Monday, August 23, 2021

NEW, TAKING BIPARTISANSHIP TO THE BANK: Sinema Chips In To Pay GOP Colleague's $490K Legal Fees For Pre-COVID Stock Selloff Investigation (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

5:30pm: TAKING BIPARTISANSHIP TO THE BANK: Sinema Chips In To Pay GOP Colleague's $490K Legal Fees For Pre-COVID Stock Selloff Investigation

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema sent $2,000 to the legal defense fund for one of her Republican colleagues earlier this year. Richard Burr was then part of the bipartisan group to push the hard infrastructure bill through the Senate.

The investigation into Burr's $2.3M of stock sales shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the economy was closed by the US Department of Justice in mid-January. However, he had incurred $490,000 in legal bills and set up the legal defense fund (permitted under Senate rules).

Forbes' Zach Everson first reported on the Sinema contribution, in addition to the other 36 current and former lawmakers who picked up more than half ($280,000) of the attorneys' tab.

The other Democrats who chipped in were Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Angus King (I-ME). (King caucuses with the Democrats and even matched his committee's contribution with $5,000 of his personal funds.)

Such across-the-aisle contributions are very rare. And indeed, the $2,000 contribution from Sinema's leadership PAC ("Getting Stuff Done PAC") is the only contribution the GSD-PAC has made to a Republican.

Sinema's leadership PAC currently has $335,000 in the bank, and her main campaign committee has $3.6M.



8/23, 11am: NEW: Sinema Digs In Hard On Fellow Dems' "Soft" Infrastructure Bill, Tries To De-Couple It From Her Bi-Partisan "Hard" Bill
Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is digging in her heels on opposing the Democrats' two-track infrastructure plan.

After getting Senate approval for the bipartisan "hard" infrastructure bill that she helped negotiate, she is warning the House of Representatives that she is opposing the $3.5T "soft" infrastructure bill that President Biden and Democratic leadership saw as an inextricable companion measure.

Politico reported this morning on the warning shot from the 1st term Senator (who is not up for re-election until 2024):
The $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill “is a historic win for our nation’s everyday families and employers and, like every proposal, should be considered on its own merits,” said Sinema spokesperson John LaBombard. “Proceedings in the U.S. House will have no impact on Kyrsten’s views about what is best for our country - including the fact that she will not support a budget reconciliation bill that costs $3.5 trillion.”

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Monday, August 9, 2021

BREAKING: Maricopa County Supervisors Calls Meeting Tomorrow Afternoon To Discuss Election "Audit" Subpoenas; 20th Snap Meeting of the Year

UPDATE, 10pm: It is NOT just the subpoenas that are on tomorrow's executive session agenda. As it turns out, the Supervisors will ALSO get an update from the County Attorney's Office about the Attorney General's investigation of them regarding their subpoena responses. That investigation was prompted by Sen. Sonny Borrelli's referral.

The 3rd agenda item is to receive legal advice about the County's "authority and responsibility re: COVID-19", and "compliance with state laws and executive orders". The County Schools Superintendent is NOT listed as being part of this agenda item, as more school district governing boards have been considering whether or not to require the wearing of face masks.

Here is the full agenda:
 
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has called a snap meeting for 24 1/2 hours from now in order to discuss the current situation with the State Senate's election "audit" subpoenas. This is the 20th time this year that the GOP-dominated Board has held special or emergency meetings to discuss the ongoing post-election mess.

The Board has to call it an "emergency" meeting if they post it less than 24 hours before the starting time; there have been 11 such meetings this year.

Tomorrow's executive session is set for 3:00pm tomorrow, and notice went out at 2:40pm. The substantive agenda was not yet posted.

The County has provided some information responsive to the latest round of subpoenas sent out by Senate President Karen Fann and Judiciary Chair Warren Petersen. However, they have filed a number of objections to most of the demands for data.

Here are the both the subpoena and the County's response and objections to it.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

SUMMARY of the SIX Referenda Petitions Being Circulated By Two Different Groups


Longer version, with official summaries - and, links at the bottom:

Referendum definition – Arizona Is one of only 23 states where voters have the right to *refer* a law (after the Governor signs it) to the ballot. The law does not go into effect unless the VOTERS pass it. (It only goes to the ballot IF enough valid petition signatures are collected.)

Initiative definition – Arizona voters can collect enough valid signatures to place a proposed law onto the election ballot.

(The referendum petitions each need 118,823 valid signatures turned in before September 28, 2021. The initiatives need 237,645 valid sigs before July 8, 2022.)

1.      “PEVL Purge”, SB1485. Sponsor: Arizona Deserves Better

The best known of the passed/signed voting suppression bills, it turns “PEVL” into “Evil”.

Overview: "This petition seeks to refer SB1485 to the ballot for a vote. This bill substantially changes the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL), now used by most Arizonans to vote. It renames the list and purges it periodically. Government notices would be sent to people based on their frequency of early voting. People who are mailed notices would be required to respond to stay on the list. If enough people sign this petition, the people of Arizona will be able to vote to prevent this bill from becoming law and keep the Permanent Early Voting List. "

 

Summary: SB1485 is trying to fix a non-existent problem.   The effect is to make it more difficult for citizens to participate in the election process… for no valid reason. For example, if a person is an infrequent voter (votes only  in presidential elections) and misses one presidential election, they can be taken off of early voting/PEVL. NOTE:  There are laws already in place to clean up the PEVL list of people who have moved (etc), and there is no “fraud problem” this law would fix.

