Thursday, July 19, 2018

TIDBITS: Challenge Filed Vs. Outlaw Dirty Money (READ Lawsuit)

7/21, 11am: It turns out that a challenge was filed yesterday afternoon against the Outlaw Dirty Money measure. As Arizona Capitol Media notes, the action is filed by officials of groups that have thrived on the use of monies from undisclosed donors - the Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Scot Mussi and Americans For Prosperity-Arizona's Andrew Clark.

The Complaint relies on challenging the eligibility of the circulators obtaining signatures, rather than challenging individual signors.  Plaintiffs' attorneys Kory Langhofer and Tom Basile tell Arizona's Politics that the case was filed yesterday afternoon, but were unsure why it was not listed in the Court Clerk's database as of late this morning. (Update: as of noon, it is now listed, although no hearing date is shown.)

Here is the Complaint:


(Full disclosure: Arizona's Politics has submitted a ballot measure argument supporting the initiative, although we are not involved with the effort.)

7/20, 5:30pm: The 5pm deadline has come and passed, with evidence of only one court challenge filed against an initiative. (http://bit.ly/AZp1592

This does not mean that @OutlawDirty, the @AARSuccess and @investinedaz groups are home-free, however. 

(1) a court challenge could be filed after-hours*; and 

(2) state Elections Director @Eric_Spencer, and all the County Recorders still complete statutory checks on petition sheets and random samples of sigs.

*Unlikely, but if so, it would not appear on the @MaricopaClerk 's website until tomorrow.
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DEADLINE PASSED: No Possibility Of November Special Election Should Arizona Senate Vacancy Occur

Arizona State Elections Director Eric Spencer issued this statement (via Twitter) this evening:



*

Should long-time Arizona Senator John McCain vacate his seat, it would fall to the Arizona Governor to appoint a replacement to serve until an election is able to be held. Spencer's declaration, of course, would not be the final word on the matter, but it is certainly something that anyone would have to seriously consider before challenging.

*The tweet reads: "Today at 5:00 was the deadline to run as a write-in, which means there is no conceivable possibility of holding a special election this year if a U.S. Senate vacancy were to occur.  So please, just please, let’s not  engage in any further macabre speculation on this issue."


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BREAKING, READ: APS-Backed Entity Says Clean Energy Initiative "Far Short" Of Ballot, Files Court Challenge

The Court challenge is on to determine whether the Clean Energy Initiative will be on Arizona's November ballot. The 47-page complaint was filed this morning in Maricopa County Superior Court and is published in full below.

"This is truly fraud on a massive scale," says Arizonans For Affordable Electricity spokesman Matthew Benson.

A 10:00am Monday morning hearing (July 23) is set in front of Judge Daniel Kiley.

That committee - well-funded by key opponent Arizona Public Service/Pinnacle West - is represented by Snell & Wilmer, and the named plaintiffs in the case are state lawmakers John Kavanagh and Vince Leach; the Arizona Chamber of Commerce CEO Glenn Hamer; Ashley Ragan (as Treasurer of AAE); the Mayors of Gilbert, Buckeye and Mesa (Jenn Daniels, Jackiee Meck, and Dave Giles, respectively; and an individual who is an SRP customer* (Justine Robles).

Leach and Kavanagh had previously filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office claiming that the Clean Energy committee was paying circulators an hourly wage but including a signature quota as part of their employment. They alleged - and allege in the court challenge - that that violated the new laws put into place by the Legislature and Governor after the 2016 minimum wage increase initiative.

Besides the general arguments aimed at convincing the court to prevent the initiative from being placed on the ballot, today's complaint goes after individual signatures and sheets of signatures gathered by invalid circulators. (This also indicates that Plaintiffs will likely subpoena many or all of the circulators to testify. Per a 2015 law, if a circulator does not appear, all signatures gathered by him or her would be invalidated. Many of the circulators are from out of state.)

