Thursday, September 5, 2019

NEW: House Ethics Committee Notes It Is STILL Investigating Rep. Schweikert, $677,000 In Legal Fees So Far

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert is still actively being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. That is the reminder that came from the committee today, and a reminder that the legal fees incurred by Friends of David Schweikert is greater than $677,000.

The press release and report (revised, below) came because the 2nd referral to the Ethics Committee has now been open for one year. By rule, the report must be made public if the investigation has not been completed within that year.

Today's release comes nearly five months after a similar public release. However, that April action related to the first referral by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The second referral added four more counts to the first.

The new report also notes that the OCE Board - which includes former Arizona Congresswoman Karan English - unanimously voted to dismiss the allegation that "Rep. Schweikert may have improperly tied official activities to past or potential campaign or political support."

The counts that are still under investigation include allegations that the Congressman allowed his taxpayer-funded office budget to be spent improperly, pressured his Congressional staff to perform political activity, and omitted required information from his financial disclosure statements.

In the most recent campaign finance report, Schweikert's committee indicated that it incurred more than $94,000 in legal fees in the quarter ended June 30, 2019. (During that period, the Committee paid approximately $240,000 to three different law firms, although much of that was paying previously-billed monies.)

Schweikert's campaign was underwater on March 31, owing more than the cash it had in the bank. That is no longer the case, largely thanks to fundraising efforts by the Club for Growth and the House Freedom Caucus.

Rep. Schweikert's office has not yet responded to Arizona's Politics' request for comment.










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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

NEW: APS Sends $150,000 To Republican Governors In 2019, As Corporation Commissioners Also Look To Future

As APS prepares to handle questions from Arizona Corporation Commissioners today regarding its past - and, future - political spending, Arizona's Politics can report that APS has already contributed at least $150,000 this year to the Republican Governors Association.

The Corporation Commission meets with APS/Pinnacle West CEO Don Brandt this morning, and added the utility's political spending to the agenda late last week. As the AZ Mirror reported yesterday, at least two of the Commissioners are also looking toward the monopoly's future spending and not just the millions plowed into the 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections.

Bob Burns is one of the Commissioners who added the political spending to the agenda, and he told reporter Jeremy Duda that "“My focus is the commission. The past is gone. We need to know what’s going to happen in the future.”

It appears that APS is also looking to the future. In an RGA filing with the IRS one month ago, it was disclosed that Pinn West (APS' parent company) already donated $150,000 in 2019 (January 3). (Filing is posted below.) The RGA's primary objective is to elect Republican Governors, and it was a primary source of outside funding for Governor Doug Ducey's campaigns in 2014 and 2018. Arizona's Politics has long documented the APS contributions to the RGA; last year - an election year - APS sent $200,000 to the RGA.

With the Governor term-limited, the funds are likely intended to help the RGA bolster Ducey's popularity, with the added benefit of boosting the next GOP candidate in 2022. (APS/PinnWest does not donate to the Democratic counterweight, although it claims to support "broad political participation".)







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Thursday, August 22, 2019

NEW: Arizona Grand Jury Indicts Tucson Man For Voting Twice In 2016 (DEVELOPING)

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced this afternoon that a Tucson man has been charged with "illegal voting" for casting 2016 election ballots in both Arizona and Nevada.

The case against Randy Jumper was brought by the AG's Criminal Fraud division, and there is not yet any indication that it is connected to news earlier this week that the AG's office has set up an "Election Integrity Unit" in advance of next year's election.

AG spokeperson Ryan Anderson indicates that Jumper's alleged multiple voting was first spotted last year by then-Secretary of State Michele Reagan's office.

Efforts to contact Mr. Jumper, or to ascertain whether he is registered to a political party have thus far been unsuccessful.

The simple indictment is below, and arraignment is set for next month.






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FIRST ON AZ's POLITICS: Kyl Answers Flack From His Facebook Audit On Anti-Conservative Bias (Read Audit Here)

Facebook released an interim audit report led by former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl this week, addressing the topic of whether the social media giant has an anti-conservative bias. The report immediately drew flack from partisans on either end of the spectrum, but Kyl tells Arizona's Politics that his primary task was to survey fellow conservatives about their views of bias "so FB could then determine what to do about it."

Facebook hired Kyl and his Covington & Burling team last year, shortly after CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by Republicans in Congress about widely-circulated claims of bias against conservative viewpoints. Zuckerberg promised to look into the complaints.

When asked if he was retained by FB to act as a go-between the company and conservatives, Kyl tells Arizona's Politics that "'liaison' is partially accurate, in that FB thought I had the credibility to obtain solid and candid information from conservatives, which we then reported back to FB. But, we have also consulted with FB throughout the process. My primary job was to find out for FB what conservatives thought of the platform and their views of bias so FB could then determine what to do about it."

As indicated in the newly-released interim report, Kyl and his team interviewed "approximately 133" conservative organizations, individuals and lawmakers. Kyl gave Facebook their initial findings in early August of last year.

