Monday, January 27, 2020

9th Circuit Throws Out Arizona's "Ballot Harvesting" Ban; Says Law's Intent Was To Discriminate Against Minorities

The 9th Circuit today found that Arizona's so-called ballot harvesting ban, and its policy of "wholly discarding" ballots cast outside the voter's precinct, discriminates against American Indian, Hispanic and African-American voters.

By a 7-4 vote, the en banc panel threw out both, which could significantly impact this year's elections.

For the rest of this article, and to read the 9th Circuit's Opinion, please head over to our sister site (and, program), "AZ Law".

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

WATCH: McSally Moves To Cash In On "Hack", But Doesn't Allow Fox Host To Commit Her To No Witnesses

Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) moved aggressively to cash in on her news cycle in the spotlight today, even missing a flight home for a primetime Fox News slot. However, she refused to allow Fox host Laura Ingraham to corner her into saying that she would not vote for any witnesses in the impeachment trial.

McSally found the spotlight this morning when she refused to answer a CNN reporter's (legitimate) question about evidence in next week's impeachment trial. Instead of pretending she did not hear the question, she said she would not answer because Manu Raju is a "liberal hack".

After Raju broadcast the video, McSally posted her own version of the video, sent out a fundraising email with the video, designed a t-shirt with the comment and registered the internet domain with it. (Opponents quickly responded.)

The capper was a primetime interview slot on Fox News's "Ingraham Angle". At the end of the interview, the host divulged that McSally actually missed her flight out of Washington to appear in studio.

After not apologizing for the brush-off, accusing most CNN reporters of being "so biased", agreeing with the host that they make up sources, and (unironically) saying that CNN "should be filing FEC reports with the DNC", McSally declined to let Ingraham nail her down on Raju's question ("You can call me a conservative hack", said Ingraham.)

"I'm not going to tell everybody what my votes are going to be," McSally said with a laugh. She did say that she thinks that there has to be a sort of witness parity - if the prosecutors can call one, so could the defense.

Ingraham tried several times to paint McSally into a corner. The Senator did not lash out, but she left Ingraham feeling Raju-like, as well.
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Friday, January 10, 2020

BAD CHARITY TELEMARKETING ALERT: "Childhood Leukemia Foundation" Robo-Calling In Phoenix - Rude and FAILS Charity Navigator Financial Scoring

Received a telemarketing call from "Childhood Leukemia Foundation" this morning. Was not sure if it was robocall or not, so I started asking some questions. The telemarketer/computer hung up on me after I asked where the Foundation is based.* Not good.

I looked them up on Guidestar and reviewed their most recent publicly-available IRS filing. Not impressive and did not make much sense. Besides showing that most of the money goes to the telemarketing fundraisers, the program expenses lines did not add up. Their "wish baskets" include "pajama bottoms" only? Weird. But, $75 gift cards? Not only odd, but the numbers don't calculate - maybe they get discounted gift cards or unusable cards at strange sites.

Then, I looked at Charity Navigator. "ZERO stars" because of the poor financials that I had just
reviewed.

So, because of the poor behavior by the telemarketing company and that it then sucks up most of the money, PLEASE find a better place to donate your money than "Childhood Leukemia Foundation"! Do NOT give the telemarketers money!


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Friday, January 3, 2020

BREAKING: Audit Raps NAU President's Knuckles For Inappropriate Travel Reimbursements As Instruction Cut 3.5%

NAU President Rita Cheng received more than $40,000 in "inappropriate" travel expense reimbursements from the university in the last fiscal year, according to the state's Auditor General. Much of it involved  extra costs for visas, valet parking and room service for a conference in Russia, and travel with her husband.*

In a report released today, the Auditor General notes that most of the inappropriately reimbursed monies were returned to the university by the NAU Foundation after the AG's routine investigation uncovered the issues. President Cheng did reimburse NAU "for a $179 duplicate hotel reimbursement."

The University responded yesterday with what it called additional "context" to the findings. President Cheng encountered airline-caused delays during the important Russia trip, which forced her to purchase replacement "two additional one-way business class tickets" "to ensure that this important trip was completed." The initial tickets were a combination of business class and first class. The Chengs received university reimbursements for the airfare totaling $30,641. An additional $2,023 was reimbursed for visas, early airline check-in fees, valet parking and room service (above the per diem food allowance).

A trip to Israel was another problem area. The group sponsoring the conference offered to purchase coach airline tickets for both President Cheng and her husband. Instead, the university spent $5,862 for her husband's business-class ticket. (The sponsor purchased President Cheng's business-class ticket.) The university's context simply explains that spouses/partners for the other university leaders were part of the delegation.

The university does not contest that the Foundation's reimbursements came after it was discovered and does not explain why the President submitted these expenses in the first place. President Cheng received a 22% salary increase in 2018 and her total compensation package of nearly $700,000/year ranked 59th in the nation.

At the same time, NAU has been undergoing a major belt-tightening that has affected both students and faculty. There was a 3.5% cut in spending on instruction during the last fiscal year and a 3.1% decrease in academic and institutional support as the university scrambled to cover an $11M shortfall.

Those cuts were made despite revenue increases from tuition and fees, state support and government grants and contracts. NAU's financial net worth increased from $243M to $259.6M.

Arizona's Politics has requested comment from President Cheng and will update this article as warranted.

*President Cheng's husband is also a university employee and the Arizona Board of Regents Chair authorized him to travel with her only if non-university funds were used for those expenses. (Per Auditor General's report.)






