Thursday, July 9, 2020

BREAKING, READ Governor's New Executive Order Limiting Indoor Dining


*

The March 24 Executive Order postponing evictions. It is set to expire later this month.


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Monday, June 29, 2020

WATCH: Gov. Ducey Closes Press Conference With Clever Line That Is Supposed To Appeal To Mask Deniers

He saved the line until the end of his 90-minute press conference, but it was designed to go, ahem, viral and combine pandemic-era protection with old West protection. In so doing, it was designed to reach the many Arizonans in the Venn diagram who own firearms but no face masks. 

The only thing that could have made it more clever was if Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tied a Western-themed bandana around his head instead of a black fabric face mask.

 
To READ the Executive Orders issued today by Governor Ducey, please visit our original article.
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BREAKING: READ Executive Order RE-CLOSING bars, gyms, movie theaters, water parks and tubing




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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

BREAKING: Sen. Sinema Votes With Dems To Block Republicans' Police Reform Bill; House Goes Next (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

10:50am: Sen. Sinema Votes With Dems To Block Republicans' Police Reform Bill; House Goes Next

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema voted with most other Democrats in blocking the Republicans' police reform bill today. The measure failed to get the 3/5 majority necessary, on the 55-45 vote.

Three Democrats did vote to open debate (Jones, King, Manchin), but Sinema explained  (below) that she believed that "a process without bipartisan negotiations from the start will not pass the Senate, and risks further dividing Americans instead of bringing us together."



As she notes, this is not the end of the process. The House is slated to vote on its version tomorrow. Assuming it passes, the Senate could then debate and amend that measure. (Here is the text of the now-blocked Senate bill; Arizona Sen. Martha McSally was a co-sponsor of the bill that was led by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.)


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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

What To Do If You Suspect A Church Or Tax-Exempt Organization Is Involved In Inappropriate Political Activity

Every election season features allegations that churches or other tax-exempt organizations are engaged in inappropriate political activity. This year will be no different. There are steps you can take if you see such activity.

First, the basics. As federal law has set up, churches can qualify as tax exempt organizations, under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. However, in the statute itself - as a condition of receiving the special exemption - the organizations are prohibited from participating/intervening in "any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

Here is a handy chart about the different types of exempt organizations and their limitations:
The advantages of obtaining the 501(c)(3) status from the IRS are twofold: (1) the organization does not have to pay taxes on income it receives; and (2) an individual who donates to the organization gets a tax deduction for the amount of her contribution.

The IRS tries to explain to churches and exempt organizations what political involvements are permissible and which jeopardize that prized tax exemption. Other than webinars, this publication lays out a number of different possible factual situations to analyze. Example #17 is representative:
Some of the factors that the IRS would analyze if evaluating a complaint are whether the facility was equally available to opposing candidates, whether fair value was paid for the facility, and whether the event was part of an ongoing activity or just one conducted for this particular candidate. If the organization claims it was duped into permitting a candidate event, the IRS would analyze the evidence supporting or refuting such a claim.

It could be important to inform the IRS of statements, videos and actions of the organization before, during or after the event.

The IRS accepts information from the public if it is believed that an exempt organization "is involved in a political campaign". This one-page fillable form can then be emailed/faxed/mailed to the IRS. The complainant may tell the IRS that they are concerned about retaliation or retribution if their identity is disclosed, and the IRS also accepts anonymous complaints.

While the current Administration has previously expressed interest in eliminating the restriction on political involvement by exempt organizations, the law has not been changed and complaints may be considered by present or future administrations.








This legal primer is an updated version of an article published in 2014. It was published earlier today on "AZ Law".

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Monday, June 22, 2020

PRAISE THE LORD and LOVE THE A/C! Phoenix Church Touts Its Ability To Kill 99% of Virus While Trump Holds Rally! (Except.....)

The senior pastor of Phoenix's Dream City Church took to Facebook yesterday to tout its air purification system in advance of President Donald Trump's rally there tomorrow night. 99% of the virus is zapped within 10 minutes, is the wonderful claim.

