Friday, December 7, 2018

BREAKING: McSally Locked, Loaded and Ready For 2020 Run - Well, Definitely Loaded

Outgoing Rep. Martha McSally is locked, loaded and ready for another run at a U.S. Senate seat from Arizona. Or, at a minimum, she is loaded. The former fighter pilot, who narrowly lost an expensive campaign to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, keeps more than $1M in the McSally For Senate bank account.

Considering that she spent more than $19.7M on the race against fellow Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, keeping approximately 5% in the tank may not seem like much. But, given that there is already pressure on Governor Doug Ducey to appoint her to take Sen. Jon Kyl's place serving out the term for the late Sen. John McCain, having a significant head start has already increased speculation that she will soon join Sinema in the Senate.

The ongoing war-chest numbers come from the campaign's latest FEC filing, which is re-produced below in all of its 5,073-page glory. For comparison, the Sinema campaign has $212k in the tank, although she will not be running for re-election until 2024.

We have requested a response from the McSally campaign, and will update as needed.

McSally Post-Gen FEC by on Scribd


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Wednesday, December 5, 2018


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Friday, November 30, 2018

NOT BOTTLED UP: Embattled Interior Secretary Zinke Goes "Full Trump" On Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) is set to become the Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee next year. After publishing a column in the USA Today calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to resign, the embattled Secretary went "Full Trump" on the Arizona Representative.

Questioning Rep. Grijalva's alcohol intake and payments made to a former committee employee who had made hostile workplace claims, Zinke took to the President's favorite forum for slinging insults. (In order to free himself from Twitter's character limits*, he fashioned his rant as a public statement from the "Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke".)





To be clear, although Grijalva's call for Zinke to resign focused on the Secretary's scandals and ethics, he did not call Zinke names. He did make the case that Zinke lacks "credible leadership" and warned that scrutiny of the Department will intensify in January when Democrats become the majority party.

Zinke's impolitic and nasty tweet also slurs what little is known about the severance package that became public knowledge last year. The unsourced report claims that the Committee employee was prepared to file a lawsuit that alleged that Grijalva "was frequently drunk and created a hostile workplace environment." There is no specific allegation that any drunkenness was in the workplace, and the Congressman has publicly and flatly denied ever being impaired or drinking while on the job. He also said that he does not have a drinking problem.

The former employee was paid $48,000 as part of an agreement authorized by the House Employment Counsel in 2015, and no complaints or lawsuits were filed. Grijalva states that the ex-employee would not release him from the confidentiality clause to speak further.

*A strange (non-sexual) double entendre if ever there was one.

(Edited to remove reference to the hashtag used by Zinke.)

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

COMMENTARY: Arizona Republicans "Monkeyed" With Law To Replace Senator McCain, Made It Unconstitutional

The following is a commentary by Chandler election law attorney Tom Ryan, in response to the lawsuit filed Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's law to replace the late Senator John McCain, and calling for a special election within six months:

I think it is overdue! Look, the AZGOP in the Legislature monkeyed with the statute re: replacing a U.S. Senator to give Ducey this kind of power to make serial appointments. The purpose of the 17th Amendment was to give the power of direct election to the citizens of each state. There is a power of temporary appointment but that is intended to be just a stop gap measure until the special election can be held.  Here we hear rumors of Kyl resigning and Ducey getting a 2nd appointment!!  All the while critical issues are popping up in the Senate that the citizens of Arizona are being deprived of the opportunity to elect their own voice, not the voice of just one individual.  Think about that for a moment! We passed the 17th Amendment to remove the appointment of U.S. Senators from the state senates, and gave that power to the citizens. If it was bad to let the state senators wield such power, how much worse is it to give that same power to just one person – the governor?!

So the Gov has set the replacement election for McCain’s seat for the 2020 election cycle. That is more than 2 years from the date McCain passed away. Why do we need to wait 2 years?!  Trent Franks resigned on December 8, 2017 because of his sex scandal. The Gov set the dates for the special election to replace Franks so quickly that Debbie Lesko was put into office just five months later on May 5, 2018. If you go back and look at the newspaper accounts of when the AZ GOP was monkeying with Title 16 you will see they were doing so in anticipation of McCain’s passing and giving Ducey this power of serial appointments.  That’s just wrong.

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AZ LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL? A Special Election To Replace Senator McCain Must Be Held In 6 Months, Claims New Lawsuit (BREAKING, READ)

The constitutionality of Arizona's law giving Governor Doug Ducey the right to control the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the passing of John McCain has been challenged in federal court.

A group of plaintiffs led by William Tedards filed the action against Ducey and Senator Jon Kyl yesterday and asks that the Governor be required to call for a special election within six months. Their contention is that the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (text below) which requires that U.S. Senators be elected invalidates the Arizona law (also below) that the special election for a Senate vacancy can only be held at a biennial general election.
17th Amendment, U.S. Constitution

McCain passed away in August, too late for Governor Ducey to add a primary and general election to be held by November 6, 2018. Instead, he appointed former Kyl to the seat, even as Kyl indicated that he might very well only stay in the position through the end of 2018. That would permit the Governor to make a new appointment for another two years, for a total of 28 months.

When asked by Arizona's Politics about the timing of this action, nearly three months after the Kyl appointment, lead attorney Mike Persoon stated there was no plan to wait until after the November 6 election: "Lawsuits -- particularly those brought by ordinary citizens -- take some time to pull together. They rarely happen overnight. That said, the lawsuit is proceeding quickly.”

