Thursday, December 28, 2017

NEW/WATCH: Arizona First PAC Organized, Starts By Bolstering Martha McSally For Senate

The Arizona First PAC was formed earlier this month, and it's first order of business is to post an online video touting Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
(click picture to open new window with ad)
Longtime Arizona political consultant/activist Lisa James is behind the new super PAC. Her last public roles in 2012 were on behalf of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. James declined to answer Arizona's Politics queries about the PAC after the December 4 filing.

McSally reportedly told her Arizona GOP House colleagues that she would be running to replace Flake, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week touted her last week as one of his best new recruits to maintain a Republican majority.  However, her office apparently removed her name from a list of likely candidates, and there have been questions about whether Governor Doug Ducey might appoint her if Sen. John McCain leaves the body.

KPNX's Brahm Resnik tweeted the digital ad this morning and noted the PAC's connection to Gordon C. James Public Relations. Below is the FEC filing to support that.

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READ: Court Orders Blocking Arizona From Enforcing Ethnic Studies Restrictions

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NEW: Rep. McSally Meets At White House To Discuss Immigration-Related Issues

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) headed to the White House last week to discuss immigration-related issues. It was the 2nd time in five weeks that she joined other Republican lawmakers to meet with President Donald Trump.

Politico reported yesterday that the meeting was primarily to discuss a DACA fix for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. However, indications are that the meeting agenda was more broad and included topics near and dear to both the President's and Republicans' hearts, such as border security, so-called chain migration and interior enforcement.

Of course, McSally's district reaches the U.S.-Mexico border and she has frequently spoken about these issues. Last month, she introduced a bill to drastically reduce the number of immigrants who are granted diversity visas.

After leading a September letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to take up the DACA issue because "it would be wrong to go back on our word and subject these individuals to deportation" after they had provided personal information and biometrics to the federal government, the Speaker added her to "an informal group of Republican members to help address border security and identify solutions for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program." It was apparently that group that met with the President on the 19th.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has also been actively involved in efforts to reach some sort of agreement on helping Dreamers remain in the country after the President's rescission of President Obama's DACA executive order becomes effective in March. Flake indicated he received a promise from the White House to be involved in the DACA negotiations, in return for his recent vote in favor of the tax bill.

However, it does not appear that Flake and McSally are working together on the DACA issue.  McSally has expressed interest in replacing the retiring Flake in the Senate. 

She also went to the White House on November 16, as part of a group of Republican House members meeting with the President about an earlier version of the tax bill.

Arizona's Politics has reached out to McSally's office and expects the Congresswoman to respond after the first of the year.

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Friday, December 22, 2017

WATCH: Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Makes 2 Arizona-Related Muffs Back-to-Back

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did begin his annual year-end news conference by explaining he's been fighting a cold, so perhaps his two back-to-back Arizona-related fumbles 15 minutes into the questioning are understandable. The 2nd one was a minor bobble that he immediately recovered, but the 1st one is more significant.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) has been widely expected to announce that she is running to replace the retiring Jeff Flake in the Senate. However, she has held back and appears to be pulling back from the anticipated announcement since it was leaked that she had told several of her House colleagues that she would run.* That has led many to speculate that she has received assurances that she will eventually replace the ailing Sen. John McCain.

However, the official word is that she is NOT a candidate.

So, imagine reporters' surprise** today when McConnell decided he would hold her out as one of two examples of "great candidates" that he has recruited to help Republicans retain control of the Senate next year. (Missouri's Josh Hawley is the other example.)

The slip certainly lends credence to the speculation about McSally's strategy and sudden reluctance to announce. And, it in no way was related to McConnell's slip seconds later when a reporter asked him his thoughts about McCain.

"He's the finest person I've served with," McConnell began. "And watching him fight his way through this healthcare... uh, health struggle." McCain cast the deciding thumbs-down to a major effort to repeal Obamacare earlier this year.

(The video starts with his McSally answer.)

*As reported by Arizona's Politics, someone using a House of Representatives' URL last week removed McSally from a Wikipedia article listing candidates running to replace Flake.
**h/t to Washington Post reporter Paul Kane.
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READ: Arizona Supreme Court Says State Can't Tell Cities How To Run Elections (Commentary)

Just read Howie Fischer's article on a bill proposed by State Sen. Jay Lawrence to require cities to allow candidates to advertise their political party on the election ballot.  The well-reported article notes that the Arizona Supreme Court struck down the mirror image law passed by Republicans in 2009.