 

2.      HB2569. Sponsor: Arizona Deserves Better

This referendum would allow counties to receive private grants to help with voter registration or early voting efforts. The Legislature does not always provide requested funding.

Overview: "This petition seeks to refer HB 2569 to the ballot for a vote. HB 2569 stops elections officials from receiving private grants to help them run elections or register voters, even if the Legislature provides inadequate funding for elections administration and voter registration. Election officials have used grant funds to purchase equipment used to provide timely and accurate election results. If enough people sign this petition, the voters will decide whether election officials should be allowed to accept private grants. "

 

Summary: In the last election cycle, grants were given to counties to support early voting. For example, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave grants supporting early voting efforts in Maricopa County (i.e. providing more drop box locations, etc.). The grant – with non-partisan conditions - was approved by the County Board. This new law would prevent grants being accepted in the future. The referendum’s purpose is to continue allowing grants to be accepted to fund early voting (etc) efforts in the future.

 

3.      SB1828 (Sxns 13, 15). Sponsor: Invest In Arizona

This is one of the three measures passed to try to un-do the Invest In Ed initiative passed by voters. It is the “flat tax” law.

Overview: "This petition seeks to refer sections 13 and 15 of 2021 Laws, Chapter 412 (SB 1828). Sections 13 and 15 together create new income tax brackets and rates that apply when state general fund revenue exceeds certain amounts."

 

Summary: This massive budget bill reduces state revenues by $1.9B/yr. It gives wealthiest Arizonans the biggest tax break by making flatter tax brackets. This referendum would prevent the legislature from circumventing the will of the people to fund our public education.

 

4.      SB1827 (Sxn 4). Sponsor: Invest In Arizona

This is the 2nd anti-Invest In Ed law pushed by Gov. Ducey. It cuts K-12 spending by $250M+/yr.

Overview: "This petition seeks to refer Section 4 of 2021 Laws, Chapter 411 (SB 1827). Section 4 creates a maximum combined individual income tax rate of 4.5%, inclusive of the regular income tax imposed by A.R.S. § 43-1011 and the 3.5% income tax surcharge imposed by A.R.S. § 43-1013 (which was approved by Arizona voters in 2020 as Proposition 208). If a taxpayer's total tax rate exceeds 4.5%, the regular income tax rate imposed by A.R.S. § 43-1011 would be automatically reduced to cap the taxpayer's total tax rate at 4.5%."

 

Summary: This budget bill would prevent our state from collecting money from the wealthiest Arizonians – to fund education. It would shrink the general fund by almost $500M/yr and cut K-12 spending by $250M+/yr. This referendum would prevent the legislature from circumventing the will of the people to fund our public education.

 

5.      Anti-voting omnibus bill. SB1819 (Sxns 4, 5, 21, 25, 33). Sponsor: Arizona Deserves Better

This picks out several of the worst election measures thrown into a budget bill. Many of these had failed to pass the Legislature earlier under regular procedures. Here’s a summary:

1a) Ordering Arizona Game & Fish Department to conduct voter registration efforts;

1b) allowing the Legislature to designate an individual or company to have access to voter registration databases and make sure that registrants who do not provide proof of citizenship can only vote for President and Congress;

2) calling for ballot paper to contain watermarks, bar codes and other *possible* anti-fraud measures;

3) spends $500,000 to investigate social media platforms and search engines to see whether they help some candidates and/or hurt others;

4) tasking the Auditor General to report on voter registration and outreach events attended by the Secretary of State and the Maricopa County and Pima County Recorders (item one also would require those elected officials to publicly report their event calendars);

5) removes Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ authority to defend court cases about elections, and gives it to Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. (Really! It shifts back after they leave those offices!)

 

6.      “Small business” tax credit bill. SB1783. Sponsor: Invest In Arizona

This clever effort to un-do Invest In Ed redefines “small business” to include nearly every wealthy individual, and allows them to take a “small business tax credit” for the amount that would have gone to education funding.

Overview: "This petition seeks to refer 2021 Laws, Chapter 436 (SB 1783). The principal provisions of this bill would: (a) allow "small business taxpayer[s]," as defined in the bill, to elect to report certain forms of income as "small business income" and pay taxes on that income at rates set by the bill and (b) establish new income tax brackets and rates for trusts and estates."

Summary: This bill would stop more than $290M/year from K-12 education – one-third of the Invest In Ed funds.

 

7.      Initiative: Voters’ Right To Know. Sponsor: Stop Dark Money

Overview: "This Voters' Right to Know Act secures for Arizona voters the right to know who is trying to influence Arizona elections using paid, public communications. It eliminates dark money barricades. Any person spending over $50,000 on statewide campaigns or $25,000 on other campaigns must disclose the original sources (people or corporations who actually earned the money) of contributions over $5,000. They must also disclose their largest donors on campaign materials. The Act will also protect local policymakers' ability to require additional disclosures. The Citizens Clean Elections Commission, a non-partisan, voter-established body, will enforce this Act. Violations could incur substantial penalties."

 

8.      Initiative: Predatory Medical Debt Collection Protection Act. Sponsor: Healthcare Rising AZ

Overview: "Caps interest rate on "medical debt," as defined in the Act; applies this cap to judgements on medical debt as well as to medical debt incurred. Increases the value of assets -- a homestead, certain household possessions, a motor vehicle, funds in a single bank account, and disposable earnings -- protected from certain legal processes to collect debt. Annually adjusts these amended exemptions for inflation beginning 2024. Allows courts to further reduce the amount of disposable earnings subject to garnishment in some cases of extreme economic hardship. Does not affect existing contracts. Does not change existing law regarding secured debt."

