Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WATCH: Sen. John McCain Swallowing Hard To Vote "Aye" On Deal

Sen. John McCain was interviewed on Bloomberg TV this morning, shortly before he and 73 other Senators swallowed hard and voted to approve the debt ceiling/deficit reduction deal.

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WATCH: Sen. Kyl's Incendiary Floor Speech Announcing Plan To Fight Debt Ceiling Deal Trigger

I previously described a bit of Arizona Senator Jon Kyl's fiery speech on the Senate floor just before the vote on the debt ceiling/deficit reduction deal.  Rather than cut and paste it here, check out that link.

But here is the link to the speech itself.  It is a 7-minute speech and C-Span has not yet made the video "embeddable".  It is worth a watch.

UPDATE: It is now embeddable:

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Arizona Senators Vote "Yes" On Debt Ceiling/Deficit Reduction Deal; Kyl Announces Plan To Undermine It

Arizona's Senators "swallowed hard" (McCain's words) and voted to approve the debt ceiling/deficit reduction deal, and Sen. Jon Kyl set out his plans to undermine it in his floor speech shortly before the vote.  Kyl and Sen. John McCain were among the 74 Senators to vote "aye" and to send it to the President; 26 Senators voted "nay".

Kyl, the Senate Minority Whip who is retiring from the Senate at the end of next year, gave a bitter speech blaming the White House and the "tax and spend" Democrats for the across-the-board cuts that will be triggered if the Congressional committee cannot agree on further deficit-reduction measures.  He stated that he would tell members of the so-called "Super Congress" that the debate should be "taken to the American people" and that he would not countenance the "armageddon" that the automatic cuts to the Defense Department would cause.

Kyl indicated he would - if necessary - urge his "colleagues to disregard this provision".  He acknowledged that the Congressional negotiators should not have approved the trigger, but said the President nearly violated his oath of office by including it in negotiations.  Kyl said he would vote for the measure because his no vote would not change the outcome, but that he would continue fighting it.

The legislation now goes to the President's desk for signature.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

WATCH. READ: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Statement On Debt Ceiling Vote

Here is the news release which just came out from Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' office:


Congresswoman travels to Washington to support bipartisan bill to avoid default

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to Congress today to vote in favor of legislation that will avoid a default by the U.S. government.

It was the first vote she has cast since she was shot and critically wounded on Jan. 8 while meeting with her constituents in Tucson.

“I have closely followed the debate over our debt ceiling and have been deeply disappointed at what’s going on in Washington,” Giffords said. “After weeks of failed debate in Washington, I was pleased to see a solution to this crisis emerge. I strongly believe that crossing the aisle for the good of the American people is more important than party politics. I had to be here for this vote. I could not take the chance that my absence could crash our economy.”

In December 2009 and again in February 2010, Giffords refused to go along with an increase in the debt limit. But this vote was substantially different, with the strength of the U.S. economy hanging in the balance.

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DEBT CEILING COVERAGE, Arizona Delegation Updates: Monday, Aug. 1

I posted Sen. McCain's TV interviews from this a.m. separately, but am now going to post our (somewhat) daily compilation (in progress) thread.  As always, if you find anything that should be included, or have any corrections or complaints, please drop me an e-mail!

VOTE IN HOUSE: Passed 269-161.  Arizona's delegation voted as follows:
YES:  Giffords, Gosar
NO:  Grijalva, Flake, Schweikert, Franks, Quayle, Pastor

Giffords, Rep. Gabrielle (D-CD8): Very exciting to read that Rep. Giffords is there to cast her 1st vote since the attempted assassination!  Arizona's Dan Nowicki breaks it: http://bit.ly/oZZuaS

Parenthetically, I e-mailed Giffords' office earlier today to attempt to find out what was going on. Dang those reporters on the ground!!!

Gosar, Rep. Paul (R-CD1):  Rep. Gosar just (3:30p.m., AZT) issued a news release that he will vote for the deal (momentarily... maybe).  Here's his statement:

“Our nation’s debt and spending crisis is like a super tanker. In order to bring a supertanker to a stop, its engines are typically cut off about 15 miles from port. In order to change direction even slightly, the captain has to start the maneuver miles ahead of time. The current bill is a change in direction. But we cannot stop this “supertanker of debt” tonight, in one vote. Our Supertanker of Debt was created over the last 10 years or more. We cannot undo a decade of wasteful spending in one night. I plan on voting for the Budget Control Act tonight even though it is far from perfect. We cannot expect perfection when the Senate and the White House is fighting us on even acknowledging the severity of the problem. The Senate has not even passed a budget in 824 days.
I preferred the Cut, Cap and Balance Act. I heard the people loud and clear. This bill is far from perfect, but it is actually a milestone of progress. The people spoke in November and sent me to DC. We have heard you. We will continue to listen.”
Grijalva, Rep. Raul (D-CD7):  "All take and no give... is not a compromise."  That is the condensed quote from Rep. Grijalva at a press conference this afternoon with the Congressioal Progressive Caucus.

Schweikert, Rep. David (R-CD5):  As of this p.m. (1:00p.m., AZT), Rep. Schweikert is still "leaning no".  He did an in-depth interview with MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan, and indicated that his biggest hang-up about the deal is that only $21 billion of the spending cuts in the coming year.

Kyl, Sen. Jon (R-AZ):  A National Review reporter - Andrew Stiles - tweets that he asked the Republican Whip if he would like to be included in the so-called "Super Congress" (the committee that will try to come up with the next round of deficit reduction measures).  Stiles reports Kyl's response as "not really".  Somewhat surprising, since I recall the Senator's news conference announcing that he would not be running for re-election, at which he spoke enthusiastically about how being freed up from the pressure of a campaign would allow him to better tackle some of the tough issues.  Including deficit reduction.

Gosar, Rep. Paul (R-CD1):  Gosar tweeted (re-tweeted) at approximatel 10:45a.m. (AZT):  "A Balanced Budget Amendment is the only way to stop the explosion of debt."

A Washington Post reporter - Felecia Somnez - tweets that freshman Rep. Paul Gosar is "still reading" about the deal.  When asked about the process, he reportedly said "Seems like bureaucracy at its finest."

Quayle, Rep. Ben (R-CD3):  Rep. Quayle has asked Tweeters to let him know what they think about the deal on the table.  I'm not sure what link to give you to view the responses, but the ones I saw seem to be split about evenly.

Schweikert, Rep. David (R-CD5):  Rep. Schweikert was on Bloomberg TV and CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning.  He thinks the deal will pass but is not yet sure how he'll vote on it.

TheHill.com has Schweikert as "leaning no."

Franks, Rep. Trent (R-CD2):  Rep. Franks also re-tweeted the one sentence mentioned in the Gosar section, about the Balanced Budget Amendment (at approx 10:00a.m., AZT).

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WATCH: Sen. McCain This A.M. On CBS and Fox; Obama Can No Longer Talk About "Corporate Jets and Billionaires"

Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) did not claim victory for the GOP in the debt ceiling deal that is now headed to both the House and the Senate later today.  Nevertheless, he is pretty pleased with it and praised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for setting out the basic framework a couple of weeks ago.  He was on CBS News' "The Early Show" this morning.  Embedding of the video is not available, but here is the link.