Here is the Supreme Court's unanimous opinion in that earlier case, finding that the Arizona Constitution permits charter cities to run their elections as they choose. Given such clear direction, Lawrence could save taxpayers significant money by withdrawing the bill - after all, isn't that what his party label would indicate?

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Arizona: Ground Zero In Steven Seagal/Tom Morrissey Book... and the Amazon Review Battleground

Former Party Chair Tom Morrissey is calling for Arizona Republicans to read and review the book he recently co-wrote with Steven Seagal, in order to combat a sudden rush of negative reviews on Amazon.

The book takes place in Arizona and was released on October 1, but the spate of 1- and 2-star reviews started Wednesday after a Twitter account with 3,000 followers - @IAmTheWarax - began highlighting the book and a positive review from a colorful individual.

This morning, Morrissey published a plea in the MCRC News Briefs, a widely-read unofficial daily newsletter for Arizona Republicans. He claims that "the Establishment and other Deep State people" are "vastly upset" and that the attack is coming from "the Left". Morrissey calls for Republicans who have already purchased the book to "write an honest review of it and post it on Amazon to help counter this attack from the Left. They do not like what Steven Seagal and I have been able to convey and they are now in an attack mode, trying to silence us."

Already, at least one new positive review has been posted on Amazon's site. More positive and negative reviews can be expected, as a New York Times reporter with 139,000 followers just re-tweeted the Warax missive with the comment: "Recently-minted Russian citizen Steven Seagal."

Contacted by Arizona's Politics this morning, the person writing The Warax twitter feed noted that he or she does "satire and commentary for what is usually a small, niche natsec audience. We were all surprised when the Seagal thread got so much traction." Then notes that the focus really was on the reviewer who claims to have connections to the "US Army war college."

As noted on the cover of the book, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio provided a foreword. He notes that he "strongly identifies with this book because in many ways I lived what is portrayed on its pages."

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

REPRISE/WATCH: John McCain's Touching Farewell Speech To Joe Lieberman

Those Facebook "Memories" reminders of past articles and posts are often interesting reminders. However, we rarely feel compelled to reprise them (although we do sometimes use them to spur follow-up articles). This video of Arizona Sen. John McCain honoring his then-retiring buddy Joe Lieberman warrants it. His voice catches a few times near the end, when he says that Lieberman "is as fine a friend as I've ever had and irreplaceable in my life, and I cannot let him go." The original post was December 20, 2012.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) continued his Saying Farewell Tour today, bidding an adios to his long-time amigo Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

The short speech (7 1/2 minutes) was unsurprisingly personal, recounting much of what we have already heard McCain say about his buddy, who retired this year rather than face a(nother) tough re-election bid for a fifth Senate term.

"He came here to do justice, Mr. President, to love mercy and to walk humbly with his God. It’s hard to find anyone here who doesn’t like and admire Joe. He’s impossible to dislike even if you only know him a little. Most of his detractors seem to be people who don’t know him and who tend to view people very strictly through the perspectives of their ideology and partisan identity. The only thing to resent about Joe Lieberman is that he’s so damn considerate of everyone that you can find yourself feeling a little ashamed when he catches you raising your voice to someone or behaving in other ways that fall short of his unfailing graciousness."

McCain added that he "nearly" nominated Lieberman to be his Vice Presidential nominee in 2008. (It was widely reported that McCain preferred Lieberman - who had been on the Democratic ticket eight years earlier - to eventual pick Sarah Palin.)

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

WATCH: Arizona Rep. Schweikert Argues GOP Tax Bill Will Help Dems' Fight Vs. Increasing Income Inequality; Does Reduce His Real Estate-Related Income Taxes

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) voted with the rest of Arizona's GOP delegation (and all but 12 of his GOP colleagues) in passing the tax reform bill this afternoon, 227-203. Earlier, during debate, he took a novel tack and advised his Democratic colleagues that the tax cuts will help "the left" in its fight against increasing income inequality. Meanwhile, his office declined to respond to reports that one added provision that increases his after-tax income.

