Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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