He did go a bit further on "Fox & Friends", where he noted that the deal - by not including closing tax loopholes - removes President Obama's ability to campaign on "corporate jets and billionaires and all that".

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

DEBT CEILING COVERAGE, Arizona Delegation Updates: Sunday - Deal Emerging Edition

Kyl, Sen. Jon (R-AZ):  Sen. Kyl, the Senate Minority Whip, was on Fox News Sunday (with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Grijalva, Rep. Raul (D-CD7):    Rep. Grijalva, the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, released a statement blistering the emerging deal.  Needless to say, he will likely be a "no" vote.  The full statement is after the jump, but here's the concluding paragraph:  "This deal is a cure as bad as the disease. I reject it, and the American people reject it. The only thing left to do now is repair the damage as soon as possible.”

McCain, Sen. John (R-AZ):  Not to be left out, Sen. McCain engaged the aforementioned Dick Durbin in a 14-minute colloquy on the Senate floor this morning.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

DEBT CEILING COVERAGE, Arizona Delegation: Some Catch-up items

I haven't had too much time to sit down at the computer the last few days - certainly not as much time as I would like to given the circumstances.  So, here are a few things from the e-mail box and the twitter feeds and the Google-monster that I would like to post.  As always, if you know of something that you think should be included, drop me an e-mail - I'd love to include it!
Quayle, Ben (R-CD3):  Quayle was interviewed by Fox News' Neil Cavuto this morning (Saturday, 8:15a.m., AZT).  Below the video are some quotes pulled by Quayle's office.

On Speaker Boehner’s bill:
“The plan that we put forth in the House, it was not going to solve all of the problems that we have, but this is going to take time… This is what the Boehner bill did. We had caps on spending; we had a balanced Budget Amendment. I voted for it and I think it was the right step.”
On the long-term fiscal situation:
"We need to move our country in the right fiscal direction. We can’t be saying, ok look S&P and Moody’s might downgrade us. We have to make the best decisions to try and make sure that we are tackling our fiscal problems.”
On differences within the Republican Party:
“We are all in this together. We all have the same ideals and we’re looking to push that same ideals. We have different strategy. Some people try to get it all at once. Others are trying to say— hey look, we understand where we are. We don’t have the Senate, we don’t have the White House. Let’s get what we can get and move the country in the right direction. So, I don’t think there is really any schism of ideology. It’s just a difference of opinion in strategy. “

Schweikert, Davide (R-CD5):  Rep. Schweikert released an angry statement this (Saturday) afternoon.  Here it is:

“While our economy is on the brink of a debt disaster, it is unconscionable that President Obama and the Senate Majority still refuse any plan that will not give the president a blank check.
“The House of Representatives did the heavy lifting and passed a bipartisan plan, yet President Obama’s calls for ‘compromise’ seem to ignore this reality.
“The Reid plan borders on embarrassing. It is full of smoke and mirrors instead of common sense and math. It will have a disastrous impact on our military, does not cut close to the amount it hikes, and advertises $1 trillion in phantom cuts.
“Senator Reid continues to play games and disregard the will of the People’s House. It is clear that President Obama and the Senate Majority just don’t get it.” 

Gosar, Paul (R-CD1) :  Rep. Gosar released a statement last night (Friday), after passage of the Boehner bill:

“I’ve said all along, default is not an option for our country. The plan that offered the best solution was Cut, Cap and Balance, however, the Senate refused to even vote on that. We are forced to provide a compromise, which Speaker Boehner has forged that overall cuts more in spending than gives in debt ceiling increases. This conservative plan still moves the nation on a path to fiscal responsibility.”

“A year ago Congress only talked about tax increases and more failed stimulus plans. Now we are talking about, and voting on, measures that restore fiscal sanity. We are moving our country forward.”  
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WATCH: McCain's Initial Speech Deriding Tea Party, Balanced Budget Amendment Requirement, Tax Raisers and President

Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made front-page news a couple of days ago when he derided some conservative Republicans and Tea Party followers for insisting on a balanced budget amendment being part of the debt ceiling negotiations.  Here is his initial speech on the floor of the Senate, on Wednesday night.

In reviewing this speech, it becomes apparent that - yes, he DOES agree that the Tea Partier's insistence on a balanced budget amendment is unreasonable given the lack of votes for it.  However, he does it in the context of criticizing all the sides that he felt were holding up a resolution of the situation.

The following day, McCain seemed to backtrack somewhat when he went on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, though he did not backtrack as far as Hannity would have liked him to.

Finally, here is his interview on Greta Van Susteren's Fox News show on Friday night.

In conclusion, Sen. McCain was very consistent in urging the President, the Democrats, and those in the Republican party to come to what he believed (believes) is the best solution.  And, as of tonight, it seems very possible that McCain's proposal might be the one that the party's move towards on Sunday.  (Hmmm, who is going to be on the Sunday talk shows?)

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DEBT CEILING COVERAGE: Arizona Delegation Updates, Sat./Sun.

I will try to post 'em as I can find 'em - but, if you have any that you would like to see included, please shoot me an e-mail at info@arizonaspolitics.com.

Kyl, Jon (R-AZ):  Arizona's junior Senator delivered the Republican's  weekly response this morning (Saturday).  He delivered a speech blaming President Obama for not understanding that this is an "opportunity" to "rein in spending".  ("President Obama is simply too committed to the European style of big government that his policies have set in motion."  "...raise taxes and keep on spending.")
McCain, John (R-AZ): Arizona's senior Senator sat down with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren last night. He repeats his softened criticism of those Republicans who have been holding out for a balanced budget amendment.  "Let's be honest with the American people. We have to have a balanced budget amendment.... But, I have to be honest with my constituents and tell them that this Senate is not going to pass it, but we can't give up the fight."

Here's a good article in today's Arizona Republic, from Dan Nowicki and Erin Kelly, with comments from many in the Arizona delegation, including the oft-ignored House Democrats (Pastor and Grijalva).

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Friday, July 29, 2011

DEBT CEILING COVERAGE: Arizona Delegation Updates, Fri. 7/29

When we had to call it a night last night, the House was just about to call it a night, Rep. Trent Franks had just invited reporters into the bathroom, and I was speculating on a Jeff Flake vs. John McCain debate on a balanced budget amendment. 

I have not been able to break away (from work and other obligations) 'til now (2:00p.m., AZT), and it looks like there are a few Arizona-related developments that do not seem to be getting much attention in some of the Arizona media.  Jeff Flake and Trent Franks were two of the key players in prompting the revision of the Boehner Bill that is now headed for a vote. 

I will try to post 'em as I can find 'em - but, if you have any that you would like to see included, please shoot me an e-mail at info@arizonaspolitics.com.
Flake, Jeff (R-CD6): Rep. Flake would appear to be a big winner in the developments of the last 24 hours - if winners are chosen based upon having an effect on the eventual bill to be voted on in the House.  Yesterday, he talked about his speculation that he could help maneuver a "clean" Balanced Budget Amendment into the mix when the House would take up the Senate's Reid Bill.  However, he apparently goaded Boehner into adding it into his bill instead.

Here's Flake's Tweet from approximately 8:30a.m.(AZT): "Good news. Looks like Boehner bill will now include BBA. Now it cuts, it caps, it balances. If so, I'm for it."