Persoon - who also represented the plaintiffs in a similar case in Illinois in 2010 - and local attorney Michael Kielsky have asked for a preliminary injunction which would order the Governor to call a special election within six months.

Arizona election attorney Tom Ryan has been speaking out on this subject since the Governor appointed Kyl. Today, he told Arizona's Politics that it is about time: "the AZGOP in the Legislature monkeyed with the statute re: replacing a U.S. Senator to give Ducey this kind of power to make serial appointments. The purpose of the 17th Amendment was to give the power of direct election to the citizens of each state."

(Ryan's full comments are posted as a sidebar editorial here.)

Governor Ducey's office has been asked for comment on the new suit, and this article will be updated as necessary.

(This article was provided by Tempe election law attorney Paul Weich.)




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Monday, November 26, 2018

BREAKING: Judge Allows Navajo Nation To Withdraw Request That Could Have Delayed Arizona Election Certification

(UPDATE: Judge Lanza did permit the Navajo Nation to withdraw its TRO application today, thus permitting Arizona to finish certifying the results from this month's election on time next Monday. The Court's simple explanation (below) is that he wanted to learn more about the basis for withdrawing the request that approximately 100 Navajo Nation voters be permitted to cure their early ballots this week. This indicates that the Navajo Nation is dropping that request and focusing more on ensuring better voting access for residents of the large area in future elections. The headline has been edited to reflect the Judge's decision, but the article below remains intact.)

U.S. District Court Judge Dominic Lanza DENIED the Navajo Nation's request to vacate a court hearing this morning on a case that could delay the certification of Arizona's November 6 election results.

The Navajo Nation filed suit last week to give approximately 100 Navajo voters the chance to cure their early ballots which were properly filled out but not signed. The suit also seeks other measures in the future to make it easier for Navajo Nation members to access their right to vote in future elections.

Sunday, attorneys for the sovereign government asked Judge Lanza to vacate the hearing on the Temporary Restraining Order set for Monday at 10am, saying that they now believe that they will be able to work with elections officials in the three Arizona counties which include portions of the Navajo Nation. It appeared that they were prepared to forego a reopening of the cure period for voters in this month's election.

Judge Lanza denied the request to vacate the hearing, and said the hearing will address the motion.







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Thursday, November 15, 2018

WATCH: "Go Get Him, Acosta! Do Not Back Down" - Sen. Flake's Exhortation To The Press, In a "Search For Truth" Keynote



https://cs.pn/2RWLfxs

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

DEFAMATION: Arpaio Serving NY Times, Immediately Ready To File A 2nd Defamation Suit - Rolling Stone Calls Him "Ex-Felon"

(UPDATE, 4:15pm: The Rolling Stone has changed its description of former Sheriff Arpaio and removed the "ex-felon" descriptor. The article now reads "presidential pardonee and former Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio. (Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court, a misdemeanor, in 2017 and pardoned by Trump less than one month later.)"

As a (very) public figure, Arpaio has a higher legal burden to prove defamation than does an ordinary citizen. Arpaio will have to be able to prove "actual malice" for his lawsuit against the NY Times (or, the potential suit vs. RS) to go anywhere.)

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his attorney are serving the New York Times with their defamation lawsuit today, and sighted their second media target today.

Rolling Stone published an article this afternoon about Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's apparent victory in Arizona's U.S. Senate election. In it, the article notes that Rep. Martha McSally had beaten Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio in the August primary; Ward was described as a "tea party conspiracist" and Arpaio was touted as both the former Sheriff and an "ex-felon."

This grabbed the former lawman, who immediately tweeted that he "was never arrested or charged with a felony."  He calls the Rolling Stone description "completely, misleading, defamatory statements by Rolling Stone is calculated to harm his reputation. Fake news, Already suing large newspaper for 147.5 mil. (all, sic)"
Of course, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of a Court Order for his role in the racial profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio. The conviction carried a maximum 6-month jail, and was thus considered to be a misdemeanor. Arpaio was pardoned by President Donald Trump before sentencing, and the former Sheriff is currently trying to expunge that finding of guilt. (It is in the 9th Circuit, and the Arpaio legal team is appealing the appointment of a special prosecutor to the U.S. Supreme Court.)

Last month, Arpaio and his attorney Larry Klayman did file a $147.5M defamation lawsuit against the New York Times and columnist Michelle Cottle. Cottle celebrated Arpaio's defeat in the primary and compared Maricopa County jails under Arpaio to "concentration camps". As a (very) public figure, Arpaio has a higher legal burden to prove defamation than does an ordinary citizen. Arpaio will have to be able to prove "actual malice" for his lawsuit against the NY Times (or, the potential suit vs. RS) to go anywhere.

Klayman told Arizona's Politics today that the "ex-felon" descriptor is also defamatory. He declined to indicate whether he had already discussed this article with Arpaio, and said that "the New York Times is being served today." He also promised that things "will heat up soon."

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Friday, November 9, 2018

THROWING IN THE TOWEL? White House, Senior Republicans Think McSally Should Be Pushing Their Vote Count Trickery Messages; Suspect She's Just Waiting For Ducey Appointment To McCain Seat

Wow! Trump's top political aides - inside and outside the White House - and other national Republicans believe that Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) has not been pushing their desired party line that some sort of trickery is happening in Arizona's ballot processing and counting. Some speculate that she is silent because she believes re-elected Governor Doug Ducey will appoint her to fill Sen. John McCain's seat if she loses the election to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9).

