Monday, April 30, 2012

FACT CHECK: Natl Republicans Earn An "F" On Ad Attacking Arizona Democrat; Frequently Debunked Claims

The new NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) attack ad airing in southern Arizona for the special election to replace retired Rep. Gabrielle Giffords implores voters not to "send Obama and Pelosi a rubber stamp" by electing Democratic nominee Ron Barber.  However, their ad provides something of a "rubber stamp" of a frequently-used Republican claim that has been frequently found to be false.

We transcribed the ad in our previous post, but will paste it here, too:

(clip of Barber)  "...Because I've seen what we need to do: rebuild our middle class."(serious female announcer)  That sounds nice, but Ron Barber supported the same failing agenda that has hurt Arizona.  Barber supported Obamacare, which cuts $500 billion in Medicare and puts a board of unelected bureaucrats in charge.  Positions on the issues matter.  We can't send Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi a rubber stamp.  The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising. 

The claim about "the same failing agenda that has hurt Arizona" is a bit difficult to fact check.  It is unclear what it refers to specifically, and "failing" and "hurt" can be somewhat of "an eye of the beholder" situation.  There is no doubt that Arizona/Arizonans - like the rest of the country and the world - has sufferered as a result of the economy.  It is indisputable that that economy - and Arizona's housing bubble, in particular - started to burst while Obama was campaigning and there was a Republican in the White House and an Arizona Republican running against Obama.  Many Republicans do try to muddy the timeline and do dispute whether his policies (both attempted and what he was able to from Congress) were the best for our economy.

However, there is no such problem in fact checking the claims about Medicare, and both are false or, at best, very misleading.  Republicans have been using the "cuts $500 billion in Medicare" claim for the last two years and every fact-checking found it to be "false".  To summarize their analyses - which I encourage you to check out - the healthcare insurance reform law now widely known as "Obamacare" attempts to slow future increases in spending on Medicare but does not make cuts to benefits or current spending.*

The "board of unelected bureaucrats in charge" has some basis in fact but is very misleading.  The law does set up the Independent Medicare Advisory Board, which is what the ad is apparently alluding to.  However, the board is neither "unelected bureaucrats" nor "in charge."  The IMAB will be made up of people from many different walks of life and specialties - including health insurance companies, employers, consumers and the elderly - they are appointed by the President with input from leaders of both parties in each house of Congress, and they have term limits.  (Read pages 502-504 of the PPACA.)  In addition, any proposals that this Board comes up with are submitted to Congress for consideration, and they cannot propose reducing Medicare payment rates before 2018. (Read pages 491 forward, at the link above.)

As for the rubber stamp claim, that is a matter of opinion, given that there is no track record to see how he will vote if he is elected in the June special election.  (Realistically, there will probably be even fewer key votes between June and the November election than at other times.)  But, Barber has indicated that the law "is far from perfect" and need to be revised.  That may or may not make him a non-rubber stamp, because it is unlikely that Obama and Pelosi feel that the law is perfect, either, and the latter two might actually encourage Barber to propose amendments if elected.

But, the overall ad against Barber continues to spout scare lines that have been repeatedly denounced as false and misleading.  Repeating proven false-isms do not turn them into truths, and it is not only maddeningly annoying, but should be met with well-publicized venom.

For that, the NRCC ad deserves not just one "F", but three.  In this case, the "FFF" grade stands for "False with Freakin' Frequency".

* A good paragraph from one PolitiFact article:  "The projected $500 billion in savings will come from changes that include higher insurance premiums for wealthier seniors, reductions in payments for Medicare Advantage plans, a new panel to oversee reimbursement rates, and a slowing of increases in payment rates to hospitals and other service providers each year. (Neuman explains the changes in a video tutorial on the Kaiser Family Foundation's website.)" 

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BREAKING, WATCH: NRCC Attack Ad On Ron Barber In Special Election To Replace Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Yesterday, Arizona's Politics reported on the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) dropping $300,000 into southern Arizona, in an independent expenditure camapaign attacking Democratic nominee (and former Chief of Staff for the now-retired Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8)).  Today, we can bring you one of the TV ads that that $300,000 is buying.

Here is the transcript:

(clip of Barber)  "...Because I've seen what we need to do: rebuild our middle class."
(serious female announcer)  That sounds nice, but Ron Barber supported the same failing agenda that has hurt Arizona.  Barber supported Obamacare, which cuts $500 billion in Medicare and puts a board of unelected bureaucrats in charge.  Positions on the issues matter.  We can't send Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi a rubber stamp.  The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising. 
Fact check to follow.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: National Republicans Drop $300,000 Bomb On Tucson Going Negative On Ron Barber (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

The National Republican Congressional Committee has dropped its first money bomb onto the special election campaign between Jesse Kelly and Ron Barber, spending nearly $300,000 for media and "survey research".

The independent expenditure filing was electronically filed with the FEC (Federal Election Commission) on Saturday, and breaks down the $295,796.13 spent with three different beltway companies.  $265,500 was given to National Media Research Planning & Placement for "media", another $15,296.13 was paid to Revolution Media Group for "media", and $15,000 was disbursed to The Tarrance Group for "survey research".  The NRCC had the choice of indicating whether the expenditures were "supporting Kelly" or "opposing Barber"; the latter was chosen, indicating that the ads are likely all or predominantly negative.  No ad is yet posted on the NRCC's website or YouTube channel.  (If you find a link or see the ad(s), please e-mail Arizona's Politics with details.)

The state Republican Party has already spent more than $125,000 in an independent expenditure campaign attacking the Democratic nominee.  They have declined to indicate where the money for the campaign has come from, but it may also be from the national party organizations.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

WATCH, READ: Sen. John McCain Goes "Olbermann" On Obama

I was struck by Arizona Senator John McCain's press release from late yesterday flaming President Barack Obama for the campaign's video featuring former President Bill Clinton praising Obama's decision to authorize the Seal mission that killed Osama bin Laden, and which questions whether Mitt Romney would have made the same decision.  McCain declared "shame on Barack Obama" and the video as the "height of hypocrisy."

First, here is the online campaign video:

Second, here is McCain's press release, interestingly through the Republican National Committee. (McCain almost always speaks out through his own channels, on his own terms.)

"Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad. This is the same President who once criticized Hillary Clinton for invoking bin Laden 'to score political points.'
"This is the same President who said, after bin Laden was dead, that we shouldn't 'spike the ball' after the touchdown. And now Barack Obama is not only trying to score political points by invoking Osama bin Laden, he is doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get reelected.
"No one disputes that the President deserves credit for ordering the raid, but to politicize it in this way is the height of hypocrisy.
"The Obama campaign asks whether Mitt Romney would have made that decision. Of course they want to focus on this one tactical decision because the other decisions this President has made have harmed our national security.
"He turned his back on the people of Iran when they rose up to end their tyrannical, terrorist-supporting, Holocaust-denying government, giving them no assistance as they were crushed in the streets.
"He has repeatedly thrown our ally Israel under the bus and jeopardized our shared security interests.
"He tried to bring Khaled Sheikh Muhammed, the mastermind of 9/11, and other Al-Qaeda terrorists into the middle of New York City to stand trial in a civilian court.
"He disregarded the advice of his military commanders and pulled all of our troops out of Iraq, and Al-Qaeda is making a comeback there as a result.
"He disregarded the advice of his military commanders again by telling our enemies that we are leaving Afghanistan and then putting our mission and our troops at risk by short-changing our commanders on the ground.
"He watches passively while the Assad regime in Syria, Iran's closest ally, kills thousands of its own people in an unfair fight, and his response to this mass atrocity is to create an 'Atrocities Prevention Board.'
"With a record like that on national security, it is no wonder why President Obama is shamelessly turning the one decision he got right into a pathetic political act of self-congratulation."
Third, here is a strikingly similar criticism of McCain/RNC's use of 9/11 - complete with "shame on you's" - from Keith Olbermann's 2008 MSNBC program:

Finally, here is a link to a post Arizona's Politics made last year after bin Laden was killed, showing the debate interactions between McCain and Obama in 2008 regarding going after bin Laden in Pakistan.  To summarize, McCain was claiming that Obama was reckless in threatening to invade Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden, and mocking him for those comments.
(Commentary: It is also worth noting that McCain has occasionally been criticized by some opponents for consistently politicizing his former POW status, and for occasional hypocrisy.)

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Freedom Ain't Free, And Neither Are Supreme Court Arguments. Or, ARE They?; Also, Snell & Wilmer Fees Exceed $2 Million

Arizona collected more than $3.6 Million to defend SB1070 against legal challenges, and had spent more than $2.1 Million of it BEFORE yesterday's big showdown in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.  However, it is impossible to say how much - IF ANYTHING - yesterday's arguments cost Arizona.

In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer issued an Executive Order creating a Border Security Fund to collect unlimited private donations to be used to defend the illegal immigration enforcement law.  With a website set up and a number of national television appearances, the BSF quickly filled its coffers.  As of today, according to the Arizona Treasurer's Office, a total of $3,644,148.54 has been collected.

Other than small amounts for travel, lodging and meals when there were appellate proceedings in San Francisco last year, the monies have been spent for legal fees.  Locally-based law firm Snell & Wilmer has received the most - $1,980,811.75 in the 2010-11 fiscal year, and $152,940.47 so far this year.

What is missing from the public record is the very high-profile attorney and firm that took the lead after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against John Bouma (from Snell).  Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement is the Counsel of Record for Arizona in front of the Supreme Court.  He filed the briefs with the Supreme Court and handled the oral arguments yesterday.

According to the state Treasurer's Office, not one penny has yet been paid to Clement, his firm or any of his associates.  It is highly unlikely that Snell & Wilmer has been a conduit.

It is even more unlikely that Clement has taken on this case pro bono.  First, Arizona has the Fund with which to pay him a handsome fee, making it unnecessary to take it pro bono.  Second, last year he cut a special  deal with House Republicans to defend DOMA with a blended rate of $520/hour - meaning his hourly is more - and a fee cap of $500,000;  if he did not represent them pro bono, why would he represent Arizona pro bono.

Arizona's Politics has asked the Governor's Office for clarification on the Clement fees and the status of the Border Security Fund, and will update as soon as it is available.

HUMOROUS SIDEBAR:  The Treasurer's Office website,, does not list each contribution separately, but it does give categories.  And, there are two entries on September 1, 2011, that caught my eye for the Border Security Fund.  According to these entries, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT made contributions of $3,441.22 and $235.00 to the Fund to help Arizona fight the lawsuit the federal government had filed against it.  Hey, stranger things have happened!  (But, just to be sure, we are asking the Treasurer's office to check out those transactions.)

LEGAL SIDEBAR:  whisper whisper whisper whisper.

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READ, IN CONTEXT: Focus On Justice Kennedy's Participation In Yesterday's SB1070 Oral Arguments

It is widely accepted that Justice Anthony Kennedy (Reagan appointee, 1988) is the swing vote in the challenge to Arizona's SB1070 illegal immigration enforcement law.  And, it is being widely reported that he and the rest of the Court are ready to rule in Arizona's favor on at least the portion of the law that permits law enforcement to question immigration status of people they detain and have reasonable suspicion that they may be here illegally.

The audio of the oral arguments is not yet available (tomorrow), but Arizona's Politics has reviewed and now presents the portions of the transcript in which Justice Kennedy participated.  And, as a bonus, we present context for the Justice Sotomayor quote about the U.S. government's case "not selling".

Engagement Number 1, beginning page 9, line 5:
MR. CLEMENT: Well, Justice Ginsburg, I
think there's two answers to that. One is, you're
right, sometimes it's a complex inquiry, sometimes it's
a straightforward inquiry.  It could be murder, it could
be a drug crime. But I think the practical answer tothe question is by hypothesis, there's going to be
inquiry made to the Federal immigration authorities,
either the Law Enforcement Support Center or a 287(g)
 And presumably, as a part of that inquiry,
they can figure out whether or not this is a removable
offense, or at least a substantially likely removable
 JUSTICE KENNEDY: Suppose it takes 2 weeks
to make that determination, can the alien be held by the
State for that whole period of time --
MR. CLEMENT: Oh, I don't think --
JUSTICE KENNEDY: -- just under section 6?
 MR. CLEMENT: I don't think so, Your Honor,
and I think that, you know, what -- in all of these
provisions, you have the Fourth Amendment backing up the
limits, and I think so whatever --
JUSTICE KENNEDY: What -- what would be the
standard? You're the attorney for the -- for the alien,
he -- they're going to hold him for 2 weeks until they
figure out whether this is a removable offense. And you
say, under the Fourth Amendment, you cannot hold
for -- what? More than a reasonable time or --
MR. CLEMENT: Yes. Ultimately, it's a
reasonable inquiry. And I think that under these
circumstances, what we know from the record here is that
generally the immigration status inquiry is something
that takes 10 or 11 minutes. I mean, so it's
not -- we're not talking about something -- or no more
than 10 if it's a 287(g) officer, and roughly 11 minutes
on average if it's the Law Enforcement Support Center.
Engagement Number 2, beginning on page 16, line 25:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Here is the transcript from today's oral arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Arizona's SB1070 illegal immigration enforcement law.

I'll try to post some highlights as I have an opportunity to read through it.  If you find something good, please point it out in the comments below.