From the Associated Press article carried on the Arizona Republic's website this afternoon (1:00p.m., AZT):  "With conservatives insisting on the addition of a balanced-budget amendment requirement, Speaker Boehner's bill will now cut, cap and balance" federal spending, said Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona as Friday's scheduled vote approached.
An interview with Flake is featured on NPR's "All Things Considered" this afternoon.  Audio is not yet available online, but can be heard on KJZZ, KUAT, and KNAU.

Flake news release: “The ball will now be in the Senate’s court. If the Boehner bill is dead-on-arrival, as Senator Reid has said, I hope they’ll send us a plan of their own so that we can make improvements to it.”

Franks, Trent (R-CD2):  Franks was one of the couple of dozen (or so) Republican votes that Boehner could not rely on to vote for his bill yesterday.  Today, Franks will be a "yes" vote.  At about 1:30p.m. (AZT) this afternoon, a CBS News reporter tweeted that the Balanced Budget Amendment addition swung Franks.

Franks is being quoted by a Fox Radio reporter (Todd Starnes) as saying:  "I think Harry Reid will do the most-malicious thing possible to this bill."  (To my knowledge, Reid has only said that the Senate will vote it down.)

Quayle, Ben (R-CD3):  News release with quote from Quayle:
“I came to Washington with two main goals in mind: getting the economy going again and reducing the size and scope of government. I will vote for the Budget Control Act because I am committed to these goals. While it’s not perfect, the Budget Control Act is an important first step that puts in place structural spending reforms and cuts, requires passage of a balanced budget amendment, stands firm against tax increases and ensures that America pays its bills."

“Importantly, the Budget Control Act achieves our long-standing demand that spending reductions be greater than any debt ceiling increase. And unlike Senator Harry Reid’s plan, the reductions and caps are real."

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

DEBT CEILING UPDATE, Arizona Perspective: Trying To Reconcile McCain, Flake Comments

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) made the big political splash last night when he spoke out about the Tea Party influence on the debt ceiling debate.  He decried their insistence on working the Balanced Budget Amendment into the debt ceiling negotiations.

Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake (R-CD6) is one of the key players in today's stall out in the House, and he was cited earlier as saying that he thinks the Boehner plan should go down today so that the Senate passes something and the House can then add a balanced budget amendment at the last minute.  The thinking apparently goes that the time would be so short at that point that the Democrats would go ahead and vote for the Balanced Budget Amendment.

Are the senior Senator and the possible-next-junior Senator really going at each other, or can those statements be reconciled?

It would appear to me that Flake may have averted a direct staredown with McCain by probably defining his hope as being for a "clean" balanced budget amendment.  The distinction would be that the House - last week in the Cap/Cut/Balance measure - approved a "dirty" balanced budget amendment.  It is one that included automatic cuts, limits, formulas to force a balanced budget. 

A "clean" version would be one that would only require a balanced budget and would force the Congress to decide how to get there.

I am guessing there is some frustration from both men, but there is certainly room for them to put it behind them.

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DEBT CEILING COVERAGE: Arizona Delegation Updates

With the House of Representatives debating this afternoon (now in indefinite recess), and many divergent viewpoints, I am trying to compile where our 10 Arizona Congresspeople (Representatives and Senators) are at this moment.  If you have some links or info, please e-mail me (info@ArizonasPolitics.com).  Thanks.

Flake, Jeff (R-CD6):  Rep. Flake - who is running for the Senate next year - has been moved (by the National Journal) from "undecided" to "leans no". ABC reporter Tweets (3:00p.m., AZ Time) that Flake and Franks each had "private conversations" with Speaker Boehner and declined to comment to press afterwards. 
       This afternoon (1:08p.m., AZ Time), The Hill indicated that Flake was still leaning no and that he was thinking about other chess moves for the GOP - that the Senate should pass Reid's plan, then the House could attach a "clean balanced budget amendment" and pressure the Senate with it as the Aug. 2 deadline looms larger.

Franks, Trent (R-CD2):  Rep. Franks has nothing from today on his website or his Twitter feed, as of 1:53p.m. (Arizona Time).  And, a Washington Post article posted this morning lists Franks as "publicly undecided."  The National Journal lists Franks as a "no" vote.  ABC reporter Tweets (3:00p.m., AZ Time) that Flake and Franks each had "private conversations" with Speaker Boehner and declined to comment to press afterwards.

Gosar, Paul (R-CD1):  Rep. Gosar was among the 20-30 House Republican freshmen who participated in a news conference this morning supporting the Boehner proposal.  Facing the picture below, he is to the right of center.  He did not speak, and has not issued any statements.  He did "re-Tweet" Speaker Boehner's message claiming that he had the "only serious proposal."

Quayle, Ben (R-CD3): Webpage, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook silent, as of 1:37p.m. (AZ Time). However, the Washington Post political columnists Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake identified him (and Jeff Flake) as one of the 5 to watch today:  "The Arizona freshman has said he would withhold a decision until the final bill came out, but his time to make a decision is rapidly running out. Quayle is just the sort of conservative establishment type — his father, Dan, was a senator from Indiana and vice president — that Boehner has to have to get to 217 votes."

Schweikert, David (R-CD5): Rep. Schweikert is among the House Republican freshman.  Yesterday, he indicated that he was "leaning no" regarding the Boehner plan. This morning, he was on CNBC: "I'm holding out 'til the last moment, to see if I can get one last (spoken over)...." (4:58 into video) http://youtu.be/ts74YQCx9NE .  The National Journal lists Schweikert as "publicly undecided".


Grijalva, Raul (D-CD7): The co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Rep. Grijalva spoke briefly today at a press conference rally to urge Congress to protect against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

     In his constituent newsletter yesterday, Grijalva suggested that the GOP is simply trying to cut programs they have been trying to eliminate: "They're using their manufactured crisis to try to cut important programs - like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security - that they've tried to eliminate for years. They're trying to tell us these programs, not the wars and upper income tax cuts of the past 10 years, are why we have a deficit. That's simply not true. In 2001, decades after these programs were created, we had a budget surplus of $258 billion. What changed? Well, I don't have to remind you of the last 10 years. We launched two wars and gave taxpayer money to corporations to destroy the economy."


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Monday, July 25, 2011

TWITTER THIS: Former Arizona Lawmaker Colleagues - Pretty Young Kirk Adams and Even Younger Ruben Gallego - Jabbing About "Worker Justice" Over Twitter

(9:32a.m. Clarifying that Grace Lutheran Church is in Phoenix, not Washington.
9:40a.m. Adding link to organization that held worker justice demonstration, in Phoenix.)

Former young House Speaker Kirk Adams - he is still young, no longer youngest and no longer House Speaker - and also-young state Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-LD16) had a fun little Twitter exchange a couple of days ago.

Gallego is in Washington for the National Council of La Raza annual conference.  As this is being written, President Barack Obama is about to address the conference (9:50a.m., Arizona Time) about the economy and immigration, and Gallego has tweeted that he is in the "nosebleeds" for it.