This reporting from Alex Isenstadt and James Arkin at Politico help fill in some of the missing puzzle pieces. When Trump Campaign Manager Brad Parscale tweeted about "tricks" in Arizona and speculated about "rampant fraud", followed quickly by the President's implications that there was corruption on display in Arizona, it was a sudden 1-2 that caught many off guard.

But, when that was followed by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl chiming in and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel calling it intentional "corruption" and "election meddling" on Fox's Sean Hannity's show, it was apparent that a strategy had been formed that left out McSally. Trump's over the top tweet from Paris this afternoon - just as a court hearing on the Republicans' suit to stop Maricopa and Pima County Recorders from contacting voters was about to begin - brought the chorus to a crescendo.




Politico's reporting fills in some of the behind the scenes details.
At the highest levels of the national party, there’s frustration with McSally — and a sense that she’s not being aggressive enough throughout the process.
While Florida Gov. Rick Scott has lashed out at election officials over the vote counting in his state, McSally has been largely silent. Top officials with the White House and Republican National Committee, who’ve been prodding the McSally campaign to amp up its efforts, have expressed frustration that the Arizona congresswoman hasn’t tried to drive a message that there’s something amiss with the vote count.
On Thursday evening, senior Republicans joined the McSally campaign for a conference call to discuss the state of play. On the call, Justin Clark, the White House director of public liaison, and Mike Roman, a veteran opposition researcher who is working with the RNC, pressed the McSally campaign on what was being done. 
RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, meanwhile, has spoken with Lines, and has expressed a desire for more aggressiveness.
The article then outlines McSally's and Lines' tepid statements trying to re-brand the lawsuit as an effort to stop disenfranchisement of voters in rural counties*, rather than pushing the corruption/trickert/fraud line.

The kicker comes next, when the reporters note that some Republicans suspect a motive for McSally's supposed lack of fight.
Among some senior Republicans, there is suspicion about why McSally has chosen to hold back. Some are convinced that she’s willing to let the race go and instead hope for an appointment to the state’s other Senate seat. Kyl, who was picked to replace the late Sen. John McCain, has yet to commit to serving for a full term.
*The Complaint and Motion for a TRO filed by four GOP County Committees on Wednesday repeatedly indicate that they were primarily targeting the voter contact procedures in Pima and Maricopa Counties. While the legal basis for the claims was that all 15 counties should utilize the same procedure for curing mis-matched signature issues, at no point did they indicate that the desired solution would be to require the rural counties to employ the same procedures that Pima County has used for several elections and that Maricopa County adopted last month under a threat of litigation.

Here is a quote from the Complaint: "27. On information and beliet however, certain County Recorders - specifically those of Maricopa and Pima Counties - will allow voters to cure non-compliant early ballots for a period of five days after Election Day, a contingency that finds no statutory authorization and threatens to beget an extended period of confusion and uncertainty following the election."

Joined by the Arizona GOP (and the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance), the Plaintiffs agreed today to allow Maricopa and Pima Counties to continue contacting the voters, and allowing and/or instructing other counties to quickly start doing so, as well.

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BREAKING: As Sinema Increases Lead To 20k Votes, Sandra Kennedy Slips Into Corporation Commissioner Lead

With more vote counts being released tonight, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) increased her lead for the U.S. Senate seat to 20,203 votes. Also, Democratic candidate Sandra Kennedy slipped into 2nd place for the two open Corporation Commission seats.

Kennedy, a former Commissioner, now leads Republican Rodney Glassman by nearly 1,700 votes.

In other developments, Republican Steve Gaynor has maintained his 50.3%-49.7% edge over Katie Hobbs for Secretary of State (+10,609), and Democrat Kathy Hoffman has increased her lead for State Superintendent of Public Instruction over Frank Riggs (+31,886).


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Settlement Agreement - Parties Disagree On Impact Of Settlement Of GOP's Suit Re: Curing Mis-Matched Ballot Envelope Signatures

To the surprise of many - including some of the parties in the GOP's lawsuit - a settlement agreement was announced at Friday afternoon's court hearing. The GOP had sued all of Arizona's County Recorders in order to stop four counties from reaching out to early voters if the signature on their envelope did not match the voter registration signature on file.

The Settlement Agreement announced instructs those counties to continue - until Wednesday, Nov. 14 -  the same "cure" procedures that they were practicing before Election Day. The other counties are also supposed to follow the same procedures that they were following before Election Day.

And, that is where some confusion arises. Brett Johnson, the attorney for the plaintiffs, announced again that their goal was to create parity between all of Arizona's counties. However, his later comments did not make it at all clear that the 11 "other counties" now need to go to the land of mismatched signatures and contact the affected voters. Many of those counties either did not contact voters with problematic signatures or ceased doing so several days before Election Day.

However, Kory Langhofer, attorney for the Arizona Republican Party, claimed victory after the hour-long hearing,  "This is a really big win for Republicans and Martha McSally. These rural counties that were not going to count Republicans votes in rural areas got caught with their pants down."

He quickly shifted the focus, however, claiming that it is unfair that Republicans only have 3 observers watching Maricopa County process the remaining hundreds of thousands of ballots. "You kidding me? That's not real transparency."

He acknowledged that that is the same number of observers they have had in past elections, and the Democrats have the same number. He declined to answer Arizona's Politics' question if that meant that the GOP will go to court to seek to increase the number of partisan observers.

Today's settlement will likely not be greeted warmly by President Trump, who tweeted shortly before the hearing that there was corruption going on in Arizona's vote counting.