More than 480,000 signatures were turned in, according to the Clean Energy Committee, and nearly 226,000 valid signatures are needed to make the ballot.

AAE claims that their careful review of the signatures finds that more than 374,000 are invalid - or, a 22% validity rate. With that, the initiative effort would be far short. It will be up to the judge (and, would very likely be directly appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court).

Interestingly, AAE spent much effort trying to dissuade Arizonans from signing the initiative by noting that some of the registered circulators were dangerous, convicted felons. Today's complaint only tries to invalidate 168 signatures on that basis.

The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona is ready to defend their effort in court. Spokesman Rodd McLeod tells Arizona's Politics:
"APS has already spent 10 million dollars of their customers' money trying to deny Arizonans a choice about our future. How much deeper will they reach into their customers' pockets to pay their corporate lawyers to file delusional lawsuits?"



*The Complaint alleges that the Initiative title and summary are misleading because it says "all electricity providers", even though Salt River Project is exempt.

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UPDATE/WATCH: Flake Goes Full Orwell On Senate Floor; Cornyn Nixes Post-Summit Resolution, Says He Believes Trump Misspoke

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and colleague Chris Coons (D-DE) were unsuccessful this morning in their attempt to push through their post-Trump/Putin Summit resolution.

Arizona's Politics published the text of the resolution yesterday and noted that they hoped to pass by unanimous consent. Those hopes were dashed this morning when Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) objected to the symbolic nature of the resolution.

Flake led off his pitch by extensively quoting George Orwell's 1984 and comparing it to the President's comments and actions.
(click on picture to play video)
Cornyn stood to object, after which Flake ad libbed a promise to keep bringing it back until it passes. (He has tried this tactic before when the Republican leadership is opposed to bringing a bill/resolution to the floor.)  Cornyn noted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had briefed Trump on the impending indictment of Russian intelligence hackers before the summit; Cornyn therefore believes that indicates that the President did misspeak in Helsinki when he said he wasn't sure whether the Russians were responsible.

Both Cornyn's objection and the Flake response are below:
(click here to play video in new window)



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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BREAKING, READ: Arizona Reps. Sinema and O'Halleran Vote With Republicans In Rebuking "Abolish ICE" Movement

Arizona Representatives Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) joined with nearly all of their Republican colleagues in passing a resolution denouncing the "Abolish ICE" movement and supporting all "who bring law and order to our Nation's borders."

The resolution - co-sponsored by Arizona GOP Reps. Paul Gosar (CD4), Andy Biggs (CD5) and Martha McSally (CD2) - passed by a 244-35 margin. Most Democrats (133) voted "present", and only 1 Republican opposed it (Amash).

Both Sinema and McSally are running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The cry to "Abolish ICE" has
risen recently among some Democrats opposed to the Administration's policy to separate and detain families at the U.S./Mexico border while deportation and/or asylum proceedings are taking place. Sinema has suggested that major reforms of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency are warranted, but has not joined the call to abolish.

O'Halleran represents a closely-divided CD1, and has also often voted against the prevailing party position.

McSally tweeted her support of the symbolic resolution this afternoon, rattling off ICE drug and gang stats.
Sinema has not commented publicly on her vote.

In fact, while the "action" portion of the resolution is simply denouncing the "Abolish ICE" call and supporting ICE personnel and others enforcing laws on the border, the "whereas" clauses are full of stats and comments noting that eliminating the agency would allow all of the drugs, terrorists and people here illegally to remain in the country - as if there would be a complete halt to any enforcement of laws.

   Text of anti-Abolish ICE House of Representatives resolution by arizonaspolitics on Scribd
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BREAKING, READ: Sens. Flake and Coons Introduce Resolution Calling For Hearings and Release Of President's Helsinki Notes

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) today introduced a
resolution affirming the findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. In addition, however, the resolution calls for oversight hearings on the Trump/Putin Helsinki summit earlier this week, including "the release of relevant notes and information" from the Summit.