 

--To read full texts of any of these laws or initiatives – as well as the others on file – use this link to an updated page of the Arizona Secretary of State’s site: https://bit.ly/AZInitsAndReferenda

--Sponsoring organizations: ArizonaDeservesBetter.com, InvestInAZNow.com, StopDarkMoney.com, HealthCareRisingAZ.org

-- Explanatory Articles: Election omnibus referendum: https://bit.ly/AZp1925; PEVL Purge referendum: https://bit.ly/AZp1921; Invest In Ed referenda: https://bit.ly/AZp1926, https://bit.ly/3wuSQH9

--Prepared by Marion and Paul Weich (Questions/suggestions 602-908-9132)


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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

WE HAVE LIFTOFF: Mark Kelly Simultaneously Upholds Senate's Tradition and Arizona's Tradition In 1st Floor Speech; Starts New Leadership PAC (WATCH/READ)

8/4, 3:00pm: WE HAVE LIFTOFF: Mark Kelly Simultaneously Upholds Senate's Tradition and Arizona's Tradition In 1st Floor Speech; Starts New Leadership PAC (WATCH/READ)

The U.S. Senate is a tradition-bound body, and Mark Kelly fulfilled the tradition of giving his "maiden" floor speech today. He also fulfilled an 8-year Arizona tradition, becoming the 4th consecutive Arizona Senator to use the speech to honor the late Senator John McCain.

Beginning in 2013 with Jeff Flake, Arizonans have seen two Republicans and two Democrats take to the floor. All have lavished praise on McCain, and the last three have bookended their speech with comments about trying to follow in his footsteps.

Kelly (D-AZ) went it one better, recognizing Cindy McCain in the gallery.

Sure, he also talked about his childhood, his courageous wife Gabby, the infrastructure bill and border security and immigration reform. But, McCain has become the embodiment of bipartisanship and independence that Kelly (and Flake, and Sinema, and McSally) wanted Arizonans to remember today.

"His legacy, it's something that cannot be matched, but it's what inspires me serving in the Senate seat, and it's his example of bipartisanship, or independence, that continues to demand more of us. So, I'm going to continue focusing on delivering results, on beating this virus, and reinventing our economy for the future so that hard-working Arizonans have every opportunity to succeed. Arizonans sent me here to have their backs, and that's what I intend to do. Thank you and I yield the floor."

Now that he's delivered the maiden speech, Kelly can now abide by another Senate tradition and be as long-winded as he wants to be.

Earlier this week, Kelly registered his new Leadership PAC with the Federal Election Commission. "Liftoff PAC" is, of course, a clever nod to his Space Shuttle captaining past. But, it will also give him another opportunity to not take money from corporate PACs, even though they are often the primary funders of such entities.

P.S. Just because he can now be seen and heard, it does not mean that he automatically gets all of the respect a U.S. Senator deserves. Here's how C-Span's closed captioning brought MARK Kelly back down to earth.

7/28, 4:40pm: BREAKING: Doug Ducey & Wendy Rogers(?!?) Operative Sets Up New Federal Campaign Committee, "Secure Arizona's Future"
A South Dakota political operative with longstanding Arizona ties boosting Doug Ducey's first gubernatorial run and Wendy Rogers' last Congressional campaign formed "Secure Arizona's Future" this week.

Joel Arends used a Phoenix mailbox and 602 Google Voice number to create the federal SuperPAC. 

Arizona's Politics
 first spoke with and wrote about him in 2014 when he used the dark money Veterans for a Strong America to start attacking Christine Jones when she was running in the Republican gubernatorial primary against Ducey. The notorious ads tried to link Jones to both Hillary Clinton and Benghazi.  We later learned that Arends' group received a total of $275,000 from Ducey-supporting Sean Noble's "dark money washing machine" in 2014, before VSA had its status revoked by the IRS. 

Arends popped up in the desert again in 2018, collecting almost $350,000 to spend supporting Wendy Rogers in a failed Congressional campaign against Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1). Arends was treasurer for "Defending Rural Arizona". Rogers is now an outspoken State Senator.

It is unclear whether Arends already has a candidate in mind for this committee - some political operatives set these up in case they land an Arizona-minded client. Ducey is term-limited from running for re-election, and Rogers has not given hints about making a fifth run for Congress.

The voice mailbox for Arends' law office in South Dakota is full, but Arizona's Politics was able to leave a message for Arends on his Arizona Google voice number. We will update this article as warranted.


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NEW INVESTIGATION: NAU Foundation Hides "Extraordinary" $5.5M Proposed Fine; Among Largest Penalties By Trump's FCC For Alleged Misuse of Educational Broadband Licenses

While the rest of the world was still buzzing about the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol, then-President Trump's FCC was hammering Arizona's NAU Foundation with one of the largest suggested fines in the country, $5.5M. Although they had done away with the requirement that licensees of the Educational Broadband Service ("EBS") spectrum use the frequencies for educational purposes, they approved $47M+ in proposed fines.

The NAU Foundation leadership would not say whether they have informed the Board of Directors of the potential mega-hit. And, Washington lobbyists hired to "interact" with Congress had no apparent impact.

For the rest of this investigative report, please head over to our sister site, "Arizona's Law".