Earlier in the day, the President had hinted that he felt it was corrupt, in televised remarks. Arizona's Politics reported on those remarks and you can watch his FULL response here.

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WATCH: Trump Implies Corruption In Arizona Vote-Counting - "All Of a Sudden Out Of the Wilderness They Find a Lot Of Votes"

President Donald Trump went after Arizona's electoral process and the Democrats' influence on it. Without any evidence to back it up, he implied that corruption was to blame for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) taking a slim 9,000 vote lead in the Senate contest against Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2).

The President was asked a question about the size of the Democrats' majority in the U.S. House of Representatives next year. He quickly segued into a boast about how he has rooted out corruption in the FBI and Department of Justice - "We're getting to the bottom of it and I've done a helluva job" - before raising the Arizona vote-counting.

"But, it is interesting. It always seems to go the way of the Democrats. Now in Arizona, all of a sudden, out of the wilderness they find a lot of votes. And she’s – the other candidate – is just winning by a hair."

Here is President Trump's entire response about the Tuesday election, as the context is important. The Arizona comment is at the 1:05 mark.
Will open in new tab: https://cs.pn/2F99UNA

Trump then quickly repeated a rant about corruption in the elections process in Broward County (Florida). The Arizona comments were sandwiched by his corruption remarks, and was in concert with comments today from his 2020 campaign chair. Brad Parscale, alleging fraud.



There is no evidence of any "found" votes or any "trickery" or "fraud" in Arizona's ballot processing and counting process, and unfounded accusations against the integrity of Arizona's elections - especially coming from the President - is irresponsible, reckless and could be construed as un-American.

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Thursday, November 8, 2018

HELP WANTED: Can't Wait For The #AZSen Results? Help Maricopa County Process The Flood Of Last Minute Ballots

Democracy wants you! Especially if you are impatiently awaiting the final tallies on the extremely close races, and you have some time to help move the process along!
(Help these lonely ballots!)


The Maricopa County Recorder's Office has set up an EventBrite sign up sheet for about 300 Republicans, Democrats and Independents to take a shift to help process the flood of last minute ballots they received on Election Day (and just before).

Shifts are available from 7am-2pm, 3-10pm, or an after work shift from 6-10pm, and the pay is $10.50/hour.  Currently at the link, the schedule requests workers through Sunday, but Chief Deputy Recorder Keely Varvel tells Arizona's Politics that new shifts for next week will be posted soon.

The sign-up has separate slots for Democrats, Republicans, and "Others", because the ballots are processed by mixed teams, to prevent any funny business. The work entails checking the envelopes and the voter information on there before separating the secret ballot from the identifying info, removing any stray marks on the ballots which would prevent them from being properly scanned, and duplicating ballots that do not properly scan.

Here is the link to sign up: http://bit.ly/ElectionBoardSignUps

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BREAKING: Arizona Democrats Fire Back, File The 2nd Complaint Against Maricopa County Recorder

UPDATE, 6PM: We have received and are posting below the Complaint filed by the Arizona Democratic Party. It is a public records suit asking for information on any "conditional provisional ballots" cast on Tuesday, and for lists of those early or provisional ballots where the signatures did not match. The request was made one week before Election Day and the Recorder's Office had promised to provide the information immediately after the polls closed.

As the Republicans and the County Recorders discussed in today's hearing in the other case, the deadline for voters to cure any defects in their ballots is next Wednesday. Both parties are requesting the information so that they can assist their party members in ensuring that their ballots are counted.

Keely Varvel, the Chief Deputy Recorder for Maricopa County, tells Arizona's Politics that the lists are not yet ready and will be provided to both parties as soon as it is.

The Arizona Democratic Party has fired the 2nd shot today in the legal battle over counting ballots in the tightly-contested #AZSen (and, other) race. The new lawsuit is only against the Maricopa County Recorder's Office, where the vast majority of yet-uncounted ballots (and the

Arizona's Politics has not yet received responses from the parties or the court about the specific
subject of the new complaint, but it follows yesterday afternoon's lawsuit filed by Arizona Republicans. The GOP is trying to prevent Maricopa, Pima, and Apache counties from reaching out to voters who signed their early ballot outer envelopes in a way that does not match voter registration records.

The Republican lawsuit had its initial hearing in court this morning. Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney emphatically rejected the plaintiffs' effort to order the counties to segregate any ballots that may be subject to the suit. Daniel Jurkowitz argued that state statutes would not permit the ballots to be kept with the identifying envelopes once the signature is verified indicating that it is a legitimately mailed (or, dropped off) ballot.

Jurkowitz also indicated that the Pima County Recorder has moved to dismiss the GOP lawsuit.

The Arizona Republican Party is attempting to intervene in the initial lawsuit, and its attorney (Kory Langhofer) is also trying to intervene on  behalf of the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance - a group that does not disclose its financial backing.  Other parties attempting to intervene are the Arizona Democratic Party and the League of Latin American Citizens and the American Civil Liberties Union. (The latter two working together.)

The U.S. Senate race is still too close to call, with Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) currently leading Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) by less than 17,000 votes (out of 1.75M cast). Several hundred thousand ballots are still being verified and counted.





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BREAKING: READ Arizona Republicans' Legal Challenge To Verifying Early Ballot Signatures

Arizona Republican groups filed legal action yesterday afternoon to prevent County Elections Departments from calling voters whose signatures on their early ballot envelopes do not exactly match their voter registration signatures.  A hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order is being held this morning.