Sen. Flake indicated on Twitter that they intend to pass it by unanimous consent tomorrow.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

BREAKING, READ: Judge Should Not Give Trump and Michael Cohen "Indefinite Stay" In Stormy Daniels' Case

Attorneys for Donald Trump, Michael Cohen and Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) filed a joint status report in Clifford's case to be released from her nondisclosure agreement. Michael Avenatti, Cliffords' attorney, argues that Cohen and the President cannot receive an "indefinite stay" simply because Cohen is still being investigated by the government.

The Defendants make their case that Avenatti seems to know more about the possible overlap between the $130,000 payment and the pending criminal investigation of Cohen than they do, and that he should have to share.

The next hearing in the matter is scheduled before U.S. District Court Judge James Otero (Central District of California) on July 27.



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Monday, July 16, 2018

READ: Affidavit Supporting Criminal Indictment of Mariia Butina (Russia/NRA)




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BREAKING, READ: ACLU Tells Court "Increasing Rumors" Government Plans "Mass Deportation" Of Separated Parents

(UPDATE, 12:45pm: District Court Judge Paul Friedman ordered the government this afternoon to begin to immediately "facilitate" daily calls between separated parents and children, as well as weekly calls between the child's case manager and the separated parent. The D.C. District Court judge indicated he was piggy-backing on his colleague's orders in the separate California case. Judge Friedman's Order is below.)

The ACLU says there are "persistent and increasing rumors" that the Trump Administration refuses to deny "that mass deportations may be carried out imminently and immediately upon
reunification." The group is asking U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw to issue a Temporary Restraining Order preventing such deportations until the issues may be decided in court.

The emergency motion comes after telephonic conferences Friday night and Monday morning. The ACLU notes that the Government told the Court Friday that it believes the Judge does not have the right to prevent the deportation of the parents - either before or after reunification.

Here is the Motion filed this a.m.:

Yesterday, the Government filed a new plan for reunifying the children separated from their parents at or near the U.S./Mexico border.


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Sunday, July 15, 2018

BREAKING, READ: New Plan For Reunifying Children Separated At Border

Sunday afternoon, the government filed a new "Notice" with the Southern California District Court in the case regarding children separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border by CBP. In it, they set forth their new plan (dated Saturday) for reunifications.



The court filing followed the Friday flurry of activity after the government told Judge Dana Sabraw that the tight deadlines imposed by the court were putting some of the childrens' safety at risk. Judge Sabraw went into beast mode, calling a Friday night status conference, and setting out a 6-page order slamming the allegation and telling the government to get a plan on his desk by Monday morning (to be followed with another status conference at 9:30am).

In today's notice, the government attorneys note that they are "devoting extraordinary resources to comply fully with this Court's orders, and to do so in good faith." They also note that HHS does not believe there will be "indicia of trafficking" in the large majority of cases, nd that they are prepared to do expedited DNA testing if needed in some of the cases.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

WATCH, Full Clip: Your Series of Texts Shows "Mental State" Of Bias --Arizona Rep. Biggs Questions FBI Agent Strzok

https://cs.pn/2zELAQU
(Click for video, in new window)

Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R-CD5) was near the end of the batting order in the marathon House interrogation of embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok yesterday, but he used his time to attempt to show how Strzok's long-running text conversation with FBI Attorney Lisa Page showed the mens rea of a crime of bias.


Biggs seemingly got further with his point than many of the more-combative Republican questioners, and Strzok acknowledged many of his interim points.

The tempers flared, however, at the end, after Biggs tried to wrap up by tying it in his earlier questioning of the DOJ Inspector General Horowitz. The Arizona Congressman said that Horowitz testified that Strzok was "the guy" on the Clinton email investigation.

Strzok asked to correct some of Biggs' misstatements. "I didn't say anything inaccurate," Biggs shot back.. Chairman Bob Goodlatte denied the request, and Democrats howled. "You've been out of order all day," Biggs retorted.



