Thursday, July 27, 2017

BREAKING/READ: Flake Briefly Pauses Healthcare Debate, Takes Lead On Releasing Donated Funds For Capitol Police Wounded In Baseball Shooting

Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) hit pause on the Senate's healthcare debate this morning (AZ time) in order to pass an emergency bill to authorize the release of some of the donated funds to the two U.S.
Capitol Police officers injured last month in the Congressional Baseball Classic practice shooting.

Flake - who himself was one of the heroes during that June 14 incident - asked for unanimous consent to pass the Wounded Officers Recovery Act (H.R. 3298). It was quickly given and the general debate on our healthcare system resumed.
(To play video, click here. It will open in new window.)

U.S. Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey were at the early morning practice, and engaged in a shootout with the would-be assassin (he was killed). They have been treated and released. Their protectee, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, was injured and got out of the hospital this week.

Donations poured in to the U.S. Capitol Police Memorial Fund in Griner and Bailey's honor. However, federal law only permits families of killed officers to receive donated monies donated to the fund. Today's measure specifically adds Griner and Bailey to the permitted recipients. (Text below)

The bipartisan bill was co-sponsored in the House by Arizona Reps. Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) and Ruben Gallego (D-CD7).

The measure was passed by unanimous consent in the House on Monday and now heads to the President.

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

TRANSCRIPT: McCain Floor Speech

UPDATE, 1:05pm: Have added the prepared text, as just released by the Senator's office. You can try to compare it to the closed-captioning and/or the video.

Here is the video and the closed-captioning transcript of Arizona Senator John McCain's impassioned plea for the Senate to get back to being "the world's greatest deliberative body." The closed captioning was provided by C-Span (and is not always fully accurate)

(Click on the picture below, the video will pop up in a new window.)

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
“Mr. President:
“I’ve stood in this place many times and addressed as president many presiding officers. I have been so addressed when I have sat in that chair, as close as I will ever be to a presidency.
“It is an honorific we’re almost indifferent to, isn’t it. In truth, presiding over the Senate can be a nuisance, a bit of a ceremonial bore, and it is usually relegated to the more junior members of the majority.
“But as I stand here today – looking a little worse for wear I’m sure – I have a refreshed appreciation for the protocols and customs of this body, and for the other ninety-nine privileged souls who have been elected to this Senate.
“I have been a member of the United States Senate for thirty years.  I had another long, if not as long, career before I arrived here, another profession that was profoundly rewarding, and in which I had experiences and friendships that I revere. But make no mistake, my service here is the most important job I have had in my life. And I am so grateful to the people of Arizona for the privilege – for the honor – of serving here and the opportunities it gives me to play a small role in the history of the country I love.
“I’ve known and admired men and women in the Senate who played much more than a small role in our history, true statesmen, giants of American politics. They came from both parties, and from various backgrounds. Their ambitions were frequently in conflict. They held different views on the issues of the day. And they often had very serious disagreements about how best to serve the national interest.
“But they knew that however sharp and heartfelt their disputes, however keen their ambitions, they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic. And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and to defend her from her adversaries.
“That principled mindset, and the service of our predecessors who possessed it, come to mind when I hear the Senate referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body. I’m not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today.
“I’m sure it wasn’t always deserved in previous eras either. But I’m sure there have been times when it was, and I was privileged to witness some of those occasions.
“Our deliberations today – not just our debates, but the exercise of all our responsibilities – authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role – are often lively and interesting. They can be sincere and principled. But they are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember. Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren’t producing much for the American people.
“Both sides have let this happen. Let’s leave the history of who shot first to the historians. I suspect they’ll find we all conspired in our decline – either by deliberate actions or neglect. We’ve all played some role in it. Certainly I have. Sometimes, I’ve let my passion rule my reason. Sometimes, I made it harder to find common ground because of something harsh I said to a colleague. Sometimes, I wanted to win more for the sake of winning than to achieve a contested policy.
“Incremental progress, compromises that each side criticize but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn’t glamorous or exciting. It doesn’t feel like a political triumph. But it’s usually the most we can expect from our system of government, operating in a country as diverse and quarrelsome and free as ours. 
“Considering the injustice and cruelties inflicted by autocratic governments, and how corruptible human nature can be, the problem solving our system does make possible, the fitful progress it produces, and the liberty and justice it preserves, is a magnificent achievement.
“Our system doesn’t depend on our nobility. It accounts for our imperfections, and gives an order to our individual strivings that has helped make ours the most powerful and prosperous society on earth.  It is our responsibility to preserve that, even when it requires us to do something less satisfying than ‘winning.’ Even when we must give a little to get a little. Even when our efforts manage just three yards and a cloud of dust, while critics on both sides denounce us for timidity, for our failure to ‘triumph.’ 
“I hope we can again rely on humility, on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us. Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.
“Let’s trust each other. Let’s return to regular order. We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That’s an approach that’s been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.
“We’re getting nothing done. All we’ve really done this year is confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Our healthcare insurance system is a mess. We all know it, those who support Obamacare and those who oppose it. Something has to be done. We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will. All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.
“I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it.
“We’ve tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it’s better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don’t think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn’t.
“The Obama administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition support a social and economic change as massive as Obamacare. And we shouldn’t do the same with ours.
“Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act. If this process ends in failure, which seem likely, then let’s return to regular order. 
“Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.
“What have we to lose by trying to work together to find those solutions? We’re not getting much done apart. I don’t think any of us feels very proud of our incapacity. Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn’t the most inspiring work. There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.
“The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying.
“This place is important. The work we do is important. Our strange rules and seemingly eccentric practices that slow our proceedings and insist on our cooperation are important. Our founders envisioned the Senate as the more deliberative, careful body that operates at a greater distance than the other body from the public passions of the hour.
“We are an important check on the powers of the Executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and in many respects to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!
“As his responsibilities are onerous, many and powerful, so are ours.  And we play a vital role in shaping and directing the judiciary, the military, and the cabinet, in planning and supporting foreign and domestic policies. Our success in meeting all these awesome constitutional obligations depends on cooperation among ourselves. 
“The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America. This country – this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good and magnificent country – needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations.
“We are the servants of a great nation, ‘a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’ More people have lived free and prosperous lives here than in any other nation. We have acquired unprecedented wealth and power because of our governing principles, and because our government defended those principles.
“America has made a greater contribution than any other nation to an international order that has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have been the greatest example, the greatest supporter and the greatest defender of that order. We aren’t afraid. We don’t covet other people’s land and wealth. We don’t hide behind walls. We breach them. We are a blessing to humanity.
“What greater cause could we hope to serve than helping keep America the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice? That is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us.
“What a great honor and extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body.
“It’s a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it. Many of you have reached out in the last few days with your concern and your prayers, and it means a lot to me. It really does. I’ve had so many people say such nice things about me recently that I think some of you must have me confused with someone else. I appreciate it though, every word, even if much of it isn’t deserved. 
“I’ll be here for a few days, I hope managing the floor debate on the defense authorization bill, which, I’m proud to say is again a product of bipartisan cooperation and trust among the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“After that, I’m going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And, I hope, to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.
“Thank you, fellow senators."


