Monday, October 15, 2018

BREAKING: DefendArizona Has Spent $13.7M On AZ Senate Race; Most Funding From Adelsons, National Funders

DefendArizona, the king of Arizona-centric Super PACs that has - literally - gone nuclear, has now spent more than $13.7M to try to tip the Arizona Senatorial race to Republican Rep. Martha McSally, with non-stop advertising against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

More than $8M of the funds - and, likely more than $11M - has come from the Senate Leadership Fund. That Republican leadership Super PAC is funded largely by mega-donors and casino owners Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

DefendArizona filed its first major disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission tonight. Previous reports had shown most of its first million was raised from Arizona Republican stalwarts. Today's report (below) lists $8M coming from the Senate Leadership Fund, and a few other other national individuals making six-digit contributions.

The million-dollar-plus donors to the Senate Leadership Funds $50M+ bank account are shown in this screenshot from the Center for Responsive Politics. The Adelsons hold the top two spots there, with a total of $25M.

Arizona mega-donors are Randy Kendricks - an attorney whose husband is the managing owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks - and Robert Parsons (formerly of GoDaddy). Each had contributed $250k as of September 30.

The Senate Leadership Fund typically directly makes independent expenditures in targeted races. Funneling such a large percentage of its spending - approximately 15% - through a separate SuperPAC seems to be a new strategy for the SLF.

However, the national dominance of DefendArizona is clearly shown in its disbursements. Almost all of them are to consultants and firms in the DC/Virginia area. Small payments to Marson Media, Lovas Consulting and Richard Sales Media are the only Arizona payments.


Methodology note: The $13.7M of expenditures was calculated by using the $9.3M of disbursements shown in the third quarter report, and then adding the subsequently filed independent expenditure reports, through today.

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ARIZONA ELECTION CASH REGISTER: McSally Had $600k Cash Edge Over Opponent Headed Into October Homestretch

Saturday, October 13, 2018

OOPS, I Did It Again: FEC Tells McSally Campaign Its "Best Compliance Team" Still Not Cutting It

After putting together what her spokeswoman said was "the best compliance team in the country", the Federal Election Commission is telling Rep. Martha McSally that she is STILL not complying with reporting laws. The most recent campaign reports demonstrate that more than 20% of the contributions received this year for the Senate campaign do not properly indicate the employers or occupations of the donor.*

Martha McSally's House campaign committee had significant problems with complying with these basic Federal Election Commission requirements, and were the subject of a long-running complaint that led to a thorough audit of the campaign's 2014 election cycle finances. It was concluded earlier this year with findings that more than $600,000 of contributions were not properly identified. (Other findings were that the Committee had overstated its receipts by $94,000, that more than $300,000 was collected above and beyond contribution limits, that timely 48-hour reports were not filed for $100,000 of contributions, and that $32,000 of political committee contributions were not properly itemized.

The FEC adopted the audit findings and indicated that future enforcement actions may be taken. McSally for Senate spokesperson Torunn Sinclair told the Arizona Republic that "we built the best compliance team in the county, compiled of former FEC auditors, accountants and smart legal minds to address any issues and help us stay in compliance."

That was this past May. However, at that very moment, the campaign was taking in thousands of donations for the Senate race and not obtaining employer/occupation information from the donors. The FEC was watching, and has sent the campaign what are titled "Requests for Additional Information," for both the 2nd quarter report (April-June) and the pre-primary report (July-Aug. 8) The McSally campaign has two more weeks to respond, although no amended reports have been filed as of this date. (And, the September quarterly report is due on Monday.)

Ms. Sinclair has not responded to repeated requests from Arizona's Politics for comment.

A review of the McSally for Senate reports indicates that more than 2,000 of the approximately 9,000 individual contributions are not properly identified. (By comparison and in the same time period, the Sinema campaign has not been able to identify 23 such contributions.)

Arizona's Politics has posted the audit report, the most recent McSally campaign filings and the FEC's RFAIs below, and will update this article once the campaign responds to our questions and/or files a response to the FEC.













*The purposes of the disclosure requirements that are part of both the laws and regulations are clear -  so that regulators and the public are able to view where a candidate's monies are coming from.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

WATCH: Flake Says GOP Should Have Requested FBI Investigation Of Kavanaugh/Ford Allegations Earlier, Doesn't Believe Feinstein Leaked

 Arizona Senator Jeff Flake sat down with C-Span for a retirement interview, and suggests that in the
Dr. Blasey Ford allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, "we Republicans should have called for an FBI investigation earlier". He also is not happy with his GOP colleagues "kind of spiking the ball" after Kavanaugh was confirmed on Saturday.