But, on Thursday, when he arrived at the conference, Gallego tweeted "About 100 workers and allies at Grace Lutheran Church advocating for Worker justice."  The demonstration took place in Phoenix

Perhaps because Gallego had also tweeted about "violent Teaparty rhetoric", Adams - who resigned from the state House to run for the East Valley congressional seat being vacated by Jeff Flake - decided to respond. 

"'Worker Justice' is having a job when unemployment is above 9%,"  tweeted Adams - perhaps simplifying the term a bit.  Gallego retorted: "worker justice is when you give 500million tax cut to corporations you also give unemployment benefits extension."

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Friday, July 22, 2011

SEND MONEY: Guess Who's Coming To Dinner To Help Get The State GOP's Money Pipes Flowing Again?

The Arizona Republican Party is still operating in the red, but is hoping that action movie/reality TV star Steven Seagal and political reality TV star "Joe the Plumber" will get the money pipes flowing into positive territory.

GOP Chair Tom Morrissey just sent out an e-mail touting that Maricopa County Sheriff Posse member Seagal was now confirmed as the special guest at next Tuesday's "Freedom Festival" fundraiser.  Seagal will be introduced by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has not yet ruled out running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jon Kyl.  Joe the Plumber became a political icon near the end of the 2008 presidential campaign of Arizona's other Senator, John McCain.

The fundraiser takes place July 26, 6:30pm, at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. 

Morrissey is also billing it as the "Restoration of the Republic", although it is also designed to restore the Arizona Republican Party to a positive balance sheet.  As of June 30, the AZ GOP was nearly $35,000 in the hole.  Disagreements among Arizona Republicans have prompted some to bypass the state party, funneling money in the 2010 campaign through the Yuma County Republican Party.

Full text of the e-mail following the jump.

FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS: Flake's 2nd Quarter Contributions Slow, But Now Has $2 Million In Bank

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-CD6) has practically cleared the field for the Republican nomination to replace Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).  His fundraising slowed a bit in the 2nd quarter (ended June 30), but he managed to increase his campaign's cash on hand figure to just more than $2 million dollars. ($2,002,620.56, to be exact.)

You will recall that he raised more than $1 million in the six weeks after he announced his candidacy.  In the 13 subsequent weeks, he raised $830,226.10.  A slower pace, but still not too shabby.

His expenses did skyrocket as his campaign matured.  He again spent big (more than $80,000) on direct mail efforts in the 2nd quarter, and loaded up on consultants and fundraising expenses.  His expenditures were approximately $88,000 in the 1st quarter; this period, they rose to $390,000.  ($389,432.42, to be exact.)

A couple of Republicans have reported raising some money for the primary, Douglas McKee ($19,752 cash on hand) and Bryan Hackbarth (former mayor of Youngtown, $206 cash on hand with $1,000 debt).  Many more high profile Republicans who were reportedly interested in the race have either taken a pass or remained on the sidelines.  No Democrats have filed yet, although a couple have started "exploratory committees".

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

READ: L.A. Times Op-Ed Featuring Ben Quayle: Tells Colleagues Must Pay Our Bills, Even If Administration Is "Fear Mongering"

Arizona Rep. Ben Quayle (R-CD3) is featured in an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times.  He is held up as an example of the group of freshmen Republicans in the House of Representatives who have had a major impact on the recent deficit-reduction negotiations tied to raising the nation's debt ceiling.

Quayle talked about the need to make sure that the U.S. does not default on payments on the debt (or Social Security, Medicare, military and veterans), but also noted that he believes that the Executive branch is "fear mongering" on the consequences of not getting the issue resolved before August 2:

Quayle was elected with "tea party" support, but he's not a bomb-thrower; he says he's willing to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling at some point. "I do not want to have a default," he said. But he's not willing to compromise easily. The debt ceiling, he says, gives conservatives the leverage they need to force deep spending cuts. "This is the time for us to rein in federal spending," he said.
. . .

And there's a deep divide of mistrust between House conservatives and the Obama administration. Like many Republicans, Quayle says he's skeptical of the administration's claims that Aug. 2 is a real drop-dead date and that the consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic.

"There has been a lot of fear-mongering coming out of the administration," he said. Even if the debt ceiling doesn't rise, he said, "I believe we can still pay the interest on our debt, pay Social Security and Medicare, pay military salaries and veterans' benefits. And they can do some prioritization after that."

Quayle says his constituents back home in Phoenix expect him to rein in the budget — and to hang tough.

"Some don't want us to raise the debt ceiling at all," he said. "I tell them that even though we don't like the debt that's been accumulated, we need to honor it. You have a teenager who misuses a credit card, you tear up the card, but you still have to pay the bill."
The veteran Washington reporter McManus (who wrote the op-ed) notes that Quayle and his colleagues are going to have to figure out if they can agree to a deal with most - but not all - of what they and their Tea Party supporters were looking for.  (Read the entire op-ed here.)

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Monday, July 18, 2011

READ: Gov. Brewer Sends Out Strong Money Plea For Embattled Tea Party Senate President Russell Pearce*; Pearce Needed To "Help Save Our Country" From Obama

Last week, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was compelled to officially call for a recall election for Russell Pearce's State Senate seat in LD18.  Today, she has penned a letter sent out by the group opposing Pearce's recall, professing her strong support and respect for her friend - and, asking for money.  (The full text of the Governor's e-mail is re-printed below the jump.)

Brewer notes that the Tea Party Senate President* needs to win because he "will help save our country from an Obama administration dedicated to undermining our nation's immigration laws."  She also plays up her efforts to fight the same bogeymen (bogeypersons?) as Pearce: Obama, Janet Napolitano, Nancy Pelosi, Al Sharpton, the media bias and "everyone else in Washington who think they know what is best for Arizona."

She rattles off several pieces of legislation - sponsored by Pearce and that she signed - which she helped provoke this recall by "those who boycott and hurt our state."  The list starts with the well-known SB1070 (still largely on hold pending Supreme Court appeal), and includes a bill that lengthened sentences and restricted early release "for these felony offenses".

The fund-raising appeal from the Governor is a strong signal that she will not stay on the sidelines during the recall campaign, as some may have assumed that she would.  We have asked the Governor's office how active she will be in the recall campaign, and will let you know once we have received a response.

Click below for the full text of Governor Brewer's letter:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

WHO SAID IT? (Harry Potter and Congress Edition): "...The federal government is kind of a Slytherin."

Which Arizona Congressperson is quoted in the Washington media as using the above Harry Potter-related metaphor this past week on the eve of the release of the final movie installment of the incredibly-popular series? 

In the face of the actions by various Slytherins in the final installment, it may not have been the analogy he (we will eliminate the three Democrats in the delegation, due to the attempt to demonize the federal government) was reaching for.  Nonetheless, he certainly gets points for his overall knowledge of and participation in the big midnight releases of the books and movies.

Answer - and rest of the post - after the jump.

Monday, July 11, 2011

WHO KNEW?: Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake Had Been "Left For Dead", Made Comeback Due To "Conservatives and Tea Party Supporters" --Washington Post

Arizonans might be surprised to learn that long-time East Valley Congressman and leading GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, Jeff Flake (R-CD6) had been "left for dead" and has made an "unlikely political comeback" that can be contrasted with the falls of the likes of Ensign, Edwards and Weiner (among others).  But, that is exactly what the Washington Post is reporting in today's edition (page A15) in its profile of Flake.

