Thursday, April 19, 2018

FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS: APS, T.W. Lewis, University of Phoenix Top Arizona Contributors' To RGA (Ducey) - LIST

APS, T.W. Lewis, and University of Phoenix lead the list of Arizona contributors to the Republicannews today that the RGA plans to immediately start running $330,000 worth of ads tomorrow to support Governor Doug Ducey and his #20x2020 plan to give raises to Arizona school teachers.
Gov. Ducey in RGA tent at Phoenix Open
Governors Association. This information became more critical with the



Arizona's Politics previously reported that APS had donated $100,000 to the RGA. That amount for the 2017-18 period is now $125,000, after a $25,000 contribution on March 8 (just disclosed this week). That matches the amount given by Tom Lewis and his T.W. Lewis homebuilding company. University of Phoenix lags behind at $100,000. 

These amounts are reported to the IRS periodically, per tax rules for political organizations such as the RGA. There is no restriction on contribution limits, and corporations may donate, too. The RGA has also set up an Arizona account, which is apparently the group placing these new ads.

According to the ad order (below), Phoenix-area viewers will see $194,000 worth of ads over the next 10 days. No Tucson market orders have yet been filed (with the FCC).

Arizona's Politics will shortly expand the list of major Arizona contributors to the RGA.


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FACT CHECK - FIRST ON AZ'S POLITICS: Arpaio Still Claims Mexican Drug Cartels Put $1M Bounty On His Head; He Exaggerated And His Deputies Promptly Gave Up On Investigating Claim (READ, INCIDENT REPORT)

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues to claim that "the Mexican drug cartels put a $1 Million bounty on my head!" However, he and his spokeswoman exaggerated the story to a TV reporter and his own MCSO detectives quickly gave up on investigating the claim.

Arpaio made the unverified claim in a fundraising email yesterday, as evidence of how tough his Department had been on "violent drug dealers, callous human traffickers, and thousands of criminal gang members that were here illegally".

When then-MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen initially divulged the "threat" to a Fox 10 reporter in 2010, she indicated that the FBI had forwarded it to them, that it had been posted on the internet, and that we had to take it "credibly because, you know, he's such a lightning rod, and so many people don't like him because of his stance on this issue." That gave the then-Sheriff the opportunity to shrug it off on camera with a joke about how bad the Mexican economy must be because previous bounties had been $5M.

"I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "It doesn't matter to me," the Associated Press report quoted him telling the TV reporter.

A public records request by Arizona's Politics reveals that much of the information fed to the reporter was false. The threat not only was simply a supposedly-viral, untraceable text message in August 2010, it also put a $10,000 bounty on ANY American. The report does not indicate that the FBI was involved in bringing it to the MCSO's attention - something that would certainly be included in the report. 

And, based on Arpaio's comments to the local Fox reporter, the 2nd half of the "threat" was not important for the public to know. (By the way, the FBI tip was not assigned to a Deputy until 1-2 days after Allen and Arpaio went public and said it was being investigated.)

The incident report (below) also shows that the extent of the investigation was finding out that the "several" recipients did not know where the messages came from, that the numbers appeared as either "restricted" or from outside the U.S. The message itself listed a Mexican phone number - however, it did not match any numbers in the Drug Enforcement Agency's database.

The simple report leaves "this case (is) open pending further investigation." However, the MCSO confirmed to Arizona's Politics that "a search of MCSO records...was not able to find any additional supplemental reports to this case." A followup conversation with an MCSO detective in the current threats unit also yielded no update.

Arpaio's Senate campaign has declined repeated requests to provide any supporting documentation for the claim. And, in fact, yesterday's fundraising email (below) repeated it after learning that Arizona's Politics was researching it.

This - and, many other - fundraising email helped Arpaio raise slightly more than $500,000 for his campaign to replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).



***
(Arpaio email, 4/18/18)
As Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, my officers and I locked up violent drug dealers, callous human traffickers, and thousands of criminal gang members that were here illegally. In fact, I was so effective that at one point the Mexican drug cartels put a $1 Million bounty on my head! 

It is clear to me, as I know it is to you, that our nation has an illegal immigration problem. 

But, MItch, this will not be solved over night, nor is it going to be solved by just one action. It's going to take many different actions, but one I feel strongly about is and I know President Trump agrees with me on is building a wall. 

I want to know what you think. Do you support building a wall? 


Please let me know by clicking on the link above and filling out my one question survey. 

MItch, we are at a crossroads for our nation's history and I want to know what side you are on. 


Please fill out my survey right away, and if you agree with me that building a wall is a critical step we need to take in solving our nation's illegal immigration problem, then please stand with my campaign by making a much needed financial contribution. 

