Friday, May 31, 2019

TUESDAY: Martha McSally's Telephone Town Hall - Special Guest Lindsey Graham (Details)

Arizona Senator Martha McSally is hosting a telephone townhall this coming Tuesday with special guest Sen. Lindsey Graham. The main topic will be Graham's new bill regarding immigration laws; however, the news release indicates that she will "address other issues facing the U.S. Senate". McSally states that she is the "first co-sponsor" of the measure.

The phone call will take place at 6pm, and they are urging people to pre-register by text, or to just call in at that time. (Details below.)

Graham's new bill is titled  the Secure and Protect Act of 2019, and it "seeks to address weak and outdated laws that incentivize mass illegal immigration." It was introduced two weeks ago and Sen. McSally is the only co-sponsor.

Strangely, the text of the bill is not yet available on neither Sen. Graham's website nor Congress.gov. In fact, that official website notes that the bill is titled:

"A bill to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to protect alien minors and to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to end abuse of the asylum system and establish refugee application and processing centers outside the United States, and for other purposes."
The timing is also interesting because of the different ways the two navigate their tightropes between supporting President Donald Trump and disagreeing with him or his Administration. Yesterday, while McSally called for a Congressional investigation into the situation that occurred in Japan with the USS John S. McCain, Graham's spokesperson said the Senator is simply asking the Navy for clarification. The new tariff battle with Mexico regarding immigration is likely to come up, as well.

Here are the town hall details:

McSally encourages all Arizonans to join her teletownhall by calling 855-531-1067 at 6PM on Tuesday, June 4 or by texting “SenMcSally” (oneword) to 828282 to get registered for the event.


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Friday, May 24, 2019

WATCH: Congressman/Dentist/Body Language Expert Also KNOWS Algorithms; Gosar To Experts: "I Have a Big Math Background"

Add a "science background" and "a big math background" to Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar's CV, right next to "DDS" and body language expert.

Gosar (R-CD4) received national attention last year for telling FBI agent Peter Strzok that his experience as a dentist also made him a body language expert. In another Congressional hearing this week, Gosar warned representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter that he is "very aware of algorithms" because "I have a science background, I have a big math background."

Gosar was questioning the panel about social media biases against conservative users, in a House Oversight Committee hearing about election security. He was attempting to show that the corporations hire young, liberal people to formulate the algorithms that flag possibly-objectionable content.

The panel members were not going along with the hypothesis, and you could see that Rep. Gosar was frustrated.



Here is the entirety of Rep. Gosar's questioning of the panel.


On a more serious note, Arizona's Politics today reported on Rep. Gosar giving $44,000 in holiday bonuses to his Congressional staff out of his campaign committee's account, and how that could violate House Ethics rules and/or campaign finance laws.

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BREAKING: Rep. Gosar Pays $44k To Congressional Staff For "Campaign Bonuses"; May Have Violated Ethics Rules and/or Campaign Finance Laws

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar may have violated House Ethics rules when he gave his Congressional staff $44,000 in holiday bonuses from his campaign committee's account last year. The rules limit the campaign work that the Congressional employees can participate in and be compensated for, and there is not yet any indication that Gosar's office and his campaign complied with those rules.

This news comes in the wake of today's front page report from the Arizona Republic's Ronald Hansen about Gosar (R-CD4) using more of his taxpayers' budget for travel than any current Representative (not in a leadership position).

While the $1.2M for travel makes the holiday bonuses look puny, the two separate issues could be related. Meredith McGehee, the Executive Director of Issue One - a bipartisan ethics and accountability group - spoke with Arizona's Politics. "Because each Representative's office budget (the "MRA") is limited, if they are spending more money on travel, they may not be paying staff appropriately."

An Arizona's Politics review of each Arizona Representative's personnel costs did indicate that Gosar paid the least amount of his MRA for salaries, although offices may employ different numbers of staffmembers.

The bonuses range between $500 and $12,500. Most of the bonused staff are based in the Washington office, and the size of the bonuses tend to correlate to the employees' salaries. (The FEC report is reproduced at the bottom of this article.)
Gosar Cong. Staff, 3q2018
Gosar paid between 14 and 16 individuals in his Congressional office in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2018 (campaign seasons). Of those, 9 or 10 received the "bonus for campaign staff".

While Gosar's Democratic opponent did receive national publicity for his ads - the ones where Gosar's siblings bemoaned their brother's records and comments - the election was not a close one. It is also worth noting that the Gosar campaign was not a "family affair", and spent much more of its monies on California-based professional campaign consultants.

The House Ethics Manual makes it clear that employees ARE permitted to perform campaign duties, although they need to be careful to do it on their own time and to keep accurate records. The Manual notes that a member of Congress was subject to disciplinary action early in the 2000's for a similar situation.

Arizona's Politics has asked Rep. Gosar's office for details on the staff's campaign work that justified the $44,000 in bonuses. No response has yet been received, and this article will be updated if warranted.

If the Congressional staff members performed campaign work on their own time, kept records to document it, and reduced their governmental compensation if necessary, then no ethics violations occured. Conversely, campaign finance regulations may have been violated if the staff members did not perform campaign work commensurate with the bonuses.

McGehee notes that the purpose of the ethics rules is clear. The staff is supposed to be working for the taxpayers. "But, if campaign funds are used to supplement their salaries, it is less clear who they are working for."

Arizona's Politics also spoke with Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who served as the Chief Ethics Lawyer for the White House between 2005-2007. He pointed out that paying Congressional staff for political work also "creates the potential for a lot of problems", such as treating male and female employees differently, rewarding (or punishing) certain employees, etc.

McGehee and Painter both note that even if the Congressmember and the staff abide by the ethics rules and the campaign finance laws, it is not a wise idea to try to walk that line. "Just use other people for your campaign work," summarized Painter.




