Wednesday, April 17, 2019

NEW: Schweikert Campaign UNDERWATER As Legal Expenses Surpass $583,000 Due To Ethics Probe; Former Chief Of Staff No Longer Being Investigated

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) has seen his campaign committee owe more money than it has on hand, as its legal expenses climbed to $583,000 as a result of a year-long ethics investigation. The apparent origin of the trouble - Oliver Schwab, his former Chief of Staff - is no longer under investigation.

The investigation continues, and the Arizona Republic's Ronald Hansen reported on today's release of the initial referral by the Office of Congressional Ethics to the House Ethics Committee. Most of that information was already in the public sphere; however, it does indicate that the referral for the alleged infractions was unanimous.

The Committee - made up of Republican and Democratic Representatives - then voted unanimously in June 2018 to establish an Investigative SubCommittee ("ISC"). It was between the April referral and the June ISC that Friends of David Schweikert began paying five different law firms.

One law firm (Holland & Knight) consulted with several individuals affiliated with the campaign or his Congressional office, and was paid $34,375 between May and December 2018. Another law firm (Venable) appears to be representing Legislative Director Matthew Tully, and has been paid $17,459. (Last payment was March 25.)

Berke Farah has been representing Schwab. And, even though the Ethics Committee lost jurisdiction over Schwab when he resigned on July 9, 2019, the legal expenses are still accruing. Schweikert's committee has paid Berke Farah $71,633 through March 25.

It is not clear whether the remaining two law firms are representing the Congressman, his campaign committee, or other individuals or entities. Wiley Rein has billed $22,727 since last summer, and is still owed all of that save $405.

The well-known campaign finance law firm of Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky has been the most involved. They were first paid by the campaign committee in June 2018, and have received $230,554; the last payment was on January 25. However, they are owed $206,906, and most of that ($118,049) was INCURRED during the first three months of 2019.

Schweikert's campaign committee was officially underwater on March 31, 2019, with a reported $240,564 in the bank and debts owing to Holtzman Vogel plus others of $251,614. This, as two Democrats who ran in the Phoenix area in 2018 have announced their plans to unseat Schweikert.

And, as Politico noted, the $167,925 in contributions reported for the first quarter is "anemic" for a longtime Congressman who holds a seat on the powerful Ways & Means Committee (and is facing a credible election challenge).

It is important to note that - although the initial referral was released today by the Ethics Committee - the investigation is continuing. And, the legal expenses would indicate that it has become more intense, despite the Congressman's repeated insistence that the "errors" have been resolved.

KPNX's Brahm Resnik spoke with the Congressman today and reports that Schweikert says "he did nothing wrong & doesn’t plan to resign." (Video on tonight's newscast.) Resnik also shared this video from one year ago.




And, while the Ethics Committee indicated in December that it is investigating whether Schweikert "may have omitted required information from his annual House financial disclosure statements and Federal Election Commission candidate committee reports", Arizona's Politics can report that neither Schweikert nor his campaign committee has filed amended reports since then.

Initial referral, released today:



History of Ethics Committee investigation:





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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Trump Signs Colorado River DCP, Tweets "Big Deal For Arizona", Praises McSally (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

Trump Signs Colorado River DCP, Tweets "Big Deal For Arizona", Praises McSally
5:45pm: President Donald Trump today signed the Congressional approval of the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan. As reported previously, Arizona lawmakers were in the forefront of getting the measure passed quickly in both the House and the Senate.

Trump singled out Senator Martha McSally, however, praising her for "getting it done", and calling it "a big deal for Arizona."  Of course, it is also important for the other states in the lower basin, but it is not wrong to focus on the importance to Arizona - especially since it is the effected state that Trump and Republicans are most interested in for the 2020 elections.






Trump Vetos Resolution To End Support For Saudi Arabia In Yemen War; 3 AZ Republicans Had Voted "Aye"
5:30pm: President Trump tonight vetoed a Congressional resolution calling for an end of support for the Saudi Arabia-led effort in the Yemen war. Three Arizona Republicans had joined all Democrats and 20 other Republicans in passing the resolution this past month.

Reps. David Schweikert (CD6), Andy Biggs (CD5) and Paul Gosar (CD4) joined Arizona's 5 House Democrats in passing it 247-175 earlier this month. Arizona's Senators had split last month, but it passed with seven Republicans joining in the rebuke of the Trump Administration support.

Here is the President's veto message:
And, here is the text of the vetoed Resolution:





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Friday, April 12, 2019

TODAY: Oral Argument On Case To Move Up Election To Fill McCain Senate Seat (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

Attorneys will argue in U.S District Court this afternoon about whether the Arizona law permitting Governor Doug Ducey to control the late-Senator John McCain's seat until November 2020.

Arizona's Poltics previously reported on the constitutional challenge to the vacancy law. At that point, Sen. Jon Kyl was serving at the Governor's request. Kyl then resigned, permitting Ducey to appoint Martha McSally to the seat until a special election would be held in 2020 to fill the last two years.

Further details available at our (NEW) sister site, Arizona's Law.

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NEW: Sinema Snubs (All of Her) Democratic Colleagues, Declining To Co-Sponsor Bill Expanding Child Tax Credit and EITC

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema this week became the only Democratic Senator to decline to co-sponsor legislation to expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The bill was introduced Wednesday by Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Michael Bennet (CO) and Richard Durbin (IL). With much fanfare, they announced that they "lead 46 Democrats in introducing the "Working Families Tax Relief Act." Well, the Senate has 47 Democrats (including the two independents who caucus with them).