I need your support and President Trump needs my vote. 

You have supported me in previous endeavors, and I hope and pray that I will have your continued support today. 

I need your support and President Trump needs my vote. 

Sincerely,
Sheriff Joe Arpaio 

P.S. Let me know if you support building a wall by clicking on the graphic immediately. Thanks. 

****

Thanks to Brian Reilly and Paul Weich, who contributed reporting for this article. Part of a continuing series.

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ARIZONA'S POLITICS TIDBITS: Arpaio - "Getting High"

4/20, 8:10am: KUDOS to the Joe Arpaio campaign fundraising email writer. Never one to avoid attention-grabbing subject lines on his emails, the 4/20 missive blares: "Getting high". Of course, it does not mention recreational, medicinal or illegal. However, it does use the words "high" and "paranoid" in the grabber opening sentence: "I hate to sound paranoid, but I am very worried about the state of this race. Frankly, we are in real jeopardy of losing our Senate majority and the stakes are too high for us to lose." 

Because it is a fundraising email, that *worry* should be taken seriously, not literally. FACTS do still matter in these emails, which is why you need to check out yesterday's article: 

FACT CHECK - FIRST ON @AZs_Politics: @RealSheriffJoe Arpaio Still Claims Mexican Drug Cartels Put $1M Bounty On His Head; How He Exaggerated, And His Deputies Promptly Gave Up On Investigating Claim
4/19, 1:15pm: After initially voting to not close debate on the nomination of Jim Bridenstine for NASA Administrator yesterday, Sen. Jeff Flake today voted with his GOP colleagues to approve his nomination. The final vote was 50-49. Reporting yesterday indicated that he switched his vote in return for an agreement that he would have a chance to speak with Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo about policy towards Cuba.

If you have a short news item that you think should appear in "Arizona's Politics Tidbits", please forward them to "Mitch @ ArizonasPolitics . com" (no spaces, though). Campaign mailers, robocalls, etc. are especially welcome. There is no guarantee that your item will be published.

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BREAKING: Alan Futerfas Intervenes For Trump ORGANIZATION In Michael Cohen Search Warrants Matter (READ ORDER)

The Trump Organization has stepped into the legal wrangling over the documents seized by the FBI in the Michael Cohen search warrants. Well-known criminal defense attorney Alan Futerfas will represent the company.

When Michael Cohen divulged his three legal clients on Monday, he mentioned President Donald Trump individually, and the President has already been involved in the legal matter in front of U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood. This new intervention likely indicates spreading concern over what the seized documents contain, and that their may be some legal/business dealings involved. Cohen used to work as part of the Trump Organization, but told the court he left in January 2017 (when Trump was sworn in).

Futerfas also has been representing Donald Trump, Jr. in matters related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump campaign and presidency. He has long been a "sought-after defense lawyer for accused mobsters," according to a Washington Post profile.

Somewhat interestingly, Futerfas only filed notice that he might want to intervene at some future time. Judge Wood simply considered it to be a motion and brought him into the case. No future motion necessary.




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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

BREAKING: FBI Has "Voluntarily Refrained" From Looking At Cohen's Seized Records, Plans To Start Reviewing April 27 (READ LETTER)

The U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York told the Court that agents have "voluntarily refrained" from starting to go through the documents they seized from Trump attorney Michael Cohen. They propose to begin reviewing them with their "Filter Team" (aka "Taint Team") on April 27 and suggest it will take until May 11.

The letter to Judge Kimba Wood also reasserts their opposition to a Special Master to review any disputes over what documents might be privileged or not privileged, but offer the names of three retired judges as possible Special Masters.


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#AZ08 TIDBITS: April 24 Special Election, Lesko vs Tipirneni

4/20, 7:00am: Here are a couple of the last minute pieces hitting #AZ08 mailboxes. We have the RNC piece attacking Tipirneni as a Nancy Pelosi liberal - and noting that her employer had $6B in government contracts (she promoted cancer research for them). And, we have the Arizona Democratic Party piece attacking Lesko as a lobbyist puppet who increased taxes. Both hit the mailbox of Mike Grose., a registered Republican in the district.  (Thanks for forwarding them to us, Mike!)





4/19, 2:45pm:





4/19, 8:00am: The Planned Parenthood Federal PAC ($2,500) and former Arizona Secretary of State Terry Goddard ($1,000) stand out among Tipirneni's $20,000 in last minute contributions reported yesterday. $18,000 of that is from out of state. Here is the filing.

4/19, 7:50am: More of the 11th hour contributions from House Speaker Paul Ryan's fundraiser for Lesko are tricking in. She received $24,000 in big checks*, $14,400 of that from outside Arizona.  Among the noteworthy donors were the Utah First PAC, the National Fraternal Order of Police PAC, and the Wellcare Health Plans PAC ($1,000 each). Here is the filing.