On a lighter note: 
WATCH: Congressman/Dentist/Body Language Expert Also KNOWS Algorithms; Gosar To Experts: "I Have a BIG MATH Background"


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Thursday, May 23, 2019

What About OUR Disaster? McSally Votes No On Bipartisan Disaster Aid Package; Passes 85-8

Arizona Senator Martha McSally was among the 8 Republicans who voted against a supplemental disaster aid package this afternoon, despite President Donald Trump signaling that he would support the measure even without additional border funds.

McSally stated that her no vote was because she "won’t ask Arizonans to pay for disasters in other states without funding the disaster in our backyard."

The 85-8 vote came about after President Trump - who was first balking about additional funding for Puerto Rico, and then asking for additional border funding - told Senator Richard Shelby today that he would support it without the border funding. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been vowing that the Senate would vote on the package before leaving for the Memorial Day recess this evening. Democrats signaled their support for the present version of the bill earlier today.

McSally sent out her explanation in a pair of tweets. "There is an ongoing disaster at our border — in the past 5 months over 32k migrants have been released into AZ. I support helping those who are impacted by disasters, but won’t ask Arizonans to pay for disasters in other states without funding the disaster in our backyard. Some politicians may want to ignore this crisis – but this is real in Arizona and any compromise disaster supplemental appropriations bill should have included this desperately needed funding."

The status of the package in the House of Representatives is unclear.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

"Save Arizona": Former AZGOP Staffer Starts New Committee To Back Pro-Trump Ideals, Candidates (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

"Save Arizona": Former AZGOP Staffer Starts New Committee To Back Pro-Trump Ideals, Candidates
3:15pm: Robert Maxwell is back, and he plans to "Save Arizona". The former Deputy Communications Director for the Arizona Republican Party who was last in the news in January when he resigned and blasted the state party's then-Chair Jonathan Lines (and the party's coziness with the Ducey re-election campaign) yesterday formed a new federal political committee.

Maxwell tells Arizona's Politics that his "purpose is to save Arizona from it's impeding slide to the ideological left by disseminating strong pro-Trump messaging into the state." He would also like to help House and Senate candidates who match up with President Trump's "America First agenda."

Maxwell released a scathing memorandum on the eve of the vote for AZGOP Chair between the incumbent Jonathan Lines and Kelli Ward. Ward defeated Lines, though it is unclear how many votes were swayed by the Maxwell memo.

Maxwell uses the social media handle "Black Hannity", and declined to answer further questions about "Save Arizona" from Arizona's Politics.

Arpaio Asks Court To Sanction Democratic Representatives For "Bogus" Brief Re: Trump Pardon
1:15pm: Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is asking Ninth Circuit judges to sanction Democratic Representatives for filing a "bogus" brief in his Trump pardon appeal.

Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt in 2017. Before being sentenced, President Donald Trump issued his first Presidential pardon. Besides preventing any sentencing, Arpaio would like the conviction to be undone.

24 Democratic Congressmen and Congresswomen filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit earlier this month, suggesting that the judges should protect their independence by not reversing the conviction.

Arpaio struck back this week, saying that the amicus brief is a "sham" and that the Representatives knew or should have known that the President's pardon power is absolute. Therefore, they should be sanctioned - an extremely rare move for an amicus brief.

The complete article is available at our new sister site, ArizonasLaw.org. The amicus brief and Arpaio's motion for sanctions are also published there.


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Friday, May 10, 2019

Arizona Reps. Vote Party Line On Disaster Relief Package (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

12:00pm: Arizona Reps. Vote Party Line On Disaster Relief Package
Arizona's Congressional delegation voted along party lines this morning on the $17.2B disaster aid package. 34 Republicans did vote in favor of it, but Arizona's 4 GOP Reps. were not among the group.

The President had tweeted his opposition to the bill, and the version to be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate is likely to be different.

Here is the text of the bill passed today (before amendments).

10:00am: OFF-TOPIC: Sprout's Gift Card Fundraiser
Shop at SPROUT’S? Arizona's Politics' co-founder Paul Weich  is organizing a gift card fundraiser for Temple Emanuel (Tempe). And YOU can help! 5% of each Sprout's gift card you purchase will help cover the congregation's higher security costs.

The deadline to order is MONDAY, so please email Paul-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com, and we'll get you set up. Thanks.

9:00am: OFF-TOPIC: Not Too Late To Join Our Diamondbacks Season Ticket Group
The Diamondbacks are hot! We've been part of a Diamondbacks season ticket group for 20 years now, and a couple of our members had life changes that prompted them to stop participating. We have two seats that are probably the best value in the ballpark. One share is 16 games over the 6-month season, and although we assign the games randomly, everyone is usually pretty accomodating for switches. If you are interested, email me, at Paul @ ArizonasPolitics.com (no spaces), and I'll send you more details.

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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, May 8, 2019

OFF-TOPIC: Sprout's Gift Card Fundraiser

Shop at SPROUT’S? @AZs_Politics' co-founder @PaulW_InAZ  is organizing a gift card fundraiser for Temple Emanuel (Tempe). And YOU can help!

5% of each @Sproutsfm gift card you purchase will help cover the congregation's higher security costs.


Email Paul-at-ArizonasPolitics-dot-com, and we'll send you details. Thanks.

If you would like to show your appreciation for Arizona's Politics reporting, please consider donating to our pool to support OTHER journalism-related nonprofits.  

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.

WATCH: Reps. Lesko and Biggs At Today's Hearing On Attorney General Contempt Issue

Arizona has three Representatives on the House Judiciary Committee. The two Republican members spoke as the committee was considering contempt of Congress charges against Attorney General William Barr.

Here are the comments from Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-CD5).




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