Each of the 46 are listed, including frequent aisle-crossers like Joe Manchin (WV) and Doug Jones (AL). The only one missing is Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema, who is up for re-election in... 2024.

Although the text of the bill is not yet publicly available on the website, the Democratic Senators (sans Sinema) note that their bill would make the Child Tax Credit increased in 2017 by the Republicans' tax bill refundable, so that low-income families would benefit. It would also create a "Young Child Tax Credit" and allow low-income families to receive a $500 advance on their Earned Income Tax Credit in emergency situations.

Of course, without any apparent effort to secure Republican support, the measure does not appear destined for approval in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Arizona's Politics made several efforts to get a comment from the Senator before publishing this article, and held it for publication overnight in case of response.

Yesterday, Arizona's Politics reported on Sinema's vote to join Republicans (and 3 Democrats) to confirm David Bernhardt as the new Interior Secretary. That article has been updated to include her explanation as to why she voted to confirm.


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Thursday, April 11, 2019

BREAKING: Sinema Joins Republicans In Confirming Bernhardt As Secretary of the Interior (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

(Updated to include Sinema's explanation for voting to support.)
12:50pm: Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema joined every Republican and three other Democrats* in confirming David Bernhardt to become the new Secretary of the Interior. The final vote was 56-41.

Interestingly, a dark money liberal group called the Western Values Project spent $200,000 on TV ads urging Arizona's Republican Senator Martha McSally to vote against Bernhardt. 

McSally issued a statement this afternoon celebrating the vote: "We have spoken on issues affecting our state and I know he will work with me to improve forest health, implement the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, and be a good partner for Arizona in protecting our public lands for generations to come. I look forward to working with Secretary Bernhardt and showing him around Arizona.”

Sinema indicated that she, too, met with Bernhardt: “After meeting with Mr. Bernhardt and carefully considering his nomination, I am confident he is professionally qualified, believes in the mission of the Interior Department, and will faithfully uphold the law.”




*Sen. King is an Independent, but caucuses with the Democrats.

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Monday, April 8, 2019

UPDATE: Arizona's Congressional Delegation Leads Both Houses This Afternoon In Approving Colorado River DCP; Heads To President's Desk

UPDATE, 3:40pm: The Senate has now approved the DCP, as well. Both Houses passed the identical bill today on voice votes, so the next action will be for President Trump to sign the approval into law.

The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan ("DCP") is front and center this evening in both Houses of Congress. And, Arizona's Congressional delegation is again in the forefront of the action. At approximately 6pm (EDT), the House approved the bill to approve the DCP by an uncontested voice vote.

As reported previously by Arizona's Politics, Arizona is the only state where the entire Congressional delegation sponsored/co-sponsored the bills to approve the DCP last week. And, Arizona is again center stage this afternoon.

The House is considering the bill, and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) is leading the unopposed "debate". Reps. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1), David Schweikert (R-CD6) and Greg Stanton (D-CD9) have already spoken, and more may still do so.

On the Senate side, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) is to speak about the bill this afternoon, and to ask for unanimous consent. However, the Senate is not conducting any votes today, and consideration will likely be scheduled for later this week.

Although Arizona's legislators dominated the day, it was Utah's Rob Bishop (R-UT) who had the best line. The Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee (to Chair Grijalva) praised the cooperation among the Colorado River Basin states, and then told his House colleagues that if this bill was not to pass, "Utah's going to keep all the water and the rest of you can suck under. (laughter)"

Here is a copy of the bill. (The House and Senate versions are identical.)




Arizona's Politics will post the relevant video when it becomes available later today.



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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Reps. Biggs and Gosar Team With AOC and Ilhan Omar In Letter To President!!!

Reps. Biggs and Gosar Team With AOC and Ilhan Omar In Letter To President!!!
4:30pm: In what might seem to be the shocker of the century, Arizona Freedom Caucus Reps. Andy Biggs (R-CD5) and Paul Gosar, DDS (R-CD4) have co-signed a letter with Green New Deal Dems Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar to President Donald Trump. The bipartisan and bicameral group of 12 praises the President for his stated start of withdrawing U.S. troops from the war-torn nation of Syria.

The letter, led by Senator Rand Paul and Rep. Ro Khanna, is an obvious attempt to bolster the President as he faces criticism from many in both parties.

Here is the letter:



OFF-TOPIC: Join our Diamondbacks Season Ticket Group
4:00pm: Opening Day is here! We've been part of a Diamondbacks season ticket group for 20 years now, and a couple of our members had life changes that prompted them to stop participating. We have two seats that are probably the best value in the ballpark. One share is 16 games over the 6-month season, and although we assign the games randomly, everyone is usually pretty accomodating for switches. If you are interested, email me, at Paul @ ArizonasPolitics.com (no spaces), and I'll send you more details.

Clever. Very Clever. AZ GOP Reaches Out To Trump Supporters - Become A "Trump Committeeman"
3:45pm: Kelli Ward, the Chair of the Arizona GOP, is looking to recruit more Trump supporters in as Precinct Committemen. In an effort to reach out, they are offering a personalized 2020 Trump jersey (sketch below) and a re-brand of the statutory party office to "Trump Committeeman".


The email went out late last night with the subject line: "Sign Up Today to Become a Trump Committeeman!" Ward called it "the official way to become a part of the Trump-Republican team in Arizona! The top listed benefit (besides the jersey) is "access to (your) precinct's voter data".*

The AZ GOP even secured the URL "TrumpCommitteeman.com" for the recruiting effort. Lest some existing GOP PCs worry that they will be forced to switch from "PC" to "TC", the fine print at the bottom of the website notes that it is voluntary and that non-Trump supporters can still become PCs.