In late August 2018, of course, Arizona Senator John McCain passed away and Kyl was named by Governor Doug Ducey to return to the Senate to represent Arizonans. Kyl tells Arizona's Politics that even though his team continued working on the Facebook project, he had "no contact with anyone at FB or Cov(ington) while I was back in the Senate."*

(Arizona's Politics extensively covered Kyl's pre-Senate-fill-in-stint lobbying, and his (delayed) Senate-required financial disclosure statement. The latter does disclose his Facebook work, and that he owns a few shares of Facebook stock through a "managed mutual fund".)

Earlier this summer, Kyl and his team conducted follow-up interviews, and then presented the 8-page report to Facebook. (Facebook released it this week.) In the report, Kyl concludes that FB "has taken some steps to address the concerns we uncovered. But there is still significant work to be done to satisfy the concerns we heard from conservatives."

Indeed, Politico reported that Kyl colleague Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) called the report "a smokescreen disguised as a solution," and called for "an actual audit" that would be released to the public. On the other end of the political spectrum, one group called it a "shameful report".


*In response to questions, Kyl emphatically tells us that he did not "participate in any activity relating to FB while (in the Senate)." That extends to all of the many other clients that he had represented in the years before his 2018 Senate stint, he told us.


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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

READ: McSally's Domestic Terrorism Bill - Discussion Draft

Arizona Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) is receiving national attention this morning for proposing a
bill to make domestic terrorism a federal crime.

Here is what her office is calling the "discussion draft".




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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

WATCH: Sen. McSally Begins and Ends "Maiden Speech" With the Late Sen. John McCain

Arizona Senator Martha McSally delivered her "maiden speech"* on the Senate floor this afternoon, and opened and closed it with a reference to and a quote from the late Senator John McCain.

Her closing also echoed one of her better-known quotes, when she urged her colleagues to join her and "let's get to work for the nation."

McSally noted in her opening that she is "humbled" to have been named to replace McCain. And, she ended her speech by quoting him: "Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history!"

McSally's bookending with McCain is somewhat notable because of her past attempts to weave between President Donald Trump's well-documented dislike for McCain and both her and Arizona's relationship for the longtime Arizona Senator (and GOP Presidential nominee in 2008).

Sen. Sinema delievered her maiden speech last week. It will be posted later today. (Corrected to reflect that Sen. Sinema gave her maiden speech last week.)

Below the jump is the text of the speech, as provided by the Senator's office:

Monday, July 29, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS

3:10pm: HAPPENING NOW: Arizona's Senators Split On Overriding President's Veto Of Weapons Sale To Saudi Arabia;
Votes To Override, Says Let It Stand. Override FAILS to get 2/3 needed to override.
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

LISTEN: Scammers Threatening To Rape, Murder Daughter; Hitting Valley Hard (OFF-TOPIC)

I do not normally publish this kind of article, but my wife and I hope that sharing this will prevent others from getting scammed or being subjected to the terrifying emotional pitch. Both of us were - separately - attacked by the same would-be scammers on Wednesday.

A recording of the four times they called me are below. (Well, I did not answer the first call, as it came from a foreign number that I did not recognize.)

It starts with a young woman sobbing hysterically and saying "Dad (Mom) I got in an accident". I never before realized that hysterically sobbing young women all sound like they could be one of my kids. Nevertheless, I repeatedly asked "who is this?"

After they get your attention and hook you, the "daughter" says this man is trying to help her, she hands the phone to him. He quickly morphs it into a kidnapping scenario, and the urgent need to bring him some money if you ever want to see your child again.

It all seems like it COULD be real enough, even with doubts. So, you kind of have to stay on the phone in case it IS real.

I kept asking questions and trying to string him along until a friend in the office* could call 911 - 911 had them keep calling my daughter's phone until she finally answered and said she was fine. The scammers must have sensed that development, as they finally gave up.

Little did I know that they promptly dialed my wife's cell phone, and terrorized her for another 15 minutes until the friendly people at Fry's and the Phoenix P.D. officers were able to verify that our other daughter was also safe.

Both 911 dispatchers and police officers confirmed that this is currently sweeping the Valley - they have been getting calls and that some have been successful. In fact, the FBI's Arizona Field Office issued a warning about it in May.

It is not clear whether they are randomly dialing cell phone numbers or if they somehow choose intended victims. There are some indications that point either way.

We want to help publicize this scam not only because we do not want people to give these guys money, but also because we do not want more parents to go through the 15 or more minutes of emotional terror.

Listening to the recording can help prepare you if you answer a similar call. Keep calm, keep them on the phone while you (or, someone near you) try to contact your (real) child and/or 911. Ask to speak to your supposed child and ask questions that only she would know the answer to. (See the FBI warning for other pieces of advice.)

Here are the recordings. There are graphic references and explicit language.





*That friend, Leila, wrote a very good article on this incident. You should read it once you finish this one.

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"AZ Law" - AG vs. Universities, Bad Braille, Prosecutors Can't Seek Execution vs. Immigrant, and More

Please make your way over to our sister website to stream or download the newest installment of "AZ Law". The new Sun Sounds of Arizona program airs monthly, with additional episodes available to listen to on-demand.