Flake held up the confirmation vote for one week by asking for a brief FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations. Flake believes that the GOP would have been better served if they requested the investigation soon after Dr. Blasey Ford's claims were made public.

He also reiterated his hope that "somebody" will challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 GOP primary. There has been speculation that Flake will attempt to do that.

C-Span released these excerpts of the interview, and plans to air the entire interview this coming Saturday night (7pm, Arizona Time). The partial transcript provided by C-Span is below.



(transcript of these excerpts provided by C-Span)
Jeff Flake: "We Republicans should have called for an FBI investigation earlier." Steve Scully: Have you since talked to Justice Kavanaugh? Jeff Flake: "I've not. He did send me a voicemail. Frankly, I've looked at what's happened since he's been confirmed and to see our party kind of spiking the ball in the end zone it just doesn't seem right. Doesn't seem right. This is an impartial referee that we're putting on the Court, I thought he gave a magnanimous and appropriate speech at the White House, but the fact that there's even an event to celebrate, with only Republicans there, no Democrats, I just didn't think that that was right. So, I haven't said much about it." Jeff Flake: "Last week when I called for a delay, that was not well-received by leadership. It was not." Jeff Flake: "Leadership was not happy. They weren't, but they knew that that was the only way that they might be able to get our vote. And so, we presented it and they had to accept it." Steve Scully: "Do you think looking back that Senator Feinstein should have at least had a conversation with Chairman Chuck Grassley about the letter early on? Jeff Flake: "Yes, I do. I do. I'm not one who believes that she leaked it. I've dealt with her for a long time and I think that she did her best to protect Dr. Ford. But, somebody leaked it at some point and that was really not fair to Dr. Ford. I do think it would have been better if had sat down early on…"
***
Jeff Flake: "I do hope that somebody does run in the primary against the president." Jeff Flake: "I fear for the future of the party if we don't remember who we are and what principled conservatism really is. And decency, we've got to get back to it." Jeff Flake "The president is who he is and I'm not sure that's going to change but when you see him at a rally, the disturbing thing isn't so much what he says anymore, it’s the cheers from people behind him, the chants of 'lock her up' for example, that's just unseemly. And it does make me fear that it's going to be a longer process to get out of this than it should be. But we will. We have to. Anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy." Jeff Flake: "This is the president's party right now. No doubt. To win in a Republican primary around the country you have to really embrace the president's policies and condone his behavior. That's the bottom line right now, but it won't always be that way."

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

BREAKING - ONE DOWN, TWO TO GO: Judge Brnovich Confirmed As A New U.S. District Court Judge For Arizona; Husband "Still Stunned"

Susan Brnovich will be the newest judge on Arizona's federal bench. With little fanfare following last week's major confrontation, the U.S. Senate confirmed a number of judges - some on voice votes, and others with merely 50 vote. Brnovich was approved with no opposition.

If that name sounds familiar, it is not only because Judge Brnovich has been on the Maricopa County Superior Court bench. Mr. Susan Brnovich is also Arizona's Attorney General and is in a contentious battle for re-election.

The Brnoviches were surprised by the timing of the vote. Mark Brnovich took to Twitter to make the announcement at exactly 5pm, and to say he was "still stunned". The vote had taken place 43 minutes earlier.



With Judge Brnovich taking Judge Neil V. Wake's vacancy (he became a Senior Judge in 2016), Arizona still has two vacancies on the federal bench. No nominations have been put forward for them yet. (Similarly, the Trump Administration has yet to nominate a U.S. Attorney for Arizona.) The process involves the Administration obtaining recommendations from the affected state's Senators; there have not been warm relations between the President and Arizona's (Republican) Senators.

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The NEW "Attack Microsites": Negative Websites Hitting McSally, Kirkpatrick Keep Popping Up, But They're Cleaner Than Past Efforts

Republicans called them "attack microsites" during the last midterms. The shoes (or, boots) are now on the other feet, and the new and improved models this month are generally staying further away from crossing the line. However, it is still a Googler-beware election world out there.