Nonetheless, given the rancorous intra-party disputes surrounding PCs and their varying allegiances, this effort by the current leadership of the AZ GOP is bound to prompt some reactions. AZGOP Communications Director Zach Henry tells Arizona's Politics that it "aligns with Chairman Ward's stated priority of filling every open PC spot in the state."

He adds that "nothing fires up the base like President Trump and we're going to work overtime to make sure he wins Arizona in 2020. Trump wins, we all win."

*Arizona's Politics recently raised concerns about campaign volunteers and PCs becoming targets after reporting on new tactics to access voter databases.

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Monday, April 1, 2019

BREAKING: Federal Grand Jury Has Subpoenaed APS For Info and Communications Re: Its 2014 Dark Money Election Activities

Not only is the Arizona Corporation Commission looking through the pile of documents delivered by APS about its secret spending on 2014 elections, but a federal grand jury is, as well. This new piece of information could be critical to understanding the real reason why APS suddenly changed its long-standing tune and delivered the information to regulators.

Arizona Public Service Co. - the state's largest electric utility - finally publicly admitted on Friday night that it had spent $10.7M to elect favorable Corporation Commissioners; most of that had gone to dark money organizations, where the public was unable to see that APS had contributed the money.

The Arizona Republic's Ryan Randazzo did a great job reporting all of the newly-visible angles on a Friday night.

The fact that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed similar documents from APS's parent company, Pinnacle West, was recently disclosed* to the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The grand jury is looking at the 2014 races for Secretary of State and the Corporation Commission. APS indicates that it is "cooperating fully" with the subpoenas requesting "records involving certain Pinnacle West officers and employees, including the Company's Chief Executive Officer, as well as communications between Pinnacle West personnel and a former ACC Commissioner."

The CEO of Pinn West is Donald Brandt. APS would not confirm to Arizona's Politics this afternoon that the grand jury subpoenas have yet been responded to. Instead, spokesperson Suzanne Trevino sent a copy of the letter sent to the Corporation Commission indicating that the voluntary disclosure to them was "in the spirit of putting behind us any further debate regarding political spending, and with the hope that we can focus on the future to further the energy and economic goals of the state." (Signed by VP of Regulation Barbara Lockwood.)

Last year, a mistrial was declared in a bribery trial that included a former chairman of the Corporation Commission (Gary Pierce), his wife, a lobbyist and the head of Johnson Utilities. It was reported at the time that the underlying conduct had arisen during a "much larger investigation" by the FBI into the Corporation Commission. This new revelation about the grand jury would appear to be another part of that "much larger investigation." The Pierces' son, Justin Pierce, was running for Arizona Secretary of State in 2014, and lost in the primary election.

Arizona's Politics has reported extensively on the political efforts by APS, and its use of hiding the source of funds. We have utilized a scale dubbed the #50ShadesOfDarkMoney (primarily as a result of that 2014 campaign, which was awash in it). In 2016, we reported on the IRS filings of America Encore - a dark money outfit run by Arizona's Sean Noble (that had become nationally known for its work with the Koch brothers' money network).

When that report is combined with the new disclosures from APS, it is now clear that there was a convoluted web of contributions, transfers - and, probably re-transfers - that involved APS, Noble's operation, the Arizona Free Entrerprise Club, former Governor Ducey Chief of Staff Kirk Adams and others. It is also clear that some of the new disclosures may slightly contradict APS's previous public statements to the Arizona Republic and more clarity is still needed.

*Clarify, 5:20pm: APS has disclosed the grand jury subpoenas earlier. They just re-disclosed it in February, and would not respond to Arizona's Politics' questions about whether they concurrently sent the information about their 2014 political activities to the ACC and the grand jury. If we receive that information, we will update the article as warranted.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

BREAKING: McSally Announces 2-day Summit On Sexual Assault, Hosted By Army/Navy/Air Force

The @USNavy, @USArmy and @usairforce are hosting the "National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America's Colleges, Universities, and Service Academies" next week, in response to @SenMcSallyAZ 's questioning/letter/etc The Senator will give a keynote address on the topic.

The summit will take place next Thursday and Friday at the Naval Academy. The Marines and Coast Guard appear to currently be missing in the action.

McSally has pressed the Acting Secretary of Defense and the military branches to work with her in coming up with a plan to address the ongoing and serious issue. At a hearing last month, McSally testified emotionally about her personal experience while in the USAF. (Link)

According to her office, the purpose of this national discussion will be broader than simply the military branches: "The purpose of this summit is to create a forum for leaders and experts at public, private, and government-run educational institutions from across the nation to share best practices and to develop strategies to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment in America’s education system."

McSally has also asked that there be a "Tank" meeting with all Pentagon leadership and 4-Star Generals to specifically address the issue as it pertains to the military.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

WATCH: Rep. Lesko Opposing Paycheck Fairness Act As "Radical Proposal" (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

WATCH: Rep. Lesko Opposing Paycheck Fairness Act As "Radical Proposal"
5:20pm: Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) spoke on the House Floor today against the Democrats' Paycheck Fairness Act. Lesko blasted the measure as being about "more litigation and trial lawyers" and pitched an amendment that would "restate the current law" to give parents more flexibility.

The Republicans' amendments were rejected and the bill passed, 242-187. (Seven Republicans joined all the Democrats in supporting it.)


Arizona's AHCCCS Work Requirement In Jeopardy After Court Decision
4:00pm:  In January, the federal government approved Arizona's proposal to impose a work requirement on persons receiving AHCCCS (aka Medicaid) benefits. That plan may be in jeopardy today after a U.S. District Court judge today ruled that the Trump Administration ignored the purpose of Medicaid in permitting Arkansas and Kentucky to add work requirements.