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

TEXTS DON'T LIE: Yes, Maricopa County, There IS Another Election THIS YEAR...For Most Of You (READ: list of local jurisdictions)

Most Maricopa County voters are on the PEVL*, and many signed up last year for text and email updates about their ballots. That means that A LOT of these observant voters were mystified yesterday when they received a notification from Maricopa County Elections saying their "ballot is being prepared. It will mail on 10-06-2021."

Arizona's Politics heard from about a dozen different people. (And, I was most mystified because I had not received such a text purporting to be from Maricopa County Elections. Until 8:52pm, that is.)

After late night messages to and from the county and Recorder Stephen Richer, and several conversations today, we were finally able to get the complete list of which cities/towns and school districts were going to be asking their residents to vote in this off-year election. Without mapping out the sometimes overlapping jurisdictions, it is safe to say that most of the county's voters will be getting a ballot in October.

Previously, the Recorder's website listed all of the voting jurisdictions. However, curious voters were unable yesterday to access that list. Here it is:




Thanks to Recorder Stephen Richer and Elections Department Communications Director Megan Gilbertson for helping get us the complete list.

And, even if you are not on the PEVL, keep an eye on your mailboxes in October, because this election will be by MAILED BALLOTS ONLY. 

*PEVL remains unchanged, for now. The Legislature/Governor's new law removing the permanent from the early voting list does not go into effect immediately. Opponents are circulating referendum petitions to put it to the ballot in 2022; if they obtain enough, it will not go into effect unless voters approve it in November 2022. (And, they *would* receive a ballot for that election if they are on the list.)

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BREAKING: County Supervisors To Hold Special Meeting Wednesday To Discuss Response To Senate's "Audit" Subpoena (READ Subpoena)

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting tomorrow to discuss their response to the latest election audit-related subpoena from some Republican Senators.

At the 9am executive session, the Republican-dominated Supervisors will get legal advice from the (Republican) County Attorney's Office on several related matters: (1) compliance with the subpoena (below), (2) election administration and equipment, (3) "election-related public records requests", and (4) "election-related litigation". The two currently-active lawsuits related to public records requests do not involve Maricopa County, so the last two topics would appear to be forward-looking and/or requests that are not yet in the public sphere.

The new subpoena issued yesterday repeats some of the demands made in the previous one. Maricopa County turned over ballots, machines, voter registration records and more then, and that led to the recount/"audit" which began in April. The County did not turn over some items then, and the Senate has not tried to enforce compliance.

The new subpoena, signed by Senate President Karen Fann and Judiciary Committee Chair Warren Peterson, demands compliance by next Monday (August 2).

Maricopa County Supervisors Agenda - 7-28-2021 by arizonaspolitics on Scribd

Senate Subpoena to Mari Cty 20210726154038182 by arizonaspolitics on Scribd


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Monday, July 26, 2021

NEW: Rep. Schweikert To Endorse Old Colleague Matt Salmon For Governor (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) is set to endorse Matt Salmon in the crowded GOP field for Governor. Politico notes that the two served in Congress together and have the Freedom Caucus in common. They also represented neighboring districts.

Salmon (and the other leading Republican contenders) spoke at the Trump Rally in Phoenix this past weekend. He followed reported frontrunner Kari Lake, repeatedly attacked the "fake news media" and "liberal elites", and passionately declared that "God is on our side".

Although 15 Republicans have filed Statements of Interest to run for the position being vacated by Doug Ducey, Salmon is among the five considered to be leaders for the nomination. (Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is considered the strong Democratic frontrunner, although there are other contenders.)

(For video, click here or on picture)




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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

NEW: Key State Rep. Regina Cobb Plans To Run For State Treasurer, Setting Up GOP Battle With Colleague (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

State Rep. Regina Cobb (R-LD5) filed a Statement of Interest today about her plans to run for State Treasurer. The termed-out Chair of the House Appropriations Committee would face former House colleague (current Senator) David Livingston (R-LD22) in the Republican primary.

No Democrat has yet announced plans to run to be the State Treasurer. Current Treasurer Kimberly Yee is trying to follow Doug Ducey's path from Treasurer to Governor.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

BREAKING: Congressional Committee Investigating Arizona Recount/Audit Skips State Senate, Tracks Ninjas Instead (READ Letter)

A  U.S. House committee is jumping into investigating the Arizona State Senate's recount/audit, and they've decided to go where the apparent control is. Rather than writing State Senate President Karen Fann, the House Oversight Committee has focused on Cyber Ninjas' owner Doug Logan.

Sending a 13-page letter (below), the committee is asking for documents and communications relating to funding sources and the "audit procedures" that they have been using.

A key line of the letter, signed by Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jaimie Raskin - heads of the overall committee and the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, respectively - noted: 

"The Committee is seeking to determine whether the privately funded audit conducted by your company in Arizona protects the right to vote or is instead an effort to promote baseless conspiracy theories, undermine confidence in America’s elections, and reverse the result of a free and fair election for partisan gain.”

The final of the nine requests is for all communications the Cyber Ninjas had with former President Donald Trump and many of his advisers, attorneys, etc.:

a. former President Donald Trump;
b. any Trump Administration official;
c. any formal or informal representative of President Trump’s presidential
campaign, legal team, or political action committee;
d. any representative of Voices and Votes, Fight Back, America Project, or
any other funder of the Maricopa County audit;
e. Rudy Giuliani or any of his agents or representatives;
f. Sidney Powell;
g. L. Lin Wood;
h. Patrick Byrne;
i. Michael Flynn; or j. Michael Lindell.

The letter, which resembles a subpoena, asks for responses within two weeks (July 28).