Four years ago, Arizona's Politics was the first to report on three sites put up by the National NRCC changed the donate pages to make it apparent that the money would go to the NRCC instead of the spoofed Democrats.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) attacking Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema, Ann Kirkpatrick and Ron Barber. The NRCC came up with official-sounding campaign committee website addresses, made the sites appear like official sites, advertised them on Google (etc), called the Democrats "frauds" and attempted to get unsuspecting persons to donate to the NRCC. After a wave of negative publicity, the

Now, the Democrats are steering clear from any "donate" pages altogether, in their "MarthaForSenate.com" website. The Arizona Democratic Party does mimic McSally's font and style - sans the faux Air Force eagle logo - but states clearly on the landing page that its central purpose is "Martha on the issues:What McSally doesn't want you to know". There is no button or link to click to donate or interact, and there is no apparent advertising for the site on Google.

Arizona Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson tells Arizona's Politics that "from slashing health care access and retirement security to selling off our private online browsing history, McSally hides her record because she knows it’s out-of-touch with Arizona values. Arizona voters deserve to know where the Congresswoman stands on the issues most important in this election."

Primarily, the microsite is being publicized on the party's social media. And, it focuses on attacking McSally on seven issues - including a brief attempt at humor on the topic of McSally's speaking out about President Trump.

The state party's efforts were duplicated today when Democratic group American Bridge added their own similar attack microsite, with the address of "McSallyHasIssues.com". The opposition research group noted that "Election Day is just weeks away, and Martha McSally still doesn’t have an “Issues” page on her website.  Since McSally’s record speaks for itself, we decided to help her out and make an “Issues” page for her." It focuses on six issues areas and makes no fundraising effort.

Not to be outdone, a new site popped up this week under the confusing address of "AnnKirkpatrick.org". This site goes with the look of a standard TV attack ad and is clearly marked as an effort by Kirkpatrick's Republican opponent for the #AZ02 House seat, Lea Marquez Peterson. It does have a page to harvest the names and email addresses of visitors, but no fundraising efforts. And, it does not appear to be advertising the site in Google searches. (Marquez Peterson's campaign has not yet responded to Arizona's Politics' requests for more info.)

Now that both parties seem to have figured out how to make these "microsites" more like attack ads and less like fraudulent phishing efforts*, we will no doubt see more of these during the next few weeks. If any catch your eye - especially as ads in search results - please capture the information and send it to us at "info @ ArizonasPolitics . com" (without spaces).

*True, using Kirkpatrick's name with a ".org" extension may be actionable or subject to a cease-and-desist. However, much tamer than the 2014 sites - which ironically called the targeted House members "frauds."


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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

BREAKING: Trump: "I need conservative allies like Martha McSally by my side"; READ fundraising email from President

President Donald Trump is raising funds for Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) in her tight race to replace Jeff Flake in the Senate.  "I need conservative allies like Martha McSally by my side," reads part of the P.S. as he pleads for support.

The email - a copy of which is posted below - began hitting inboxes within the last hour, and suggests that Arizona's close contest "will likely determine the Senate majority."

In an irony typical of fundraising emails from both parties' candidates, it continues:
Blank, we cannot let the Democrats buy this seat, and with it control of the Senate. We've got to come together and defend Martha against the Democratic Machine and dark money attacks.

Will you stand with me and support Martha with an immediate contribution to her Senate campaign?
Through August 8, McSally's Senate campaign had raised more than $7M, and a Super PAC supporting her has also spent more than $7M. More than $5.7M was spent last weekend by outside groups supporting either McSally or Democratic nominee Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9).


Donald J. Trump 
To:Xxx Xxxxxxxxxx
Oct 9 at 10:03 AM

A message from President Donald J. Trump

________,

The United States' first female fighter pilot to fly in combat is running for the open Arizona Senate seat against Chuck Schumer's hand-picked candidate, a self-proclaimed 'Prada-socialist.' It's the seat that will likely determine the Senate majority — and she needs our help to win. 

I'm proud to support Martha McSally for U.S. Senate... are you xxxxxx?

Support Martha ›››

Martha is a remarkable woman and exactly the type of tough-as-nails leadership we need in the United States Senate. But her conservative reputation in Congress has placed her at the top of Democrats' hit list, and motivating wealthy liberals like George Soros and Tom Steyer to pour millions into Arizona to destroy her.

Xxxxxxx, we cannot let the Democrats buy this seat, and with it control of the Senate. We've got to come together and defend Martha against the Democratic Machine and dark money attacks.

Will you stand with me and support Martha with an immediate contribution to her Senate campaign?

Support Martha ›››

Martha McSally will be an unwavering advocate for our America First agenda. I know this because Martha has spent her career fighting for Americans. She's deployed overseas and faced terrorists in combat. Martha understands the true price of freedom better than most — something liberals seem to forget, or simply ignore.

