepared at all times and that our veterans receive proper care. This bill restores readiness shortfalls, gives our troops a pay raise, and invests in equipment and training for our troops to counter ISIS and other threats. It also provides funding for better and increased access to care for our veterans.
This bill supports Southern Arizona’s defense assets by fully funding the A-10 fleet, the Tomahawk missile line at Raytheon, crucial intelligence missions at Ft Huachuca. It also increases army end strength by 10,000 personnel. There are many dangerous threats facing our nation today. This bill ensures we have the tools, resources, equipment, training, and morale to address these challenges.”
The appropriations bill now heads to the Senate, where it will likely be significantly re-shaped.

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BREAKING/READ: Flake Briefly Pauses Healthcare Debate, Takes Lead On Releasing Donated Funds For Capitol Police Wounded In Baseball Shooting

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) hit pause on the Senate's healthcare debate this morning (AZ time) in order to pass an emergency bill to authorize the release of some of the donated funds to the two U.S.
Capitol Police officers injured last month in the Congressional Baseball Classic practice shooting.

Flake - who himself was one of the heroes during that June 14 incident - asked for unanimous consent to pass the Wounded Officers Recovery Act (H.R. 3298). It was quickly given and the general debate on our healthcare system resumed.
(To play video, click here. It will open in new window.)


U.S. Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey were at the early morning practice, and engaged in a shootout with the would-be assassin (he was killed). They have been treated and released. Their protectee, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, was injured and got out of the hospital this week.

Donations poured in to the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund in Griner and Bailey's honor. However, federal law only permits families of killed officers to receive donated monies donated to the fund. Today's measure specifically adds Griner and Bailey to the permitted recipients. (Text below)

The bipartisan bill was co-sponsored in the House by Arizona Reps. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) and Ruben Gallego (D-CD7).

The measure was passed by unanimous consent in the House on Monday and now heads to the President.



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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

TRANSCRIPT: McCain Floor Speech

UPDATE, 1:05pm: Have added the prepared text, as just released by the Senator's office. You can try to compare it to the closed-captioning and/or the video.

Here is the video and the closed-captioning transcript of Arizona Senator John McCain's impassioned plea for the Senate to get back to being "the world's greatest deliberative body." The closed captioning was provided by C-Span (and is not always fully accurate)

(Click on the picture below, the video will pop up in a new window.)



Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
“Mr. President:
“I’ve stood in this place many times and addressed as president many presiding officers. I have been so addressed when I have sat in that chair, as close as I will ever be to a presidency.
“It is an honorific we’re almost indifferent to, isn’t it. In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, a bit of a ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority.
“But as I stand here today – looking a little worse for wear I’m sure – I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body, and for the other ninety-nine privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate.
“I have been a member of the United States Senate for thirty years.  I had another long, if not as long, career before I arrived here, another profession that was profoundly rewarding, and in which I had experiences and friendships that I revere. But make no mistake, my service here is the most important job I have had in my life. And I am so grateful to the people of Arizona for the privilege – for the honor – of serving here and the opportunities it gives me to play a small role in the history of the country I love.
“I’ve known and admired men and women in the Senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of American politics. They came from both parties, and from various backgrounds. Their ambitions were frequently in conflict. They held different views on the issues of the day. And they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest.
“But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic. And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries.
“That principled mindset, and the service of our predecessors who possessed it, come to mind when I hear the Senate referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body. I’m not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today.
“I’m sure it wasn’t always deserved in previous eras either. But I’m sure there have been times when it was, and I was privileged to witness some of those occasions.
“Our deliberations today – not just our debates, but the exercise of all our responsibilities – authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role – are often lively and interesting. They can be sincere and principled. But they are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember. Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren’t producing much for the American people.
“Both sides have let this happen. Let’s leave the history of who shot first to the historians. I suspect they’ll find we all conspired in our decline – either by deliberate actions or neglect. We’ve all played some role in it. Certainly I have. Sometimes, I’ve let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes, I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague. Sometimes, I wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy.
“Incremental progress, compromises that each side criticize but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel like a political triumph. But it’s usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours. 
“Considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments, and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem solving our system does make possible, the fitful progress it produces, and the liberty and justice it preserves, is a magnificent achievement.
“Our system doesn’t depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth.  It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning.’ Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to ‘triumph.’ 
“I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.
“Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.
“We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.
“I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it.
“We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don’t think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn’t.
“The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn’t do the same with ours.
“Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seem likely, then let’s return to regular order. 
“Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.
“What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart. I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.
“The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying.
“This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour.
“We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!
“As his responsibilities are onerous, many and powerful, so are ours.  And we play a vital role in shaping and directing the judiciary, the military, and the cabinet, in planning and supporting foreign and domestic policies. Our success in meeting all these awesome constitutional obligations depends on cooperation among ourselves. 
“The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America. This country – this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good and magnificent country – needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations.
“We are the servants of a great nation, ‘a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’ More people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. We have acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles, and because our government defended those principles.
“America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter and the greatest defender of that order. We aren’t afraid. We don’t covet other people’s land and wealth. We don’t hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity.
“What greater cause could we hope to serve than helping keep America the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice? That is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us.
“What a great honor and extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body.
“It’s a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it. Many of you have reached out in the last few days with your concern and your prayers, and it means a lot to me. It really does. I’ve had so many people say such nice things about me recently that I think some of you must have me confused with someone else. I appreciate it though, every word, even if much of it isn’t deserved. 
“I’ll be here for a few days, I hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which, I’m proud to say is again a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“After that, I’m going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And, I hope, to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.
“Thank you, fellow senators."