*Per federal law, contributions of $1,000-$2,700 must be disclosed within 48 hours in the closing days of the campaign.

4/19, 7:30am: National Republican groups are smashing through the $1M mark.  Politico has learned that the Congressional Leadership Fund is spending - they use the word "dumping" - $100,000 in a "final, hyper-targeted digital and phone effort" to push Lesko over the top. That would bring CLF's total to over $200,000, and the national GOP to $1.1M.

4/18, 9:15am: #AZ08 has moved from being a "Solid R" to a "Likely R" by a well-respected political report. The Cook Political Report said today that it made the change because of the recent quarterly campaign finance reports filed by the candidates' committees. As reported 1st by Arizona's Politics, Tipirneni outraised Lesko in the past 10 weeks and had $72k more cash on hand. Polls - which have been all over the place - apparently played a lesser role in the rating change.

4/18, 7:10am: Ad spending for the (general election portion of the) #AZ08 Special Election will likely fall just short of $1.5M. According to Medium Buying, TV and radio ads are currently at $1,470,000. And, it is nearly evenly split. The Tipirneni campaign has spent $749,000. The joint effort by the Lesko campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee spent $550,000, while the NRCC has separately thrown in $171,000.

4/17, 10:15pm: Yesterday, the Lesko campaign received a $1,000 contribution from NEW PAC. NEW PAC is chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Nunes also chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
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4/17, 10pm: Democratic mega-donor Fred Eychaner just donated the $2,700 maximum to the Tipirneni campaign, it was disclosed tonight. Eychaner, the wealthy President of Newsweb Corp. has long been one of the largest contributors to Democratic SuperPACs and candidates. (In 2012, he was the largest.)

4/17, 4:45pmBREAKING UPDATE: National Republicans Spend Another $68k Phoning, Mailing In As Candidates Reach The Home Stretch; $958k To Date (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)



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BREAKING UPDATE: National Republicans Spend Another $68k Phoning, Mailing In #AZ08 As Candidates Reach The Home Stretch; $958k To Date (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

The Republican National Committee spent another $68,189 today, mailing and phoning potential voters in next week's #AZ08 Special Election. The total for national GOP groups is now at $937,516 for the solidly-red West Valley district.

The FEC filing divulges that the $40,000 worth of calls have both pro-Debbie Lesko and anti-Hiral Tipirneni messages, while the mail piece is simply negative against the Democratic nominee.

Arizona's Politics has been documenting the new phenomenon of heavy GOP spending for the Congressional seat that was held for many years by Trent Franks.

The Arizona Secretary of State's Office today lowered its turnout forecast to 278,000 ballots, noting that half of that number have already been cast. 49% of the cast ballots belong to registered Republicans, while 28% are from Democrats and 23% are from independents/others/PNDs.




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VALUED VOTER: "Some People Say I Am Violating Campaign Finance Law, But I Want You To Vote For Tipirneni"; FEC Complaint Filed

They are simple postcards written by volunteers from around the country, urging West Valley voters to vote for Hiral Tipirneni in next week's election. However, the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance believes they are an "illegal activity", and has asked the Federal Election Commission to find that they violate campaign finance laws.

Postcards From Voters is a group that began last year in a special election in Georgia, and encourages progressives to hand-write postcards to voters. The effort has taken off and has targeted voters in Arizona as well as in upcoming Congressional races.

The PIA announced today it had filed a complaint against Tipirneni's campaign because it has effectively accepted illegal campaign contributions from the group. They also note that the group encourages campaign committees to coordinate their desired messages with them.

Arizona's Politics is looking into whether the FEC has received and/or acted on any earlier complaints against this group, and will update as warranted.


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9th Circuit To Appoint Special Counsel To Fight Joe Arpaio Appeal After Trump DOJ Steps Aside; "Deeply Disturbing", Says Arpaio Attorney (READ)

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that it will appoint a special counsel to fight the effects of President Donald Trump's pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio's attorney calls it "deeply disturbing."

The 2-1 decision yesterday comes after 3 1/2 months of considering the matter, which was raised by amici after the Department of Justice had declined to do battle with Arpaio at the end of the District Court criminal contempt case, and after Arpaio had appealed the decision that the pardon did not vacate Judge Bolton's findings that the former Sheriff was guilty of contempt.

The majority said that it is following a line of U.S. Supreme Court cases that authorize appointing private counsel when there has been a political change that has prompted prosecutors to rethink their position. In November, the Court asked the parties for their positions on a special counsel; the Justice Department said it would not defend Bolton's order and said "we take no position on whether
the Court should appoint counsel to make any additional arguments."