Here are the Complaint and the TRO Motion filed by the Republican Committees for Maricopa County, Yuma County, Apache County and Navajo County. It names all of Arizona's County Recorders and the Secretary of State.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney is conducting an emergency telephonic hearing at this hour. Arizona's Politics was not permitted to monitor the hearing, but will report on the outcome as soon as possible.

The Arizona Republic broke the news of the suit last night, and the outcome may effect an unknown number of late-cast early ballots. In response to a threatened legal action a couple of weeks before the election, Maricopa County announced that it would join other counties in asking voters if they did, in fact, sign the green return envelope. (Such phone calls are routinely made for questions arising from quickly-returned early ballots.)





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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

BREAKING, READ: Green Angela Green's Last-Minute Withdrawal; Her Votes Will Be Counted, Polling Places Will Post The Withdrawal

(UPDATE, 8:40am: Arizona Election Director has announced that the text of the withdrawal form is outdated, and that any ballots cast for Ms. Green "WILL be tabulated.")


In today's nationally-watched Arizona Senate election, here is the last-second withdrawal filed by Green Party candidate Angela Green.


As noted, the withdrawal will prevent any votes that either have already been cast for her or will be cast for her today to not be counted or announced.

Arizona Elections Director Eric Spencer indicated yesterday afternoon that all of Arizona's County Recorders have been notified of the withdrawal. Arizona's Politics has received reports that some polling places will post a notice of the withdrawal - near where eligible write-in candidates will be posted.

Last week, Green told KPNX's Brahm Resnik that she was withdrawing and asking people to support Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the tight battle against Republican Martha McSally.



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Friday, October 26, 2018

BREAKING: Both Candidates Raising Money At Equally-Furious Clip - >$1M/Week - But McSally Heads Into Home Stretch With $1.2M More In Bank

Both candidates for Arizona's open Senate seat raised more than $3M in the first 2 1/2 weeks of October, yet Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) headed into the final three weeks of the hotly-contested campaign with $2.5M in the bank compared to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's $1.3M.

The new filings (below) are the last reports before the November 6 election, and it proves that the race is nearly even in more ways than just the polling.

McSally's campaign took in $3.6M between October 1-17, which brought its total to $16.2M. In those 17 days, it spent $4.4M ($13.7M total).

By comparison, Sinema both raised and spent about $300k less for the October 1-17 period. However, her campaign totals are higher, having received $19.3M and spent $20.3M.*

As Arizona's Politics has noted on several occasions, the ginormous amounts being spent by outside groups in this race - making it the 3rd most expensive race in the country (in a year that will be the highest-spending Congressional elections in history) - almost make any differences between the candidates' committee numbers meaningless. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, $57M has been spent on the campaign to replace the retiring Jeff Flake.

Related coverage: 
NO WINGMEN OR WINGWOMEN: @MarthaMcSally ONLY Major Senate Candidate With No Employees, Paying No Payroll Taxes

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

* The seeming imbalance in the Sinema figures was explained earlier this year, in that Sinema started the 2017-2018 election cycle with $2.3M cash on hand and converted her House campaign committee into the Senate campaign committee. McSally started 2017 with a similar amount socked away, but had to open up a new committee for the Senate race because an audit of her House campaign committee was still ongoing at that point.

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BREAKING/READ: Arizona Supreme Court 5-2 Opinions Removing Invest In Ed Initiative; Factual Error (In Majority Opinion) Detailed

Less than two weeks before an election in which two Arizona Supreme Court Justices are on the ballot for retention, the Court today released its 5-2 opinion on why it removed the Invest In Ed initiative from the ballot.

The two Justices on the ballot - Clint Bolick and John Pelander - both signed on to the majority opinion (which does not list a specific author). Chief Justice Scott Bales and Justice Ann Timmer each wrote brief dissenting opinions.  The opinions are published below.

The majority determined that the initiative's language would jeopardize bracket indexing and that that was a "principal provision" of the measure. Therefore, they reasoned, "Our failure to determine whether the description omits a principal provision before the measure appears on the ballot would reward sloppy or even deceptive drafting, and would render the statutory transparency requirement meaningless because it would allow a measure to proceed even if voters signing the petition were not made aware of principal provisions." (Paragraph 27)

Bales' dissent acknowledged that better drafting could have prevented the decision, but noted the incongruity of requiring drafting perfection from initiatives but not from the legislature's bill drafting. "But we have never required perfection in drafting as a condition for the valid exercise of legislative authority, and doing so with initiatives would infringe upon the people’s constitutional right to enact laws independently of the legislature."

He did not believe the 100-word description created a "substantial danger of fraud, confusion or unfairness sufficient to invalidate" the measure without a vote of the people. That challenges the language used on August 29, when the Court issued a brief order removing it from the November 6 ballot.

Interestingly, that order did not specify whether the seven Justices all agreed or who - if anyone - had voted to not remove the initiative; however, the Governor's office appeared to have inside information about how each justice had voted. (Arizona's Politics filed a records request with the Court to see if there were communications between the different branches on the subject; the court determined there were not.)


As a lead-in to addressing the specific language of the Invest In Ed proposal, the majority cited other cases where they prevented measures from being placed on Arizona ballots.  Then, to emphasize their fairness, they listed one example where they also required challengers to an initiative to conform to statutory requirements even if there was an addressable issue with the measure.