TMZ initially reported on Pastor Luke Barnett's video claims, and Talking Points Memo has done some further reporting on that miraculous air purification system.

The only problem is that the ionization system only works once the air is circulated through the system. It does nothing if one of the asymptomatic rally goers near you yells or coughs in your direction. The air purification system will not be sucking up the air until sometime later.


The "Students for Trump" rally is also expected to host Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, two of Arizona's Republican Congressmen (Biggs, Gosar) and others.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has indicated that she does not believe the rally can be held safely, but has indicated that the city will not prevent it from moving forward nor cite individuals for violating the facemask mandate.


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Friday, June 19, 2020

Governor Ducey's Executive Order Permitting Cities/Counties To Make Face Masks Mandatory




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SETTLED: Arizona's Election Day Deadline For RECEIVING Mailed In Ballots Remains... For 2020, At Least (ARIZONA VOTING NEWS)

UPDATED, 3:00pm: U.S. District Court Judge Dominic Lanza accepted the Settlement Agreement this afternoon and dismissed the case.

Arizona and Democratic groups finalized the  settlement of a lawsuit challenging the law that mail-in ballots must be *received* by 7pm on Election Day. The Democratic Party said that the ballots should be accepted and counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day (and received within five days after). The E-Day receipt deadline will remain in place for this year's elections, but the state agrees to study switching to a *postmark* deadline for future elections.


Arizona also promises to use some federal funding from pandemic relief measures to increase early voting opportunities in Native American, Latino and rural communities this year.


The Settlement Agreement was filed with the District Court last night after telling the court late last month that a settlement in principle had been reached.


Attorneys for the Democratic-affiliated groups Voto Latino and Priorities USA filed the suit looking to change Arizona to a postmark deadline. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs did not side with the Plaintiffs, and the Attorney General's Office has represented her in defending the *received by Election Day* law.


For reactions, to review the (short) Settlement Agreement, and for more information on how to vote early, please visit "AZ Law", our sister site



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Thursday, June 18, 2020

FACT CHECK: McSally DID Fight For DACA Recipients... Before She Withdrew Her Support, Deleted Video (WATCH DELETED VIDEO)

The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a setback to Trump Administration efforts to end the DACA
program for people brought into the country illegally as children. Arizona Senator Martha McSally immediately tweeted that the opinion gives the government another chance to address the politically-sensitive issue, and noted that she has "fought many times in Congress to provide a legal status for DACA recipients...."


McSally's advocacy has a much more mixed record, however.

In 2017, she spoke passionately about urging the White House to assure DACA recipients (aka "Dreamers") that the Trump Administration would not pull the rug out from under Dreamers' feet after they had provided information that could be used against them.

However, in 2018, as she began her run for the Senate seat, she removed the video from her YouTube channel and withdrew her co-sponsorship of a bill to protect DACA recipients and give them a path to U.S. citizenship.

Arizona's Politics re-found the video and posted it shortly thereafter. It can still be viewed on our website.

However, McSally DID sign on to another bill, called "Securing America's Future Act". It would provide protections to DREAMers, but NOT give them a path to citizenship. (Neither ended up passing the House in that election year.)

CONCLUSION: The Senator's tweets today are factually CORRECT, but MISLEADING. 



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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

STICKER SHOCK! All Early Voters In Maricopa County WILL Get "I Voted" Stickers! (AZ VOTING NEWS)

3:35pm: STICKER SHOCK! All Early Voters In Maricopa County WILL Get "I Voted" Stickers!
Yes, it's true!* One of the most popular voting-related items is that Election Day "I Voted" sticker. In fact, the sticker phenomenon is actually part of the reason that so many of Arizona's ballots are tallied days after Election Day.
Fontes hand-models new stickers (scree cap)

So, the big news today from Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes may actually cut down on the post-election jitters that candidates and friends experience. The Elections Department is now going to include one of their four new "I Voted" stickers with each early ballot mailed out to the more than 1.8 million early voters. 