This week's installment features a mix of reporting - original and from the Republic, the AP and CBS Radio - as well as a commentary from Blog For Arizona founder/attorney Michael Bryan.

The program features articles covering Arizona-related court cases in both state and federal courts.

Aired on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability.  Sun Sounds is part of the broadcast operation at Rio Salado Community College, along with KJZZ and KBAQ. You can donate or listen here.



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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

BREAKING: $250,000,000 Air Attack! Arizonans Will See More Political Ads Than Folks In Every Other State (But Two)

Get ready!

Perhaps the strongest indication yet that Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes are in play next year came today, when a major political ad-tracking firm noted that $249M worth of TV, radio and digital ads will bombard Arizona between now and November 3. 2020. Only two states will see more ad spending for the Presidential and Senate general election campaigns.*

Advertising Analytics predicts that $6B will be spent on advertising nationwide for the Presidential, Congressional and gubernatorial races.

Arizonans can expect to see $141M spent on the Presidential race after the nominees are picked. Only Florida ($339M) and Pennsylvania ($288M) will see more.

Add in that Advertising Analytics reports that Arizona will likely see $108M worth of ads in the most heavily-advertised Senate race in the nation - for the special election to serve out the rest of the late John McCain's term - and Arizona two major TV markets will nearly match those in Florida and Pennsylvania (on a per-market average).

Arizona also has three House seats listed as somewhat competitive ("Likely") and approximately $10M of video advertising for those is expected.

*If you factor in spending for the Presidential primary election campaign, New Hampshire and Nevada may see more total spending (and, earlier).

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Emoluments Case Against President Trump Continues; 4 of 5 Arizona Democratic Reps. Among Plaintiffs (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

Emoluments Case Against President Trump Continues; 4 of 5 Arizona Democratic Reps. Among Plaintiffs
3:30p.m.: Four of Arizona's five House Democrats are plaintiffs in a suit claiming that President Donald Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by accepting "emoluments" while serving as President. Last week, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled against the President's effort to delay the action, and ordered discovery to commence.

The decision was publicized today by some of the 215 Congressional Democrats bringing the action. The Arizona Members of Congress participating are Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (CD2), Raul Grijalva (CD3), Ruben Gallego (CD7) and Greg Stanton (CD9). Neither Rep. Tom O'Halleran (CD1) nor Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are parties to the action.

Judge Emmet Sullivan previously denied the President's motion to dismiss the case. The new motion was to permit  the Administration to appeal the previous rulings and to stop discovery during that process.



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Friday, June 28, 2019

BREAKING; Arizona Senators Split On Proposal To Forbid Attack On Iran Without Congressional Approval (READ the amendment)

Arizona's Senators split this afternoon on a proposal that would have restricted the President's abilities to begin hostilities with Iran before getting Congressional approval. The bipartisan amendment needed 60 votes to pass; the vote was 50-40.



Kyrsten Sinema sided with all voting Democrats to add the check to President Donald Trump's ability to launch an attack. Four Republicans (Paul, Lee, Collins, Moran) also voted "aye"; Arizona's Martha McSally voted "nay".

The short proposed amendment would have been attached to the National Defense Authorization Act. It would have provided an exception for "defend(ing)" against an Iranian attack.

Here is the entire text:


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Thursday, June 27, 2019

BREAKING: Court Dismisses Effort To Move Up McSally/Kelly Contest To Replace Late Senator McCain (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

2:30pm: As reported on sister site "AZ Law", a U.S. District Court Judge today threw out a case challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona law that has delayed a special election to replace the late Senator John McCain for more than two years.

Plaintiffs were calling for the special election to be held as soon as practicable and said that the law that has permitted Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to appoint first Jon Kyl and then Martha McSally to the seat for a period of September 2018 until January 2021 violates the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Diane Humetewa found Ducey's arguments defending Arizona's law convincing and scolded the plaintiffs several times.

The decision is already - somewhat - under appeal to the Ninth Circuit. But, as it now stands, the likely match-up between appointee McSally and Democrat Mark Kelly is still scheduled for November 2020.
Chandler attorney Tom Ryan notes that the law changed mere weeks before McCain's passing and "effectively deprived Arizona voters".

For more details on the dismissal and the already-pending appeal - including , please visit ArizonasLaw.org. "AZ Law" is a new program on Sun Sounds of Arizona, covering Arizona court cases.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"QUESTIONABLE ETHICS": Rep. Gosar Attacks Special Counsel Chief On Discredited IRS/McCain/Tea Party Line, Then Backs Off (WATCH)

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar attacked the head of the Office of Special Counsel for his "questionable ethics" in a hearing today, using a discredited theory that the late Senator John McCain wanted to punish Tea Party groups. When confronted by the witness, Gosar tried to back away.

Confused? That is understandable. This video from today's House Oversight Committee will clarify. And, here are the basics.