The International Business Times reported last week on the provision that had just been inserted that would benefit Congresspersons - and, others - with interests in real estate-related LLCs. (Some of the pass-through income will become deductible.) Schweikert was included in the article because he is on the House Ways & Means Committee, because he was on the conference committee for this bill, and because he is one of the five Republican leaders with at least $1M in such real estate investmennts.

(The provision became popularized by opponents as the #CorkerKickback, because Sen. Bob Corker is a potential beneficiary and became a supporter of the bill after it was inserted.)

Schweikert's personal financial disclosure filings indicate that he has owned Sheridan Equities LLC and Sheridan Equities Holdings LLC as long as he has been in the House, and that they are worth between $1M to $5M.  (He formed the 1st LLC while he was Maricopa County Treasurer, in 2006, and is the sole member of both.)

His income from the real estate LLCs has been between $980,000 and $1,375,000 for the years 2010-16. The annual income has fluctuated several times (up and down) during that period; coupled with Schweikert being the only member and that he has taken some capital gains, it would appear that he likely has some ability to manipulate how much money he receives from the businesses in a given year.

In researching this article, Arizona's Politics also discovered that Rep. Schweikert amended his personal financial disclosure statement one week before the initial bill was introduced to uncheck the amount of income (range) he received and to add that a portion of the income was capital gains and a portion from rents. (The initial and amended filings are below.)

Because of these factors, it is impossible to calculate how much tax savings the Congressman may realize as a result of the new provision.

The Congressman's office declined to respond to repeated requests for a reaction to the IBT article and an explanation as to the amended financial disclosure statement. If Arizona's Politics receives a response, we will update this article as needed.

Today, Schweikert was the only Arizona Representative to speak on the House Floor during debate of the new bill. In his trademarked impassioned delivery, he decided to "give everyone a slightly different view." He noted that a Wall Street Journal editorial simplified the differences between the two political parties into focusing on economic expansion ("the right") and income inequality ("the left").

Schweikert made the argument that the new bill is necessary because it will get the country out of a relatively-flat economic growth rate of 1.8%, and that income inequality will decrease when the economy grows. Even if it is widely believed that the bill sent to the Senate today will benefit wealthier people more than those at the bottom of the income scale.

(Below is the transcript from his comments. The C-Span website is not operating normally this afternoon, and the video will be added later.)

David Schweikert

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Arizona Rep. Grijalva Participating In Today's Conference Committee On Tax Bill

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) is participating in today's Conference Committee on the Republicans' tax bill. He is the only Arizonan involved in the committee.

Grijalva's involvement is due to his role as the highest ranking Democrat on the House's Natural Resources Committee. In addition to the tax-related provisions, the Senate version of the bill also includes a provision opening up Alaska's Arctic National Wilderness Refuge.

As the Conference Committee started, Grijalva tweeted his disapproval of how the Republicans are handling the conference.

The Conference Committee meeting can be viewed LIVE here.

(More details on his opening comments will be provided shortly.)

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

BULLETIN: Franks Statement Resigning As Of Jan.31

I have always tried to create a very warm and supportive atmosphere for every last person who has ever worked in my congressional office. It is my deepest conviction that there are many staffers, former and present, who would readily volunteer to substantiate this fact.

Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.

However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility for the ways I have broached a topic that, unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain individuals uncomfortable. And so, I want to shed light on how those conversations came about.

My wife and I have long struggled with infertility. We experienced three miscarriages.

We pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth.

A wonderful and loving lady, to whom we will be forever grateful, acted as a gestational surrogate for our twins and was able to carry them successfully to live birth. The process by which they were conceived was a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos.

My son and daughter are unspeakable gifts of God that have brought us our greatest earthly happiness in the 37 years we have been married.

When our twins were approximately 3 years old, we made a second attempt with a second surrogate who was also not genetically related to the child. Sadly, that pregnancy also resulted in miscarriage.

We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests.

Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.

I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.

We are in an unusual moment in history – there is collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety. It is so important that we get this right for everyone, especially for victims. 

But in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation. Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018. It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle I have spent over three decades fighting. I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have made. My time in Congress serving my constituents, America and the Constitution is and will remain one of God’s greatest gift to me in life.

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