That's why Martha is working alongside me to build our wall and secure our borders. Like me, she's committed to closing the deadly loopholes that have allowed dangerous criminal organizations like MS-13 to flood our borders and threaten our safety.

Xxx, I need conservative allies like Martha McSally by my side this November to protect our Senate majority so we can continue to put America First and extremism last.

I hope I can count on you today to stand with me and help Martha win.

Sincerely,

DJT Headshot
Donald J. Trump
President of the United States

P.S. Remember Xxxxxxx, this race is much bigger than Arizona. Your immediate contribution is not only supporting Martha McSally for Senate, it's deciding who controls the Senate. 

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

ARIZONA ELECTION CASH REGISTER: While You Were Watching Flake & Co., $5.7M+ Spent On Replacement

In the past 48 hours, while Arizonans (and others) were watching Sen. Jeff Flake and others speed towards confirming a new Supreme Court Justice, more than $5.7M was spent* selecting his replacement.

The green wave** crashing down on Arizona's airwaves (and, elsewhere) is another indication that the contest between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and Martha McSally (R-CD2) is seen as one of the most critical in the nation. Recent polls have shown Sinema with a slight lead.

The $5,726,000 was from outside groups - the campaigns are also spending money at a rapid rate - and come as early ballots are about to reach many voters.

The largest spender in the past 48 hours was Defend Arizona, which disclosed spending of more than $2.2M, all attacking Sinema. That brings its total to more than $7M to date. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) added a paltry $958,000 in media time (bringing their total to $4.8M).

Democratic-leaning groups had to try to make it a group effort to keep up. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent $1.1M (total to date = $1.9M), Majority Forward chipped in $860K ($3.5M), and Priorities USA added $334K ($1.5M).

Arizona's Politics is beginning an "Arizona Election Cash Register", focusing primarily on the Senate race and the three swing seats in the House.




* Technically, the $5.7M was *disclosed*. A bit of it was spent in the days prior, some are estimates of spending in the days to come.
**h/t to Tulane

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

BREAKING, WATCH: Arizona Senator Kyl's Presentation Supporting Kavanaugh Confirmation

New Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) gave a half-hour presentation on why his fellow Senators should confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, as new reports are inspecting Kyl's previous role as the Trump Administration's lead sherpa for the Kavanaugh nomination.

Kyl's 30-minute speech on the Senate floor began with him confirming what he had told to Arizona's Politics several months ago - that he had received no money for his efforts on behalf of Kavanaugh and the Administration. (He had also told Arizona's Politics that his sherpa responsibilities were done on his own time and not through Covington & Burling.)

He also answered a question that Arizona's Politics and others had been asking since the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh became public - that he had never heard of the alleged conduct before it became public.
"Just before his nomination was announced by the President, Don McGahn, the White House Counsel, called me in Arizona, and asked if I would serve as the sherpa for the nominee. The person to get him around the Senate, to introduce him to the Senators, follow up on any questions and so on. And, I agreed to do that and I also participated in some of the hearing preparation. This all occurred over about a five-week time.
"During this time, I was employed part-time by a Washington, D.C. law firm, but I want to be very clear that my assistance to Judge Kavanaugh was on my own time, free of charge, and in no way connected to the firm or any client of the firm. It was not a pro bono matter because I did not represent Judge Kavanaugh. It was simply to help him prepare for his hearing and to get him around the Senate to meet the Senators and to talk to them."
Kyl's comments notwithstanding, some questions remain about whether it is appropriate for Sen. Kyl to now be voting on the Kavanaugh nomination. Roll Call published an extensive article yesterday, suggesting that, at a minimum, he should be clearing his situation with the Senate Ethics Committee. And, as Arizona's Politics published recently, Kyl may have advised his former client - Judicial Crisis Network - on this court vacancy in 2017.



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Friday, September 28, 2018

BREAKING, WATCH: Sinema One Of 3 Democrats Voting For Largely-Symbolic GOP Tax Bill; Schweikert Expresses "Joy" Over Bill

On the final day of the House session before the mid-term elections, Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) was one of 3 Democrats to vote with Republicans* on a largely-symbolic bill to make last year's tax cuts permanent.

The measure passed 220-191, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already determined that any bill to make cuts permanent would need 60 votes to pass, and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said the House measure would not be taken up this session.

Sinema - who is running a statewide race to replace Jeff Flake in the Senate - issued a brief statement implying that she worked with Republicans to craft today's measure.
“When last year’s partisan tax bill passed, I said I would work across the aisle on a better deal for Arizona families,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “Last year’s tax bill failed to provide permanent tax relief for middle class families and small businesses. Today’s bill rectified that issue and that’s why I voted yes.”
Sinema's opponent, Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2), also voted for the bill and has not released a statement.