The judge again ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services ("HHS") had not "adequately considered" whether the requirements helps the states " furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid."


Arizona's requirement is set to go into effect next year. In reporting the Arizona approval in January, Arizona's Politics noted the celebratory comments of Governor Doug Ducey, who carefully stated that adding work requirements to receiving the health insurance benefits would be beneficial to Arizonans. "Employment and community engagement are proven to have a positive effect on overall health and well-being."

Arizona Congressman Tom O'Halleran promised at the time that he would fight the plan. "As we are seeing in Arkansas...hardworking families including veterans will lose their benefits and costs will skyrocket." In fact, the judge noted today that the states have not communicated effectively with their citizens and that only 1/8 had filed required documentation.

Arizona's Politics has reached out to Governor Ducey and Rep. O'Halleran, and will update as necessary.


OFF-TOPIC: Join our Diamondbacks Season Ticket Group
3:00pm: We've been part of a Diamondbacks season ticket group for 20 years now, and a couple of our members had life changes that prompted them to stop participating. We have two seats that are probably the best value in the ballpark. One share is 16 games over the 6-month season, and although we assign the games randomly, everyone is usually pretty accomodating for switches. If you are interested, email me, at Paul @ ArizonasPolitics.com (no spaces), and I'll send you more details.


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WATCH LIVE: Senate Hearing On Colorado River DCP, READ the DCP Agreement

The hard-fought Drought Contingency Plan for the Colorado River is the subject of a Senate hearing today. Arizona Senator Martha McSally (R) is chairing the Subcommittee on Water and Power Hearing today. The DCP - sent to Congress for approval last week - is being discussed by the Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation, as well as representatives from Nevada, Arizona, and Wyoming. (You can read the letter to Congress and the DCP agreement below.)


(click to open video in new window - scroll down)

The House subcommittee will hold a similar hearing tomorrow, and it is expected that some of the proposed exemptions from environmental laws will receive attention then. The House Natural Resources Committee is chaired by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3), and Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) are on the committee.




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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Biggs, Gosar Vote Against GOP Bill To Assist European Nations Diversifying Energy Sources, Passes 391-24 (READ)



5:30pm: ARIZONANS: Have an with this yellow "Bravocado" sticker on it? Voluntary due to possible listeria bacteria. (Also some that say "organic" and "California".)

Biggs, Gosar Vote Against GOP Bill To Assist European Nations Diversifying Energy Sources, Passes 391-24 (READ)
5:00pm: Arizona Representatives Paul Gosar (R-CD4) and Andy Biggs (R-CD5) voted against a Republican-led bill to encourage central and eastern European nations to diversify their energy sources to protect against Russian coercion. The measure passed last night, 391-24.


The measure provides some financial support, and the CBO estimates that it will cost approximately $500M over five years. Here is the text of the measure, which now heads to the Senate.

Neither Congressman has released a public statement explaining their opposition. We will update if either sends a response.

OFF-TOPIC: Join our Diamondbacks Season Ticket Group
5:00pm: We've been part of a Diamondbacks season ticket group for 20 years now, and a couple of our members had life changes that prompted them to stop participating. We have two seats that are probably the best value in the ballpark. One share is 16 games over the 6-month season, and although we assign the games randomly, everyone is usually pretty accomodating for switches. If you are interested, email me, at Paul @ ArizonasPolitics.com (no spaces), and I'll send you more details.

OFF-TOPIC: Join our Powerball lottery pool
5:00pm: With the Powerball lottery jackpot at the 4th largest EVER, we are firing up our office lottery pool.
The more, the merrier is what we always say about a pool party, so we are inviting you to join us. $10/share, and we'll split our winnings pro rata. If you're interested, send us an email today or tomorrow at Paul @ ArizonasPolitics.com (no spaces), and we'll send you the details.

Sinema Votes Against Green New Deal, Says Solutions Must Be "Achievable"
4:45pm: Senator Sinema released the following statement about her decision to vote "nay" instead of "present" on the Green New Deal resolution:

"We need to address a changing climate with realistic, achievable solutions. Congress should stop the political games and work together on practical solutions that foster a healthy environment, grow our economy, and help Arizona families get ahead.”

Sinema cosponsored a separate Senate resolution stating that climate change is real and that action must be taken to address the crisis.

Sinema Bucks Party Line To Vote Against "Green New Deal"
2:45pm: Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) joined the Republicans and three other Democrats in voting no on the "Green New Deal". All of the other Democrats voted "present" to show that they were not going to go along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's show vote. Therefore, the GOP resolution will not be brought to the floor for debate and a vote, by a vote of 0-57.

McConnell's resolution mirrored the one set forth by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House. The latter has not moved forward, either.

Senators Doug Jones (AL), Joe Manchin (WV) and Angus King (I-ME) were the other three voting with Sinema and the Republicans.


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CONFIRMED! Arizona's Bridget Bade Moves To 9th Circuit Judgeship On Bipartisan Vote (BREAKING)

UPDATE, 2:15pm: Here is the rollcall vote from today's 78-21 vote. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and 24 other Democrats voted "aye". (And, of the 21 who voted "nay", 6 of those are running for the Democratic Presidential nomination.)

Martha McSally, Arizona's Republican Senator, issued a statement welcoming Bade to the 9th Circuit. "Judge Bade has demonstrated a commitment to impartiality, careful legal reasoning, & the rule of law over her long career in public service & as a magistrate judge. Arizonans will now have a more balanced 9th Circuit Court thanks to her confirmation."