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WATCH: UNEDITED Gov. Jan Brewer, Paul Clement, Others Reactions Following Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Following the oral arguments before the U.S.  Supreme Court on Arizona's SB1070 illegal immigration enforcement law this morning, C-Span broadcast reaction from a number of attorneys and persons involved.  Below is a link to that video, and we will embed it here once it is available.

First up was Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)
Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice
Richard Samp, Washington Legal Foundation
Jan Brewer, Arizona Governor (6:45 mark)
Paul Clement, argued case for Arizona (about 13:00 mark)
Cecilia Wang, American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants Rights Project
Marielena Hincapie, National Immigration Law Center
Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State ("co-author of the law") (21:30 mark)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) ("bad behavior from Department of Justice") (23:30 mark)
Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) (comments, then introduced his "friend Ben Quayle")
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ)
former State Senate President Russell Pearce
Thomas Fitton, Judicial Watch

Here is the video.

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UPDATE: Janet Napolitano Refuses To Play Blame Game With Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was the first Senator at this morning's Judiciary Committee hearing to raise today's Supreme Court oral argument on Arizona's SB1070 illegal immigration enforcement law, and DHS Secretary (and former Arizona Governor) Janet Napolitano refused to play along.

Graham did NOT ask a question about the Arizona law; instead, he wanted to make a point about the failure of the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  He asked Napolitano whether the Obama Administration had pushed for comprehensive immigration reform in his first year, when he had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

Napolitano said that there was not an effort, but declined to blame Republicans (or, Democrats who do not support comprehensive reform).  Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) then took the opportunity to remind Graham and viewers that the same Congressional members who had met with then-President George W. Bush and had attempted immigration reform in 2007 met with the Obama Administration in 2009 and had told him that there was no point in even trying.

At yesterday's subcommittee hearing, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) tried to blast the Republicans for not attending and for not participating in efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

The video will be posted when available.  The exchange took place at 7:07a.m. (Arizona Time).  The live streaming video can be found here.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has begun his questioning (7:19a.m.)

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WATCH: DHS Secy Napolitano In Front of Senate Judiciary Committee (Update, Embedded)

At one point, people discussed the possibility of former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano becoming Arizona's third Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. This morning, she is on C-Span (3) opposite the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on Arizona's SB1070, illegal immigration enforcement law.

She is currently making an opening statement - I have not yet heard her mention Arizona's efforts.

Here is the link to watch.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Disbarred County Atty Andrew Thomas: Supreme Court Justices Can't Be Impartial; I'll Continue To Hunt the Real Corrupt Ones

Former Maricopa County Attorney and disbarred attorney Andrew Thomas announced this afternoon that he will not appeal the disbarment order to the Arizona Supreme Court.  He declared that the Justices could not possibly be impartial and would just "rubberstamp the railroad job".  He also blamed the County Board of Supervisors for deciding not to reimburse Thomas' attorneys for handling an appeal.

"I have decided not to appeal the ruling that took my law license. My accusers, the Board of Supervisors, once again have fired my lawyers, ensuring I cannot properly defend myself or my anti-corruption efforts. Also, because of the extensive relationships between the Supreme Court and the judges and officials I've sued or prosecuted, the court cannot possibly be impartial and will only rubberstamp the railroad job I have just been through."
"Though I have suffered a grave injustice, this sacrifice was not in vain. I promise, before God and my community, to seek reforms so that the powerful and corrupt are no longer above the law."

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Doesn't Russell Pearce Already Have Seat For Tomorrow's Oral Argument?; Attorney Lineup For Tomorrow

Much was made yesterday of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer declining to give up one of her seats for the U.S. Supreme Court oral argument tomorrow on Arizona's SB1070 immigration enforcement law to recalled Senate President Russell Pearce.  However, the Arizona Star article gives one reason to believe that Pearce should already have a ticket to eye.

Towards the end of the article by Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services), it is noted that Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said he will be in the Supreme Court arguments because he filed a friend of the court (amicus) brief, and the Court allocated tickets to his attorneys.  Pearce also filed an amicus brief, one that makes  some good legal points.

Either his attorneys (Judicial Watch in Washington and Geoffrey S. Kercsmar in Scottsdale) did not get the same courtesy as Dever's attorneys, the attorneys received seats but decided not to share with their client, or their client thought maybe he could bum a ticket with Brewer and save his tickets for others.  (Or, it was a political or publicity - or, both - stunt.)


By the way, the attorneys arguing the case tomorrow will be a replay of the even-higher profile three-day oral argument on the healthcare insurance reform law from last month.  Paul Clement will be arguing on behalf of Arizona and U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will argue for the United States.  The latter was much panned for his oral argument defending so-called "Obamacare".


I have reviewed many of the briefs and amicus briefs in this case (links found here on the awesome SCOTUSblog), and helped strategize and research for one of them.  I think it is going to be a very close decision, but if I had to predict an outcome before tomorrow's oral arguments, I would guess that a slight majority is going to find that Congress has not slammed the door tightly enough on laws like Arizona's. Unless they find that the law causes such blatant discrimination that it cannot stand, they will uphold it.  However, I do think that they will end up being convinced that the degree of racial profiling should sink it.  I expect creative reasoning in the majority opinion, and several concurring and dissenting opinions.

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READ: Rep. Quayle Finds Voice For Next Attention-Grabbing Commercial

Rep. Ben Quayle (R-CD3-running-for-new-CD6) may have found his voice for his next nationwide-attention-grabbing TV ad today.  The focus on Arizona's immigration enforcement law SB1070 and the Senate subcommittee hearing this morning fired the first-term Congressman up.

Using  words like "cowardice", "disgraceful" and "arrogantly attacked" to describe Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and other "Senate Democrats and the President", Quayle went on the warpath.  He issued the following statement:

"The cowardice and complacency of Senate Democrats and the President regarding illegal immigration has reached new levels.  Rather than take any action to secure our southern border, Sen. Schumer has arrogantly attacked Arizona officials who have.  This is cynical and disgraceful political theatre.  Rather than continuing to attack Arizona for enforcing the law, it's time for the President and Sen. Schumer to fulfill one of their most basic duties -- enforcing laws that "we the people" have sent them to Washington to uphold."Arizona has simply done what it is legally entitled to do: step in where the federal government will not to enforce our nation's immigration laws.  It's easy for a Senator from New York to blithely ignore the challenges faced by border states or cynically attack them in order to score political points, but it is not right.  In a town built on arrogance, Senator Schumer has somehow managed to stand out for his cynicism and use of political theatre.  I hope Sen. Schumer and President Obama will stop their attack on Arizona and start enforcing America's immigration laws."
Quayle is locked in a fierce primary battle with fellow first-termer David Schweikert for the new East Valley congressional district.

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READ: Sen. Schumer's Plan To Preempt Arizona's SB1070 If Supreme Court Upholds It

At today's U.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that he would introduce legislation to try to block Arizona's SB1070 immigration enforcement statutes if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the law after oral arguments tomorrow.