Senate President Fann is awaiting a decision from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mike Kemp as to whether she has to release records of communications about the audit that might be in the hands of the Cyber Ninjas and subcontractors.


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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

BREAKING: New Invest In Ed-related Referendum Filed; And, Now There Are Six Petitions Hitting the Streets

The newly-renamed "Invest In Arizona" coalition has filed its third (and likely, final) referendum application with the Secretary of State. Arizona voters are being asked to sign a total of six petitions to refer laws passed by the Legislature to the November 2022 ballot.

In 2020, Arizona voters approved the Invest In Ed initiative (aka "Prop 208"), which raises monies for education by adding a surcharge to wealthier taxpayers. The Legislature and Governor passed several workarounds last month to un-do the funding mechanism. The newest Invest In Ed-related referendum targets SB1783, which creates a new credit for an expanded definition of small business taxpayers to offset the Prop. 208 surcharge. 

The legislative budget analysts estimate this law would reduce Invest In Ed revenues by more than $262M each year.

In touting his signature on the bill, Governor Doug Ducey said "After a year as tough as the last, we should not be raising taxes on our small businesses — we should be cutting their taxes. That’s exactly what Senate Bill 1783 does." He did not mention either the impact on Prop. 208 nor that the new Arizona definition of "small business" includes anyone who reports interest or dividends. (This means that any high income taxpayer with any stock dividends or interest suddenly becomes a "small business" and qualifies for the new offsetting tax credit.)

Invest In Arizona has already begun collecting signatures to stop two other related measures - portions of SB1827 and SB1828.

In addition to those three petitions, a group named "Arizona Deserves Better" is collecting signatures on three separate petitions to un-do a slew of voting- and election-related provisions passed during the recently-ended legislative session.

One ADB supporter explained to Arizona's Politics that this is a matter of "democracy integrity", and that passing measures which make it more difficult to vote without trying to fix an actual integrity issue is harmful to the election process. 

The referendum groups have until September 28, 2021 to turn in at least 118,823 valid petition signatures. For any or all of the six targeted laws that they do successfully refer to the 2022 general election ballot, that measure would not go into effect unless voters pass it.


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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

BREAKING, HEAVY DUTY CLIPBOARDS A NECESSITY: New Referendum Petition To Attack Raft of Election-Related Measures In Arizona's Omnibus Budget Bill

For the fifth time in three weeks, a new petition seeking to un-do part of the Arizona Legislature's 2021 work product has been filed with the Arizona Secretary of State. Today's referendum application attacks a handful of previously-rejected election-related items tucked away in the massive budget reconciliation package.

A group called "Arizona Deserves Better" wants voters to have a say next year on these controversial provisions:
1a) Ordering Arizona Game & Fish Department to conduct voter registration efforts;
1b) allowing the Legislature to designate an individual or company to have access to voter registration databases and make sure that registrants who do not provide proof of citizenship can only vote for President and Congress;
2) calling for ballot paper to contain watermarks, bar codes and other possible anti-fraud measures;
3) a $500,000 fund to investigate social media platforms and search engines to see whether they help candidates and/or hurt others;
4) tasking the Auditor General to report on voter registration and outreach events attended by the Secretary of State and the Maricopa County and Pima County Recorders (item one also would require those elected officials to publicly report their event calendars);
5) removes legal authority from Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and gives it to Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

That group has also filed two other election-related referenda applications, and "Invest in Arizona" filed two on efforts by the lawmakers (and Governor Doug Ducey) to undo the Invest In Ed initiative passed by voters in 2020.

Because state law requires the entire bill to be attached to each petition page (and voters cannot sign using the state's E-qual signature hub), petition circulators will each be lugging around pounds of paper. Today's application, for example, is 56 pages long.

The groups have until September 28, 2021 to collect at least 118,823 valid signatures... on each of the five referenda.

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Friday, July 2, 2021

BREAKING: 3 New Referenda Applications Filed To Fight Flat Tax, Elections Measures; 2 Different Groups Collecting Petition Signatures (LET FREEDOM RING EDITION)

Arizona voters will be asked to sign a handful of petitions to un-do various laws passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Doug Ducey. "Invest In Arizona" and "Arizona Deserves Better" will each be circulating two different referendum petitions - three of which were filed on the eve of Independence Day.

"Invest in Arizona" is sponsored by Stand With Children and the AEA. They are focusing on two provisions of the budget bills that are designed to workaround the Invest in Ed tax surcharge on wealthy taxpayers and the flat tax provisions. (see below).

"Arizona Deserves Better" filed an application today to refer SB2569 to voters in November 2022. That law would prohibit city or county governments from accepting grant monies to help administer elections or register voters. Earlier, they filed an application to stop the so-called "PEVL Purge" bill.

Both groups will have until September 28 of this year to collect at least 118,823 valid signatures. If they do so, it will keep those laws from going into effect until after voters have the final say. (Arizona is one of only 23 states where voters have such a power.)



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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

NEW: 3 of Arizona's 4 GOP Representatives Vote AGAINST Removing Statue Of Supreme Court Justice Who Authored Dreadful DRED SCOTT Opinion

Congress voted overwhelmingly to remove Roger Taney's statue from the U.S. Capitol. Three of Arizona's four Republican Representatives voted "nay".
Dred-ful


Taney authored the Dred Scott decision in 1857, finding that the U.S. Constitution did not give people of African descent citizenship whether they were enslaved or freed. The overtly racist decision even contributed to the Civil War a few years later.