The witness is Henry Kerner. He is chief of the Office of Special Counsel, and was testifying about his recommendation that White House Special Advisor Kellyanne Conway be removed from her job for repeated Hatch Act violations. Earlier in his career, Kerner worked for the late-Arizona Senator John McCain.

In that capacity, Kerner met with the IRS in 2013, before the controversy about whether the IRS was targeting the applications of Tea Party organizations burst into the public sphere. Gosar today accused Kerner of recommending that the IRS "harassing non-profit groups until they are unable to continue operating."

"You yourself have a history of questionable ethics," stated Gosar. Kerner used the transcript of that meeting to show that the discussion was about "sham groups" and that there was no mention of conservative or Tea Party groups.

"I would NEVER target conservative groups. I'm here because of the Tea Party victory...in 2010." (Republican former Rep. Darrell Issa hired Kerner for the same Oversight Committee he was testifying in front of today.) "It's just a smear."

Gosar then tried to weave in McCain's enmity towards the Tea Party, to demonstrate that the attack on Kerner makes sense. Kerner explained that McCain was furious that the IRS may have targeted conservative groups and instructed Kerner to go "all out" to show that such behavior from the IRS would be unacceptable.

In full retreat, Gosar responded with "I just wanted to clear it up." He moved on.

(Article has been corrected to fix Special Counsel's name. An unfortunate misspelling, indeed.)



Ironically-related article from earlier this month: "The Ghost of Holiday Bonuses Past: FEC Follows-Up On Rep. Gosar's Questionable Staff Bonuses"


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COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Senate and House Bills To Spend $4.5-4.6B On Southern Border; Senate Routes $145M Thru Military, House Adds $615M To Aid C. American Nations

Update, 7/2 at 12:45: Without fanfare or noting it on the White House website, President Donald Trump signed the $4.6B aid package yesterday. It became law today.

Here are both the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of a $4.6B spending package for the crisis on the southern border. The House approved it yesterday on a party-line vote.

However, that would now appear to be dead on arrival, as the Senate voted today in an overwhelmingly bi-partisan fashion to substitute the Senate's package for a vote. The Senate passed their version, and that will head back over to the House. Arizona's Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally both voted "aye". (Last night, Arizona's four Republican Representatives voted "nay" on the House version.)

Arizona's Politics has compared the money parts of the two versions, and can point out some of the key similarities and differences. (We have not (yet) compared the "guard rails" that were reportedly placed on the spending by the House bill.)

1) DIFFERENCE: The House version would make $615M in assistance available to the three Central American nations responsible for most of the asylum seekers (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) and to other nations in the area. The Senate version does not mention this.
2) DIFFERENCE: The Senate version routes $145M of the funds through the Army, Army National Guard, Air Force and Marines. The amounts are listed as "Operations and Maintenance." It is not clear whether this is done as a result of earlier budget transfers from the Administration's earlier emergency declaration. The House version does not reference the military.
3) SIMILARITY: Both provide $155M to the U.S. Marshalls for prisoners in custody. Both provide monies for the "Legal Orientation Program". (House=$15M, Senate=$10M).
4) DIFFERENCE: The Senate adds $55M for immigration judges, facilities and supplies.
5) SIMILARITY: The House allocated $1.2B to Customs and Border Protection; the Senate $1.0B. The Senate budgets $112M for "consumables and medical care" for the minors (House = $92M). The Senate's has $708M for migrant care and processing facilities and $35M for transportation.
6) SIMILARITY: Both have $85M for CBP facilities.
7) DIFFERENCE: The House provides twice as much to FEMA ($60M vs $30M), while the Senate bill gives nearly twice as much to ICE ($209M vs $128M).
8) SIMILARITY: Both propose spending $2.9B through the Department of Health and Human Services for "Refugee and Entrant Assistance".












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Thursday, June 20, 2019

BREAKING: Appeal Filed On Non-Decision To Force Earlier Special Election For Arizona's Senate Seat

(Originally published at "AZ Law")

An appeal was filed tonight in the constitutional challenge to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's ability to control the late Senator John McCain's seat until November 2020. There has not been a decision by Judge Diane Humetewa, but plaintiffs call it an "effective denial" of their challenge.

Oral arguments were held on April 12, and was taken under advisement at that time. Today's appeal notice follows an unusual round of letters and responses filed last week, as the plaintiffs have grown impatient.


AZ Law and Arizona's Politics have previously reported on the constitutional challenge to the Arizona 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. Sen. McCain passed away on August 25, 2018.

. . .
(For the rest of this article and the linked documents, please visit our new sister site, ArizonasLaw.org. "AZ Law" is a new program broadcast on the non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, servicing Arizonans who cannot read or hold printed material due to a disability.)

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"Give Me a Break - This Place Has Enough Creepy Old Men!" --McSally (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

"Give Me a Break - This Place Has Enough Creepy Old Men!" --McSally
(aka No Country For Creepy Old Men)
1:50pm: "Give me a break. This place has enough creepy old men!" That is the priceless reaction from Arizona Senator Martha McSally when asked today about former Sheriff Roy Moore announcing that he would again run for the U.S. Senate seat from Alabama. Her quote is in a Politico article about Republicans "vowing to crush" the GOP candidae.