Although he has not yet introduced any specific text of the possible legislation, his opening statement at this morning's hearing gave an indication of the why's and how's:

I am therefore announcing today that should the Supreme Court choose to ignore these plain and unambiguous statements of Congressional intent and uphold SB-1070, I will introduce legislation which will reiterate that Congress does not intend for states to enact their own immigration enforcement schemes.

My legislation will re-emphasize that state officials can only engage in the detection, apprehension, and detention of unlawfully present individuals if they are doing so pursuant to an explicit agreement with the federal government and are being supervised and trained by federal officials.

States like Arizona and Alabama will no longer be able to get away with saying they are simply “helping the federal government” to enforce the law when they are really writing their own laws and knowingly deploying untrained officers with a mission of arresting anyone and everyone who might fit the preconceived profile of an illegal immigrant.

My legislation will also re-emphasize that state and local governments are preempted from enacting their own employment verification laws and penalties.  Federal preemption of employment verification law has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many other business groups and trade associations. 
I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in this effort in the event it becomes necessary.

This snippet and the entire text of his opening statement can be found here.  The video can be found here.

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WATCH: Russell Pearce Left Alone To Defend SB1070 In Congress, "Very Disappointed" In Sen. Kyl

The Senate's subcommittee just concluded its hearing on Arizona's controversial SB1070 immigration enforcement bill, and former state Senator Russell Pearce was left alone to defend the law.  The only Senators to show up and question the panel were Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Durbin (D-IL).  The rest of the panel was dominated by anti-SB1070 forces, state Sen. Steve Gallardo (D), former U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), and Todd Landfried (Executive Director of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform).

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is on the subcommittee, but decided not to participate.  He could have appeared and provided some friendly or semi-friendly questioning to Pearce.  Pearce said he was "disappointed" by Kyl's decision.

Here is a link to the video:

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Friday, April 20, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Arizona GOP Continues To Funnel Money Into Race To Replace Gabrielle Giffords (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

The day after southern Arizona Republicans picked Jesse Kelly to oppose Ron Barber in the special election to replace retired Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,  the Arizona Republican party resumed its independent expenditure campaign attacking Barber.  The state GOP dropped another $15,000 ($14,497.20, to be exact) for another mailing and phone calls;  bringing the April total to more than $125,000.

The money was divided this way:  $12,267.00 to Targeted Creative Communications, a Virginia company that specializes in direct mail pieces for Republican causes, and $2,230.20 to Advantage, Inc. - a Virginia company that specializes in using telecommunications to get political messages out.  Both companies provided pre-primary services to the AZ GOP.

As noted earlier, the Arizona Republican Party has just recently climbed out of a pool of red ink and is (was) operating with a positive cash on hand less debts owed balance.  The positive balance on February 29, 2012 (the last publicly-available date) was approximately $25,000; it is apparent that the state party is receiving funds from elsewhere specifically for this race.

Shane Wikfors, the Director of Communications for the Arizona GOP, continues to not respond to Arizona's Politics' questions about this IE campaign.

If you have received a call or mail piece related to this campaign, please contact me at the phone number or e-mail address listed below.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

ROMNEY V.P. HUNT: Hmmm, John McCain First To Be Vetted!?!?

Likely Republican nominee for President Mitt Romney has begun the search for his running mate, and Arizona's Senior Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) is the first person to be vetted.*

Romney announced today in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer that he has chosen Beth Myers to head up his search committee for a vice presidential running mate.  Two hours after ABC posted that "exclusive", Talking Points Memo noted that Myers joined Twitter (of the Ann Romney vs. Hilary Rosen fame) and posted
her first tweet today.

Arizona's Politics is now the first to report that the first member of Congress that Myers "followed" on Twitter - which must be the first step in vetting a potential running mate these days - is McCain.  (We'll check Facebook next.)  McCain has had an active Twitter account for several years now, and it is highly likely that Myers knew that she needed to review the past tweets of the Senator and monitor his future tweets.

Following that, Myers followed Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and, in the time it took to write this post, has also followed several other Republican officeholders.  However, she has also added Rep. Bono Mack's campaign twitter account AND Cindy McCain.  (UPDATE: Those other GOP officeholders are SC Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.), NJ Gov. Chris Christie and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.)

* This tongue in cheek lede is based upon the insatiable desire of political junkies to read tea leaves on stories like this.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

IT'S HIGH NOON IN TUCSON: New Group Buys Media Time For Antenori In Special Election Primary To Replace Gabrielle Giffords; State Party Official Is Catalyst (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

The nuclear threat clock ticks toward (or, away from) midnight.  But, in the special election to replace now-retired Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8), the primary election clock is ticking towards high noon.  Altogether fitting in a district which encompasses Tombstone.

A new independent expenditure group has sprung up to buy some advertising time supporting state Sen. Frank Antenori in that primary. The Centennial Fund Committee, which lists longtime Republican activist Lee Miller (the current Arizona GOP Party's Legal Counsel) as the Treasurer, yesterday paid $7,691.81 to longtime Republican consultants High Noon Campaign Products for a "media buy".

The Antenori campaign is apparently in the red, so the IE campaign spearheaded by the state party's counsel a week before the primary is an interesting development that bears watching.  (If you are able to record the advertisement, please e-mail it to the Arizona's Politics address listed above.)  Also, that the state party itself is engaged in an early IE campaign against the certain Democratic nominee adds to the intrigue.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.


Shane Wikfors is the Director of Communications for the Arizona Republican Party.

There are, of course, other memorable movie *calls*.  The other ones that I inextricably link with the names are  from "Rocky" and "A Streetcar Named Desire".   Others???

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

QUESTIONS ABOUND: Antenori's Deficit Spending, AZ GOP's (Deficit?) Spending Spree

In the course of the last several days, Arizona's Politics has tried to break and move forward several stories.  In so doing, questions arise.  When that happens, the journalist juices start flowing, and we make phone calls or send e-mails.  Or, both.  However, due to the too-small-(for now)-to-nail-'em nature of this blog (and the fact that this is still a spare-time endeavor among my real world obligations), it is often hard to get responses from people or campaigns that are already feeling the squirm, anyway.

The following questions have all either been asked and not answered by principles, or arise naturally from the stories.  Perhaps posting these here will prompt some answers.  Perhaps some readers (like YOU!) will also ask them, adding to the likelihood that they will be answered.  Perhaps they will prompt some additional questions, which you can feel free to share in the comments below (or, by e-mail).  Think of this as open-sourcing the reporting process a bit.



Re: Arizona GOP vs. Ron Barber
1)  Where did the $111,000+ for the pre-primary attacks on certain-Democratic nominee Ron Barber come from?  You had just creeped back into the black and it is hard to believe that this costly IE campaign was not funded from elsewhere.
2)  Why use inside the Beltway firms for the mailer and the calls when there are plenty of local firms who can and do do this sort of thing?  Doesn't this point back to the first question about outside funding sources?