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) - who is on the House Ways & Means Committee - spoke on the floor in favor of the bill. In a typically exuberant speech, he emphasized the "joy" that should be accompanying the economy and this bill.


*10 Republicans voted against the bill.

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WATCH, READ: Flake's Remarks That He Will Vote To Confirm Kavanaugh Today, But Won't Next Week Unless Investigation

Flake's comments just before 11am (AZ Time)

So, @JeffFlake agreed that he would vote yes on Kavanaugh's nomination today on the condition that he would vote no on the floor IF @senatemajldr calls a vote in less than a week. And, that week is to give the chance for an investigation.



Issued this morning, shortly before the Judiciary Committee hearing and before he was confronted by protesters:


“After hearing more than 30 hours of testimony from Judge Kavanaugh earlier this month, I was prepared to support his nomination based on his view of the law and his record as a judge.  In fact, I commented at the time that had he been nominated in another era, he would have likely received 90+ votes.
When Dr. Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh surfaced two weeks ago, I insisted that she be allowed to testify before the committee moved to a vote. Yesterday, we heard compelling testimony from Dr. Ford, as well as a persuasive response from Judge Kavanaugh. I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty.
What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence. That is what binds us to the rule of law. While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well.
I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”


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Thursday, September 27, 2018

BREAKING, READ Final Bill For Reviewing Items Seized From Michael Cohen Search Warrants - Total Fees/Costs: $1.3M

The Special Master reviewing the items seitzed in the Michael Cohen search warrants has submitted her final bill, and the taxpayers and the Cohen and Trump teams are splitting the $1.3M cost.

Former Judge Barbara Jones was appointed by U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood in April to review the documents and records seized earlier this year when the FBI executed search warrants on President Trump's (former) personal attorney's offices, home and hotel room.

Jones noted that none of the parties objected to the final invoice, and that the $249,715 includes nearly $60,000 in expenses.

The total cost for Jones' role in reviewing the records and the claims of confidentiality came to $1,300,314.  Per agreement between the parties and the court, half of that is paid by the government, and the other half is split between Donald Trump, the Trump Organization and Michael Cohen.

Some of the seized documents obviously played a role in the August guilty plea by Michael Cohen, in which he indicated that then-candidate Trump had directed him to commit campaign finance felonies by disguising and not reporting payments to Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) and Karen McDougal. Cohen stated that the payments were to prevent the women from talking about their alleged affairs with Trump (shortly after Melania Trump gave birth to Barron Trump).



$47,390     April
338,421     May
368,081     June
296,707     July
249,715     August


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WATCH: Sen. Jeff Flake Statement To Brett Kavanaugh At Today's Hearing



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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

NEW: AZ Sen. Jon Kyl DID Work For Dark Money Giant JCN In Preparing For This Supreme Court Vacancy

In an apparent contradiction to earlier comments, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl did provide material assistance in 2017 to the Judicial Crisis Network for the current Supreme Court vacancy. Kyl has not yet responded to repeated requests to clarify the extent of his work for the dark money group that is spending millions of dollars supporting the Brett Kavanaugh nomination.

Arizona's Politics reported in July on Kyl being named the "sherpa" (or, guide) for Kavanaugh through the confirmation process. Kyl's role in that trek was interrupted earlier this month when Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tapped Kyl to return to the Senate - this time, to serve out the remainder of Sen. John McCain's term.

At that time, Arizona's Politics asked if he was supporting the Kavanaugh nomination on behalf of the Trump Administration, JCN, or both; Kyl answered that he was "working gratis for the White House in my personal (not law firm) capacity."

However, in his lobbying disclosure to the Senate last year, Kyl and his lobbying partner Bill Wichterman at the law firm of Covington & Burling indicated that not only did they help JCN with the Gorsuch nomination, but they worked to "prepare for possible additional Supreme Court vacancy." That 2nd disclosure report indicated that JCN paid $115,000 for the work between April 1 and June 30. Gorsuch was confirmed on April 7, so it would appear that a sizable chunk of work was done for replacing the next Justice to leave the bench.

#50ShadesOfDarkMoneyArizona's Politics has written about the dark money nature of the JCN in the past, and more recent reporting shows that it has been largely funded by one anonymous donor. In the current Kavanaugh battle, JCN has spent more than $4M to bolster Kavanaugh, and says the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct are "unsubstantiated."