Arpaio's attorneys argued strongly against special counsel, telling the court it "simply smacks of the worst kind of prejudice."

Reached today by Arizona's Politics, Arpaio co-counsel Jack Wilenchik elaborated:
The idea that the Ninth Circuit can appoint “another” prosecutor to a criminal case, just because the actual prosecutors agree with the defendant and the law is clearly on his side, is deeply disturbing. But unfortunately it is nothing new in this case, which has been a battle from day one between the law and deep-seated judicial prejudice.
Dissenting Judge Richard Tallman agreed, and noted that Arpaio had admitted guilt when he accepted the pardon.
 Arpaio effectively conceded his guilt by accepting the pardon, and there is no need for more investigation, presentation of evidence, or further proceedings to determine if the equitable relief of vacatur is appropriate.


Attorney Paul Weich contributed to this report.

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CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT: Arizona's Senate Race Currently 7th Most Expensive In Nation; Sinema Amasses $6.7M Warchest

Arizona's election to replace the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is currently listed as the 7th most expensive in the nation. And, although she was outraised by House colleague Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) in the last quarter, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's (D-CD9) campaign warchest has swelled to $6.7M. The three major Republican candidates had $3.9M COMBINED in their bank accounts on April 1.

Sinema raised $2.4M during the 1st three months of this year, and spent slightly less than $1M. Over the past three quarters, her cash on hand has swelled from $4.2M to $5.1M to the current $6.7M.

By comparison, McSally - who faces a three-way GOP primary contest - has $3.2M in the bank. The closest Democratic rival is Deedra Abboud, and she had less than $2,000 in the bank on January 1. (We published this article yesterday about some of Arpaio's and McSally's reports; we are still waiting for the FEC to post other reports.)

The Center for Responsive Politics has listed Arizona's Senate race as #7 in the nation as far as total spending so far. That gives a good overall picture of the nature of the race. (However, there are some anomalies that we have noticed in the Arizona numbers - such as using the McSally For Congress report instead of the yet-to-be-published McSally For Senate, which causes her transfer to be counted as spending.)

The primary election is on August 28.




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Monday, April 16, 2018

WATCH/READ: Senate Voting On Flake Bill Re: White Mountain Apache' Water Settlement Funds; House Tacked On Labor Measure

(UPDATE, 4:05pm: Senate fails to close debate on @JeffFlake bill re: White Mountain Apache Tribe use of water settlement funds; House amendment re: NLRA exclusion blamed. It was sent back to committee. Ranking minority Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said the Republicans are using the exclusion as a play to "partisan rancor" and to use it as a "wedge issue".)

The U.S. Senate is debating and voting on a bill that would permit Arizona's White Mountain Apache Tribe to use water settlement funds for a new water system. The measure is sponsored by Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and became more controversial when the House tacked on an labor measure which would exclude Tribal Nations - and their business enterprises - from the National Labor Relations Act and allowing their employees to form unions.

Flake spoke in favor of the amended bill today as debate began. (The text of the bill and the transcript of his remarks are below.)



Flake's remarks: 
Mr. President, Indian water settlements are an invaluable tool to ensure that tribes receive the water rights they are entitled to and that other water users are given the certainty they require. In states like my home state of Arizona, water rights have a substantial impact on the lives and livelihoods of many residents. These measures are critical to communities around Arizona. I rise today in support of legislation I introduced aimed at ensuring the previously enacted White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Qualification Act of 2010 is being properly interpreted by the Department of the Interior. This bill clarifies that settlement funds awarded to the Tribe may be used for a critical rural water system. This new system is essential for the Tribe and will allow them to deliver drinking water to their members. The measure I am proposing today is also time sensitive. The White Mountain settlement includes an enforceability date that means if this water system project is not completely approved by May 2021 it becomes void. In order to realistically meet this deadline, this bill must pass as soon as possible so the Tribe has the time to complete the necessary project studies. This bill also corrects an issue with the National Labor Relations Act.For nearly seventy years, tribal governments were exempt from the Act, just like local, state, and federal governments. However in 2004, the NLRB inappropriately ruled that tribes were no longer exempt. This measure would create parity for tribal governments, giving them the same employer rights afforded to other federal, state, and local governments. Importantly, this element of the bill only applies to tribal employers on tribal lands – meaning any tribally owned and operated institutions not on tribal land would still be treated as normal, private-sector employers. This bill offers these two important clarifications, one of which is desperately needed to allow the White Mountain Apache Tribe to move forward on a vital rural water system project. I urge the bill’s passage so we can ensure tribes are best able to serve their people and improve their communities.If you would like to show your appreciation for Arizona's Politics reporting, please consider donating to our pool to support OTHER journalism-related nonprofits. 