The example they attempted to use was against the Minimum Wage initiative two years ago. (Not coincidentally, the interests and attorneys on either side of that measure overlapped in the present measure.*)

The Supreme Court falsely states today that the trial judge in the minimum wage challenge had determined that not enough valid signatures had been filed. (The challenge was dismissed because it had not been timely filed.) The facts are that the trial court judge did not make such a determination and was unable to do so.




*Disclosure: The attorney/author of this article (Paul Weich) was peripherally involved in the minimum wage case.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

GONE NATIONWIDE: APS Uses Bernie Sanders In New, Federal-level Phone Calls In Fight Against Prop. 127

In a surprising turn of events, APS opened up a new federal front in its fight against Arizona's Proposition 127 (renewable energy mandate) - spending $330,791 in phone calls "opposing" Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Confused? Rightly so. Here is the explanation.

APS' parent company is Pinnacle West ("PinnWest"). Yesterday, PinnWest transferred another $3M to its committee primarily dedicated to opposing Prop. 127, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity. That is not surprising, as APS/PinnWest had already contributed more than $22M to AAE.

However, today is the first time that AAE has disclosed a PinnWest cash infusion to the Federal Election Commission. (It was not concurrently filed with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.*) And, the first expenditure from this new $3M pool of money was the flurry of phone calls "oppos(ing) Vermont Senator Bernard Sanders".

(Arizona's Politics has extensively covered (and uncovered) APS' political contributions on the state and local levels since 2014 - whether they have been to dark money organizations, to those national organizations that have funded campaigns supporting Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, or to SuperPACs that have spent money on federal races.)

AAE spokesman Matt Benson tells Arizona's Politics that the calls  were made to Arizonans as "a continuation of our GOTV efforts as part of hte No On 127 campaign." The federal disclosure was made "out of an abundance of caution" since the calls referred to Senator Sanders. (The FEC form would have supported a more complete explanation of the purpose of the phone calls and the disclosure.)

The calls were apparently made to Arizona voters to coincide with Sanders' Arizona visit yesterday, where the former Presidential candidate rallied students at the UA and ASU in support of David Garcia, the Democratic candidate for Governor.

Sanders did not directly mention Prop. 127 in his Tucson rally, but he did say "the time is now to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to (energy efficiency) and solar energy and renewables. This state can be a leader in solar energy." Neither AAE nor the committee supporting the Proposition that would require utilities to obtain a minimum of 50% from renewable sources mentioned Sanders' visit in their social media feeds yesterday, and both told Arizona's Politics that they were unaware of Sanders' comments about solar energy.

Benson indicates that he will soon share with Arizona's Politics the content of the live phone calls.

Arizona's Politics has extensively covered (and uncovered) APS' political contributions on the state and local levels since 2014 - whether they have been to dark money organizations, to those national organizations that have funded campaigns supporting Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, or to SuperPACs that have spent money on federal races.


*The only AAE filing with the state today was that of a $28k mailer supporting state lawmaker Cesar Chavez.


Just saw today's FEC filing for Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, and wow, it surprised the heck out of me! So many questions that I hope you can answer quickly:

Spend side:
1) The report lists $330,791.70 in "phone calls" opposing Bernie Sanders. Were these calls to Vermonters or Arizonans?
2a) If calls were to Vermonters, why? What was the subject and the messaage?
2b) If calls were to Arizonans, was the subject Prop. 127 or was it Sanders or was it something else?
3) Were they timed to coordinate with Sanders' rallies in the state?
4a) Were these live calls or robocalls?
4b) If live calls, can you provide a script? If robocalls, can you provide a copy?
5) I did not cover either of the Sanders rallies yesterday, and as far as I can tell, he did not address Prop. 127. Do you know if he did?

Contribution side:
6) According to the report, PinnWest contributed $3M to AAE yesterday. Is this $3M specifically for the Sanders expenditure and similar, federal-level efforts? (Segregated?) Or, is it simply a $3M contribution to AAE that will be spent on federal/state/etc efforts?
7) What other contributions has PinnWest made to political organizations (e.g. Arizona Grassroots, RAGA, RGA, etc) since October 1?
8) What is the current total of all contributions PinnWest has now made to AAE (at all levels)?
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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

UPDATE: Intentionally Flying Solo - McSally Campaign States It Pays More, Does Not Need To Classify Staff As Employees

27 hours after Arizona's Politics first asked the McSally office to explain why they are the only major campaign that does not pay payroll taxes/Social Security/Medicare/benefits, the Communications Director finally released a statement. (The statement was provided to NBC's Vaughn Hillyard*, and not to the other inquiring national reporters or Arizona's Politics, but that was probably just an oversight.)

Arizona's Politics first reported yesterday about its review of the 20 major party candidates running in the 10 most expensive 2018 Senate campaigns. McSally is the only one who reports zero employees; instead, paying them as independent contractors. Even though her campaign declined to respond before it was published, the article presented possible reasons for the "unusual nature" of the set-up and compared the "payrolls" between the McSally and Sinema campaigns.

As the article received more and more attention from local and national media, Communications Director Torunn Sinclair finally issued her statement at approximately 5pm, tonight. The full statement is published below, and it throws a lot into the mix. Sinclair leads with a seeming non-sequitor about the high amount of pay that she and the others are receiving; that IS somewhat relevant because it not only gives the independent contractor money to choose an ACA policy (etc), but it gives them money to pay the self-employment taxes that the campaign would otherwise be withholding and paying the employer's share.

However, as many readers and social media users pointed out, federal and state laws do not give a campaign (aka business) the option to treat staff as independent contractors or employees. Instead, there are (somewhat) fuzzy standards regarding how much control the business has over the individuals they are contracting with. Yesterday's article also addresses this aspect, but here are additional cites from the IRS and the Internal Revenue Code.