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Friday, December 27, 2019

U.S. Budget Deficit UPDATES: Deficit Exceeds $1Trillion For Past 12 Months!

Each month, we take a look at the U.S. Treasury's "Monthly Treasury Statement". We try to highlight - or, lowlight, as the case may be - key numbers. We have used Twitter for that, but realize that we should also share it here.
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Friday, December 20, 2019

BREAKING: New Chris Christie Org To Support Sen. McSally During Impeachment Period (WATCH)

Hours after we reported TV advertising has already surpassed $5 million in the Arizona Senate election, Chris Christie announces that his new organization will spend six figures over the next few weeks providing support for Sen. Martha McSally on the subject of impeachment.



"Right Direction America" is targeting Arizona and a handful of other states who have vulnerable GOP Senators up for election in 2020. Although the group is brand new, it is promising a "seven-figure TV and digital advertising offensive Monday." (According to Politico, the other states are Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina.) 

Christie is the former New Jersey Governor who unsuccessfully ran against Donald Trump for the 2016 Presidential nomination. Like many, he has had a kind of push-pull relationship with the President, and this foray into leading this new organization allows him to continue in that role.

Christie said "I really think there has been a lack of attention on the positive things the administration has done for the country and a tremendous amount of attention on the negativity, particularly from groups like Tom Steyer’s impeachment group."

As you can see from the sample ad below, the group is performing a couple of twists in order to support the Republicans while not having to disclose its contributors or spending. It is fashioning the ad as a "tell your Senator" issue ad. It is targeting the states' OTHER Senator - in Maine's case, the Independent Angus King, and in Arizona's case, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). And, it is telling that Senator that CONGRESS has been preoccupied with impeachment and needs to get back to work. (In so doing, it risks degrading the GOP Senate's talking point that it has been working hard while the House has been distracted.)
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Thursday, December 19, 2019

BREAKING: 11 Months Before Election, TV Spending In Arizona's Senate Race Breaks $5M; *Leads* Nation (#50ShadesOfDarkMoney)

If you watch local television, you will not be surprised: TV ad spending related to Arizona's U.S. Senate race just crossed the $5,000,000 barrier. You probably are not surprised that that easily leads the nation. Nor are you surprised that nearly all of it comes from dark money groups on both sides of the aisle.

Somewhat surprisingly, however, the money spent attacking and backing Sen. Martha McSally is nearly evenly split.

Democratic-philic groups have spent $2.6M so far. Advancing Arizona has been hammering Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) since September. It makes up most of the anti-McSally ad barrage, which started in September. Advancing Arizona has resisted all efforts by Arizona's Politics and other reporters to find out where the money is coming from. It rates a *perfect* "50" on Arizona's Politics "50 Shades Of Dark Money" spectrum.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the leading Republican-philic group to step up to try to counter-balance the McSally pummeling. The response has spent $2.5M, even though the Chamber did not start until the end of October. The U.S. Chamber also earns a dark "50".

The campaigns for McSally and likely Democratic nominee Mark Kelly have not yet run any TV ads, and are both stockpiling huge sums of money. Kelly has raised more money ($14M) than any other candidate in the nation - including incumbents, and even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell - and has $9.5M on hand (as of Sept. 30). McSally has raised $8.5M and has $5.7M in the bank.

The advertising figures are through December 14, and come from Kantar/CMAG with analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project.

Spending in the North Carolina Senate race is the closest to Arizona, yet they are only at $4.0M.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

WATCH: Rep. Gosar: Do The Democrats "Hate" President Trump Because They Are Covering Up For Obama Administration? (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)



WATCH: Rep. Gosar: Do The Democrats "Hate" President Trump Because They Are Covering Up For Obama Administration? 
4:25p.m.: As the Republicans rush to allow all of their members a chance to speak on the House floor about the Articles of Impeachment, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) took his 30 second slot to posit that the Democrats "hate" President Trump so much because "they're trying to cover up" for the Obama Administration.


4:05p.m.: By my count, 143 (out of the 435) Representatives have spoken so far. (32.8%)

3 of Arizona's 9 Representatives have participated. (33.3%)


Rep. Grijalva: "Trump Has Perverted the Rule of Law" 
3:35pm.: Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) was the first Arizona Democrat to speak during today's impeachment debate. As Arizona's senior Representative, Grijalva took the opportunity to recognize his wife and granddaughters, and to say that President "Trump has perverted the rule of law, abused his power, and engaged in a cover-up."


Rep. Biggs Decries the "Sham" Impeachment Process
3:20p.m.: Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R-CD5) took his turn at the podium on the House floor a few minutes ago. He decried the impeachment process and referenced what he believed was a censure-able "lie" in the Intelligence Committee by Chair Adam Schiff. 




Rep. Lesko's 2nd Speech On Floor Re: Impeachment: "Stop This Sham!"
12:10p.m.: Rep. Lesko also became the 2nd of Arizona's nine Reps to speak on the House floor today... moments after we posted the first speech.

Here is her #2, in which she urges her Democratic colleagues to "stop this sham"!



11:40a.m.: Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) is the first of the state's nine Representatives to
speak on the floor during today's historic impeachment vote. (We will post all of them as they become available; it will be interesting both to see which take the opportunity to speak, and to see which do not take the podium during the seven hours.)

The member of the Rules Committee spoke during the debate on the rule. She dipped back to her personal history of leaving an abusive ex-husband and being without money to frame her remarks about this being the "most unfair" process and "most partisan impeachment in the history of the United States".
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