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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sen. Flake Deciding Vote On New Obamacare Repeal Effort?

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R) - up for re-election next year, not coincidentally - is in the glare of the national spotlight today as the possible deciding vote on the latest Senate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Politico splashed his photo on their lead story this morning (below)

"I'm still digesting it," the Senator told reporters this morning after the new version was released. "I'll be doing that for awhile," he added.

Flake is facing mounting pressure from both his right and his left. Texas Senator Ted Cruz singled him out for praise this morning on KFYI this morning, after Flake told the station that he would be supporting Cruz' amendment permitting non-compliant plans to be sold alongside Obamacare-compliant health insurance policies.

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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

BREAKING: Godfather Paul Manafort's Arizona Campaign Contribution To Family Friend Winds Up In Trump/Russia Investigation Filing

In 2012, former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker accepted campaign contributions from close
friends who also happen to be the godparents of his son. This week - in 2017 - one of those donations was listed in godfather Paul Manafort's long-delayed filings of his work on behalf of the pro-Russian political party that controlled Ukraine's government.

Manafort was Donald Trump's Campaign Manager for a period in 2016, and is a key figure in the ongoing investigations into ties between Trump (and his campaign), and Russia (and Russian interests). This week, he belatedly filed required Foreign Agents Registration Act ("FARA") documents with the U.S. Department of Justice, indicating that he had received more than $17M in two years from the Ukrainian client.

Buried in one of those filings (also, reproduced below) is the surprising entry that Manafort donated
$2,500 on August 24, 2012, to Vernon Parker for "Arizona State Office". (That is materially incorrect - Parker was running for U.S. Congress from Arizona's 9th Congressional District; he was the Republican nominee, but lost to now-Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.)

Sure enough, the contribution shows up in Parker's FEC (Federal Election Commission) report, as being a personal contribution from Manafort.

As it turns out, over the years, Parker has received more contributions (nearly $10,000) from Manafort and his wife Kathy than any other candidate for federal office received (including Trump, McCain, Bush, and the few Congressional candidates the Manaforts supported).

Parker told Arizona's Politics this afternoon that the contributions had nothing to do with Manafort's work with the Ukrainian party. "At no time have I ever discussed Ukraine, Russia or any other foreign entity with Paul... our relationship has always been personal."

Parker explained just how close the Parkers & Manaforts have been:
"I met Paul Manafort through his wife Kathy Manafort. I was editor-in-chief of the Georgetown University "American criminal law review": Kathy was on the law journal. We have been family friends of theirs for nearly 30 years. We had our wedding reception at their home 26 years ago. Paul and Kathy Manafort are our son's God Parents."
Arizona's Politics - which has reported on Parker several times through his two runs for Congress and one for the Arizona Corporation Commission - asked Parker whether he had any thoughts about the investigations that Manafort now finds himself embroiled in. The local business consultant stated. "Theoretically, we are always presumed innocent until proven wife and I have known Paul and his wife Kathy on a personal level. They have been friends for many years and will remain our friends."

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.