The House voted 285-120 to remove his bust and to eventually replace it with a bust of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black man to become a Supreme Court Justice (110 years after the Dred Scott decision). Arizona Reps. Debbie Lesko (CD8), Andy Biggs (CD5) and Paul Gosar (CD4) joined 116 other Republicans in voting against the switch. Rep. David Schweikert (CD6) was the only GOP member of the delegation to vote in the majority.

Here is the text of the bill, which now heads to the U.S. Senate.

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Friday, June 18, 2021

BREAKING: Group files referendum application to keep the "P" in PEVL (Arizona Early Voting) (ARIZONA POLITICAL SHORTS)

11am: BREAKING: Group files referendum application to keep the "P" in PEVL (Arizona Early Voting)

A group calling itself Arizona Deserves Better filed an application Friday for a referendum aiming to keep the "P" in PEVL. PEVL is Arizona's "Permanent Early Voting List".

Governor Doug Ducey signed SB1485 into law last month (May 11), a measure that would stop mailing early ballots to people if they do not vote in four consecutive elections. Approximately 80% of Arizona's voters are on the permanent list, and there are already laws in place to keep the list accurate.

Eric Kramer, one of the group's leaders, tells Arizona's Politics that another referendum will be filed shortly on SB1003, and that additional ones may be filed if the Legislature passes any other "voter suppression" measures in its waning days.

Once the Legislature ends their regular session, the group will have 90 days to collect 118,823 valid signatures to place the law(s) on the November 2022 ballot. The laws would not go into effect unless Arizona voters approve of what the lawmakers passed (and Gov. Ducey signed into law).

The text of the bill is hereHere is the application filed with the Secretary of State.

For more details, here is our article from earlier in the week and the group's website.

8:30am: RELEASE THE KRAKEN...ATTORNEY: Alex Kolodin Plans To Run For State House Seat

The Arizona attorney who worked with Sidney Powell and the Trump team to bring several of the lawsuits claiming widespread fraud in Maricopa County's November elections wants to be on next year's ballot. Alex Kolodin last night filed a Statement of Interest to run for one of the State House seats in Legislative District 23.

Kolodin intends to run as a Republican and hopes to take the slot currently occupied by Rep. John Kavanagh (R). (Kavanagh is aiming to move back to the State Senate.) This is Kolodin's 2nd attempt to get to the legislature; he lost to Michelle Ugenti-Rita in the 2020 Senate primary.

Kolodin not only worked on several of the cases that unsuccessfully tried to un-do Donald Trump's loss in Arizona by alleging unsubstantiated fraud, but he briefly represented the Cyber Ninjas in the election audit case. Kolodin caused the first judge to recuse himself, unsuccessfully tried to keep his filings under seal, and was replaced (by Wilenchik & Bartness) on the second day of hearings. (The judge had to kick him out of the hearing after they tried to use the switch to delay the case.)

LD23 contains part of North Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and the surrounding area.

*****

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

BREAKING: AZ Reps. Biggs and Gosar among 14 OPPOSING setting Juneteenth as federal holiday

4:55pm: BREAKING: AZ Reps. Biggs and Gosar among 14 OPPOSING setting Juneteenth as federal holiday

Here is the 415-14 vote total this evening. The majority of the "nay" votes were from Confederate and slave-holding states. 

During debate, Republican Reps. took turns being upset that Juneteenth will be known as “JUNETEENTH National INDEPENDENCE Day” (and that they couldn't 1st be upset about it in committee). But, most were saying they would vote for it, reluctantly.

Here is the very short and sweet text of the bill. Juneteenth is observed as the date when many slaves learned of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation... two years later.

Here's a current list of federal holidays. 

At the close of debate on the bill, California Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) "went there". She asked the GOP "patriots" who are upset about the use of the word "independence" where they were on January 6. Can't pick and choose.

It passed in the Senate by unanimous consent yesterday and is now headed to the White House for President Biden's signature.


1:50pm: NEW: Gov. Ducey gets promise of border backup from FL's DeSantis;  "Details remain to be determined."

Here is DeSantis's news conference. It is at the 21:48 mark where he is asked for specifics, and explains that "details remain to be determined", and that the officers/deputies have been asked to stay 16 days. "It will be meaningful, but they do have day jobs."

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Trump Administration/Allies Pushed DOJ For Pre-Jan.6 Supreme Court Action To Order "Special Election" In Arizona, 5 Other States (ARIZONA POLITICAL SHORTS)

2:20pm: Trump Administration/Allies Pushed DOJ For Pre-Jan.6 Supreme Court Action To Order "Special Election" In Arizona, 5 Other States

Former President Donald Trump pressured the Department of Justice to file a pre-January 6* Supreme Court action to force a special election in Arizona and five other states. 

The DOJ and Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen pushed back, asking for previous caselaw that would support the arguments. Although they did not file such a case, even the pressure campaign from the White House was inappropriate and unethical, without either factual or legal support for the claims.

The House Oversight Committee released the documents earlier today, which it received in response to a letter last month to DOJ demanding documents related to the lead up to the violent January 6 takeover of Congress to halt the acceptance of the Electoral College results.

The Complaint that Trump would have had the DOJ file alleges that the states had "rampant fraud" and that the temporary court-ordered extension of the voter registration deadline helped lead to an illegal result in Arizona. It cites then State Senator Warren Peterson claiming "evidence of tampering, there is evidence of fraud" in Maricopa County.