The fact that Sen. Kyl performed similar-yet-different work for different nominees/appointments, the fact that some was paid work and some was pro bono, and the fact that he took turns working for the White House and a private dark money group has understandably led to confusion. We attempted to clear up some of that confusion with our Fact Check last week.  However, a re-examination of the lobbying disclosures has called part of that fact check back into question: what kind of work did Sen. Kyl do on behalf of JCN related to the current Supreme Court vacancy and did any of that have to do with Kavanaugh? 

Arizona's Politics has repeatedly reached out to the two persons best-situated to answer that important question - Kyl and his co-lobbyist Wichterman. Neither have responded to the series of questions. We will update if and when they do.


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Monday, September 24, 2018

NEW: APS Broadens Its Campaign Spending In Senate Race, And Ups Its Ducey Support To $175,000+

Arizona Public Service Co. ("APS") has opened up its political playing field in recent months, spending more than $175,000 to re-elect Governor Doug Ducey (R) and directly spending to attack Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) in Arizona's closely-watched U.S. Senate race.

Arizona's Politics has learned that APS - through its parent company Pinnacle West - sent $50,000 to Republican leadership's Senate Leadership Fund in June. The Mitch McConnell-connected SuperPAC is expected to spend heavily to help elect Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) in the remaining weeks.

APS has also squirreled away another $500,000 in the Republican SuperPAC Arizona Grassroots Action, bringing its total contribution to that committee up to $1,650,000. AGA is also likely to jump into the Senate race.

Howard Fischer of Arizona Capitol Media reported earlier today on Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's remarks that he did in fact sign a law to blunt the possible impact of Proposition 127. That "Clean Energy" initiative has been fiercely opposed by APS (to the tune of approximately $11M to date). Arizona's Politics earlier reported that APS had contributed $100,000 of early money to help Ducey's campaign. The Republican Governors Association has spent heavily supporting Ducey and attacking his Democratic challenger.

Arizona's Politics can now report that APS has given another $75,000 to the RGA (see below). The total is $175,000, and that does not include monies given by APS or its CEO (Don Brandt) directly to the Ducey Victory Fund.

APS lists some of its political contributions on its website, and it is still facing legal challenges by Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns to disclose its heavy campaign spending - including that through "dark money" organizations - in 2014.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

FACT CHECK: Sen. Kyl's Lobbying Firm Did NOT Spend $1M+ To Promote Kavanaugh

(Update, 9/26: Arizona's Politics has published a new article indicating that among the tasks performed by now-Sen. Kyl for the JCN was helping to "prepare for possible additional Supreme Court vacancy." Kyl has declined to clarify what sort of work such preparation entailed.)

Arizona's Politics has reported multiple times on Senator-Turned-Lobbyist-Turned-Sherpa-Turned-Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and his activities related to current Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And, Arizona's Politics has questioned Kyl repeatedly for the details of his sherpa'ing and lobbying since President Trump took office. With that in mind, the calls today for Kyl to "recuse" himself from the nomination vote (if/when it takes place) caught our attention.

State lawmaker Daniel Hernandez, Jr. called for the recusal on Twitter (below) and Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini made the case in detail.



Kyl has done both sherpa'ing and lobbying for Trump nominees, which has created some of the confusion. Montini's column is evidence. He states that "Kyl's lobbying firm spent more than a million dollars in TV ads promoting Kavanaugh," and that "as a lobbyist Kyl worked for Kavanaugh." These are not accurate.

Kyl lobbied for the large law firm Covington and Burling. He did NOT lobby for the dark money Judicial Crisis Network. It was the latter that is spending heavily on ads supporting Kavanaugh. Neither Kyl nor Covington benefit from that spending.

Kyl lobbied FOR JCN during the Gorsuch nomination. His firm was paid $215,000 for that lobbying work.

Kyl told Arizona's Politics that he sherpa'ed for Kavanaugh on his own time for the Trump Administration. And, that neither he nor Covington received monies for that work introducing Kavanaugh to Senators, helping him prepare, etc. (Kyl also sherpa'ed Jeff Sessions after he was nominated for Attorney General.)

Arizona's Politics published Kyl's full explanations in this article. We followed up with Kyl shortly before he was tapped by Governor Doug Ducey to replace John McCain in the Senate.

Now, Montini's and Hernandez's call for recusal might still make sense, but it is important that the bases for that call are made accurately.