Senator McSally has not yet listed the creepy old men already in the Senate. Arizona's Politics will update as warranted.

OFF-TOPIC: 4 Tickets Available For Tomorrow's Dbacks Game Vs. Giants
1:10pm: We'll be down south visiting family tomorrow and can't make the game. If you're interested in our (great) season seats, at cost, please text Paul at 602 908 9132.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

UPDATE: Gosar Committee Now Says Congressional Staff WORKED Last 3 Weeks of Campaign, Did NOT Simply Receive Holiday Bonuses

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar responded immediately to the FEC's letter seeking more information about his holiday bonuses for his Congressional staff. However, that response may raise further concerns about House Ethics rules violations and/or campaign finance reporting.

The campaign committee filed an amended report yesterday. It now says that most of his Congressional staff were actually paid out of the campaign committee's checkbook for doing "administrative services." (amended report published below)

(Read: 1. "Rep. Gosar Pays $44k To Congressional Staff For "Campaign Bonuses"; May Have Violated Ethics Rules and/or Campaign Finance Laws"
2. "The Ghost of Holiday Bonuses Past: FEC Follows-Up On Rep. Gosar's Questionable Staff Bonuses")

This may raise further questions from authorities. The amended report now contradicts the committee's second amended post-general report, as to the purpose of the holiday disbursements. Both reports now do indicate that the monies were first owed to the Congressional staff during the post-general election period - which actually includes a few weeks before election day (October 18- November 26); could the Congressional staff members actually have performed $44,000 worth of "administrative services" during that period in a not-very-intense general election campaign. (Gosar won with more than 68% of the CD4 vote.)

The questions and concerns raised by experts in Arizona's Politics' first article exposing the bonuses still remain, as well. Having Congressional staff perform campaign tasks is permissible; however, the House Ethics Committee recommends that accurate records be maintained and that they perform the work on their own time and without office resources.

If $44,000 worth of campaign work was not performed by the staff members, election laws and House Ethics rules were violated. If the work was done and properly documented, then any inquiries by the FEC or the House Ethics Committee would clear the actions. However, the Congressman's office has declined to respond to repeated requests for a statement and/or documentation.

Two weeks after the first article, the FEC informed the Gosar campaign that the "bonus" explanations were "incorrectly reported". Responding generally yesterday, the FEC said yesterday that "administrative services" is also not descriptive enough to explain the purpose of a disbursement.




* Although the FEC has made it public that it is examining the bonuses/administrative services, it is not clear whether there has been a complaint or referral to either the House Ethics Committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics (that initiated the ethics investigation into Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6)).

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Fox News Town Hall With Julian Castro Today In Tempe (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

Fox News Town Hall With Julian Castro Today In Tempe
1:25pm: TODAY: If you're attending the @JulianCastro / @FoxNews Town Hall at the Tempe Center for the Arts this afternoon, PLEASE let us know (DMs or emails OK)!



Arizona's Senators Vote Against Blocking $3B Of Arms Sales To Bahrain and Qatar
10:30a.m.: Arizona's Senators joined most Republicans today in blocking two resolutions to block $3B in announced arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar. The resolutions failed, 43-56 and 42-57, respectively.


Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) joined seven other Democrats in voting against the measures. The resolutions were proposed by Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY), and he was joined by a few GOP Senators in moving to block the Administration's arms sales amid concerns about Saudi Arabia and its allies, and the ongoing war in Yemen.

Neither Sinema nor Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) has yet made any public comments on today's votes.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

WATCH: John Dean Tells Rep. Andy Biggs To Take His Complaint To Arizona Regents; Three AZ Reps At Mueller Report Hearing

Convicted Watergate figure John Dean suggested that Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs "take it up with the (Arizona) Regents if you have these kinds of problems with me". The challenge came after Biggs spent most of his allotted time blasting Dean as an "incredible, biased" witness at today's House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Lessons From the Mueller Report."


Biggs (R-CD5) was not the only Republican to attack the former White House Counsel's credentials, but he did put the most gusto and spent the most time on it. In fact, Biggs called the hearing a "farce" and did not allow any of the panel of witnesses to speak during his allotted five minutes; Chairman Jerrold Nadler then permitted Dean to respond to the attacks on his character.

After defending his actions during the Nixon era, Dean noted that ASU had appointed him to be the "Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions" in 2015 (for one year). As C-Span showed Biggs listening stone-faced, Dean told him "I guarantee you I tried to educate those students on the facts. So you might want to take it up with the (Arizona) Regents if you have these kinds of problems with me."

Reps. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) and Greg Stanton (D-CD9) also had their chances to state their thoughts and question the witnesses; however, neither was as dramatic.



www.c-span.org/video/?c4801887/rep-biggs-jud-comm-re-mueller-report
www.c-span.org/video/?c4801883/rep-lesko-jud-comm-hrg-mueller-report
www.c-span.org/video/?c4801884/rep-stanton-jud-comm-mueller-report
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Friday, June 7, 2019

BREAKING: The Ghost of Holiday Bonuses Past: FEC Follows-Up On Rep. Gosar's Questionable Staff Bonuses

Two weeks ago, Arizona's Politics reported that $44,000 of holiday bonuses that Rep. Paul Gosar paid to his Congressional staff could ruin his year. Today, the Federal Election Commission ("FEC") sent a letter to the Congressman's committee, asking for more information on those - and, other - "incorrectly reported disbursements."