Finally, we will note that Sinclair attempts to attribute the questions she was receiving - and yesterday's article - to "the Sinema campaign" and its efforts to distract from the border issues that McSally, the President and other Republicans are trying to emphasize. The Sinema campaign had absolutely nothing to do with our article. (In fact, they did not respond to our emails requesting comment, either.)



*Vaughn is from the Valley, received reporting notoriety here in high school and at ASU's Cronkite School, before moving on to bigger things at NBC. We first took note of his work 8 years ago, for great work on a Russell Pearce Fact Check despite less than awesome support from the Republic.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

BREAKING: No Wingmen Or Wingwomen: McSally ONLY Major Candidate With No Employees, Paying No Payroll Taxes

Last year, Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) voted against permitting Congress to review the tax returns of President Donald Trump (as part of tax reform legislation). This year - as McSally has become a frequent defender of the President - her Senatorial campaign committee has taken the unusual position that there are NO (taxable) employees working on her campaign.

By classifying 13 apparently-full-time persons as independent contractors, McSally has avoided paying the employer's share of payroll taxes, Social Security and Medicare withholding, unemployment taxes, benefits, etc.
Arizona's Politics reviewed the campaign filings of the Republican and Democratic candidates running in the 10 highest-spending Senate campaigns and found that McSally is the only one who decided to classify her top staff as independent contractors.  Democratic Senator Bill Nelson's (D-FL) campaign previously was set up the same way until the Washington Free Beacon publicized the questionable workaround in July.

(Last week, Arizona's Politics reported on the FEC's concern about the McSally For Senate committee not disclosing necessary contributor information, despite previous assurances.)

Based on our review of the most recent, 3rd quarter filing, McSally has 13 people receiving monthly payments ranging from between $1,445 and $7,000, and at least that many receiving smaller bi-weekly payments. All of them list "field consulting" in the subject line. There are no payments made for "taxes", "payroll", "health insurance", etc.

While the second group may legitimately be people being paid for irregular, part time work making phone calls or knocking on doors. However, the first group includes people listed - by the campaign and/or the individuals - as the Finance Director, the Political Director, and the Communications Director. None of these individuals lists any jobs other than their title with the McSally For Senate campaign on their personal Twitter or LinkedIn pages.

It is not simply the exclusivity or number of hours worked that the IRS and Arizona agencies use to determine whether someone is a legitimate "independent contractor" rather than an "employee". In order to prevent abuse of the distinction, the government polices possible abuses through complaints by the workers, third parties and sometimes on their own initiative.

In fact, Arizona passed a new law in 2016 which was designed to give businesses some clarity in setting up an independent contractor relationship. It lists a number of criteria to be considered in determining whether an employer/employee relationship can be avoided. Those criteria are listed below.* Similarly, the IRS test provides 20 questions to help parties determine how much control the "employer" has in the relationship.

McSally is running for the hotly-contested Senate seat opening up because of the retirement of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Fellow Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) is the Democratic nominee.

Sinema's most recent campaign report indicates a payroll of more than $90,000 per month, with withheld taxes/Social Security/Medicare/workers comp/etc totaling more than $36,000 per month. While McSally's payments for "field consulting" is approximately half of the Sinema payroll, the taxes not paid are in the five figures each month.

Then-candidate Trump infamously said that avoiding taxes made him smart. He has declined to provide the evidence that would prove him to be smart or possibly having crossed the line. McSally's campaign has not yet responded to Arizona's Politics' requests for more information that may prove her independent contractor move to be smart.

(Below the jump: McSally campaign finance report, Arizona statute re: independent businesses)


* The contractor acknowledges at least six of the following:

(a) That the contractor is not insured under the contracting party's health insurance coverage or workers' compensation insurance coverage.

(b) That the contracting party does not restrict the contractor's ability to perform services for or through other parties and the contractor is authorized to accept work from and perform work for other businesses and individuals besides the contracting party.

(c) That the contractor has the right to accept or decline requests for services by or through the contracting party.

(d) That the contracting party expects that the contractor provides services for other parties.

(e) That the contractor is not economically dependent on the services performed for or in connection with the contracting party.

(f) That the contracting party does not dictate the performance, methods or process the contractor uses to perform services.

(g) That the contracting party has the right to impose quality standards or a deadline for completion of services performed, or both, but the contractor is authorized to determine the days worked and the time periods of work.

(h) That the contractor will be paid by or through the contracting party based on the work the contractor is contracted to perform and that the contracting party is not providing the contractor with a regular salary or any minimum, regular payment.

(i) That the contractor is responsible for providing and maintaining all tools and equipment required to perform the services performed.

(j) That the contractor is responsible for all expenses incurred by the contractor in performing the services.
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

#ArizonaElectionCashRegister: $6.1M Spent On #AZSen Race TODAY (So Far)

Which is going up faster, the MegaMillions Lottery jackpot or the total outside money being spent on the riveting Arizona Senate campaign?

Independent Expenditure committees have disclosed $6.1M in spending - mostly on TV ads - during the first 18 hours of this October 18th. The lottery jackpot for tomorrow's drawing is the 2nd highest in history, and this campaign between Reps. Martha McSally (R) and Kyrsten Sinema (D) is guaranteed to be the most expensive in Arizona history. (And, today is the biggest single day to date.

