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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