The surprise comes not because voters in Flake's Congressional district (East Valley) ever have come close to voting him out, but because he had thwarted the expected upward trajectory within the House Republicans by speaking out bluntly against earmarks.  (Gasp!)

In any event, it is an interesting article for Arizonans to review.  And, as Flake apparently acknowledged several times in being interviewed for the story, he did feel that he went through "some tough days" when he was being punished by the GOP leadership for his "bad behavior."

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WATCH: Rep. Grijalva Reacts To President Obama's News Conference On Debt/Deficit Talks

Tucson Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD7) was interviewed on MSNBC this morning after President Obama's news conference.  He reiterated that members of the Progressive Caucus are still committed to making sure that any agreement contain tax increases as well as cuts in core social programs.

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COMMENTARY: How Logically Broke Are We? Rep. Jeff Flake Stretches Too Far

(The following includes a bit more personal feelings than I typically express in a report.  Therefore, it has been labeled as "commentary".)

I had lots of plans (but little time) for the posts I was going to make upon my return to the desert in time for tonight's Home Run Derby.  But, this e-mail I just received changed those plans.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-CD6 and Senate candidate) sends out a weekly "So Just How Broke Are We" news release.  He tries to tie OUR COUNTRY'S fiscal situation to some newsy tidbit/holiday/etc in a way that is clever and designed to get some notice.  I often enjoy them and occasionally (privately) critique them.  I have tremendous respect for the Congressman's views and his persistence in working on governmental fiscal issues.  I have never tried to gauge how many people read and/or are influenced by this weekly series.

But, the illogic in the one that just came out passed beyond "too cutesy", in my sometimes-humble opinion.  To throw in a baseball term in honor of the All-Star Game, he stretched too far and stepped away from his base.

Maybe if a few of us give the candidate for U.S. Senate some feedback on it, it will prompt him (his office?) to work on the analogies - and, to maybe not try so hard to be timely/cutesy/clever/etc.    Here it is:

An English scientist now believes that the first person to reach the age of 150 has already been born and could be followed within 20 years by that the first person to reach the age of 1,000.
          Though living to either of these ages would certainly be a feat, even more astonishing would be the age to which a person would need to live in order to pay down the U.S. debt, based on the average annual wage per U.S. citizen of $40,711 according to 2009 data. The U.S. is so broke that a person would need to reach the ripe old age of approximately 354 million to completely pay down our (current) $14.4 trillion debt.
          “Let’s not stick to same old same old when it comes to reducing our debt,” said Flake. (emphasis in original)
Flake is running to replace Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) next year.  He raised more than $1 million in the six weeks after he announced his candidacy.  It would take the average Arizonan (using Flake's average annual wage for a U.S. citizen and assuming Arizonans' average is the same) 25.37 YEARS to match Flake's campaign contributions for only that 6-WEEK period.

Thank God more than one person contributes to his campaign, and thank God we all contribute - in one way or another - to our government.  This kind of illogic does not help our national discussion on these serious issues; it harms it.  And, I sincerely doubt that that is Rep. Flake's intent.

The amount of my *tremendous respect* plummeted this morning; and, multiplied by the number of average Arizonans who also see the illogic in his press release, the amount could take uncalculated years of releases to recover it.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day Giffords Makes First Public Appearance, Washington Post Touts "Kelly v. Kelly" House Battle In Arizona; Kicks Post-Jan. 8 Speculation Parlor Game To New Level

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8) made her first public appearance yesterday - in Texas - at about the same time that the Washington Post was posting an article about the possibility that her husband, Mark Kelly, could run to retain her southern Arizona House seat.  As the 2012 election season nears, the speculation swirl is guaranteed to start spinning ever faster.

(more written later, but below are the links)

Giffords' public appearance: http://wapo.st/jBwAxd
Kelly's possible campaigns: http://wapo.st/mmm60A
WaPo Senate speculation last week: http://wapo.st/lXgOUg
ABC voicer on Giffords' appearance: http://abcn.ws/mOcZcF

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Monday, June 27, 2011

OFF-TOPIC (pretty much): Bill Cosby Is A Very Cranky Fellow. WRONG!

One of the cool things about Twitter is the ability to follow a diverse group of individuals (and non-individuals).  The result is that you just never know what will catch your eye among the ever-rising flood of messages.

I added Bill Cosby last year because I was going to see him in concert (again) and I wanted to ask him a question about the show.  I rarely take a second look at his Tweets - which are generally a tame gumbo of promos and responses to fans.  Maybe today's caught my eye because I had just seen LouisC.K. on a late night talk show.

Here's the Tweet: "Thank you @louisck for enjoying my work. Nod to @andrewrgoldman & his editor(s) for the honest question about me. http://t.co/sDjgPFB"

I followed Cosby's link to see the praise, and because I wondered what "honest question" had been raised.  The NY Times article (interview) in question is about 1 1/2 weeks old now.  The relevant section is initiated by the reporter asking C.K. who is funnier (sic, NYT, sic) than he is:
Of all the comedians working today, who’s funnier than you?

I don’t think you can quantify it that way. It’s like boxing — there are people who are set up according to weight and how big their hands are and stuff. But the best comedian I’ve ever seen live is Bill Cosby, and this was only about a year and a half ago.

Cosby? Really. I thought he’d become a crank in his old age.

No. Go see him. Two-hour-long show, 400 ways to get a laugh. It’s like being a brawler and going to see somebody do jujitsu like a master.

I love how the Cos did not say anything more.  (Nor does his website, of course.)  The understatement made it.  Of course, the answer is that he is NOT "a crank".  (Even if he does yell at the kids to get off of his lawn, NOONE could do it with the humor that he would!) 

Now, to (try to) tie it in to the other news that Arizona's Politics has been featuring so far today, with a personal recollection: the last time I saw him in concert here in Arizona - a couple of years ago - Cosby briefly displayed a bit of political crankiness when he riffed on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  Thomas was among the five-member majority in today's opinion overturning the matching funds provisions of Arizona's Clean Elections campaign finance system. 

P.S. My own attempt at understated-ness.

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REACTION: Common Cause President: "Not The Death Knell Of Public Financing"

Reaction to the Supreme Court's decision today striking down the matching funds provisions of Arizona's Clean Elections campaign financing continues to come in.  Common Cause headlines their post on the opinion by claiming that the Supreme Court sided with "Big Money Again".

Statement by Common Cause President Bob Edgar:

“This is not the death knell of public financing. This ruling affects only one mechanism of public financing, and there are numerous ways to fix it. Today, in the wake of Citizens United, it is more critical than ever that we change the way we pay for our elections by moving to a small donor system that gives the public a voice back in our government. Nothing short of our democracy is at stake.”

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REACTION: Goldwater Institute Says "Government's Heavy Thumb" Off the Scales

Further reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision today that the matching funds provisions in Arizona's Clean Elections campaign financing system violate the First Amendment: the Goldwater Institute, which represented the plaintiffs in one of the consolidated cases, is justifiably feeling pretty good, as evidenced in their still-wet-on-the-screen news release:

PHOENIX — Today, in a 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision striking down the matching funds provisions of Arizona’s taxpayer-funded campaign finance system known as Clean Elections.