 



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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sen. Flake Deciding Vote On New Obamacare Repeal Effort?

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R) - up for re-election next year, not coincidentally - is in the glare of the national spotlight today as the possible deciding vote on the latest Senate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Politico splashed his photo on their lead story this morning (below)

"I'm still digesting it," the Senator told reporters this morning after the new version was released. "I'll be doing that for awhile," he added.

Flake is facing mounting pressure from both his right and his left. Texas Senator Ted Cruz singled him out for praise this morning on KFYI this morning, after Flake told the station that he would be supporting Cruz' amendment permitting non-compliant plans to be sold alongside Obamacare-compliant health insurance policies.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

BREAKING: Godfather Paul Manafort's Arizona Campaign Contribution To Family Friend Winds Up In Trump/Russia Investigation Filing

In 2012, former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker accepted campaign contributions from close
friends who also happen to be the godparents of his son. This week - in 2017 - one of those donations was listed in godfather Paul Manafort's long-delayed filings of his work on behalf of the pro-Russian political party that controlled Ukraine's government.

Manafort was Donald Trump's Campaign Manager for a period in 2016, and is a key figure in the ongoing investigations into ties between Trump (and his campaign), and Russia (and Russian interests). This week, he belatedly filed required Foreign Agents Registration Act ("FARA") documents with the U.S. Department of Justice, indicating that he had received more than $17M in two years from the Ukrainian client.

Buried in one of those filings (also, reproduced below) is the surprising entry that Manafort donated
$2,500 on August 24, 2012, to Vernon Parker for "Arizona State Office". (That is materially incorrect - Parker was running for U.S. Congress from Arizona's 9th Congressional District; he was the Republican nominee, but lost to now-Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.)

Sure enough, the contribution shows up in Parker's FEC (Federal Election Commission) report, as being a personal contribution from Manafort.

As it turns out, over the years, Parker has received more contributions (nearly $10,000) from Manafort and his wife Kathy than any other candidate for federal office received (including Trump, McCain, Bush, and the few Congressional candidates the Manaforts supported).

Parker told Arizona's Politics this afternoon that the contributions had nothing to do with Manafort's work with the Ukrainian party. "At no time have I ever discussed Ukraine, Russia or any other foreign entity with Paul... our relationship has always been personal."

Parker explained just how close the Parkers & Manaforts have been:
"I met Paul Manafort through his wife Kathy Manafort. I was editor-in-chief of the Georgetown University "American criminal law review": Kathy was on the law journal. We have been family friends of theirs for nearly 30 years. We had our wedding reception at their home 26 years ago. Paul and Kathy Manafort are our son's God Parents."
Arizona's Politics - which has reported on Parker several times through his two runs for Congress and one for the Arizona Corporation Commission - asked Parker whether he had any thoughts about the investigations that Manafort now finds himself embroiled in. The local business consultant stated. "Theoretically, we are always presumed innocent until proven guilty...my wife and I have known Paul and his wife Kathy on a personal level. They have been friends for many years and will remain our friends."