Arizona Rep. Tom O'Halleran was the only Arizona Democrat who voted with the Republican majority in the House in January.


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BREAKING: Arpaio's 10-week Haul Of $503,191 Means 3-Way GOP Primary Will Be Expensive, Expansive; “We’re off to a great start!"

Though there was little doubt about former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's prodigious fundraising capabilities, his first federal campaign finance filing confirms that the 3-way GOP primary election race to replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will be expensive and expansive.

Published below are the summary pages for Arpaio's report, indicating that he brought in $503,191 in the first 10 weeks after he announced that he would challenge Kelli Ward and Rep. Martha McSally for the nomination. $400,000 of that came in small contributions (<$200) that did not need to be itemized. He had $254,938 in the bank at the beginning of this month.

Arpaio told reporters (in a news release) that “we’re off to a great start. I’m tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support for this campaign."

To put that amount into perspective, McSally transferred nearly $1M from her House campaign committee coffers to her committee to run for the Senate, and Ward - who has been campaigning for this office since the 2016 election - had $350,000 cash on hand on January 1 of this year.




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BREAKING: McSally Jumpstarted Senate Campaign With Nearly $1M From House Fund; Arpaio Raises $500k And Has $250k On Hand

(Clarification, 9:45am: Sinema did not form a new committee when she announced that she would run for Senate. No transfers necessary.)

Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) transferred $972,498 from her well-funded House campaign account to jumpstart her Senate campaign. She also continued raising money for her House campaign for approximately 6 weeks after announcing she would run for Sen. Jeff Flake's seat.

In other news, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced that he raised $500,000 in the 10 weeks after he announced his run to replace Flake, and that he had $250,000 cash on hand headed into April.

Campaign finance filings were due yesterday, but candidates for Senate can turn theirs in to the Senate, and there is thus a delay before they are publicly available on the FEC website.

The other major Republican candidate for the Senate is Kelli Ward. On the Democratic side, the major candidates are Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and Deedra Aboud.

McSally (and Sinema) are   is permitted to transfer monies from their her House campaign committees to their  her Senate committees. However, contributors are not entitled to max out ($2,700 for primary, $2,700 for general) to both committees. (Thus, the committees need to note whose contributions are being transferred and whose are not.)

This gets trickier for the $200,000 in small, unitemized contributions that the McSally for Congress committee collected in the 1st quarter. Additionally, her House committee continued to spend money ($624,369) through March; she announced her Senate run on January 12.

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MICHAEL COHEN'S CLIENTS: Trump, Broidy & HANNITY - 3rd Client "Embarrassed" To Be Named Publicly (READ)

(UPDATE, 12:30pm: Well, we did not see that one coming. Judge Wood ordered Cohen's attorneys to divulge the client's name during the hearing. Fox News star Sean Hannity retained Michael Cohen for legal services - not business services - at some point in the past 16 months.)

(UPDATE, 1:15pm: Hannity is denying that he has an attorney-client relationship with Michael Cohen to protect. He tweeted the firm denial: "Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective." However, an attorney-client relationship can be formed without the data points Hannity provided. (It is also a bit surprising that Hannity would make this claim.)


/end)

Michael Cohen's attorneys acknowledge this morning that he has had three legal clients during the past year: the President of the United States, Elliot Broidy (now-former RNC official), and a 3rd client who is ready to appeal any court order to be publicly named as a Cohen client, due to "embarrassment".

Cohen's counsel's letter to U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood says the 3rd person is not connected to the subject matter of the search warrants executed on Cohen's home, office, hotel room. However, the embarrassment of being named publicly in connection with the matter imposes on Cohen the obligation to respect the client's directive and not divulge the name - unless privately to a special master reviewing the nature of the documents seized in response to the search warrants.

Late last night, attorneys for Trump wrote the judge and claimed the right to review the documents before a Department of Justice "taint team", saying that no prosecutors could fairly review the documents.

A hearing on the matters related to the search warrants is scheduled for this afternoon.


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Sunday, April 15, 2018

BREAKING: Arizona ACLU Refiles Suit Against Rep. Paul Gosar For Blocking Constituents On Facebook (READ COMPLAINT)

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) is facing a lawsuit refiled this past week by two constituents who had been blocked from his official Facebook page.

The Arizona Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") and local media law expert Dan Barr have teamed up to refile the action on behalf of J'aime Morgaine and Paul Hamilton. (The new complaint - filed in U.S. District Court - is below.)

Morgaine and Hamilton are both constituents of Rep. Gosar's who are active in different chapters of the anti-Trump Indivisible movement. Both discovered that they were prohibited from participating in Facebook town hall events or threads on the Congressman's official Facebook page.