Mirroring arguments from the Goldwater Institute that prompted the Supreme Court to block Arizona’s matching funds system on June 8, 2010, the Court declared that Arizona’s matching funds provision, “The First amendment embodies our choice as a Nation that, when it comes to [campaign] speech, the guiding principle is freedom---the ‘unfettered exchange of ideas’---not whatever the State may view as fair."

The Supreme Court confirmed that Arizona’s system of providing government campaign funding to candidates cannot be squared with its earlier decision in Davis v. F.E.C. In Davis, the Court struck down a regulatory scheme whereby “the vigorous exercise of the right to use personal funds to finance campaign speech produces fundraising advantages for opponents in the competitive context of electoral politics.” Arizona’s matching funds provisions similarly disadvantage citizen-funded candidates for exercising their First Amendment rights by causing their campaign contributions and expenditures to trigger taxpayer subsidies to opposing government-funded candidates.

“This decision protects democratic elections and gets government’s heavy thumb off the scale,” said Nick Dranias, the Goldwater Institute’s director of constitutional studies and the lead attorney in the case.

Although labeled differently, similar matching funds provisions exist in Florida, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Additionally, Connecticut and Massachusetts previously had public-financing provisions, but repealed them.

The Court’s decision puts an end to these unconstitutional experiments.

The Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represented John McComish, Nancy McLain, and Tony Bouie, candidates for the Arizona Legislature whose campaigns were funded by donations from citizens, not the government. Previously, the Institute secured three rulings from U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn O. Silver that Arizona’s matching funds provision violated the First Amendment. Those rulings were overturned by the Ninth Circuit on May 21, 2010.

But on June 8, 2010, responding to an emergency request from the Goldwater Institute, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Ninth Circuit’s decision from taking effect and suspended Arizona’s use of matching funds for its 2010 election cycle. Subsequent decisions arising from the Second and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal followed suit, striking down equivalent matching funds provisions in Connecticut and Florida. The Supreme Court formally agreed to consider the Goldwater Institute’s challenge on Nov. 29, 2010, along with a separate case that had been filed by the Institute of Justice.

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Quick Reaction From Clean Elections Commission: We're Not Finished

The Citizens Clean Elections Commission ("CCEC") was very quick to react to today's Supreme Court ruling striking down the matching funds portion of the campaign financing system.  Within a minute or two of the opinion being released, this Tweet came out: 

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READ: Here's the summary (i.e. "Syllabus") of the Supreme Court's Opinion Striking Down The Matching Provisions Of Clean Elections

Here is what is called the "Syllabus" of the Supreme Court's majority opinion striking down the matching funds provisions of Arizona's Clean Elections financing system.  The entire opinion package is 68 pages; this 6-page syllabus can be very helpful but is NOT written by the Justices. 
The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act created a public financing system to fund the primary and general election campaigns of candidates for state office. Candidates who opt to participate, and who accept certain campaign restrictions and obligations, are granted an initial outlay of public funds to conduct their campaign. They are also granted additional matching funds if a privately financed candidate’s expenditures, combined with the expenditures of independent groups made in support of the privately financed candidate or in opposition to a publicly financed candidate, exceed the publicly financed candidate’s initial state allotment. Once matching funds are triggered, a publicly financed candidate receives roughly one dollar for every dollar raised or spent by the privately financed candidate—including any money of his own that a privately financed candidate spends on his campaign—and for every dollar spent by independent groups that support the privately financed candidate. When there are multiple publicly financed candidates in a race, each one receives matching funds as a result of the spending of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups. Matching funds top out at two times the initial grant to the publicly financed candidate. Petitioners, past and future Arizona candidates and two independent expenditure groups that spend money to support and oppose Arizona candidates, challenged the constitutionality of the matching


*Together with No. 10–239, McComish et al. v. Bennett, Secretary of State of Arizona, et al., also on certiorari to the same court. 2


funds provision, arguing that it unconstitutionally penalizes their speech and burdens their ability to fully exercise their First Amendment rights. The District Court entered a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the matching funds provision. The Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that the provision imposed only a minimal burden and that the burden was justified by Arizona’s interest in reducing quid pro quo political corruption.

Held: Arizona’s matching funds scheme substantially burdens political speech and is not sufficiently justified by a compelling interest to survive First Amendment scrutiny. Pp. 8–30.

(a) The matching funds provision imposes a substantial burden on the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups. Pp. 8–22.

(1) Petitioners contend that their political speech is substantially burdened in the same way that speech was burdened by the so-called “Millionaire’s Amendment” of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which was invalidated in Davis v. Federal Election Comm’n, 554 U. S. 724. That law—which permitted the opponent of a candidate who spent over $350,000 of his personal funds to collect triple the normal contribution amount, while the candidate who spent the personal funds remained subject to the original contribution cap—unconstitutionally forced a candidate “to choose between the First Amendment right to engage in unfettered political speech and subjection to discriminatory fundraising limitations.” Id., at 739. This “unprecedented penalty” “impose[d] a substantial burden on the exercise of the First Amendment right to use personal funds for campaign speech” that was not justified by a compelling government interest. Id., at 739–740. Pp. 8–10.

(2) The logic of Davis largely controls here. Once a privately financed candidate has raised or spent more than the State’s initial grant to a publicly financed candidate, each personal dollar the privately financed candidate spends results in an award of almost one additional dollar to his opponent. The privately financed candidate must “shoulder a special and potentially significant burden” when choosing to exercise his First Amendment right to spend funds on his own candidacy. 554 U. S., at 739. If the law at issue in Davis imposed a burden on candidate speech, the Arizona law unquestionably does so as well.

The differences between the matching funds provision and the law struck down in Davis make the Arizona law more constitutionally problematic, not less. First, the penalty in Davis consisted of raising the contribution limits for one candidate, who would still have to raise the additional funds. Here, the direct and automatic release of public money to a publicly financed candidate imposes a far heavier 3 Cite as: 564 U. S. ____ (2011)


burden. Second, in elections where there are multiple publicly financed candidates—a frequent occurrence in Arizona—the matching funds provision can create a multiplier effect. Each dollar spent by the privately funded candidate results in an additional dollar of funding to each of that candidate’s publicly financed opponents. Third, unlike the law in Davis, all of this is to some extent out of the privately financed candidate’s hands. Spending by independent expenditure groups to promote a privately financed candidate’s election triggers matching funds, regardless whether such support is welcome or helpful. Those funds go directly to the publicly funded candidate to use as he sees fit. That disparity in control—giving money directly to a publicly financed candidate, in response to independent expenditures that cannot be coordinated with the privately funded candidate—is a substantial advantage for the publicly funded candidate.

The burdens that matching funds impose on independent expenditure groups are akin to those imposed on the privately financed candidates themselves. The more money spent on behalf of a privately financed candidate or in opposition to a publicly funded candidate, the more money the publicly funded candidate receives from the State. The effect of a dollar spent on election speech is a guaranteed financial payout to the publicly funded candidate the group opposes, and spending one dollar can result in the flow of dollars to multiple candidates. In some ways, the burdens imposed on independent groups by matching funds are more severe than the burdens imposed on privately financed candidates. Independent groups, of course, are not eligible for public financing. As a result, those groups can only avoid matching funds by changing their message or choosing not to speak altogether. Presenting independent expenditure groups with such a choice—trigger matching funds, change your message, or do not speak—makes the matching funds provision particularly burdensome to those groups and certainly contravenes “the fundamental rule of protection under the First Amendment, that a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message.” Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc., 515 U. S. 557, 573. Pp. 10–14.