Re: Antenori vs. Antenori
1)   How does a campaign bank account actually go into negative numbers?  There are ways to report unpaid bills, there are ways to report loans.  However, according to the ledger - and the reports - there were no debts and no loans.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

BREAKING NEWS: Antenori Fires Treasurer, Fmr AZ Sen. Jeff Hill, Over Campaign Finance Reporting Snafu

Frank Antenori, days away from the four-way Republican primary, has fired his campaign treasurer, former state Senator Jeff Hill.  The train wreck that the Antenori campaign finance reports had become was well-documented here on Arizona's Politics, and the news came down this afternoon in an article on the Washington online news site

We will keep an eye open for the new, new finance report.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.


The Arizona Republican Party ran its attack mailer up the pole last week with a $47,000 independent expenditure, and has now more than doubled its attack budget on certain Democratic nominee Ron Barber in advance of next week's primary for the special election to replace the now-retired Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8).

This week, the direct mail piece opposing Barber was sent to twice as many voters and additional communications (e.g. robo-calls) were paid for.  The state GOP, which just climbed back into the black within the past couple of months, has now spent $111,669.62 on the campaign before CD8 Republicans have even chosen a nominee - and more than two months before the special election.

The FEC filing by the Republican Party notes that it spent $34,699.56 on postage (almost exactly twice what it spent on postage last week), another $24,534.00 on Targeted Creative Communications, a Virginia company that produces mailers primarily for Republican causes, and $5,469.50 on Advantage, Inc., another Beltway company that specializes in using telecommunications to get political messages out.

Arizona's Politics continues to seek copies of the mailer(s), as well as audio of any recorded messages.  (In fact, during this election year, Arizona's Politics will be posting as many campaign mailers/ads/fundraising messages/e-mails as we can.)  If you are able to help, please e-mail info-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com.  Requests for anonymity will be respected.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DEAR MA, PLEASE SEND MONEY: Antenori Campaign: Dems Are "Relentlentness" and Attacking Us Because We Filed Late (and Often)

Frank Antenori (R-running-for-CD8) is asking supporters for a last minute "money bomb" to fight the "liberal assault' against him.  In the second plea to go out to his e-mail list since Monday, the Antenori campaign claims that Democrats are "using the liberal media" to attack him because they know that he is the only candidate who could beat the certain Democratic nominee, Ron Barber.

The e-mail details why he believes each of Antenori's three primary campaign opponents (the primary election is next Tuesday) would be unable to beat Barber to replace the now-retired Gabrielle Giffords.

Arizona's Politics was unable to find any attacks by Democrats on Antenori.  If he is referring to the negative media coverage he has received this past week because of his campaign finance reports, he would be hard-pressed to convince even hardcore supporters that the Democrats are behind that media coverage and he has not brought on such coverage by his campaign's own inability to comply with the reporting deadlines and rules.

The unedited text of his money plea is below the jump:

WANTED: Copy Of Mailer AZ GOP Sent To CD8 Voters

On Monday, Arizona's Politics reported on the Arizona Republican Party possibly spending itself into the red to mail a negative piece to voters in CD8 targeting certain Democratic nominee Ron Barber.

Although the Arizona Star today published a report on the mailer, with details of the attacks and a response from the Barber campaign, we have yet to see a copy of the mailer.  Arizona's Politics has requested it from both the AZ GOP and the Barber campaign; now, we are appealing to the readers of this blog to locate it and e-mail it to info-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com.

A request for anonymity will be respected, but we would also like to try to ascertain what kind of voters the mailer was sent to.  Thanks for your help!

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!: Antenori Files THIRD Finance Report, With Hint Of Fourth

(Edit: This was edited at 11:54am, MST, to correct the date of filing of the "original pre-primary" from "last night" to "the 9th".)

Several days after the April 5 reporting deadline, Sen. Frank Antenori's campaign finance report was outstanding.  Now, after having filed three DIFFERENT reports in a two-day period, with the hint of a fourth yet to come, his report(s) are just standing out.

All three reports are prepared/filed by former state Senator and new Antenori campaign Treasurer Jeff Hill.  And, all three have major differences with each other.  (Arizona's Politics has e-mailed the Treasurer, asking for assistance in reconciling those differences, and will update this report as warranted.)

On Monday, Arizona's Politics asked what was causing the delay in filing, and joked that an e-mail appeal for donations was a last-ditch attempt to bolster the numbers.  The three reports do not show any evidence of donations coming in after the March 28 cutoff, so confusion and/or an attempt to make the numbers look as least bad as possible seem to be the leading explanations for the delays and multiple filings.

It appears that two reports - what we will describe as the "original special"* and the "amended special" were released to the media sometime on Tuesday, were filed with the FEC sometime on Tuesday, and are date-stamped by the FEC as (4/9, 22:19) and (4/10, 00:44), respectively.  The date stamps may reflect when the FEC received them or when the FEC put them up on their publicly-accessible database.

In any event, the campaign ALSO filed what we will describe as the "original pre-primary".  This was apparently faxed from Hill's office to campaign chair Brett Mecum's office shortly after 5:00pm on the 9th, and was then faxed to the FEC at about 7:15pm that night.  Hill's office also promised Mecum's office that "an amended is almost complete".

All three reports cover the exact same reporting period, January 1 - March 28, 2012. Yet, the differences are surprising.  Given the timeline above, we will make the working assumption that the preparation order of the three (to date) reports are: original special, amended special, and original pre-primary.  (The FEC also lists them in that order, and they generally list in order received.)

They do all agree that the cash on hand on January 1 was $9,741.78.  But, then ITEMIZED contributions from individuals went from $22,535 to $25,685 to $14,620!  Unitemized (which you might expect to have more variability) went from $6,271 to $10,504 to $4,746.  Adding those, plus the $500 from a PAC, and you have total contributions ranging from $29,306 to $36,689 to $19,866.

Flip the page, and you see that operating expenditures were listed as $49,354.51 in the first two reports, but were then changed to $11,311.85 in the original pre-primary filed last night.

The bottom line on that fourth page of each report is one of the key ones that everyone - reporters, contributors, etc. - look at: "CASH ON HAND AT CLOSE OF REPORTING PERIOD".  The fluctuations in the figures above lead to the following closing cash on hand numbers:  NEGATIVE $10,306.73 in the first report, shrunk to NEGATIVE $2,923.73 in the amended.  And, the THIRD report shows a POSITIVE cash on hand of $18,295.93!

HOWEVER, Hill's office filed a ledger attached to the third report, and that ledger clearly shows that the expenditures far exceeded the $11,311.85 listed.  (They probably total the $49,354.51 listed in the first two reports, but some of the numbers on the faxed and/or double-faxed ledger are difficult to make out.)