Trump also enlisted private attorney Kurt Olsen to pressure the Attorney General into filing the action. Olsen had represented Texas in its ill-fated Supreme Court action (that was also pushed by Arizona Republican lawmakers), and he advised Arizona State Sen. Sonny Borrelli that he knew of technology that could help Borrelli piece together shredded ballots allegedly found in a dumpster.

To read the Complaint to nullify Arizona's election that President Trump wanted the Department of Justice to file with the Supreme Court, please visit our sister site, Arizona's Law.



11:15am: Referenda Petitions Being Prepared To Keep The "P" In PEVL, Maintain Ballot Curing

An Arizona progressive group announced today that they are preparing petitions to refer two Ducey-signed laws that would make it more difficult for Arizonans to vote and make sure their ballots are counted.

"Arizona Deserves Better" has been a registered PAC since 2019, with Janie Hydrick and Eric Kramer as its officers. Kramer indicates that attorneys are finalizing petitions and staff is being hired. He posted his update on the progressive Daily Kos site, seeking volunteers and donations.

The two separate petitions would be for SB1485 and SB1003. The first adds a second process to remove voters from the Permanent Early Voting List ("PEVL") if they fail to vote in four consecutive elections - and the latter shortens the "curing" period for early ballots when the voter failed to sign the return envelope.

Once the Legislature ends their regular session, the group will have 90 days to collect 118,823 valid signatures to place the law(s) on the November 2022 ballot. The laws would not go into effect unless Arizona voters approve of what the lawmakers passed (and Gov. Ducey signed into law). (Less than half of the states give citizens the right to effectively veto a legislative/Governor law.)


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Thursday, June 10, 2021

WATCH: FBI Director Chris Wray Questioned By Arizona Reps. Biggs, Stanton; FISA Courts, Murdered/Missing Indigenous Woman, Ransomware On the Table

FBI Director Chris Wray made one of his regular treks to Congress today, this time to be questioned by members of the (large) House Judiciary Committee. Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Greg Stanton both took their turns engaging Wray.

Rep. Biggs (R-CD5) used his five minutes to discuss the FBI's use - or mis-use - of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Surprisingly, it was not the investigation of Carter Page and the 2016 Trump campaign, but a substantive discussion about a recently-released FISC opinion about possible misuse of Section 702 surveillance certifications. (For more on the subject, here is an excellent article.)

The conversation ended with Biggs claiming there had been "improprieties" and Wray saying that the court knowingly did not use such a conclusory term.

Rep. Stanton (D-CD9) took his turn soon after. He focused on what efforts the FBI may be taking to combat the pressing issue of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. Wray noted the FBI's task force, this week's U.S. Supreme Court opinion that expanded authority for tribal police to detain non-Native Americans in their jurisdiction, and that he recently toured the Navajo Nation with their law enforcement - possibly the first FBI Director to take such a step to improve the working relationship.


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NEW, LISTEN: Rep. Kirkpatrick Working On Infrastructure, Including Frequent Contact With Senators Sinema, Kelly; Conversation Also Re: Immigration, "Moms Fed Up"

Arizona Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is working on getting an infrastructure bill passed through Congress and ensuring that Arizona is getting its share of funding for some of the projects in southern Arizona. She has been in frequent contact with Arizona's two Senators, at a time when Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is being thrust into a key deal-making position on the issue.

Kirkpatrick (D-CD2) is urging her colleagues to "going big on the infrastructure bill.  We really need to do major, major infrastructure investments."  Kirkpatrick is no longer part of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is the key group in the House that Sinema is aligning with.

Arizona's Politics had a few minutes late yesterday to speak with Kirkpatrick. The topics were her new Moms Fed Up effort to get more young mothers into Congress, the infrastructure bill, and - squeezed in -whether immigration reform can ever get accomplished.

Since then, Rep. Kirkpatrick issued a statement praising the House Transportation Committee's markup of a surface transportation bill which includes funds for several southern Arizona projects (including moving forward on a road which would connect I-19 and I-10 between Sahuarita and southeast Tucson, more north-south bus service in Tucson and projects in Cochise County).


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BREAKING: Arizona AG Brnovich Files Statement of Interest To Run For U.S. Senate Against Mark Kelly

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a Statement of Interest today indicating plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Mark Kelly (D).

Brnovich is termed out from running for re-election, and it has been widely assumed that he plans to run for the Senate seat. Brnovich has been on a major tour of Fox News (and their other networks') programs for the past three months - tallying up 36 promoted interviews between March 9 and June 10.

He is the first well-known person to file the Arizona-required Statement of Interest for the race, although other Republicans are said to be eying it.

Here's his announcement video. (I, for one, am disappointed he did not use the Grateful Dead's "U.S. Blues" as background music. What a missed opportunity.)

Mark Kelly won the seat last year by defeating Martha McSally. The Republicans have been pointing to it as one of their primary targets in 2022.



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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

"MOTHERS KNOW BEST": Outgoing Rep. Kirkpatrick Puts Her $400k+ War Chest Into New Effort To Put Young Moms In Congress

(UPDATE: To hear Arizona's Politics conversation with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick - covering this new effort as well as immigration reform and infrastructure - please click here.)

Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is hanging up her boots and retiring from Congress next year. However, she is using her campaign committee's cash on hand to jump start a new effort to elect young mothers to Congress.

"Moms Fed Up" is now officially* the new name of her campaign committee, and the $467,646 will go to the new PAC.

Kirkpatrick is serving her fifth non-consecutive term in Congress. She had two breaks - one when she was defeated and one when she ran against John McCain for his Senate seat. This third stint is coming to an end voluntarily.