The article noted that paying the bonuses to his Congressional staff from his campaign committee COULD be within the rules of both the House Ethics Committee and the FEC, but that there would need to be careful documentation of the campaign work done in order to justify the bonuses. Arizona's Politics spoke with ethics experts who pointed out the possible issues for the Congressman.

(Read: Rep. Gosar Pays $44k To Congressional Staff For "Campaign Bonuses"; May Have Violated Ethics Rules and/or Campaign Finance Laws)

Although we would not yet know if the House Ethics Committee read the article, received a complaint, or is looking into any possible violations, we now know that the FEC has taken notice. A senior campaign finance analyst sent two letters on June 7 to the Gosar campaign seeking additional information.Those letters are reproduced below.

The first letter questions why the committee did not file the required 48-hour notices when reeiving sizable contributions within the last three weeks of election day. Only after the election did the campaign disclose the $16,900 in contributions from seven people, received on October 29.

The second letter is the one that states that the 10 items listing "bonus for campaign staff" and the largest bonus to his former Chief of Staff Thomas van Flein (which simply says "campaign bonus") are "incorrectly reported". (The FEC questioned a few other reimbursements and an item labeled "Tele Townhalls".

The FEC is giving the Gosar for Congress committee until July 11 to amend their reports "to clarify the attached descriptions."







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Thursday, June 6, 2019

ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS

3:30pm: Here was the roll call in the House this week on the disaster aid package. Arizona's Democratic Representatives all voted "aye" - the entire Democratic caucus did. Arizona's four Republicans all voted "nay", though 2 out of 3 Republicans voted in favor of the package.

Before the Memorial Day recess, Arizona Senator Martha McSally was among the 8 Senators to vote against the measure.

President Donald Trump signed the bill this afternoon, while taking credit for Puerto Rico aid being included in the measure.







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Friday, May 31, 2019

TUESDAY: Martha McSally's Telephone Town Hall - Special Guest Lindsey Graham (Details)

UPDATE, 7/3, 11a.m.: Here is a copy of the bill that Sens. Graham and McSally introduced. It explicitly attempts to get rid of the Flores Settlement. The Flores Settlement has been in the news lately, and is what permitted the inspections of the CBP detention facilities and set minimum standards for detentions of minors. Here is a 2017 non-partisan Congressional Research Service report about the topic.

Arizona Senator Martha McSally is hosting a telephone townhall this coming Tuesday with special guest Sen. Lindsey Graham. The main topic will be Graham's new bill regarding immigration laws; however, the news release indicates that she will "address other issues facing the U.S. Senate". McSally states that she is the "first co-sponsor" of the measure.

The phone call will take place at 6pm, and they are urging people to pre-register by text, or to just call in at that time. (Details below.)

Graham's new bill is titled  the Secure and Protect Act of 2019, and it "seeks to address weak and outdated laws that incentivize mass illegal immigration." It was introduced two weeks ago and Sen. McSally is the only co-sponsor.

Strangely, the text of the bill is not yet available on neither Sen. Graham's website nor Congress.gov. In fact, that official website notes that the bill is titled:

"A bill to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to protect alien minors and to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to end abuse of the asylum system and establish refugee application and processing centers outside the United States, and for other purposes."
The timing is also interesting because of the different ways the two navigate their tightropes between supporting President Donald Trump and disagreeing with him or his Administration. Yesterday, while McSally called for a Congressional investigation into the situation that occurred in Japan with the USS John S. McCain, Graham's spokesperson said the Senator is simply asking the Navy for clarification. The new tariff battle with Mexico regarding immigration is likely to come up, as well.

Here are the town hall details:

McSally encourages all Arizonans to join her teletownhall by calling 855-531-1067 at 6PM on Tuesday, June 4 or by texting “SenMcSally” (oneword) to 828282 to get registered for the event.


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Friday, May 24, 2019

WATCH: Congressman/Dentist/Body Language Expert Also KNOWS Algorithms; Gosar To Experts: "I Have a Big Math Background"

Add a "science background" and "a big math background" to Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar's CV, right next to "DDS" and body language expert.

Gosar (R-CD4) received national attention last year for telling FBI agent Peter Strzok that his experience as a dentist also made him a body language expert. In another Congressional hearing this week, Gosar warned representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter that he is "very aware of algorithms" because "I have a science background, I have a big math background."

Gosar was questioning the panel about social media biases against conservative users, in a House Oversight Committee hearing about election security. He was attempting to show that the corporations hire young, liberal people to formulate the algorithms that flag possibly-objectionable content.

The panel members were not going along with the hypothesis, and you could see that Rep. Gosar was frustrated.