(3) The arguments of Arizona, the Clean Elections Institute, and amicus United States attempting to explain away the existence or significance of any burden imposed by matching funds are unpersuasive.

Arizona correctly points out that its law is different from the law invalidated in Davis, but there is no doubt that the burden on speech is significantly greater here than in Davis. Arizona argues that the provision actually creates more speech. But even if that were the case, only the speech of publicly financed candidates is increased by



the state law. And burdening the speech of some—here privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups—to increase the speech of others is a concept “wholly foreign to the First Amendment,” Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U. S. 1, 48–49; cf. Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U. S. 241, 244, 258. That no candidate or group is forced to express a particular message does not mean that the matching funds provision does not burden their speech, especially since the direct result of that speech is a state-provided monetary subsidy to a political rival. And precedents upholding government subsidies against First Amendment challenge provide no support for matching funds; none of the subsidies at issue in those cases weregranted in response to the speech of another.

The burden on privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups also cannot be analogized to the burden placed on speakers by the disclosure and disclaimer requirements upheld in Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U. S. ___. A political candidate’s disclosure of his funding resources does not result in a cash windfall to his opponent, or affect their respective disclosure obligations.

The burden imposed by the matching funds provision is evident and inherent in the choice that confronts privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups. Indeed every court to have considered the question after Davis has concluded that a candidate or independent group might not spend money if the direct result of that spending is additional funding to political adversaries. Arizona is correct that the candidates do not complain that providing a lump sum payment equivalent to the maximum state financing that a candidate could obtain through matching funds would be impermissible. But it is not the amount of funding that the State provides that is constitutionally problematic. It is the manner in which that funding is provided—in direct response to the political speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups. Pp. 14–22.

(b) Arizona’s matching funds provision is not “ ‘justified by a compelling state interest,’ ” Davis, supra, at 740. Pp. 22–28.

(1) There is ample support for the argument that the purpose of the matching funds provision is to “level the playing field” in terms of candidate resources. The clearest evidence is that the provision operates to ensure that campaign funding is equal, up to three times the initial public funding allotment. The text of the Arizona Act confirms this purpose. The provision setting up the matching funds regime is titled “Equal funding of candidates,” Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann.§16–952; and the Act and regulations refer to the funds as “equalizing funds,” e.g., §16–952(C)(4). This Court has repeatedly rejected

5 Cite as: 564 U. S. ____ (2011)


the argument that the government has a compelling state interest in “leveling the playing field” that can justify undue burdens on political speech, see, e.g., Citizens United, supra, at ___, and the burdens imposed by matching funds cannot be justified by the pursuit of such an interest. Pp. 22–25.

(2) Even if the objective of the matching funds provision is to combat corruption—and not “level the playing field”—the burdens that the matching funds provision imposes on protected political speech are not justified. Burdening a candidate’s expenditure of his own funds on his own campaign does not further the State’s anticorruption interest. Indeed, “reliance on personal funds reduces the threat of corruption.” Davis, supra, at 740–741; see Buckley, supra, at 53. The burden on independent expenditures also cannot be supported by the anticorruption interest. Such expenditures are “political speech . . . not coordinated with a candidate.” Citizens United, 558 U. S., at ___. That separation negates the possibility that the expenditures will result in the sort of quid pro quo corruption with which this Court’s case law is concerned. See e.g., id., at ___–___. Moreover, “[t]he interest in alleviating the corrupting influence oflarge contributions is served by . . . contribution limitations.” Buckley, supra, at 55. Given Arizona’s contribution limits, some of the most austere in the Nation, its strict disclosure requirements, and the general availability of public funding, it is hard to imagine what marginal corruption deterrence could be generated by the matching funds provision.

The State and the Clean Elections Institute contend that even if the matching funds provision does not directly serve the anticorruption interest, it indirectly does so by ensuring that enough candidates participate in the State’s public funding system, which in turn helps combat corruption. But the fact that burdening constitutionally protected speech might indirectly serve the State’s anticorruption interest, by encouraging candidates to take public financing, does not establish the constitutionality of the matching funds provision. The matching funds provision substantially burdens speech, to an even greater extent than the law invalidated in Davis. Those burdens cannot be justified by a desire to “level the playing field,” and much of the speech burdened by the matching funds provision does not pose a danger of corruption. The fact that the State may feel that the matching funds provision is necessary to allow it to calibrate its public funding system to achieve its desired level of participation—without an undue drain on public resources—is not a sufficient justification for the burden.

The flaw in the State’s argument is apparent in what its reasoning would allow. By the State’s logic it could award publicly financed


candidates five dollars for every dollar spent by a privately financed candidate, or force candidates who wish to run on private funds to pay a $10,000 fine, in order to encourage participation in the public funding regime. Such measures might well promote such participation, but would clearly suppress or unacceptably alter political speech. How the State chooses to encourage participation in its public funding system matters, and the Court has never held that a State may burden political speech—to the extent the matching funds provision does—to ensure adequate participation in a public funding system. Pp. 25–28.

(c) Evaluating the wisdom of public financing as a means of funding political candidacy is not the Court’s business. But determining whether laws governing campaign finance violate the First Amendment is. The government “may engage in public financing of election campaigns,” and doing so can further “significant governmental interest[s].” Buckley, 424 U. S., at 57, n. 65, 92–93, 96. But the goal of creating a viable public financing scheme can only be pursued in a manner consistent with the First Amendment. Arizona’s program gives money to a candidate in direct response to the campaign speech of an opposing candidate or an independent group. It does this when the opposing candidate has chosen not to accept public financing, and has engaged in political speech above a level set by the State. This goes too far; Arizona’s matching funds provision substantially burdens the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups without serving a compelling state interest. Pp. 28–30.

611 F. 3d 510, reversed.

ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which SCALIA,

KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting

opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined.

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U.S. Supreme Court Deals Arizona's Clean Elections Matching Blows

On the final day of its 2010-11 term, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt Arizona Clean Elections system of financing for state political campaigns matching blows on Monday. 

The justices, on a 5-4 split decision (opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts), issued an opinion in the consolidated cases of McComish (State Sen. John) v. Bennett (Secy of State Ken) and Arizona's Free Enterprise Club Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, holding that the matching funds provisions of the Clean Elections law passed by Arizona voters in 1998 violate the First Amendment.  The decision overturns the 9th Circuit, but vindicates District Court Judge Roslyn Silver.

The split was along expected lines: Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito, and Thomas joined the Chief Justice in the majority.  Justice Kagan wrote the dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor.

Here is a link to the opinions; we will hopefully have some analysis shortly.  (Thanks to http://www.scotusblog.com/ for their fine live coverage of the Supreme Court!)