The first to file today was NextGen Climate Action Committee - the vehicle for billionaire Tom Steyer's national spending. It plunked down a measly (estimated) $242,000 for digital advertising. It was the first foray for the group into the Senate race, as the group has been concentrating on the clean energy Prop. 127, and state candidates.

That was followed in short order by media buys hammering McSally by the Democrats' dark money (#50ShadesofDarkMoney) group Majority Forward ($1.3M) and the not-dark Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ($1.2M).

However, all three of those pro-Sinema/anti-McSally spends were then dwarfed by the homegrown-turned-national DefendArizona. The omni-present SuperPAC made their daily FEC filing a big one, $3.7M on producing and placing two new ads. Arizona's Politics profiled DefendArizona on Monday, and the Arizona Republic's Ron Hansen went into more detail yesterday.

DefendArizona - now mainly funded by the national Senate Leadership Fund (despite its still-local name) - has now spent $18.8M relentlessly attacking Sinema.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

BREAKING: Watch UNCOVERED Video Of McSally Calling On Herself/Others To "Look Within Our Hearts...Make Sure We're Not Facilitators Or Bystanders" Fomenting Political Violence

Yes, Martha McSally is passionate when she speaks. The Republican Congresswoman's passion came through in last night's debate with fellow Rep. Kyrsten Sinema to help voters decide which should be Arizona's next Senator. In the most memorable exchange - during and after the debate - McSally accused Sinema of committing treason against the United States.

However, it was 16 months ago this week that McSally (R-CD9) was just as passionately imploring herself and fellow elected officials (including the President) to "look within our hearts" to ensure that "we each need to do our part to ratchet this down."

Arizona's Politics wrote about her striking comments in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, and posted the video of her dual interviews on both Fox News and MSNBC.* While the links to the embedded videos are no longer operative, we were able to find one of the interviews, and are re-posting it below.**

McSally leaned on her military background to lead into the answer, suggesting that they would talk about dealing not only with the perpetrators, but also with the facilitators and bystanders. She then included herself in stating that elected officials - and everybody in our country and community - need to "make sure that we're not being facilitators or bystanders in creating an environment where it is so hot...perhaps unstable individuals will be unleashed to violence...." (full quote and video below)

Arizona's Politics has asked both campaigns to address these 2017 remarks in the context of last night's debate, and will update as warranted.


"The people that are responsible for the acts of violence are the assailants.  But, when I was a colonel in the military, as a commander we used to talk about when we were dealing with other issues like sexual assault: you’ve got the perpetrators – which is kind of the inner circle – you’ve got facilitators and then bystanders. I think the rest of us, whether we’re public officials, the President, Members of Congress, elected officials up and down – but everybody in our country and community, we need to look within our hearts and make sure that we’re not being facilitators or bystanders in creating an environment where it is so hot – that perhaps, the investigation is still ongoing – but, perhaps unstable individuals will be unleashed to violence in this environment. So, we each need to do our part to ratchet this down and find where we can unify together and be civil about our disagreements." (this transcript produced by Arizona's Politics, any errors are inadvertent)

(If clicking on the above picture does not open the video in a new window, please use this link.)

*The McSally remarks were inadvertently re-brought to our attention by a Republican reader when we accidentally posted a picture of McSally from the 2017 MSNBC interview this past week, accompanying a different article. 


**If you are able to retrieve the video from Rep. McSally's Fox News interview, please email us details. Thanks.

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BREAKING UPDATE: APS Crosses $150,000 Mark In Donations To Help AG Brnovich

APS' contributions to help re-elect Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich have now hit - or, exceeded - $150,000, Arizona's Politics is now reporting. The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) filed its third quarter report with the IRS last night, and indicated that APS parent Pinnacle West contributed another $100,000 on July 10.

Pinnacle West spent $425,000 in 2014 to benefit Brnovich's first campaign, and the Arizona Republic reported last month about the changes the AG's office made to Prop. 127. Arizona Public Service is investing heavily in defeating the measure.

In 2014, APS donated much of its money to RAGA after the final pre-election reporting period. Earlier this year, we noted they had made an early $50,000 contribution to RAGA.

Since 2014, RAGA vastly outraises and outspends its Democratic counterpart, especially in Arizona. However, Arizona's Politics noted earlier today that DAGA is holding a fundraising dinner with former Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton with the intent of supporting Arizona Democratic AG candidate January Contreras.

   RAGA IRS 3q18 by arizonaspolitics on Scribd



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BREAKING: Hillary Clinton Raising Money For AG Candidate January Contreras, Tonight In NYC

January Contreras, the Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General, is in New York tonight for a high dollar fundraiser headlined by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Contreras is one of four candidates being supported by the DAGA fundraiser, reportedly because she Democrats believe that current AG Mark Brnovich is vulnerable.

The ticket levels range from $1,000 to $25,000 for the event, and it presumably means that the Democratic Attorneys General Association will spend some money in Arizona in the closing weeks of the campaign.

A spokesperson for the Republican Attorneys General Association taunted Clinton, Contreras and the Democrats, suggesting that Contreras should ask the former Presidential candidate (etc) to campaign for her in Arizona.

DAGA and RAGA  filed their 3rd quarter reports with the IRS yesterday, and the much better-funded GOP organization is greatly outspending their Democratic counterparts, $7.4M to $1.8M. (Arizona-based contributions to RAGA are well in six figures, while DAGA received a total $450 from two individuals. APS parent company Pinnacle West contributed another $100,000 to RAGA.)

h/t to Washington Free Beacon

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