Here is the entirety of Rep. Gosar's questioning of the panel.


On a more serious note, Arizona's Politics today reported on Rep. Gosar giving $44,000 in holiday bonuses to his Congressional staff out of his campaign committee's account, and how that could violate House Ethics rules and/or campaign finance laws.

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BREAKING: Rep. Gosar Pays $44k To Congressional Staff For "Campaign Bonuses"; May Have Violated Ethics Rules and/or Campaign Finance Laws

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar may have violated House Ethics rules when he gave his Congressional staff $44,000 in holiday bonuses from his campaign committee's account last year. The rules limit the campaign work that the Congressional employees can participate in and be compensated for, and there is not yet any indication that Gosar's office and his campaign complied with those rules.

This news comes in the wake of today's front page report from the Arizona Republic's Ronald Hansen about Gosar (R-CD4) using more of his taxpayers' budget for travel than any current Representative (not in a leadership position).

While the $1.2M for travel makes the holiday bonuses look puny, the two separate issues could be related. Meredith McGehee, the Executive Director of Issue One - a bipartisan ethics and accountability group - spoke with Arizona's Politics. "Because each Representative's office budget (the "MRA") is limited, if they are spending more money on travel, they may not be paying staff appropriately."

An Arizona's Politics review of each Arizona Representative's personnel costs did indicate that Gosar paid the least amount of his MRA for salaries, although offices may employ different numbers of staffmembers.

The bonuses range between $500 and $12,500. Most of the bonused staff are based in the Washington office, and the size of the bonuses tend to correlate to the employees' salaries. (The FEC report is reproduced at the bottom of this article.)
Gosar Cong. Staff, 3q2018
Gosar paid between 14 and 16 individuals in his Congressional office in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2018 (campaign seasons). Of those, 9 or 10 received the "bonus for campaign staff".

While Gosar's Democratic opponent did receive national publicity for his ads - the ones where Gosar's siblings bemoaned their brother's records and comments - the election was not a close one. It is also worth noting that the Gosar campaign was not a "family affair", and spent much more of its monies on California-based professional campaign consultants.

The House Ethics Manual makes it clear that employees ARE permitted to perform campaign duties, although they need to be careful to do it on their own time and to keep accurate records. The Manual notes that a member of Congress was subject to disciplinary action early in the 2000's for a similar situation.

Arizona's Politics has asked Rep. Gosar's office for details on the staff's campaign work that justified the $44,000 in bonuses. No response has yet been received, and this article will be updated if warranted.

If the Congressional staff members performed campaign work on their own time, kept records to document it, and reduced their governmental compensation if necessary, then no ethics violations occured. Conversely, campaign finance regulations may have been violated if the staff members did not perform campaign work commensurate with the bonuses.

McGehee notes that the purpose of the ethics rules is clear. The staff is supposed to be working for the taxpayers. "But, if campaign funds are used to supplement their salaries, it is less clear who they are working for."

Arizona's Politics also spoke with Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who served as the Chief Ethics Lawyer for the White House between 2005-2007. He pointed out that paying Congressional staff for political work also "creates the potential for a lot of problems", such as treating male and female employees differently, rewarding (or punishing) certain employees, etc.

McGehee and Painter both note that even if the Congressmember and the staff abide by the ethics rules and the campaign finance laws, it is not a wise idea to try to walk that line. "Just use other people for your campaign work," summarized Painter.




On a lighter note: 
WATCH: Congressman/Dentist/Body Language Expert Also KNOWS Algorithms; Gosar To Experts: "I Have a BIG MATH Background"


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Thursday, May 23, 2019

What About OUR Disaster? McSally Votes No On Bipartisan Disaster Aid Package; Passes 85-8

Arizona Senator Martha McSally was among the 8 Republicans who voted against a supplemental disaster aid package this afternoon, despite President Donald Trump signaling that he would support the measure even without additional border funds.

McSally stated that her no vote was because she "won’t ask Arizonans to pay for disasters in other states without funding the disaster in our backyard."

The 85-8 vote came about after President Trump - who was first balking about additional funding for Puerto Rico, and then asking for additional border funding - told Senator Richard Shelby today that he would support it without the border funding. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been vowing that the Senate would vote on the package before leaving for the Memorial Day recess this evening. Democrats signaled their support for the present version of the bill earlier today.

McSally sent out her explanation in a pair of tweets. "There is an ongoing disaster at our border — in the past 5 months over 32k migrants have been released into AZ. I support helping those who are impacted by disasters, but won’t ask Arizonans to pay for disasters in other states without funding the disaster in our backyard. Some politicians may want to ignore this crisis – but this is real in Arizona and any compromise disaster supplemental appropriations bill should have included this desperately needed funding."

The status of the package in the House of Representatives is unclear.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

"Save Arizona": Former AZGOP Staffer Starts New Committee To Back Pro-Trump Ideals, Candidates (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

"Save Arizona": Former AZGOP Staffer Starts New Committee To Back Pro-Trump Ideals, Candidates
3:15pm: Robert Maxwell is back, and he plans to "Save Arizona". The former Deputy Communications Director for the Arizona Republican Party who was last in the news in January when he resigned and blasted the state party's then-Chair Jonathan Lines (and the party's coziness with the Ducey re-election campaign) yesterday formed a new federal political committee.