Arizona Magistrate Judge Bridget Bade was confirmed by the U.S. Senate today for a judgeship on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, by a bipartisan vote of 78-21. Her confirmtion was the first bipartisan approval of a President Trump-nominated appellate judge this year, and becomes one of only seven bipartisan confirmations during the Trump presidency.

The Ninth Circuit public information office tells Arizona's Politics that it is not yet determined when Bade will take the oath of office for this lifetime appointment, and that it will mostly depend upon wrapping up her duties as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Phoenix.

Per research by Arizona's Politics and the Judicial Nominations blog, only four other Trump nominations for the appellate bench have garnered more affirmative votes. Those are Judges Erickson (8th Circuit), Richardson (4th), St. Eve and Scudder (both 7th). She is the 37th confirmed Circuit Court judge nominated by President Trump.

As Arizona's Politics has reported, Bade's nomination likely drew more bi-partisan support than others because of her non-political background. In addition, Bade's nomination was recommended to the Trump Administration by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake early last year.

Arizona has two other nominations in the queue. Former counsel to Governor Doug Ducey has been nominated for a U.S. District Court position in Arizona. Mike Bailey, former chief deputy to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, has been tapped for the position of U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.


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.  

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Monday, March 25, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: U.S. Senate - In Easily Its MOST BIPARTISAN VOTE This Year* - Moves Strongly Toward Confirming Arizona's Bridget Bade To Ninth Circuit

3:10pm: The U.S. Senate this afternoon moved to confirm Arizona's Bridget Bade to a judgeship on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The vote on the cloture motion was 77-20, significantly greater than previous nominations to the Circuit Court earlier this year.  The final vote on her nomination will take place tomorrow.


In addition to all of the Republicans, Arizona's Sen. Kyrsten Sinema voted to move to the final vote. Many other Democrats did so, as well.  A review of this year's votes by Arizona's Politics indicates that Bade - currently a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Phoenix - received more votes from Democrats than any other nominee for the Circuit Court nominees.* Of the six now-confirmed judges, noone received more than 54 votes.

As Arizona's Politics has reported, Bade's nomination likely drew more bi-partisan support than others because of her non-political background. In addition, Bade's nomination was recommended to the Trump Administration by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake early last year.

*The official vote tallies are not yet available, but Arizona's Politics heard Democratic Senators Cardin, Brown, Hassan, Jones, King, Reed, Duckworth, Schatz, Durbin, Coons, and Shaheen  all vote "aye".


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Monday, March 18, 2019

ODD: Arizona the Face of "Red America" in This Congressman's Post About "Another" Armed Civil War (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

ODD: Arizona the Face of "Red America" in This Congressman's Post About "Another" Armed Civil War
10:30am: Arizona is the face of "Red America" in Congressman Steve King's (R-IA) weekend Facebook post about "another" armed civil war. While it is no doubt a re-posting of a meme he or his campaign staff found elsewhere, King added the smirky comment "Wonder who would win....😏"
King's campaign Facebook account is quite active in re-posting memes such as this, but he deleted this civil war post after it began to receive wider attention. King was cited by name in a Congressional resolution passed in January rejecting White nationalism and White supremacy; he voted for the resolution, which was approved 424-1.

Arizona is the face of "Red America" in this meme. However, it is more likely because the size and the shape of the Grand Canyon State fit the bill than that the political makeup or the number of bullets earned us that high profile position. (Although it does look like we are about to have a very red bloody nose.😏 We need to get our guard up.)

OFF-TOPIC: Join our Diamondbacks Season Ticket Group
9:00am: We've been part of a Diamondbacks season ticket group for 20 years now, and a couple of our members had life changes that prompted them to stop participating. We have two seats that are probably the best value in the ballpark. One share is 16 games over the 6-month season, and although we assign the games randomly, everyone is usually pretty accomodating for switches. If you are interested, email me, at Paul @ ArizonasPolitics.com (no spaces), and I'll send you more details.

OFF-TOPIC: Join our Powerball lottery pool
9:00am: With the Powerball lottery jackpot climbing, we usually fire up our office lottery pool. The more, the merrier is what we always say about a pool party, so we are inviting you to join us. $10/share, and we'll split our winnings pro rata. If you're interested, send us an email today or tomorrow at Paul @ ArizonasPolitics.com (no spaces), and we'll send you the details.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Senate To Next Vote On Arizona Magistrate Bridget Bade For 9th Circuit Judgeship On 25th

Senate To Next Vote On Arizona Magistrate Bridget Bade For 9th Circuit Judgeship On 25th
3:45pm: The Senate Clerk confirmed this afternoon that the next judicial appointment it will vote on will be Arizona's Hon. Bridget Bade, for a position on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The vote on the cloture motion will be at 2:30pm AZT on Monday, March 25. Given the bipartisan 17-5 vote in the Judiciary Committee to approve her nomination, there is no reason for the Republican-controlled Senate to not invoke cloture, in which case the final vote confirming her appointment will likely be the next day.

Arizona's Politics reported on the process that led to her nomination here.

Her application for the position can be found here.

Video of her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee can be found here.

Other Arizona nominations pending are Mike Liburdi for a U.S. District Court Judge, and Mike Bailey for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.

Senate Moves Forward To Vote On Arizona Magistrate Bridget Bade For 9th Circuit Judgeship
12:15pm: The U.S. Senate is moving forward on the appointment of Arizona's Hon. Bridget Bade to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this afternoon filed for cloture on her nomination.