Fontes made the big announcement in a Facebook Live video this afternoon, and noted that questions about the early voting stickers are one of the most common things he is asked, and that Election Day pollworkers give out thousands of the stickers to persons who wait to drop off their early ballots just so that they can have the sticker to wear the rest of the day. (I spend most Election Days in many polling places and can attest to that phenomenon.)

Fontes said that "literally, tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of voters will drop off their ballot, because they want a sticker." Mailing the stickers will encourage mailing back the ballots rather than dropping them off. That will help the County validate the signatures *before* Election Day so that the counting goes faster, and it will reduce possible virus exposure contacts for the voters and the pollworkers.

The Recorder also indicated that his office will be sending out postcards encouraging approximately 600,000 county voters to *request* an early ballot. That is the 26% of the voter register not yet on the PEVL (Permanent Early Voting List). 

(From personal experience, many of those 600,000 people have not signed up because they like to go on Election Day and feed their completed ballot into the machine. However, in Maricopa County, it just gives them THE OPTION of voting early. They could still choose to vote in person and feed the ballot into the machine - as long as they had not already returned the early ballot.)

The only concern about the new stickers is that - with four varieties - how are collectors going to compile an entire set while still honoring the "one person, one vote" policy that applies here in Arizona? Of course, the answer is....... eBay.


    
    

Pandemic Shutdown Causes New Voter Registrations To Plummet


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Monday, June 15, 2020

NEW: Schweikert Ethics Investigation Enters THIRD YEAR Today; Bumps Into (Another) Election Campaign

The long-running House Ethics Committee investigation into Arizona Rep. David Schweikert entered its third year today. It is now impacting the second straight election cycle in the Northeast Valley Congressional District (CD6). 

The extended process has drained more than half  (55%) of all of the monies the Schweikert campaign has raised during that time, and the amount spent on legal fees is now at approximately $1,000,000.

With the primary election 50 days away and the general election looming in November, House Ethics Committee rules have certain rules that may or may not prevent them from making any announcements ending the probe. The Committee repeatedly have declined to tell Arizona's Politics how they would be interpreting those 60-day rules.

It was on June 14, 2018 that the bipartisan Committee voted unanimously to establish an investigative subcommittee ("ISC") to look into allegations that Schweikert and his then-Chief of Staff Oliver Schwab had misused the Congressional office budget, violated rules about staff members contributing to the political campaign and that Schwab had received excessive outside income.

That was enough to prompt the Schweikert campaign to begin paying legal fees to several different law firms for different groups of Congressional staff members. And, Schwab left Schweikert's office less than one month later. 

But, the probe expanded later that year after the independent Office of Congressional Ethics sent a second referral to the Committee. On December 20, 2018, the Ethics Committee expanded ISC to look into allegations 
"that (1) Representative Schweikert may have used official resources to benefit
his campaign or pressured congressional staff to perform political activity; (2) Representative Schweikert may have authorized compensation to an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with his House employment; (3) Representative Schweikert or his campaign committee may have received loans or gifts from a congressional employee; and (4) Representative Schweikert may have omitted required information from his annual House financial disclosure statements and Federal Election Commission candidate committee reports." 
The House Ethics Committee then carried the investigation into the current Congress, and that is the last it has been heard from, except for releasing the two page follow-up referral from the OCE (as required by rules).

However, the Committee also has rules about postponing reporting requirements within 60 days of an election. We asked whether this includes the primary election, or if it is only concerned with the general election? (Arizona's primary election for the seat will take place on August 4.) 

The 60-day rule does not require postponing reports, so we asked what factors the Committee uses to determine whether to make such a postponement. Again, crickets. Similarly, the Committee's rules sometimes require a public statement when an investigation is being extended, often at a yearly anniversary date. Such an extension would have called for such an announcement this past Friday, or today - within 60 days of the primary election. No response to our questions, and no announcement.

As we indicated in our most recent update on this long-running probe, while the legal fees reported each quarter by the campaign have varied widely, the most recent quarter (ended March 31) showed payments of $273,000 to law firms - including one new law firm. The campaign had nearly $100,000 in outstanding debts and a net cash on hand of only $127,793. 