Maxwell tells Arizona's Politics that his "purpose is to save Arizona from it's impeding slide to the ideological left by disseminating strong pro-Trump messaging into the state." He would also like to help House and Senate candidates who match up with President Trump's "America First agenda."

Maxwell released a scathing memorandum on the eve of the vote for AZGOP Chair between the incumbent Jonathan Lines and Kelli Ward. Ward defeated Lines, though it is unclear how many votes were swayed by the Maxwell memo.

Maxwell uses the social media handle "Black Hannity", and declined to answer further questions about "Save Arizona" from Arizona's Politics.

Arpaio Asks Court To Sanction Democratic Representatives For "Bogus" Brief Re: Trump Pardon
1:15pm: Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking Ninth Circuit judges to sanction Democratic Representatives for filing a "bogus" brief in his Trump pardon appeal.

Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt in 2017. Before being sentenced, President Donald Trump issued his first Presidential pardon. Besides preventing any sentencing, Arpaio would like the conviction to be undone.

24 Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit earlier this month, suggesting that the judges should protect their independence by not reversing the conviction.

Arpaio struck back this week, saying that the amicus brief is a "sham" and that the Representatives knew or should have known that the President's pardon power is absolute. Therefore, they should be sanctioned - an extremely rare move for an amicus brief.

The complete article is available at our new sister site, ArizonasLaw.org. The amicus brief and Arpaio's motion for sanctions are also published there.


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Friday, May 10, 2019

Arizona Reps. Vote Party Line On Disaster Relief Package (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

12:00pm: Arizona Reps. Vote Party Line On Disaster Relief Package
Arizona's Congressional delegation voted along party lines this morning on the $17.2B disaster aid package. 34 Republicans did vote in favor of it, but Arizona's 4 GOP Reps. were not among the group.

The President had tweeted his opposition to the bill, and the version to be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate is likely to be different.

Here is the text of the bill passed today (before amendments).

10:00am: OFF-TOPIC: Sprout's Gift Card Fundraiser
Shop at SPROUT’S? Arizona's Politics' co-founder Paul Weich  is organizing a gift card fundraiser for Temple Emanuel (Tempe). And YOU can help! 5% of each Sprout's gift card you purchase will help cover the congregation's higher security costs.

The deadline to order is MONDAY, so please email Paul-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com, and we'll get you set up. Thanks.

9:00am: OFF-TOPIC: Not Too Late To Join Our Diamondbacks Season Ticket Group
The Diamondbacks are hot! 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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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

OFF-TOPIC: Sprout's Gift Card Fundraiser

Shop at SPROUT’S? @AZs_Politics' co-founder @PaulW_InAZ  is organizing a gift card fundraiser for Temple Emanuel (Tempe). And YOU can help!

5% of each @Sproutsfm gift card you purchase will help cover the congregation's higher security costs.


Email Paul-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com, and we'll send you details. Thanks.

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WATCH: Reps. Lesko and Biggs At Today's Hearing On Attorney General Contempt Issue

Arizona has three Representatives on the House Judiciary Committee. The two Republican members spoke as the committee was considering contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General William Barr.

Here are the comments from Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-CD5).




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Monday, April 29, 2019

NEW: Arpaio Attorney Faults 9th Circuit For Supreme Court Justices Denying Effort To Remove Special Prosecutor On Pardon Effect Appeal (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

4:50pm: (This article originally appeared on sister website Arizona's Law.)

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's request to remove a special prosecutor in his ongoing battle. One of Arpaio's attorneys tells Arizona's Politics/Arizona's Law* that the 9 Justices "just (don't) have enough time to correct all of the Ninth Circuit's mistakes." (The Supreme Court's declination came without comment or an indication of how each Justice voted.)
Arpaio is fighting to vacate his criminal conviction for contempt of court in the long-running Melendres case regarding racial profiling. After President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in 2017, the President's Justice Department declined to fight Arpaio's attempt to vacate the contempt conviction. The court has assigned an independent attorney to step in and argue that the pardon does not erase the conviction.

As Arpaio counsel Jack Wilenchik tells Arizona's Law/Arizona's Politics, the appeal - currently in the 9th Circuit - will continue despite the adverse decision from the Supreme Court.
"The Supreme Court just doesn’t have enough time to correct all of the Ninth Circuit’s mistakes. Appeal goes forward as normal except that the USA now has two sets of prosecutors who don’t agree with each other because the Ninth Circuit ordered that it be so."
The Ninth Circuit appeal was on hold until the U.S. Solicitor General informed the court in January that the government would not appeal the decision. The briefing schedule continued despite the former Sheriff's decision to ask the Supreme Court to get involved. Last week, both the Special Prosecutor and the Department of Justice filed their answering briefs with the Ninth Circuit, and Arpaio's Reply is due later in May.


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