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UPDATE: Republic Article On AZ AG's Involvement With APS & Prop. 127; APS CURRENT Donations To Re-Elect Brnovich (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

We need to call attention to an illuminating article by Ryan Randazzo in the Arizona Republic about the Arizona Attorney General's Office making changes to the wording of Proposition 127 - the Clean Energy initiative on the November 6 ballot. Arizona Public Service is investing heavily in defeating the measure.

Randazzo includes a focus on the $425,000 that Pinnacle West (APS' parent) sent to the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2014 to assist then-candidate Mark Brnovich in his campaign. (He indirectly credited Arizona's Politics by citing columnist Laurie Roberts' 2014 column citing our initial article.)

Arizona's Politics was also the first to report that APS has contributed $50,000 (so far) to RAGA to re-elect Brnovich.

Our articles have hinted at the oddness of the APS/RAGA monies, as opposed to the more obvious contributions to Corporation Commissioners, the Governor, and lawmakers at both the state and federal levels. And APS has defended itself with statements that it supports what it considers good governance at all levels.

This intervention by the AG's office finally helps answer some of the questions that were raised - here and in Ms. Roberts' new column - by the $475,000 (so far) that APS has sent to help AG Brnovich.

#50ShadesOfDarkMoney: Explanation of how RAGA "went dark" in '14: http://bit.ly/AZp998 It now has a "40" shade of dark on our scale - as much of its money has come from the completely dark Judicial Crisis Network (currently focusing on the Kavanaugh nomination) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

BREAKING: This Should Be Interesting - VoteVets Drops $250k Ad Opposing McSally In #AZSen Race (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

VoteVets Action Fund, a progressive Super PAC focusing on veterans issues, disclosed this morning that it is spending more than $250,000 this week on an ad attacking Republican Senate nominee Martha McSally.

The ad begins running today, although it is not yet available online. McSally's campaign is built around her well-known history as the first female combat pilot, and she has personally been attacking Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema for being a war protester. Sinema has responded by touting her work on behalf of veterans, which makes this new ad an interesting chapter in the battle.

VoteVets Action Fund is teaming up with Majority Forward on this independent expenditure. Both are dark money groups on the Democratic side, with Majority Forward earning a 50 on the #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale. VoteVets is similarly dark, although Issue One has been able to identify some of its largest contributors as various labor unions; Issue One ranked it as the 14th largest dark money spender for the 2010-2016 period.

(Here is more information on the #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale.)

Arizona's Politics has requested a link to the ad from VoteVets, as well as asking additional questions. We will update if/when we get a response. However, if YOU are able to find or get video, please send it to us at info-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com. You will be entered in our thank you raffle that will be announced next week. Thanks.




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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

WATCH: Sen. Flake's 1st Round of Questioning Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh - "Three ZIP Codes Away"

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) got his first chance tonight to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The 2nd day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on President Trump's pick for the highest court in the land is continuing into the night.

Flake opened with a softball question about Kavanaugh's judicial heros (Mom to retired Justice Anthony Kennedy to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall with many stops in between) , before trying to pin him down on how he felt about Trump's Tweets politicizing the Department of Justice. Judge Kavanaugh hawed ("I try to live in the real world") and hemmed before maintaining that he needs to avoid talking about "current events" and saying he wants to not just stay away from the line but "three ZIP codes away from the line." (starts about 14 minutes in)


From there, the questioning moved to legal issues involving public lands and how Judge Kavanaugh understands the importance of that issue to Westerners.

There will be a second round of questioning by Senators, likely beginning tomorrow. The Judiciary Committee will then vote on whether to recommend his approval by the entire Senate.

http://bit.ly/FlakeKavanaugh1

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

BREAKING: Riggs Defeats Branch By 359 Votes For GOP Nomination For AZ Public Schools Supt; Avoids Automatic Recount By 111 Votes

An automatic recount in the GOP primary battle for State Superintendent of Public Instruction has been avoided by 111 votes, and Frank Riggs gets the nod over Bob Branch, incumbent Diane Douglas and the other two candidates by 359 votes.


Maricopa County posted their final tabulations late this evening, permitting the Secretary of State to post unofficial final results. While Riggs and Branch both show 21.8% of the vote in the 5-way race (21.84% to 21.77%, to be precise), the automatic recount is only triggered if the two are within one-tenth of a percentage point when just the number of ballots cast for them is the divisor.

With that in mind, the gap between Riggs' 124,666 and Branch's 124,307 calculates to 0.0014. That just misses the trigger of 0.0010 or less.

This does not mean that Branch (or Douglas, Tracy Livingston or Jonathan Gelbart, for that matter) could not contest the results. It only means that the state does not have to conduct an automatic recount.