As Arizona's Poltiics has been reporting, Bade - who is currently a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Phoenix - is one of those all-too-infrequent judicial nominations that has received broad, bipartisan support.* (17-5 approval in Senate Judiciary Committee.)

It is not clear when exactly the Senate will vote on cloture and on the nomination, but - given recent practice - it should be within the next few business days. (Update: Senate will not be conducting business next week - hello, Spring Break! - so, March 25 may be the day they take it up. h/t to John Doe @fedjudges)

(Disclosure: Arizona's Politics' co-founder Paul Weich has known and been friendly with Bade on and off since law school.)

Congress Voted 420-0 To Say Mueller Report Should Be Public; Gosar Votes "Present"
11:45am: The U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-0 today that the (eventual) report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be made available to Congress and the public. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) voted "present".

We have not yet seen a statement from Rep. Gosar regarding his "present" vote.

Here is the text of H.Con.Res.24: 







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WATCH McSally: "I Am Fully Locked In Like A Missile On This Target" - Sexual Assaults In the Military

Arizona Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) made the most of her 5 minutes questioning acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan this morning. You can watch the full video below.

First, she got him to affirm in public that he had assured her that Arizona military funding would not be impacted by President Trump's border wall emergency declaration, just ahead of the Senate's vote to disapprove the declaration. She had previously indicated reassurances from the Pentagon and the White House, but Arizona's Politics (and others) had asked whether they were written or verbal assurances.

Next, she stated that "I am fully locked in like a missile on this target", with the target being the problem of sexual assaults in the military. McSally made national headlines last week when she testified that she had been raped by a superior officer during her service in the USAF. She indicated she's been thinking about the subject a lot and "moreso over the past week", and she prompted Shanahan to commit to partnering with her and "we are going to take a fresh look and tackle this over the next 45 days."

"Can I get your commitment you'll work with me on that?" Shanahan's (only possible) response: "Senator, you have my commitment." General Joseph Dunford, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answered affirmatively, as well.

McSally also noted that she is setting up a summit on the issue with the Secretary of the Air Force and leaders in that branch. (Heather Wilson is retiring at the end of May.)

Finally, Senator McSally prompted the Secretary to answer that ceasing joint exercises with South Korea's military will not harm the readiness of the forces on the peninsula in case of future conflict with North Korea. President Trump ordered the annual exercises to end, as part of his summit(s) with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.



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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

BREAKING: Arizona Senators Split On Vote To Pass Resolution To Yank U.S. Forces From Yemen Conflict Within 30 Days (READ)

Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Martha McSally (R) split their votes tonight on a
controversial resolution ordering President Trump to remove all U.S. military from the conflict in Yemen within 30 days. Sinema joined all Democrats and seven Republicans voted for the resolution, and it passed by a vote of 54-46. McSally was among the nay votes.

The measure is the second time this year that the Senate has rebuked President Trump for continuing to work with Saudi Arabia in the civil war, and invokes the War Powers Resolution.

The Resolution was proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Here is the text of the Resolution:
The measure heads to the House, and the White House has threatened to veto it if given the chance.










Here is the text of the resolution:






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ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Sinema Walks the Line: 1 of 2 Dems To Cross Aisle On Nomination Today, Votes With Party Against Judges

4:30pm: Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema continues to cross the aisle on votes, today joining Joe Manchin and all Republicans in voting for President Trump's nominee for the Commissioner for Labor Statistics (William Beach). At the same time, she toed the party line on two judicial nominations this week (Neomi Rao and Paul Matey for appellate appointments).


Beach's nomination was approved 55-44, so her vote was not a deciding one. However, Sinema - who campaigned last year without affixing her Democratic label to advertising - continues to vote with the GOP majority when she feels it is warranted.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

"That's a Certainty!" Governor's Support For Protecting Arizonans With Pre-Existing Conditions Disappears With Bill Signing

"Health insurance companies should cover people with pre-existing conditions. That's a certainty!"

That was Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's no-mincing-words statement in the weeks leading up to his re-election last fall.

Yesterday, the Governor signed into law SB1109, erasing the pre-election certainty. Now, short term health insurance policies will be offered to some Arizonans which contain this warning:
NOTICE

THIS COVERAGE IS NOT REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH CERTAIN FEDERAL
MARKET REQUIREMENTS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE, PRINCIPALLY THOSE
CONTAINED IN THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR
POLICY CAREFULLY TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWARE OF ANY EXCLUSIONS
OR LIMITATIONS REGARDING COVERAGE OF PREEXISTING CONDITIONS OR 
HEALTH BENEFITS (SUCH AS HOSPITALIZATION, EMERGENCY SERVICES,
MATERNITY CARE, PREVENTIVE CARE, PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND MENTAL
HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER SERVICES). YOUR POLICY
MIGHT ALSO HAVE LIFETIME OR ANNUAL DOLLAR LIMITS ON HEALTH
BENEFITS, OR BOTH. IF THIS COVERAGE EXPIRES OR YOU LOSE
ELIGIBILITY FOR THIS COVERAGE, YOU MIGHT HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL AN
OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD TO GET OTHER HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE. 

That measure passed the Senate, 18-12 and passed the House last week, 31-28.

Steve Farley, who ran unsuccessfully for Governor last year, stated today that it is "unbelievable" that this measure (below) became law. "This is not acceptable, and is a direct result of Trump's unilateral action hurting our healthcare. These plans are simply junk insurance that takes advantage of those who need coverage the most."

The Governor's office has not made any statements relating to signing the bill on either its website or social media. Arizona's Politics has asked for a response and will update this article as necessary.