After Gosar took heat last October for a national interview (aired on HBO) in which he - among other controversial remarks - defended his blocking policy (by inferring that it had to do with physical safety), he announced that he was unblocking "all previously blocked constituents."

Morgaine's initial lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in February, amidst service issues. It was re-filed on Tuesday.

Barr tells Arizona's Politics tonight that he is "happy to be working with the ACLU of AZ to prevent Rep. Gosar from unconstitutionally blocking constituents from his official Congressional Facebook page."

The plaintiffs are seeking to prevent Gosar from either re-blocking them or blocking other individuals under his current social media policy, and to declare that policy as violating constituents' Constitutional rights under the First and Fifth Amendments.






(h/t to Arizona Informer, for complaining that their self-described "snarky" Twitter account has been blocked by #AZ08 candidate Tipirneni, and that it was akin to public official Gosar's constituent-blocking.  This prompted us to check on the status of the Gosar case. While we agree that it is politically stupid for a candidate to block anyone that is not harassing, we can see that there is a difference between a candidate and an already-elected public official.)

(Disclosure: Arizona's Politics has been blocked by a couple of Maricopa County and Arizona politicians, usually for asking some questions over Twitter. We have not taken legal action...yet.)

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TRUMP ATTORNEY TO COURT: No Prosecutors Can Safeguard President's Interests In His Communications With Michael Cohen

(4/16, 9:55am UPDATE: We have added the U.S.Attorney's Offices response to Hendon's letter.)

In a bit of lawyerly hyperbole consistent with her client, an attorney for President Donald Trump tonight argued that no prosecutors - even an independent "taint team" - could fairly safeguard Trump's interests in his communications with personal attorney Michael Cohen.

The letter-motion was filed Sunday evening in advance of a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood. Attorney Joanna Hendon makes the (reasonable) case that Cohen's attorneys should now be able to review the documents seized last week and assert the attorney-client privilege as to specific communications. If the Justice Department attorneys objected to the assertions, the court would make the determination.

Among Hendon's (less persuasive) arguments is the doozy that any federal prosecutors could be fair to the President. She states:
"In the highly politicized, even fevered, atmosphere that envelops this matter, it is simply unreasonable to expect that a team of prosecutors, even if not directly involved in the investigation of Mr. Cohen, could perform a privilege review in the manner necessary to safeguard the important interests of the President, as the holder of the privilege."
Also tomorrow, Judge Wood has ordered Michael Cohen to submit a list of his legal clients. The government's filings on Friday divulged that Cohen had a Strategic Alliance with mega-law firm Squire Patton Boggs and that Cohen had delivered five clients to SPB as part of the arrangement that paid Cohen at least $500,000. Arizona's Politics is asking for readers' help in figuring out which SPB clients Cohen may have referred.

The entire letter/motion is below, followed by a screenshot of the quoted portion.



(h/t to Talking Points Memo, for also monitoring the docket on a Sunday evening.)

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Friday, April 13, 2018

CROWD-SOURCING: The 5 Clients Michael Cohen Referred To Squire Patton Boggs For $500k

When the post-Cohen raid news earlier this week indicated that Michael Cohen had a "Strategic Alliance" with Squire Patton Boggs, my interest was piqued. And today, we learn that Cohen received $500k+ from the firm, and that he had delivered 5 clients to them during the past year.

Now obviously, these aren't PI, family law, or even petty criminal referrals. I'm thinking lobbying, but it could be others. Lobbying seems to fit because of SPB's mega-lobbying business, what kind of people/entities would be contacting Cohen for access, etc.

To that end, here is a list of new clients that SPB registered with the U.S. Senate during the one-year pendency of the Strategic Alliance.

I'd be willing to put money up that one of the clients is "U.S. Immigration Fund, LLC". They've paid SPB $220k, and here is their website. (I checked it out earlier this week because they gave a (mere) $50k to a McCain-philic SuperPAC last year. (related story)

Thoughts?


(BTW, I happened to be checking PACER yesterday morning to see if Cohen had filed something to challenge the raids, and instead found that Fusion GPS had just moved to dismiss Cohen's $100M defamation suit because he filed it too late and didn't allege actual malice. Read that article here.)


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BREAKING: Tipirneni Outraises Lesko, Has More Cash On Hand In #AZ08 Special Election (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

In #AZ08, Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni outraised GOP opponent Debbie Lesko down the stretch to the April 24 Special Election and - importantly - has $72,000 more cash on hand.

The surprise in that is two-fold - the fact that it is a normally safe Republican Congressional District held for many years by resigned Rep. Trent Franks, and that Lesko has been a well-connected state Senator.