Monday, June 26, 2017

READ: CBO's Report On Senate Healthcare Reform Bill

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

READ: Senate's Bill To Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Here is the draft bill that the Senate will be moving forward on to repeal and replace Obamacare. They are calling it the ‘‘Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017’’.

No word yet on reaction from Arizona's Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake. (to be updated)

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WATCH: McCain Publicly Takes Trump Nominee To Woodshed For Being Wishy-Washy Re: Ukraine/Russia

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took President Trump's nominee for Deputy Defense Secretary in front of the Congressional woodshed this morning, for being too non-committal about providing defense weaponry to Ukraine.
 Former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan verbally agreed today that the U.S. should assist Ukraine as the tensions between that country and Russia continue to be high. His change from his written responses caught McCain by surprise, but that did not prevent the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee from finishing the scolding and threatening to stop his confirmation process.

McCain: "Your answer was, I'd have to look at the issue. That's not good enough, Mr. Shanahan. I'm glad to hear you have changed your opinion from what was submitted. But, it is still disturbing, it is still disturbing to me that after all of these years, you would say that you would have to look at the issue....Have you not been aware of the thousands of people that have been killed by Vladimir Putin. Have you missed all that...?"
Shanahan: "No, Chairman, I am aware of that."

The rest of the three minutes is just as testy, and it ended thusly:

McCain: "Not a good beginning. Not a good beginning. Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or. I. will. not. take. your. name. up. for. a. vote. before. this committee.  Am I perfectly clear?
Shanahan: "Very clear."

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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

WATCH: Arizona Rep. McSally: "We Need To Look Within Our Hearts And Make Sure We're Not Being Facilitators Or Bystanders"

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) took to the Saturday airwaves from Tucson on both Fox News and MSNBC to try to get everyone to "ratchet down" the record-approaching political temperature. She included herself in preaching that "we need to look within our hearts and make sure we're not being facilitators or bystanders."

This is the 4th day in a row that Arizona's Politics has featured Arizona officials searching for civility in the wake of both the shooting of five people - including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise - at a Republican baseball practice and the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson that took the lives of six and wounded 13 others. Among the seriously wounded at the latter were Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her replacement Ron Barber. (McSally defeated Barber on her second attempt, in 2014.)

We spoke with Barber on Wednesday, covered Rep. David Schweikert's national comments on Thursday, and an interview with Rep. Trent Franks yesterday after it was learned that he may have been an eventual target of the Congressional baseball practice shooter.

As we said yesterday, such a streak will likely have to continue for many more months before it might start to really make a difference in the current political climate and next year's elections. Here's to hoping.

Here are McSally's interviews on both networks.


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.

President Trump's New Personal Lawyer Very Familiar To Arizonans

President Donald Trump has hired big name attorney John Dowd to join his personal legal team as he battles various investigations focusing on possible ties to Russia, obstruction of justice, and related issues. Dowd is well-known to Arizonans, as he previously served as counsel for Senator John McCain and former Governor Fife Symington in the 1990's.

Dowd, now 76, joins Trump's longtime personal attorney Marc Kasowitz and Jay Sekulow as the most senior members of the growing legal team. He has been both prosecutor and defense attorney over the years.

He represented Sen. John McCain in the Arizona-centric Keating Five scandal in the early 1990's. Of the five Senators, McCain was personally closest  to the land developer/S&L CEO, Charles Keating, Jr. However, after a lengthy Senate Ethics Committee, McCain was cleared, with only official criticism of his poor judgment for intervening for the large campaign contributor (and personal vacation-sharer).

Former Arizona  Governor J. Fife Symington was not quite as fortunate. Dowd defended him in the trial for extortion and bank fraud. He was convicted on several counts of the latter, and resigned from office. The conviction was then reversed on appeal and he was pardoned by President Bill Clinton before any retrial could occur.

Arizona's Politics has asked the Senator for comment on Trump's hiring of his former counsel, and will update as warranted. McCain has fretted publicly about the President's comments and actions concerning the investigations and fiercely criticized any friendliness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? President Earns Increased Income From Defunct Trump University While Fmr Students Wait For $25M Settlement

The President filed his updated his personal financial disclosure statements and one item jumped out at me: somehow, Donald J. Trump made some money on his long-defunct Trump University last year while the former students waited for their refunds from the $25M court settlement.

In fact, the $38,542 in declared income almost matches the amount that former student Boyce Chait was owed* when he passed away this past January.

How the President was able to extract any money from the long-gone and under siege Trump U (later renamed the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative) is a mystery, although one that might have been explained in the class-action litigation that was settled shortly before it was to go to trial.

Equally concerning is why Trump would allow any money to be taken out when the case was pending (and, when he knew it would have to be disclosed). Through his entities, Trump owns all but 8% of the entity. (Jonathan Spitalny and Michael Sexton own 3.5% and 4.5%, respectively.)

In his previous financial disclosure statement, filed in 2015 after he announced his candidacy, indicated that he had received $11,819 in income from Trump University.

The settlement was approved in March, although payments are on hold because of an appeal by one of the former students.

*The USA Today report indicates that he had paid $34,995 in "tuition", and that the settlement would pay back some "90 cents on the dollar".

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.