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Monday, March 11, 2019

UPDATE: Arizona's Path To U.S. Supreme Court To Sue California For Stealing Tax Revenues

Last week, Arizona's Politics broke the news that Arizona is suing California in the U.S. Supreme Court to end the Golden State's (allegedly) unconstitutional taxing of Arizona LLCs.

Although California has not yet responded - either to our questions or to the AZ Attorney General's suit in the Supreme Court - we have heard back from AG Brnovich's office. Here are some highligts:

(1) California was given a courtesy heads-up before last week's filing;

(2) The AGs office did not discuss this or coordinate this suit with Governor Ducey's office. Not that that was necessary, even though the Governor has also been known for verbally going after Arizona's neighbor to the west... and Ducey's gubernatorial counterparts; and


(3) the AGs office has discussed the issue with other states and expects to get some support for its position that California's unconstitutionally taxing across state lines.

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

READ/WATCH: After Bipartisan Teeth-Gnashing and Hand-Wringing, House Passes Anti-Anti-Hatred Resolution; Rep. Biggs Among Republicans Mocking Dems

Update, 3/8 10am: In addition to Rep. Biggs, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar was among the 23 nay votes. Here is his explanation: "Without naming the offender, the chastisement is an empty gesture. I voted “no” to the watered down resolution. It’s time for Democrats to take real action against these anti -Jewish remarks."

After much bipartisan teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning hatred of many kinds, 407-23. The resolution was initially intended as a rebuke to freshman lawmaker Ilhan Omar's (D-MN) recent remarks using the word "allegiance" to a foreign country in complaining about pro-Israel bias in the House.

Democrats have spent the past several days debating among themselves how to rebuke Omar for again playing to an anti-Semitic trope without alienating Democrats who believed that she is speaking truth to power.

Today, it was a chance on the House Floor for Republicans to mock the Democrats' efforts, and they gleefully - while seriously condemning anti-Semitism in the Democrats' ranks - took to the task. Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R-CD5) mocked it and voted against it.

Here is the final version of HR183.

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ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Grijalva Amendment To Thwart AZ Legislature On Early Ballots; Mike Liburdi's Committee Vote

UPDATE: Liburdi Recommended To Full Senate By Party-Line Vote
UPDATE: The Senate Judiciary Committee today recommended the appointment of Mike Liburdi to the federal bench for the District of Arizona, by a party-line 12-10 vote.

Governor Ducey's former general counsel will now await action by the entire Senate. And, that could take awhile as there are a number of nominations already awaiting action by the Republican-controlled body.

As reported previously by Arizona's Politics, Liburdi's appointment to the lifetime post went a different route than previous judicial appointments. For example, U.S. Magistrate Bridget Bade - who is also waiting for Senate approval for appointment to the 9th Circuit from Arizona - was vetted and recommended by Arizona's (Republican) Senators last year. Liburdi did not get such a recommendation, and then applied directly to the Trump Administration for the opening.

Bade was recommended by the Committee on a 17-5 vote. Similarly, there was one bipartisan vote on a judicial nomination today.


WATCH/READ: House Approves Grijalva Amendment Requiring Election Day Drop-Off Of Early Ballots
(Update, 3/8: House passed HR! this morning on a strict party line vote. (No defections from either party.)
2:30pm:Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) successfully amended the Democrats' election reform bill this afternoon, to require states to permit voters to drop off early ballots to a polling place on election day. If HR1 was approved by both Houses and signed by the President, it would halt Arizona Republicans' efforts to end E-Day ballot drop-offs.

Republicans in the House did not oppose Grijalva's amendment, after asking if it had anything to do with ballot harvesting. Grijalva assured him that it did not.

Arizona's pending SB1146 would eliminate Election Day drop-offs, partly as a reaction to the unusually suspensful post-Election Day counts this past November.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated yesterday that he would not permit HR1 to reach the Senate Floor if/when it passes the House.

Here is the text of the Amendment that passed by a voice vote:

 Page 142, insert after line 3 the following (and redesignated
the succeeding provisions accordingly):
  ``(g) Permitting Voters to Return Ballot to Polling Place on 
Date of Election.--The State shall permit an individual to whom 
a ballot in an election was provided under this section to cast 
the ballot on the date of election by delivering the ballot on 
that date to a polling place.''
Here is the video of the discussion:


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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

McSally Campaign Refunds $121,657 In Excessive Contributions, But Has No Response For How To Improve Its Identification Process

Senator Martha McSally's campaign has refunded an eye-opening $121,657 in excessive contributions from its unsuccessful 2018 campaign. In a separate response, the campaign told the Federal Election Commission that it does the minimum required to try to find out donors' employer and occupation information, but has no explanation for why they have more trouble identifying such issues than other campaigns.

As reported by Arizona's Politics, the FEC sent the McSally campaign two "Requests for Additional Information" about the excessive contributions and identifying info. Those responses were filed on Monday, and are published below.

The limit that an individual can contribute for a campaign cycle was $2,700. The campaign refunded the $121,657 to 55 persons who had already exceeded the limits. (The limit was $2,700 for the primary campaign, and $2,700 for the general election. The McSally campaign also accepted contributions of up to $2,700 for a possible recount, and must reattribute or refund those monies.)

Despite the large amount of refunds, the McSally campaign reported more than $923,000 in the bank as of December 31, 2018. (Most of the refunds were made in January and February.)

The McSally campaign has had a remarkably difficult time over the past several years keeping its finances straight and within the legal rules. Arizona's Politics has reported on the audit concluded last year by the FEC.