Both candidates filed their Pre-Special Election campaign finance reports last night, and they are presented below.

Tipirneni raised $434,000 in the 8 week period ending April 4, bringing her to-date (non-candidate) contributions to $642,000. She has spent $610,000 and entered the home stretch with $125,000 cash on hand. (The physician contributed and lent her campaign $93,000.)

Lesko had $53,000 cash in the bank on April 4. She raised $367,000 in the past period to bring her total to $537,000. She's spent $510,000. (Lent her campaign $25,000.)

As Arizona's Politics has been documenting, national Republicans have provided nearly $900,000 in support - a good portion for canvassing, phoning and functions that a campaign might normally handle on its own. There has been speculation that Lesko was not raising as much money as the party expected. (Further analysis of the newly-filed reports forthcoming.)



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Thursday, April 12, 2018

UPDATE: DISMISSED.....100 Days Too Late, $100M Short: Saying Michael Cohen's "Too Late" & That There's No Malice, Fusion GPS Moves To Dismiss Cohen's Steele Dossier Defamation Suit (READ, OFF-TOPIC)

UPDATE, 4/19, 10:30am: Facing a deadline next week to respond to Fusion GPS' Motion to Dismiss, Cohen yesterday voluntarily dismissed his $100M defamation suit. (below) He also dismissed the separate action against Buzzfeed. Following the FBI raid of Cohen's offices, there were reports that they had evidence that Cohen had traveled to the Czech Republic during the campaign; Cohen's defamation suits were based on his claims that that part of the dossier was false.


Fusion GPS moved to dismiss  Michael Cohen's $100M defamation suit yesterday, claiming the embattled Trump attorney filed the action well after the one-year statute of limitations, and that Cohen does not have any facts to indicate that the research firm had "actual malice" in turning over the infamous opposition research dossier to authorities.
(AP)

Cohen filed the suit against Fusion GPS' parent company in January, saying that the dossier falsely reported that he had traveled to the Czech Republic during the Presidential campaign on behalf of then-candidate Trump. The dossier made its way to federal authorities in 2016, and Buzzfeed News published it in January 2017. (Cohen filed a separate action against Buzzfeed.)

The complaint was filed one day before a year had passed from the Buzzfeed publication. In the new Motion to Dismiss, Fusion GPS says that Cohen's suit acknowledged that the publication was out of the control of Fusion GPS, and also that Fusion GPS had not taken any actions after November 2016. Citing case law, Fusion GPS thus argues that the one-year deadline to file the case passed in November 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken today gave Cohen's attorneys until April 27 to respond.*



*Fusion GPS attempted to file the Motion to Dismiss on March 30, however some filing problems with the Court prompted them to re-file it April 11.

(Occasionally, Arizona's Politics comes across interesting items that are not directly related to Arizona politics, but warrant publishing. This is one of those items.)

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UPDATE: National Republicans Drop Another $270K On #AZ08 Special Election, Total Hits $889,327; Democrats Start To Answer

The National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC") dropped $270,000 for a new ad touting Debbie Lesko for the April 24 Special Election in Arizona's 8th Congressional District.  National GOP groups have now spent $889,327 in the past month to ensure that the solid Republican district stays in GOP hands.

The NRCC ad - which has not been posted online - likely attacks Democratic nominee Hiral Tipirneni. Tipirneni's campaign is airing its own attack ad against Lesko.

The national Republicans have also invested heavily in so-called ground game activities, such as door-to-door canvassing, phone calls, etc.  The candidates' next campaign finance reports are due next week.

A fairly new national Democratic group - the Progressive Turnout Project - filed an independent expenditure report this week, noting they have spent $14,117 in airlines tickets and other expenses. It is the first report of national groups trying to help Tipirneni tip the seat to the Democrats.

The Progressive Turnout Project told Arizona's Politics that they are sending approximately 30 staffers to Arizona's West Valley "in the final weekend leading up to Election Day" to help get out the vote. Spokesperson Priyal Amin says the PTP is "grassroots funded", and a check of their FEC reports does back it up.

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BREAKING: 3 AZ Reps Cross Party Lines As Balanced Budget Amendment FAILS, 233-184

Three of Arizona's 8 Representatives crossed party lines on today's vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment. The resolution failed to garner the required 2/3 vote, and failed 233-184.

Only 7 Democrats voted in favor of sending the proposed Constitutional Amendment to be considered by the states. (178 voted against.) Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) voted "aye". She has not yet commented publicly on her vote.

Sinema is running for the Senate seat opened up  by the impending retirement of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Not coincidentally, her leading Republican opponent - Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) also voted aye, and trumpeted that she was one of the (65) co-sponsors of the measure.*

Republican House Members supported referring the Amendment to the state by a count of 226-6. Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Andy Biggs (R-CD5).