Anyone can draw conclusions from this, and everyone knows that there could be consequences to knowingly filing incorrect reports.  But, this one will wait to hear the explanations.

*"special" referring to the special election.  Not sure why the third report was designated "pre-primary" instead of "second amended special"

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

LISTEN (and READ): John McCain: Nothing Personal, Kirk (Adams), But I'd Rather Watch TV Than Help You Raise Money! (But, I'll Help, Anyway.)

Last week, we noted that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had given an "interesting" interview in March which had just aired on an NPR program;  due to other news stories and other things going on, I had not taken the time to post it yet.  The Frank Antenori problems filing his campaign finance reports reminded me to get the interview up here.  (No, Sen. McCain did not reference the state Senator running to replace Gabrielle Giffords in Congress.)

McCain was reunited with his old Senate buddy, Russ Feingold, the retired Democratic Senator from Wisconsin with whom McCain worked on campaign finance reform legislation together.  The two sat for an interview with NPR's "This American Life" program, and portions of it were aired on March 30.  In it, McCain blasts the U.S. Supreme Court decision (Citizens United) overturning McCain-Feingold and the Justices' questions' "naivete" during oral arguments.  He attacks the "arrogance of some of the questioners... particularly (Justice Antonin) Scalia with his sarcasm" and "guarantee(s)" that there will be a scandal resulting from the free-for-all that has resulted from the Supreme Court's decision.

Later in the interview, he illustrates the near-universal distaste for the fundraising process with an example that hits close to our home:

After this program, I'm going to a fundraiser.  [laughter]  For, it's for
a guy whose name is Kirk Adams, who is running for the US
House of Representatives.  And I can assure you, I would much
prefer to be watching the first round of March Madness.
[Laughter]  So, so you, if I may illustrate your point [laughter], it, it,
it's the, it's the system, and it's the, and the water in which we

That interview was conducted on Thursday, March 15 (it was actually termed by the NCAA as the 2nd Round, but that's a rant for another day!), presumably in Washington, D.C. (there were Senate votes that day, which the Senator was present for).  The campaign finance report including that fundraiser is not yet due.

Adams is running against former Congressman Matt Salmon for the Republican nomination in new-CD5.

The transcript of the portion that aired on the NPR programis below the jump, but here is a link to the audio and transcript.    "This American Life" last week released the audio and the transcript of the entire interview with McCain and Feingold.

BONUS NOTE:  Rep. Jeff Flake (R-CD6-running-for-Senate) also was interviewed/excerpted earlier in the hour-long program, about the pressure on Congresspeople to fundraise for their parties:

Andrea Seabrook

But there's one catch to getting on a good committee or taking a leadership spot.

Jeff Flake

Where much is given, much is required

Alex Blumberg

Jeff Flake, the Republican from Arizona, says once you get on a good committee or become a chairman, your party's leadership expects you to raise even more money and turn it over to them, so that they can spread it around to members who are less fortunate. Ones in tight races who don't have such an easy time fundraising for themselves. Remember that list of the A, B, and C committees? Flake says leadership makes those targets pretty explicit.

Jeff Flake

We were given dues and assessments. And if you're a senior member on committees that lend themselves to fundraising, and you're either a ranking member or you're the chairman, then you're expected to raise a lot of money.

Andrea Seabrook


Jeff Flake

Or when you come up every two years to either retain your position or move to another committee, those things are certainly taken into account.

Andrea Seabrook

Do they tell you this?

Jeff Flake

I think that's implied. I think it's pretty well understood.

Andrea Seabrook

Lawmakers of both parties told us that if you're on a good committee, you regularly get called up in front of your party's leaders to go over your fundraising numbers.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Did AZ GOP Party Just Spend Itself Back Into Red Attacking Ron Barber?

Earlier today, Arizona's Politics reported that the Arizona Republican party had just spent $47,000 producing and sending out a direct mail piece attacking certain Democratic nominee Ron Barber in the special election to replace the now-retired Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8-turning-into-CD2).  While waiting for a copy of the mailer and responses from various parties, Arizona's Politics decided to revisit the financial fortunes of the Arizona Republican Party.

The Arizona Republican Party has had its financial problems in the past, and as recently as three months ago, (12/31/11) was reporting being in the red (defined as debts owed greater than cash on hand).  Two months later (2/29/12), the most recent report filed with the FEC showed that cash on hand was $113,768.08, with debts of $88,840.53.  By that simple calculation, that shows the AZ GOP in the black by $24,927.55.

If the party had treaded water (contributions matching expenditures) between then and now, the party is once again in the red.  Now, certainly, a lot could have changed between February 29 and April 4.  Many donations could have come in, some of the debts could have been resolved.  The party is required to file monthly reports with the FEC and another one should be coming out shortly.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

And, Could You Please Backdate That Check? Antenori Sends E-mail, But Asking FOR Money, Not DISCLOSING It

What the heck is going on at the Frank Antenori For Congress (CD8-turning-into-CD2) campaign? He promises (the Star) to e-mail out his AWOL campaign finance report, but does not.  Then - at least in Arizona's Politics' e-mail inbox - comes an e-mail this afternoon.  However, it is ASKING FOR money, not telling us HOW MUCH HE RAISED AND SPENT ALREADY. (e-mail text below the jump)

Maybe, he is hoping to bolster the totals that he needed to report to the FEC by last Thursday (April 5).

Not only has he failed to file ANY paperwork with the FEC, but he has not even been able to keep his own campaign website updated.  His fundraising e-mail this afternoon features several links to his "donate" page.  The "donate" page tells the reader that the special primary election "is expected to be in late April or early May."  (Perhaps therein lies his timing problems.)  Even one of his Twitter pages - used several times this week - notes that he is "EXPLORING A POSSIBLE RUN". 

For the most experienced candidate in the Republican primary for the special election (which is scheduled for next Tuesday, by the way), one would think Sen. Antenori - and his spokesman, (fmr. Exec. Dir. of AZ GOP) Brett Mecum - would know the importance of filing paperwork on time and keeping things up-to-date.

(click below for e-mail text)

APPROVED: Justice Department Approves Arizona's New Congressional Districts (link to map)

Two days ahead of its deadline, the U.S. Department of Justice has approved the new Congressional district maps for Arizona.  The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission announced the approval today in a short news release (the Department of Justice does not yet have it up on its website).

The controversial maps, which raised the ire of many Republicans, were submitted to the Justice Department for approval, required because of Arizona voting rights history.  (Arizona appears to be the 7th state to have its new Congressional maps approved by the DOJ.)  The maps can be viewed in many different ways and formats at the IRC's website - here is the statewide map, in pdf form.

Next up for the Department of Justice - Arizona's state legislative districts.  The deadline is April 30.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.