Barring a successful contest, Riggs will face Democratic nominee Kathy Hoffman on November 6.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Sherpa Kyl Says Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh's Done "Very Good Job", Ready For Confirmation Hearing Tomorrow

Former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl has been Brett Kavanaugh's "sherpa" for his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. On the eve of Tuesday's confirmation hearing, Kyl tells Arizona's Politics this weekend that Kavanaugh "has done a very good job in his 'interviews'". Kyl also says that he has not been involved in the White House's decision-making process on which documents should be made public for the confirmation battle.
Evan Vucci (AP)

Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee are protesting last week's decision by the White House to assert executive privilege on some 100,000 pages of documents from Kavanaugh's record while he worked for the Bush Administration.* They are insisting that documents currently marked "Committee Confidential" be publicly released in order to question the nominee about them.

In an email to Arizona's Politics, Kyl said that that document production "is handled by White House Counsel" (currently, Don McGahn). The longtime Arizona lawmaker has been involved in "helping follow up on questions, etc" after their meetings with Senators. "I believe he has done a very good job in his 'interviews'."

Jeff Flake, Kyl's replacement in the Senate, is on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be participating in the hearing that starts tomorrow. He has not released any public statements on the Supreme Court nominee since shortly after President Trump named him.

*The attorney for the former Bush Administration stated that they cleared those pages - and, more - for public release. He said the former President told him to err "on the side of transparency and disclosure, and we believe we have done so.”


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BREAKING: A $2.6M September! Democratic Super PAC To Carpet Bomb McSally (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

A Democratic Super PAC focused on key Senate races has purchased approximately $2.6M of ad time for the month of September alone. The ads attacking GOP candidate Martha McSally will be running non-stop in Tucson and Phoenix.

Majority Forward is a 501(c)(4) arm of the Senate Majority PAC and does not disclose its contributors. Samples of the ad orders are below. Majority Forward filed an FEC disclosure tonight (Sunday), but only included $887k of expenditures.

Although the ad has begun to air, it is not yet available online. If you can capture  the video, please email it to us (or, upload and send us a link).

#50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale: Majority Forward earns a 50 for being as dark as dark money comes. The better-known Senate Majority PAC (now aka "SMP") for big Democratic donors spun off Majority Forward during the 2016 election cycle, and it quickly took in - and, distributed - over $35M. Much of that is in the form of grants to other progressive groups.



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Sunday, September 2, 2018

CLOSE RACES, Statewide and In Maricopa County

With approximately 12,000 ballots still being processed by Maricopa County - not all of them will be tabulated for various reasons - 5,000 in Pima County and a few thousand elsewhere, there are only a few candidates still biting their nails and hitting "refresh".

(If you'd like to send us still-close races you're watching - or where there might be a recount or challenge - send an email to "Info @ ArizonasPolitics.com".)









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Friday, August 31, 2018

BREAKING: Planned Parenthood Super PAC Begins Multi-Million Dollar #AZSen Campaign With $1.1M Canvassing, Digital Ad Spend

Earlier this year, Planned Parenthood's political organization announced that Arizona's Senate race would be one of its top eight campaigns in the nation. Today, they disclosed their first $1.1M have been spent on digital advertising and canvassing.

Planned Parenthood Votes is spending $600,000 to set up in-house canvassing operations with main offices in
Tucson, Phoenix and Tempe. The other half of the spend is on digital ads like the ones pictured here - both targeting GOP nominee Martha McSally's healthcare positions and touting Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema's.

The biggest individual donors to the PPV Super PAC are Richard Rosenthal (Cincinnati) and Amy Goldman Fowler (New York), having contributed $2M each. PPV indicated they plan to spend $20M in 8 key Senate and Governors' races across the country.

On its political website, PPV notes that Sinema has a 100% voting record and is a former PP patient, while saying "(McSally) voted eight times to 'defund' Planned Parenthood health centers."

#50ShadesOfDarkMoney: Planned Parenthood Votes is organized as a Super PAC that appears to be disclosing all of its donors. It therefore has a 5 on the transparent end of the #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale.

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

BREAKING #AZ02 TIDBIT: DCCC Makes $111k Ad Buy Vs. Marquez Peterson Day After Primary

With no time to lose, the national DCCC spent $122k the day after the primary on an ad opposing Republican nominee Lea Marquez Peterson in southern Arizona's competitive CD2.

We do not yet have a copy of the TV ad, just the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's FEC disclosure of the expenditure. Marquez Peterson is facing off against former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the contest to replace Rep. McSally in the swing seat.



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