In a tweet and a  column posted on FoxNews.com, Biggs said "the so-called balanced budget amendmennt...may be the most cynical (proposal) in my short time in Congress."  His point was that it "incentivizes Congress to raise taxes" because it would be easier than slashing spending.





Gosar's explanation brought Biggs' point into sharper focus by tying it to the omnibus deal** that was passed last month. 
Two weeks after blowing through spending caps by passing without reading the 2,300 page, $1.3 trillion omnibus spending deal, Congress seems to have conveniently found religion and suddenly cares about spending limits. My vote against the Balanced Budget Act reflects my frustration with the spending hypocrisy of this Congress. I am committed to using tools provided to Congress by the Constitution to ensure that we do not tie our country's future to the debts of our past. In previous years, I've supported legislation that provided a path toward fiscal responsibility like the Cut, Cap And Balance Act. Unfortunately, this amendment is filled with loopholes and doesn't get us any closer to fixing Washington's out of control spending. This bill was nothing more than a CYA charade and the American people see right through it. (Emphasis added)

*McSally's initial news release after the vote indicated that the resolution had passed. A corrected release soon followed.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

UPDATE/BREAKING: APS' Parent Leads Nation In SuperPAC Political Contributions (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

(UPDATE, 4/12/18: APS responded to Arizona's Politics' emails after hours last night. Though they didn't answer the specific questions, their statement is incorporated at the end of this article.)

Arizona Public Service continues ramping up for both state and federal elections this year, with the new news that Pinnacle West (APS' parent) has given $1.2M to federal SuperPACs in this election cycle - more than any other public corporation in the nation.

Arizona's Politics earlier reported that PinnWest had re-started its elections money machine by contributing $150,000 to groups who will be supporting Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich in their re-election campaigns. And, there has been widespread reporting on APS's spending money to oppose an initiative effort related to renewable energy.

However, the $1,160,000 which PinnWest has already contributed to Arizona Grassroots Action PAC since the last election is large in its own right. This nearly doubles its contribution to AGA in all of 2016, which was used to support the re-election of Sen. John McCain (both in the primary and in the general).

It is not clear who controls where the AGA PAC spends its money, and which campaign(s) it might get involved in. Significantly, though, APS/PinnWest has contributed about half of the $1.2M before Sen. Jeff Flake announced he would not seek re-election, and slightly more than half after the (Oct. 24) announcement.

In a pattern of APS now going the early money route, its AGA support is stronger and earlier than it was in previous election cycles.  (AGA has had an interesting record of both contributors and disbursements.)

Pinnacle West's activity put it at the pinnacle of publicly-owned corporations* contributing to federal SuperPACs in this campaign cycle, according to research by the Washington Post. (The article notes billionaires Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are conspicuously absent; that couple has been a key Arizona Grassroots Action contributor in the past.)

Arizona's Politics' articles about the stepped-up APS/PinnWest activity come even as the court battle over forcing the utility to divulge details about its prodigious - and, largely dark** - 2014 political spending continues. In February, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley dismissed Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns' lawsuit to enforce his subpoenas; the parties are wrangling over the form of judgment and a motion to amend the complaint.

Arizona's Politics has reached out to PinnWest for responses, and will supplement this article as warranted.   In response to detailed questions from Arizona's Politics, APS' Media Relations Manager Jenna Powell issued the following company statement:
As Arizona’s largest and longest-serving energy company, a major employer and the state’s largest taxpayer, we are heavily invested in and dedicated to Arizona’s success. The policies set by our lawmakers and regulators have significant implications for our customers, employees and shareholders, and that is why we participate in the political process and advocate for pro-business policies that support a responsible and sustainable energy future for Arizona. We are fully transparent about our participation; in fact, we voluntarily go beyond what disclosure laws require by annually publishing a comprehensive list of our political contributions, funded by Pinnacle West shareholders – not APS customers.
APS declined to comment on its #1 in the nation status or the extent of its involvement with AGA PAC, and why it chose to put so many eggs in AGA's basket. APS also did not voluntarily disclose any political contributions it made in the 1st quarter of this calendar year, or its political budget for the rest of this year.

PinnWest's political participation web page does disclose the AGA contributions. It also discloses the $3.2M spent to oppose the renewable energy initiative spearheaded by billionaire Tom Steyer (first reported on by Arizona Capital Media's Howie Fischer). The $750,000 given to the Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association was APS' 3rd largest contribution last year.


*APS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pinnacle West. It is the largest government-regulated utility in Arizona.
**APS was admittedly a player in the flood of dark money in the 2014 campaign, as frequently documented in Arizona's Politics' #50ShadesOfDarkMoney series.

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