(For the complete questioning of Strzok by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, please click here.)


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WATCH, Full Clip: "I'm A Dentist", And Body Language Shows Your Bias --Rep. Gosar To FBI's Peter Strzok

https://cs.pn/2LfmvO1
(Click for video, in new window)

In the last hour of a long day, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) got his chance to question embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok. The interrogation started off smoothly enough, with the Congressman trying to show that Strzok's text messages may be used to show a bias, similar to how President Trump's comments about a Muslim ban were used in court fights.


When Strzok disagreed with that analogy, things got heated, and Gosar tried to drill down further.

"By the way, I'm a dentist, OK? So, I read body language very, very well." Gosar stated Strzok's reaction earlier in the day to questioning (by Rep. Gowdy) about "the Gold Star father". "That shows me that it is innately a part of you and a bias."

Strzok disagreed and tried to joke that the long interrogation might be compared to going to the dentist's office. That got a smile from Gosar, and Strzok went on to indicate that his body language showed that he had "a genuine passion for the United States of America."

Gosar concluded his time by correcting Strzok on the difference between a "democracy" and a "constitutional republic."


(For the complete questioning of Strzok by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, please click here.)

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

WATCH: Flake Rises To Pose A Few Questions - Trump "Sends Terrifying Message To Our Allies"

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(https://cs.pn/2uwslDm)
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

ARCHIVE: ArizonasPolitics.com 's Dark Money Reportage, 2013-2018 - #50ShadesOfDarkMoney (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

“A not-quite-definitive collection of ArizonasPolitics.com s articles re: dark money in Arizona”
(The 9/16/14 article is where we 1st explained our definition of “dark money” and introduced our #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale.)


Friday, November 1, 2013
NEWS ANALYSIS: Arizonan for Responsible Leadership: Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey Remains Mum On Anonymized Donors of Anti-Sales Tax Campaign Monies
Friday, November 1, 2013
Arizona-based "Dark Money Groups" Pay $1 Million California Fine, Likely Hold Most Of Demanded $15M Disgorgement
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Unraveling Some of the Mystery Behind Governor Campaign Ad; READ: Mystery Ad Ignites War of Words Between GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Ducey, Smith
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
What's Known So Far About Mystery Ad; READ: Mystery Ad Ignites War of Words Between GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Ducey, Smith
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
50 SHADES OF DARK MONEY: GOP AG's Assoc. Money Is A Few Shades Darker Than Democratic Counterparts; Here's Why

(continued after the jump)

Monday, July 9, 2018

MOUNTAINS OF MONEY: Arizona's Sen. Jon Kyl Is Top Sherpa For Trump Administration, Lobbyist For Dark Money Judicial Crisis Network (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

(UPDATE, 12:20pm: Sen. Kyl has confirmed to Arizona's Politics that he is ONLY working on behalf of the Administration for the nominee set to be announced tonight. And, that he will not be accepting any money for the guidance.

Exact quote from the Sherpa Extraordinaire: "My work on the last nomination was on behalf of a private group. I will be assisting the White House on this nomination...gratis.)

(Clarification, 7/10: Added "Lobbyist For..." to headline to make it clear that Sen. Kyl did not "sherpa" for the Gorsuch nomination. As he tells Arizona's Politics, "Our firm did some other work for a private client on his behalf." As the lobbying disclosure statements put it, Kyl and William Wichterman worked to "Support the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court."

Sen. Kyl also wished to make it clear that his free sherpa tasks with nominee Kavanaugh are in his personal capacity and not through the law firm.)

With today's White House announcement, Arizona's former Sen. Jon Kyl remains the go-to sherpa for the Trump Adminstration. But, he is also the man for the Judicial Crisis Network that pushes the Republican judicial agenda with millions of dollars of dark money.

Kyl was the Trump Administration's lead sherpa to guide his former colleague Jeff Sessions through the nomination process for Attorney General. It is not clear whether that was a paid trek.