By contrast, his best-funded Democratic challenge, Hiral Tipirneni, had net cash on hand of $1.1M. Cook Political Report only rates his seat as a "lean Republican" - only three GOP incumbents are listed as "toss-ups".

The uncertainty of whether the Ethics probe will be wrapped up - favorably or unfavorably - hangs over this race. And, given the Ethics Committee's uncertain rules, that cloud may not be one that goes away before November.



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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Rep. Lesko Tells Police Reform Witnesses "I Have Two Black Grandsons", Turns To Blast Defund the Police Movement

Arizona Representative Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) made her five minutes during the House hearing on police reforms personal, sympathizing with the witnesses who lost loved ones to police violence and telling them that "I have two Black grandsons." She later recounted her time as a domestic violence victim and asked former police officer Dan Bongino what would happen to future victims if we "defund the police."

George Floyd's brother (Philonise) testified the day after the Houston funeral. Lesko opened by saying it seemed disrespectful that Floyd was permitted to make an emotional opening statement but that Angela Underwood Jacobs - whose brother was a federal security guard shot in riots last month in Oakland - was not then immediately introduced to give her opening statement.

She followed that with "I have two Black grandsons. And so, I haven't experienced the discrimination that some of you have experienced and you've told us about, but I sure don't want them to be discriminated against. So, this is very important to me.

Lesko sequed into reading comments from individuals and officials about defunding the police. Which led into her (only) question about what would happen to a domestic violence victim like herself, if there was no police department to call. Dan Bongino, a former NYPD officer and conservative talk show host, answered that an abuser did not want to stop when he and another officer confronted him with guns. "Do you think he will care if it's a social worker?" asked Bongino.




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Monday, June 8, 2020

BREAKING: Coronavirus Continues Taking Lives On Navajo Nation, Making It Harder To Count The Survivors (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

1:15pm: Every Census Office In Nation Re-Opens This Week...Except For Navajo Nation's Window Rock Office

By the end of this week, the U.S. Census Bureau will have re-opened 247 "Area Census Offices". The ONLY one unable to get back to the decennial business of counting everyone in the country is in northeastern Arizona. The coronavirus outbreak on the Navajo Nation continues to spread and take lives, and now it is making it more difficult to count those who survive the virus.


Today, the Navajo Nation reported 102 new cases and three additional deaths on the sovereign lands that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The death toll of one of the worst outbreaks in the country is now 277.

The Census Bureau touted the re-opening of all of the other regional offices, and noted that the five others in Arizona had re-opened last month after the stay-at-home order expired. Thirty offices - mainly in New York and New Jersey - are reopening this week.

The Census Bureau simply explained its decision this way: "Census Bureau officials are coordinating closely with the Navajo Nation on the safe resumption of operations in the Window Rock, Arizona, ACO."

The decennial census is an important measurement for states and tribal nations alike, as it is used to decide political representation and federal spending (among other things). The Navajo Nation's population in the 2010 census was over 173,000.

People who have not yet responded - on the Navajo Nation or elsewhere - can begin to complete their forms here, or by calling 1-844-330-2020.


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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Arizona Democrats - State and Federal - Proposing Action Against Police (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

3:15pm: Democrats seem to have settled on a strategy to reframe the renewed debate about excessive force by police officers, and Arizona elected officials at the state and federal levels are on the same page.

After nighttime violence and looting in Arizona and around the country began to dilute the message of protesters, the Congressional Black Caucus met yesterday to discuss strategy. Today, speeches and actions reflect that strategy.

Democrats in the State House and Senate this afternoon sent a letter to Governor Doug Ducey and asked for a special session to address police reform measures. (below) They proposed five areas, including requiring body cameras be worn and used by all officers, and mandatory investigations of all uses of deadly force.


Meanwhile, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) joined 50 other U.S. Representatives in introducing a resolution condemning "police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force", and calling for the Department of Justice to take several actions. (below)

In addition, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) released a statement on yesterday's police actions outside the White House.