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Monday, June 26, 2017

READ: CBO's Report On Senate Healthcare Reform Bill





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Thursday, June 22, 2017

READ: Senate's Bill To Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Here is the draft bill that the Senate will be moving forward on to repeal and replace Obamacare. They are calling it the ‘‘Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017’’.

No word yet on reaction from Arizona's Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake. (to be updated)




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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WATCH: McCain Publicly Takes Trump Nominee To Woodshed For Being Wishy-Washy Re: Ukraine/Russia

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took President Trump's nominee for Deputy Defense Secretary in front of the Congressional woodshed this morning, for being too non-committal about providing defense weaponry to Ukraine.
 Former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan verbally agreed today that the U.S. should assist Ukraine as the tensions between that country and Russia continue to be high. His change from his written responses caught McCain by surprise, but that did not prevent the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee from finishing the scolding and threatening to stop his confirmation process.

McCain: "Your answer was, I'd have to look at the issue. That's not good enough, Mr. Shanahan. I'm glad to hear you have changed your opinion from what was submitted. But, it is still disturbing, it is still disturbing to me that after all of these years, you would say that you would have to look at the issue....Have you not been aware of the thousands of people that have been killed by Vladimir Putin. Have you missed all that...?"
Shanahan: "No, Chairman, I am aware of that."

The rest of the three minutes is just as testy, and it ended thusly:

McCain: "Not a good beginning. Not a good beginning. Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or. I. will. not. take. your. name. up. for. a. vote. before. this committee.  Am I perfectly clear?
Shanahan: "Very clear."



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Saturday, June 17, 2017

WATCH: Arizona Rep. McSally: "We Need To Look Within Our Hearts And Make Sure We're Not Being Facilitators Or Bystanders"

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) took to the Saturday airwaves from Tucson on both Fox News and MSNBC to try to get everyone to "ratchet down" the record-approaching political temperature. She included herself in preaching that "we need to look within our hearts and make sure we're not being facilitators or bystanders."

This is the 4th day in a row that Arizona's Politics has featured Arizona officials searching for civility in the wake of both the shooting of five people - including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise - at a Republican baseball practice and the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson that took the lives of six and wounded 13 others. Among the seriously wounded at the latter were Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her replacement Ron Barber. (McSally defeated Barber on her second attempt, in 2014.)

We spoke with Barber on Wednesday, covered Rep. David Schweikert's national comments on Thursday, and an interview with Rep. Trent Franks yesterday after it was learned that he may have been an eventual target of the Congressional baseball practice shooter.

As we said yesterday, such a streak will likely have to continue for many more months before it might start to really make a difference in the current political climate and next year's elections. Here's to hoping.

Here are McSally's interviews on both networks.

***


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President Trump's New Personal Lawyer Very Familiar To Arizonans

President Donald Trump has hired big name attorney John Dowd to join his personal legal team as he battles various investigations focusing on possible ties to Russia, obstruction of justice, and related issues. Dowd is well-known to Arizonans, as he previously served as counsel for Senator John McCain and former Governor Fife Symington in the 1990's.

Dowd, now 76, joins Trump's longtime personal attorney Marc Kasowitz and Jay Sekulow as the most senior members of the growing legal team. He has been both prosecutor and defense attorney over the years.

He represented Sen. John McCain in the Arizona-centric Keating Five scandal in the early 1990's. Of the five Senators, McCain was personally closest  to the land developer/S&L CEO, Charles Keating, Jr. However, after a lengthy Senate Ethics Committee, McCain was cleared, with only official criticism of his poor judgment for intervening for the large campaign contributor (and personal vacation-sharer).

Former Arizona  Governor J. Fife Symington was not quite as fortunate. Dowd defended him in the trial for extortion and bank fraud. He was convicted on several counts of the latter, and resigned from office. The conviction was then reversed on appeal and he was pardoned by President Bill Clinton before any retrial could occur.

Arizona's Politics has asked the Senator for comment on Trump's hiring of his former counsel, and will update as warranted. McCain has fretted publicly about the President's comments and actions concerning the investigations and fiercely criticized any friendliness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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