Kyl was then the co-lead lobbyist for the Judicial Crisis Network's Senate push on behalf of the Trump Administration's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. JCN paid $215,000 for those unofficial sherpa responsibilities. And, Kyl was hired by Gordon Sondland to pave the way for his confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union earlier this year.

It is not yet clear whether Sen. Kyl is taking on the sherpa task for the President's new nomination to the Supreme Court as a pro bono matter, or whether he will also be lobbying on behalf of JCN. Arizona's Politics has written about the dark money nature of the JCN in the past, and more recent reporting shows that it has been largely funded by one anonymous donor.

(see update, above) Arizona's Politics has requested more information from Sen. Kyl and Covington Burling (his law firm), and will update as necessary.  

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Arizona's Politics TIDBITS (Utilities Edition): APS Finding "LOTS" Of Challengeable Clean Energy Signatures

There is a lot of political news in which mega-utility Arizona Public Service and major Pinal County provider Johnson Utilities are at the vortex. Here are updates:

7/6, 3:45pm: The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Monday morning in the alleged bribery trial involving former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce and three others. After 17 days of trial testimony, jurors were given the 4th of July week off and told to report back on the 9th to determine the fates of Pierce and his wife Sherry, Johnson Utilities owner George Johnson, and lobbyist Jim Norton.

7/6, 3:40pm: 


7/6, 3:15pm: The Arizona Corporation Commission and all of its Commissioners except one this week filed a Motion to Dismiss the most-recent version of the 5th Commissioner's lawsuit to force APS to disclose all of its political contributions in the 2014 election cycle.  Robert Burns will be responding to the Motions to Dismiss from his fellow Commissioners and a separate one from APS. (The ACC Motion was filed on July 2 and APS' on June 25.)

As noted below, Arizona's Politics reported extensively in 2014 on APS's contributions to both dark money organizations and semi-dark organizations, and its efforts to elect Doug Ducey as Governor, Mark Brnovich as Attorney General and favorable Corporation Commissioners.

7/6, 2:45pm: As expected, Arizona Public Service is going over each of the 480,464 petition signatures - on 50,065 different petition sheets - submitted yesterday by the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative group. And, Matt Benson, the spokesperson for the APS-funded opposition group Arizonans For Affordable Electricity, is claiming that there are "LOTS" of examples of invalid signatures and ineligible petition circulators.


Here are the two examples cited thus far:



Lonetree was indeed convicted of being a spy; however, it is not clear whether or not he had his civil rights restored following his prison term. If he has such proof, he would be a valid circulator. Also, it is highly likely that the highly-capable attorneys for Clean Energy would try to retain the signers on Lonetree's petitions by bringing those people in to testify.

Attorneys for AAE have filed an unresolved complaint with the Attorney General's Office* that Clean Energy has registered more than 30 possibly ineligible felons as circulators. And, AAE attempted to use that partial information to warn people not to sign the initiative petition.
As Benson points out, committees are expected to "scrub" signatures that they should know are not valid. AAE is very likely to file legal action in Maricopa County Superior Court in the next two weeks to attempt to prevent the initiative from being placed on the November ballot.

*As reported earlier by Arizona's Politics, Attorney General Mark Brnovich is the future beneficiary of a $50,000 APS contribution to the Republican Attorneys General Association. APS gave RAGA $425,000 in 2014 to support Brnovich's election.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

READ: The "Less Redacted" Application & Affidavit For the Search Warrant Of Paul Manafort's Storage Unit

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson is giving attorneys for Special Counsel Robert Mueller and former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort until Monday to explain why a "less redacted" copy of the search warrant - and the Application and Affidavit for that warrant - for Manafort's storage locker should not be part of the record in the main case.

Last week, the cleaner versions were made publicly available in the (closed) action regarding the search warrants in the District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Here is the Application and Affidavit, spelling out much of the background for the Special Counsel's case against Manafort. The trial is scheduled for later this month.


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