While the four Republicans hammer each other in advance of next week's special primary election to replace the retired Gabrielle Giffords (D-CD8), the Arizona Republican Party is going on the offensive for the June general.  Last week, the state party launched an independent expenditure campaign direct mailer targeting certain Democratic nominee, Ron Barber.

The AZ GOP spent a total of $47,000 (actually, $46,966.56) last week producing and mailing the piece opposing Barber - who used to be Giffords' Chief of Staff.  Nearly $35,000 was spent on postage alone on April 3rd and 4th.

Candidates had to file their pre-primary financial reports on April 5, and Barber had vastly out-raised (and under-spent) the Republicans engaged in a primary battle.  This IE mailer goes a little of the way towards evening that out, but also ensures that Barber does not completely coast into the two-month general election battle without any arrows being shot at him.

Arizona's Politics has requested a copy of the mailer from the party, but if you have received a copy, you may e-mail it to

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

READ: AG Holder Responds To 5th Circuit: Yes, Marbury v. Madison Stands. But, So Does...; Holder Makes An "Oops"

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder filed his three page, single-spaced homework assignment into the 5th Circuit panel today, digital hat in hand, defending the President's Monday remarks that it would be "unprecedented" for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the healthcare insurance reform law.

Well, he did not really grovel and he did not strike a defensive tone, and he did not even write a full three pages.  (Students everywhere, take note.)  Instead, he utilized the opportunity of guaranteed news coverage and thousands more people reading his short letter to make the argument that the courts should  presume - and have long presumed - that laws passed by Congress and signed by the President are constitutional.

And, to emphasize that point, the first opinion he weakly cites is one that was written by recent, conservative
 Chief Justice William Rehnquist.  "The 1992 Cable Act, like all Acts of Congress, is presumptively

constitutional."  The reason that that is a weak cite is found in the next sentence: "As such, it “should remain in effect pending a final decision on the merits by this Court.”  In other words, that case (Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 507 U.S. 1301, 1301 (1993)) was where the parties (TBS and other cable operators) were asking Rehnquist alone - as Circuit Justice for the D.C. Circuit - for an injunction; Rehnquist was just saying it deserved the presumption until the Supreme Court was determining the constitutionality.  Oops!

Though it is short enough, other tasks beckon and Arizona's Politics cannot pull up the rest of the citations to analyze.  But, the point made in the previous post ("WATCH: Sen. McCain Pretends Pres. Obama Doesn't Know Supreme Court's Role; Plus, He Cracks Himself Up On Romney Choosing Palin For VP")
and, yes, the underlying point made by the AG today, is still valid:  the President was NOT stating - explicitly or implicitly - that the Supreme Court does not have the authority to invalidate all or part of the so-called "Obamacare".

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WATCH: Sen. McCain Pretends Pres. Obama Doesn't Know Supreme Court's Role; Plus, He Cracks Himself Up On Romney Choosing Palin For VP

Sen. John McCain's appearance this morning with Charlie Rose on the CBS This Morning show was interesting.  He talked a tougher-than-usual line on President Obama, though it was hard to believe that he actually thinks that the President really does not understand the role of the Supreme Court in our three branches of government.  He delivered his desired message to former colleague Rick Santorum to get out now, and he cracked himself up (more than usual ) when he joked that Mitt Romney should pick McCain's former running mate Sarah Palin for the number two spot on the ticket.

McCain can be good at delivering attack lines based on out of context quotes or semi-truths, but the Supreme Court one that he spent the first part of the interview on is quite the stretch.  The Senator did try to preface it by saying, "As usual, he is backing off some from his initial, utter, remarkable statement....Clearly, the President - a quote, teacher of constitutional law - doesn't have the same fundamental understanding that most of us do."

So, Sen. McCain is trying to indicate that he is aware of both the initial statement and the subsequent "backing off some."  In case neither he nor his staff (nor perhaps, other readers of this blog) had the opportunity to review that initial statement, Arizona's Politics presents the full question and answer with the money quote highlighted.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  After last week’s arguments at the Supreme Court, many experts believe that there could be a majority, a five-member majority, to strike down the individual mandate.  And if that were to happen, if it were to be ruled unconstitutional, how would you still guarantee health care to the uninsured and those Americans who've become insured as a result of the law?
And then a President for President Calderón and Prime Minister Harper.  Over the weekend, Governor Mitt Romney said that the U.S. used to promote free enterprise around the world, and he said, “Our President doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do, and I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that.”  My question to the both of you is whether you think that American influence has declined over the last three to four years. 
And, President Obama, if you’d like to respond to that, too.
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, on the second part of your question, it’s still primary season for the Republican Party.  They're going to make a decision about who their candidate will be.
It’s worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism, and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism.  But I will cut folks some slack for now because they're still trying to get their nomination.
With respect to health care, I’m actually -- continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.  And the reason is because, in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional.  That's not just my opinion, by the way; that's the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.
I think it’s important -- because I watched some of the commentary last week -- to remind people that this is not an abstract argument.  People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of preexisting conditions.
The law that's already in place has already given 2.5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it.  There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have health care right now because of this law.  Parents don't have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can't be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a preexisting condition.  That's part of this law.
Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law.  Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to their insurance companies and are getting preventive care because of this law. 
So that’s just the part that's already been implemented.  That doesn’t even speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014. 
And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.  So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this.  And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate. 
Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.  And I'd just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint -- that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.  Well, this is a good example.  And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.
Q    You say it's not an abstract conversation.  Do you have contingency plans?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I'm sorry.  As I said, we are confident that this will be over -- that this will be upheld.  I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld.  And, again, that’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they're not particularly sympathetic to this particular piece of legislation or my presidency.  (emphasis added)
Sen. McCain could not have any serious doubt that his former opponent understands that the Supreme Court justices have the constitutional authority to overturn the act of Congress.  It is just that Obama's "confident" that they will not because he thinks there are precedents supporting its constitutionality and it would be a huge decision if they knocked it out.  (Here are his extending and revising remarks from the next day.)

On to the fun part of the interview.  Sen. McCain was asked the Mitt Romney/VP question in the context of Sarah Palin suggesting Romney "go rogue".  That prompted the wise-cracking Senator to shoot back that he thought Romney's pick should be "Sarah Palin".  Though he pulled himself together enough to run down the list of real short listers, he obviously still had his joke on his mind when he concluded "obviously, it's a tough decision."  (CBS' text report accompanying the video noted he chuckled when he delivered that line, making it appear that McCain was demeaning those potential running mates; he was not.)

(McCain gave a much different, interesting interview a few weeks ago that aired this weekend, and Arizona's Politics will post that audio shortly.)