(BONUS Supreme Court coverage: Led by Justice Scalia, the Court holds that California's law restricting the sale of violent video games also violates the First Amendment.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

FACT CHECK: State Sen. Pres. Russell Pearce Claims President Barack Obama Secretly "Enacted the Nightmarish DREAM Act"; "100% True" Claim Is Really 100% False

Google the two search terms "Russell Pearce" and "Fact Check", and you will come up with 21,200 results in less than a second.  (I am proud to say that the first two are from this blog.)  If Arizona's Tea Party Senate President continues affixing his signature to rants like this (see below the jump for the entire text), the results number will mushroom and the two terms will become inextricably linked.

Pearce, in his position as the "Honorary National Chairman" of the semi-tax exempt (501(c)(4)) Ban Amnesty Now organization, sent out another wild (and wildly inaccurate) rant claiming that President Obama "secretly enacted the nightmarish DREAM Act", painting him as a dictator and juxtaposing his picture with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and noting that the claims must be "100% true" because "news reports online" said so.

That line - coupled with the fact that I thought I would have heard about something as newsworthy as Obama using an Executive Order to enact the DREAM Act - had me scrambling to search engine land.  However, I did go back to finish the nearly-hysterical fund-raising letter, and learned that it contradicts its own claims: it was not a "Stroke of a pen" by the President, and it did not enact the DREAM Act.

The origins of the anti-DREAM Act rants:  apparently, Sen. Pearce saw this report from WorldNet Daily.  That story was based upon a Fox News panel from last week.  And, that panel was based upon this pretty vanilla June 17 memo from Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") Director John Morton

In it, he reiterates long-standing tenets of prosecutorial discretion and how they can be applied in the context of enforcement of immigration laws.  He does not direct ICE agents to exercise that discretion in any certain way - that would be contrary to the entire concept - but, he does suggest that many factors be taken into consideration when deciding whether to pursue enforcement action (both negative and positive). 

(more later)

ICE memo: http://bit.ly/lqVx20
other BAN stories: http://bit.ly/kkVp3z
Fox panel video, transcript: http://fxn.ws/kaKWzv
WND story: http://bit.ly/iMOYnV

Friday, June 24, 2011

Schweikert Votes To Limit U.S. Funding For Libya Operation; Grijalva and Pastor Vote Against Authorizing Operation

An interesting day in Congress today as the House defeats two Libya-related measures, and three Arizona Representatives are among those whose votes will gather attention.

First, Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-CD7) and Ed Pastor - Arizona's two Democratic Congressmen (the third, Gabrielle Giffords, is still rehabbing) - (D-CD4) voted with the majority in refusing to authorize the U.S. to participate in the NATO operation that has been proceeding in Libya since March.  All the Arizona Republicans voted against and the House vote was 123-295 against the resolution.  (The overall split among Democrats was 115-70, and the GOP split was 8-225.)  The Senate is expected to pass the authorization.

The second vote was one pushed by Speaker of the House John Boehner, to cut off funding for the ongoing operations there.  It failed 180-238, and the only member of the Arizona delegation to vote for cutting off funding was Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD5).  Arizona's other four Republicans voted with a majority of the Democrats in not cutting the funding.

The only Representative to issue a statement (so far) is Rep. Jeff Flake (R-CD6), who voted against both measures:  "“The President still has not made clear what national security objectives are being met by U.S. participation in the NATO mission or how we can justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fund our efforts there.  The time for debate over whether to authorize U.S. armed forces to engage in Libya was months ago, before the U.S. entered into the NATO operation."

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Arizona Clean Elections In "The Final Four"; Opinion To Come Down On Monday

The eagerly-awaited U.S. Supreme Court opinion on a core of Arizona's Clean Elections campaign financing system will almost certainly be issued this coming Monday.  The Supreme Court issued six opinions earlier today, leaving only the Clean Elections case and three others to be decided.

The nine Justices traditionally adjourn at the end of June for the summer, and the 27th is the last scheduled day for handing down opinions; it would be highly unusual for the decision not to be announced Monday morning.  Opinions announced near the ends of Supreme Court terms are much more likely to be difficult, divided decisions, often with multiple concurring and dissenting opinions.

The twin cases of Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett and John McComish v. Bennett challenge the matching funds provisions of the Clean Elections law that was passed by Arizona voters in 1998.  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 28.

The Supreme Court is just about at the end of its 2010-11 Term, and has not yet

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READ: Sen. Jon Kyl Statement On His Leaving Deficit Reduction Talks

A couple of months ago, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the Minority Whip, was named to represent Senate Republicans at deficit reduction talks headed by Vice President Joe Biden.  Today, Kyl and House GOP Rep. Eric Cantor left the talks.  Here is the statement that Kyl has made (along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell):

“The White House and Democrats are insisting on job-killing tax hikes and new spending. That proposal won’t address our fiscal crisis, our jobs crisis, or protect and reform entitlements. And a bill with new spending and higher taxes would fail with bipartisan opposition – as it should. President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes, or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. He can’t have both. But we need to hear from him.”

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

OFF-TOPIC: R.I.P., Clarence Clemons; A Little Less Joy In The World

"A Little Less Joy In The World (A Verse, A Chorus)"
Life - and the music - will continue.
Someone may be able to fill big shoes stage right.
The Big Man's sax and smile disappeared tonight.
But, the spirit of his spirit will always shine through the spotlight.

Clarence Clemons, the "Big Man" in the E Street Band and Bruce Springsteen's saxophonist passed away a few hours ago, six days after suffering a stroke.  Like many, I have great memories of seeing Clemons up close and personal, seeing how much he enjoyed playing music, enjoying the spotlight and interacting with the fans standing and yelling in front of him.

The few times that I was fortunate enough to be standing in the first couple of rows of "the pit", I was always on "the Clarence side" of the stage (stage right, from his perspective).  Even when he was in pain, he played his parts with joy and always seemed to genuinely appreciate - and return - the love from the people around me.  (Including me - I could not resist expressing my appreciation, which he reciprocated with a smile, nod or point.)

I have re-read parts of his fictionalized memoir* this week.  There is little doubt that he enjoyed his stardom during the past nearly-40 years.  And, while there seemed to be a realization that his health would continue to make life more difficult, he made a (successful) effort to come back and wring a bit more joy out of life here on earth.

Clarence is the 2nd major onstage element of the phenomenon that is a Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band concert to pass away in the last three years.  Danny (Federici) was a key component in the music, but Clarence was also a key part of the show and his shtick with Bruce cannot - will not - be duplicated.

* By the way, if you are a fan of Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, and/or Hunter S. Thompson's style of gonzo trips, make sure you check out "Big Man".  A fun, funny and insightful volume.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Out Of the Hospital!: Giffords "Will Continue To Make Significant Strides"

Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8) was released from the hospital today, as she continues to recover from the January 8 assassination-attempt-turned-shooting-spree.  She will continue with her rehab efforts as an outpatient in Houston (where her husband and his brother own at least one home).

The TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital announced the discharge after the fact, and the chief medical officer made the following statement:

“Congresswoman Giffords has shown clear, continuous improvement from the moment she arrived at TIRR five months ago. We are very excited that she has reached the next phase of her rehabilitation and can begin outpatient treatment. We have no doubt that she will continue to make significant strides in her recovery.”
The entire news release is presented below the jump.