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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Scottsdale CC's Apology For Quiz Questions About Muslims and Terrorism Too Focused On Social Media Response, Ignored Own Findings (READ, Report)

When a student's complaints about a World Politics quiz that dealt with Muslims and terrorism went national a month ago, Scottsdale Community College focused on the social media reaction at the expense of the professor. The Maricopa County Community College District today made public an investigative report into the incident.

On April 29, a Muslim student complained about the impression that several questions may give to non-Muslim students in the class. He publicly posted the questions/answers, which immediately went viral when a well-followed Michigan comedian posted a video on his Instagram page.

These were the questions/answers at issue, according to the report:

SCC "deeply apologize(d)" for the questions and agreed that they were "inaccurate" and "inappropriate". However, immediately after the incident, Professor Nicholas Damask's quiz and course material were reviewed by his Division Chair and found to be "appropriate". SCC's Administration ignored that finding when issuing the apology.

MCCCD then stepped in and criticized the "rush to judgment". They asked well-respected Phoenix attorney Dan Barr at Perkins Coie to conduct an investigation into how the uproar was handled and whether SCC tried to interfere. with the investigation.

Today's report finds that the district's policies and procedures were not followed in this case.  It found that "the focus of the SCC administration was deciding how to respond to and placate critics on social media," while paying little attention to the actual quiz questions/answers or the exchanges between the professor and student.

SCC's Public Relations/Marketing Manager Eric Sells was in charge of the response.  "While Sells was motivated by good intentions to protect SCC's reputation, Sells has limited experience in higher education and did not appear to have an understanding of the District's policies on academic freedom or procedures for dealing with student complaints."

The report then notes that the Administration did not "give much, if any" consideration to procedures, nor did they attempt to consult with the College's legal office. The report also finds that the District "largely left the College to handle the response itself."

MCCCD says today that Interim Chancellor Steven R. Gonzales "will take the appropriate time to consider the full report and make a determination on the way forward with the best interest of the System in mind."





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UPDATE: Judge Expedites Hearing On House Republicans' Battle Against Proxy Voting - But, Not Until July 24

On Friday, House Republicans amended their lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House's resolution allowing proxy voting during the current pandemic, and asked the Judge to set a June 19 hearing. Today, Judge Rudolph Contreras agreed to an expedited hearing, but set it for July 24.

The House also just filed their initial response to the suit, saying that the resolution permitting the 45 day period of proxy voting is constitutional, and suggested that the Republicans' case cannot be heard by the Court. They suggested that the Court set a slightly lengthier time schedule for the parties to brief the issues.

The Court favored that suggestion.



Also, Arizona Representatives David Schweikert (R-CD6) and Paul Gosar (R-CD4) joined the Republicans' Amended Complaint on Friday. Reps. Debbie Lesko and Andy Biggs were among the initial plaintiffs, and all of Arizona's Republican Representatives are now part of the suit.

* * * * *
UPDATE, 5/29, 3:45pm: The group of Republicans suing over proxy voting today asked the Court to hold a hearing on June 19 on their request for a preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs - including Arizona Reps. Debbie Lesko and Andy Biggs, also amended their complaint today.





* * * * *
AZ Reps. Biggs, Lesko Among GOP Group Suing Pelosi Over Proxy Voting (READ, Complaint)
Arizona Reps. Debbie Lesko (R-CD8) and Andy Biggs (R-CD5) are among a group of 21 Republican Representatives to file suit yesterday against the U.S. House of Representatives for changing its rules to allow for proxy voting and remote working during the pandemic.


The suit claims that the U.S. Constitution requires in-person voting. Democratic Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD2) have given their proxies to other members, and Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) and Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) have accepted proxy responsibilities for three other Representatives (from other states).

The Republican argument is similar to the one that the State of Arizona successfully made last month in opposing efforts to permit digital signing of initiative petitions using the state's E-Qual system. However, in that case, the Arizona Constitution explicitly said that the signature must be "signed in the presence of" the circulator. Yesterday's suit relies on traditional interpretations of the word "meet" and "assemble". (Odd side note: the Complaint also cites the Impeachment Clause for support.)

Here is the Complaint filed yesterday in the federal District Court in DC. Arizona's Politics will keep readers updated on the progress of this suit.
*




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