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Arpaio, Dept. of Justice At Impasse Because of Confusion Between Two Similar Words

"Astrology" vs. "astronomy".  "Compliment" vs. "complement".  We all have pairs of words that are so similar - or, sound so similar - that they can confuse us. "Precede" vs. "proceed".  "Loose"  vs. "lose".  Sometimes, the confusion can lead us into trouble... especially when our attorney does not correct us.  "Monitor" vs. "master".  There can be no other sane explanation.  Can there?

Earlier today (Tuesday), the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") announced that negotiations between it and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office "MCSO") had broken down because the MCSO walked back from previous acceptances that an "independent monitor" would be appointed as part of any settlement of allegations of racial profiling and other missteps by the MCSO.

The DOJ released a letter it sent to the MCSO's private counsel earlier The Sheriff promptly issued a responsive press release provocatively (read: tabloid-esque) headlined:

The release claims that the DOJ is incorrect and that it first insisted upon a monitor yesterday.  But, it then (repeatedly) defines the monitor as making decisions, taking authority, usurping.  Here are the complete paragraphs, with the attempts at defining the independent monitor's role highlighted:

Appointment of an outside monitor essentially usurps the powers and duties of
an elected Sheriff and transfers them to a person or group of persons selected by
the federal government. Every policy decision, every operation, every new
program in the jails and in enforcement, virtually everything would have to be
approved by the monitor
, nullifying the authority of the elected Sheriff and
eviscerating the will of the citizens of Maricopa County. 
“I am the constitutionally and legitimately elected Sheriff and I absolutely refuse
to surrender my responsibility
to the federal government. And so to the Obama
administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its
political gain, I say, ‘This will not happen, not on my watch!’” 
Sheriff's Deputy Director and Attorney Jack MacIntyre says a federal monitor is
the most extreme proposal
, particularly in light of the fact that the federal
government has refused to provide any details or proof as to how they came to
the conclusion that Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office employees engage in
patterns and practices of racial profiling as well as other unsupported claims that
the DOJ has widely publicized.  

Reading this left me surprised.  I thought a monitor was more of a watchdog than the master, more a set of eyes looking over your shoulder than the brains of the operation.  So, some research was in order.

Sure enough, it was not hard to find other situations where law enforcement agencies had agreed with the Department of Justice to permit an independent monitor.  Here is one where Prince George's County P.D. (Maryland) and the DOJ together picked an independent monitor because the P.D. had been investigated for use of force and excessive force issues.  Note that the monitor was to "evaluate" the implementation of reforms, "provide technical assistance", and "issue regular reports" in order to ensure compliance with the parties' agreement.

Here is another one where the parties chose two former law enforcement officers to monitor the New Jersey State Police after they were investigated for racially discriminatory traffic stops.  Again, the monitor was to "ensure that the state is implementing the terms of the decree."  How?  They "

The agreement between the DOJ and New Jersey State P.D. was in 2000.  How did it turn out?  Well, they were able to dissolve the consent decree in 2004 and a 2006 expert opinion found that the independent monitors and the NJSP both worked together and great improvements were made.  At that point, the NJSP was considering voluntarily retaining its own outside monitor to audit its progress.  (The report also runs through several other police agencies and their monitor situations.)

It would seem that an "independent monitor" does not quite fit the descriptions used in the MCSO press release.  But, the problem becomes crystal clear when reading this article about  recent court hearings about the ongoing consent decree battles in federal court regarding the Oakland (CA) Police Department.  The consent decree was entered into in 2003, and there has been an independent monitor since.  However, the monitoring team has noted in its most recent quarterly audits that not only has there not been progress but there has been backsliding in some areas.  Therefore, the judge is considering beginning proceedings to place the police department into "receivership".  Now, THAT sounds like control!

Read a bit further and you see that two civil rights attorneys who have been active in the case for many years are now pushing the judge to appoint a federal MASTER to take control of the department.  That would - or, could, depending on conflicts with constitutions and laws, such as Arpaio hinted at - remove significant decision-making from the Oakland Police Chief, City Manager, etc.  Which is another reason why it is obviously more complex than what the DOJ was apparently asking the MCSO to agree to.

It is understandable that Arpaio and his close staff (e.g. "Deputy Director and Attorney" MacIntyre) might confuse "monitor" and "master".  It is less understandable that their highly paid Jones, Skelton & Hochuli attorney, Joseph Popolizio, would be unclear.  And, any attorney trying to best represent his client - as opposed to one permitting a disagreement to be stretched out for as long as possible - would make sure that their client clearly understands the distinctions.

"Surrender" vs. "Comply".  "Master" vs. "monitor".  It seems clear to most of us in Maricopa County, doesn't it?  You know, the ones who are really paying the bill for the squabbles, the private attorneys and impending litigation.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

COUNTERSTRIKE: AG Horne Uses "My Opponent and Her Friends Were Worse Than Me and My Friends" Defense

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne leveled accusations in the media against his 2010 general election opponent, Felecia Rotellini, that should have been made to the same FBI agents who are investigating the actions of him and his associates.

In his three page response given to and published today by the Arizona Republic, Horne concludes by contrasting the allegations against him and his associates with a nasty independent expenditure campaign that targeted him in the weeks leading up to the election.  The ad blitz apparently violated a number of election laws, and was funded by the national Democratic Attorneys General Association ("DAGA").

Although Horne did not publicly whine about the DAGA after the election (he did use it for fundraising purposes), he apparently was holding it in reserve for just the right time.  That time arrived yesterday when it became apparent that the Capitol Times and the Republic were about to go to press on the FBI investigation.

He let loose with the below the radar ALJ hearing against the Committee for Justice and Fairness, comparing the CFJF's lack of filing and disclosures with his associate's actual filings and disclosures.  Then, he adds his piece de resistance, contrasting his personal efforts to avoid coordination with any IE campaigns (real or fictional) with NEW EVIDENCE that his opponent attended a meeting of the DAGA the month before it funded the IE campaign!  "The irony of the present inquiry is that I went much further than many other candidates to stay far away from the line that separates campaigns from independent campaigns," Horne writes.  (Of course, the statutes and cases go much farther than just requiring the candidate to maintain separation.)

As evidence of this meeting, he cites a Rotellini campaign committee finance report showing in-kind contributions from Tim and Julie Nelson totaling $380, dated September 14, 2010 and labeled "DAGA Conference".  (There likely is additional information that would prompt Horne to conclude that that contribution was to pay for Rotellini's attendance, especially considering that the entry lists that Tim Nelson was working in the AG's office at the time.)

If true, Rotellini's actions do merit similar investigation,  along with the other apparent violations by CFJF and DAGA that have not yet been resolved.  But, for Horne to pass the Rotellini allegations along to the media in such fashion without any indication that he has also submitted them to an investigatory agency reflects poorly and sounds like the worst kind of schoolyard defense as to why he and the other boys thought it was okay to throw mud in the girls' faces during recess.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.