While the McSally campaign said this week that they do what is required to get donors' required employment information, the FEC's notices and independent past research has shown that the campaign leaves many more blank boxes than other committees.

Arizona's Politics has requested further information and will update as necessary.







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ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Gallego Calls Kelly Pledge To Not Take Corporate PAC $$$ "Weird"

4:50pm: Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) has not yet announced that he will run for the Senate next year, but he is already taking shots at announced candidate Mark Kelly, calling his pledge to not accept corporate PAC money "weird".

When asked by The Intercept about the pledge, despite Kelly being paid by corporations for speaking engagements, Gallego said "“It’s kind of weird, though, to say you’re not taking corporate PAC money, but then also directly taking corporate PAC money into your personal account.* I don’t understand why even take that pledge if you’re not personally living that.”

The article also points out that Gallego has accepted more than $700,000 in corporate PAC contributions during his Congressional career.

Gallego has indicated that he will make a decision about whether or not to oppose Kelly for the Democratic nomination within the next few weeks. The nominee will likely face Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) who was appointed to the seat that had been filled by the late Sen. John McCain. Governor Ducey appointed her to serve until the special election can be held in November 2020.

*It is unlikely that the corporations exhaustively listed in The Intercept article used PAC money. "PAC" stands for "Political Action Committees", and the corporations were paying Kelly money for speaking engagements. Kelly's campaign points out that the speeches were generally not political, but were motivational and about his time as a Space Shuttle Commander. Also, the amounts of PAC contributions are strictly limited by law; it is likely Kelly was paid larger sums from the corporation.

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WATCH: Sen. McSally Emotional Remarks About Sexual Assault In Air Force

(UPDATE, 4:10pm: We have been unable to ascertain whether the officer who @SenMcSallyAZ says raped her is still on active duty and in a position to commit further sexual assaults. From the context of her remarks, it would appear that she has not reported the alleged assault & has no plans to.)

Here are Senator Martha McSally's emotional remarks about being a military sexual assault victim. They took place at this afternoon's hearing on the subject by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

More details in this Arizona Republic article.

Update, 1:30pm: Here is the transcript, as provided by Sen. McSally's office. (It may be below the jump.)

Monday, March 4, 2019

UPDATE: Arizona Going To Supreme Court To Sue California For Stealing Tax Revenues

UPDATE, 3/11, 11:30am: Although California has not yet responded - to Arizona's Politics' questions or to the AZ Attorney General's suit in the Supreme Court - we have heard back from AG Brnovich's office. Here are some highligts: (1) California was given a courtesy heads-up before last week's filing; (2) The AGs office did not discuss this or coordinate this suit with Governor Ducey's office. Not that that was necessary, even though the Governor has also been known for verbally going after Arizona's neighbor to the west... and Ducey's gubernatorial counterparts; and (3) the AGs office has discussed the issue with other states and expects to get some support for its position that California's unconstitutionally taxing across state lines.

(Initial headline: "BREAKING: Arizona Asks U.S. Supreme Court For Permission To Sue State Of California For Stealing Some Of Its Tax Revenues")

The U.S. Supreme Court today docketed a request from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to permit the state to sue neighboring California for stolen tax revenues. The proposed complaint alleges that California unconstitutionally taxes Arizona LLCs for doing business in California - even if that LLC is only an investor in another company that does business in the Golden State.

The U.S. Constitution (Article III, Section 2) makes the Supreme Court the initial - and, only - court when one state is suing another, and Arizona filed its request for permission to file the Complaint on Thursday. (It was docketed today.)

Arizona cites examples of California taxing Arizona LLCs, and even trying to levy against Arizona banks to collect the taxes. Arizona estimates that California's "extraordinarily aggressive" policies of costing Arizona nearly $500,000/year in lost tax revenues (because those businesses pay California and deduct it from their Arizona taxes). Arizona would also seek refunds to the more 13,000 Arizona LLCs that pay more than $10M/year to California. (And yes, Arizona believes other states - and, their LLCs - have been similarly effected.)

Here is the filing, complete with specific examples (and, exhibits) of California going after passive investor Arizona LLCs:




Tempe attorney Paul Weich contributed this article.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

UPDATE: Senate Judiciary Committee Postpones Voting On Michael Liburdi For Lifetime Judgeship (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

UPDATE, 9:00a.m.: Without discussion, Senator Lindsey Graham announced that a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Liburdi's nomination - along with a few others - was being postponed for one week. He noted it was "at the request of our Democratic colleagues."

5:30a.m.: The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote this morning to recommend President Trump's nomination of Michael Liburdi to become the newest U.S. District Court Judge in Arizona. Liburdi was Governor Doug Ducey's General Counsel for the past three years.

As reported by Arizona's Politics, Liburdi applied for the lifetime appointment directly to the Trump Administration, as opposed to being recommended by Arizona's Senators. The vote on his nomination will follow that of a more controversial nomination, of Neomi Rao, for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

Live video of the Committee's meeting, beginning at 8am (AZ Time) can be found here.

Assuming a positive vote in the Republican-controlled committee, his nomination will then be forwarded for a vote in the entire Senate. The timing for that is uncertain.


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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

WATCH: Arizona Rep. Gosar Questioning Michael Cohen

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) questioned former Trump attorney Michael Cohen today as part of the House Oversight Committee hearing. (He yielded the first couple of minutes of his five minute allotment to Ranking Member Jim Jordan.)

At the beginning of the clip below, you can see staff putting up a "liar, liar, pants on fire" poster. Rep. Gosar read the poster aloud near the end of the questioning.


Yesterday, Gosar published an editorial column on The Hill's website.

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