“When I decided I would not seek re-election, I thought long and hard about my time in Congress, my colleagues, and the unresolved work that still desperately needs to get done. With those things in mind and in the midst of a pandemic, I landed on a new mission - we need to elect more moms. I am thrilled to be announcing that the “Kirkpatrick for Congress” campaign will be closing its doors so that "Moms Fed Up" can begin the new and necessary work for our children's future. After all, we know that mothers know best.”

As Arizona's Politics has detailed before, most elected officials hang on to their campaign committee's warchests upon retirement, the better to help friends and colleagues with, and/or to fund post-retirement political travel or expenses**. This seems to partly promote the former, with the added twist of trying to continue to raise donations.

The new organization's website is here.

*The committee had to refile amended paperwork with the Federal Election Commission after Arizona's Politics pointed out that it had inadvertently been registered as a Super PAC. Such a designation would have raised legal issues.

**Former Gov. Brewer was not a federal elected official, so her federal Super PAC was not subject to the same federal laws. Brewer recently spent down the remaining dollars in that fund, after years of paying it out to one of her children as salary.

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

NEW: Martha McSally Will Retake Her Senate Seat Representing Arizona This Summer --Donald Trump (ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS)

12:30pm: NEW: Martha McSally Will Retake Her Senate Seat Representing Arizona This Summer  --Donald Trump

Martha McSally will start her third stint as one of Arizona's U.S. Senators later this summer, according to former President Donald Trump.

Charles Cooke writes this afternoon for the conservative National Review that Trump has, indeed, been telling people that the Arizona Senate's recount/"audit" will help put him back in office by August (because it will start the dominos falling in other states). That confirms what the New York Times' Maggie Haberman reported earlier.

But, Cooke also writes that Trump believes McSally (R) (and former Georgia David Perdue) will also be reinstalled following recounts.

Of course, this flies in the face of established facts, and even Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann's declarations that the ongoing recount at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum is not something that could change the long-certified election results. Or, as Cooke puts it: "It is a rejection of reality, a rejection of law, and, ultimately, a rejection of the entire system of American government. There is no Reinstatement Clause within the United States Constitution."

McSally lost her seat to Mark Kelly (D-AZ) in November by 78,806 votes (more than 80,000 in Maricopa County). 


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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

NEW GUEST ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY: State Budget Bill Also Aims To Steal Power From Citizens Clean Elections Commission

Arizona's state budget bill was introduced yesterday, and it passed the House Appropriations Committee today on a 7-6 vote. Yesterday, we tweeted about the provision which temporarily takes power away from the Secretary of State and reassigns it to the Attorney General. This guest analysis and commentary from Tom Collins explains how it also grabs power from the voter-approved Citizens Clean Elections Commission. (Below the analysis is the current text of the budget bill.)

For those of you who don’t know, Clean Elections is Arizona’s bipartisan, voter approved, anti corruption and voter education law. 

There is really nothing like it in the country. 

We provide voter education, correctives for mis and disinformation, and access to information for voters in each corner of the state. We also provide financing for candidates who chose to set aside large private and pac donations and abide by strict spending rules, breaking the link between dollars and political favors. 

So it’s no surprise the new budget bills take aim at clean elections. 

*HB2891*

First, Section 15

This section provides that GRRC, The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, can reach out strike Commission rules on its own recognizance, rather than requiring a petition or any notice to the public.  

In other words the Governor’s council could override Commission decisions at will. This is contrary to the Voter Protection Act. 

Under Prop. 306 (2018) and  Prop. 200 (1998) this is an amendment requiring a three-quarter vote as applied to the Clean Elections Act.  

I have yet to hear any lawyer, including the legislators own, suggest that expanding GRRC's authority over the Commission does not constitute an amendment. 

Notably, GRRC is entirely appointed by the Governor, while the CeC is appointed partly by the Governor and partly by the Secretary. So this provision is a double whammy. 

Second, Section 24 is written so broadly that it appears to seek to amend or supersede the Clean Elections Act.  It does this primarily by designating the Attorney General as " the. . . sole authority in all election litigation to direct the defense of election law."  This section expires with the current terms of the AG and the SOS. 

However,  the language making the AG the sole authority directly contradicts the Commission's express authority to intervene in cases where the constitutionality of the act is in question, among other things.  ARS 16-960. 

While the bill may be aimed at Secretary Hobbs, it seeks to inflict clear legal damage on the Clean Elections Act. It does so by attempting to preempt the role of defending clean elections that the voters granted to the Commission. 

Likewise, Subsection A. of Section 24, which alters the relationship between the AG and election officials, appears to usurp the Arizona Supreme Court's authority to determine the scope of conflicts for government law firms.  See Ariz. Supreme Court Rule 42, Ethical Rule 1.13, cmt. 9 (stating conflict rules governing organization apply to government organizations.). 

You might wonder why the AG needs to be relieved from these rules. One reason is they prevent him from advising clients one way then suing them. 

Here, the bill provides the AG will not advise the SOS, leaving CEC as the agency that must rely on attorneys who reserve the right to sue their clients. This is troubling for anyone concerned about the independence of the agencies responsible for the 2022 election. 

While these issues may not grab the headlines of some of the other provisions of these bills they are nevertheless serious legal problems that undermine the confidence of the public not only in elections, but in government ethics and transparency. 

Tom Collins is the Executive Director of Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission. 

Arizona's Law/Arizona's Politics occasionally runs guest commentaries and analysis. If you would like to submit a column, please email to Paul . Weich . AZlaw @ gmail.com (without spaces).


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