FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

GET YOUR EXERCISE: Rep. McSally On Her Bill To Conduct Large Scale Anti-Terrorism Exercise Re: Americans-Turned-Foreign-Fighters

(Update, 4:15pm: Rep. McSally's office informs Arizona's Politics that the House vote on H.R. 1302 is now planned for tomorrow (Thursday).)

he House debated a bill from Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) today, which would require that the U.S. Government conduct a large scale exercise probing weaknesses in dealing with Americans who travel abroad and return to commit acts of terror.

Here is McSally's explanation of H.R. 1302:


The bill  is expected to pass the House before the end of the week.


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UPDATE: Gosar Bill Removing Antitrust Exemption From Health/Dental Insurance Passes House 416-7

(Update, 4:10pm: Rep. Gallego's office informs Arizona's Politics that the Congressman "actually voted no by mistake", and that he will submit a statement to that effect tomorrow.)

Yesterday, we reported on the bipartisan support for Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar's (R-CD4) bill removing an antitrust exemption from health and dental insurance companies. Though H.R. 372 only had Republican co-sponsors, the Democratic debaters announced their support for it.

Today, the bill passed 416-7. Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) was among the Democrats who voted against it. (See "update" noting that the vote was mistakenly cast.) (Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) did not vote.)

The debate yesterday focused on how much of an effect the bill would have, the larger healthcare/ health insurance debate, and who should get credit for the bill (House Democrats had passed it in 2010 - with bipartisan support - although it died when it did not become part of the larger Affordable Care Act).

In light of the fierce debate surrounding the Republicans' repeal-and-replace efforts, the prospects for this modest measure is also uncertain.


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LISTEN: Dark Money Group Bombards Gosar, Schweikert, Franks To Support Trump-Ryan Health Insurance Bill; Conservative Talk Radio Ads, Robocalls

The dark money American Action Network is targeting Arizona Republican Representatives Franks, Gosar and Schweikert with talk radio ads and robocalls, in an effort to get them to support the Trump-Ryan-GOP-conservative healthcare reform bill that is set to come to a vote tomorrow.

One small change between the robocalls started last week and the radio ad running on KFYI yesterday through tomorrow? Last week, the AAN - which backs the House GOP Leadership - touted the AHCA as both President Trump's and Speaker Ryan's; the new ad only emphasizes the President's support.

The new ad is costing only $3,000 per day on the state's largest conservative talk radio station, KFYI. No word on how much was spent on the robocalls last week.

Reps. Paul Gosar (R-CD4), David Schweikert (R-CD5) and Trent Franks (R-CD8) are all linked to the more conservative House Freedom Caucus, which is vowing to bring down the bill.

#50ShadesOfDarkMoney

AAN is a 501(c )(4 ) social welfare organization that does not disclose its donors. A number of "grant recipients" have reported receiving money from AAN in IRS filings.

AAN receives a dark gray shade of 45 on Arizona's Politics' #50ShadesOfDarkMoney scale.

(h/t to Politico)





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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

READY FOR VOTE: Rep. Gosar Bill Removing Antitrust Exemption From Health and Dental Insurance

(UPDATE, 12:20pm: Gosar Communications Director Steven Smith informs Arizona's Politics that the vote on Rep. Gosar's bill will take place tomorrow, separately from the rest of AHCA (aka Trumpcare). He also notes that the White House came out in favor of it today, as well.

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) has successfully pushed a bill to remove the antitrust exemption from health insurance and dental insurance to the House floor today, as part of a Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The bill - H.R. 372 - is proposed as a way of encouraging competition in the health and dental insurance markets, and is a favorite of the American Dental Association. Dr. Gosar was a practicing dentist before entering Congress, and the ADA has been his biggest Congressional supporter.

Gosar notes that his bill "liberates the insurance industry and doctors and empowers patients" by removing the portion of the McCarran-Ferguson Act that grants an antitrust exemption to  health and dental insurance companies. (Here is his news release on the bill.)


Democrats debating the measure on the House Floor today are indicating that they support Gosar's bill and that they overwhelmingly - and in a bipartisan manner - passed "substantively similar"  (Cecilline) legislation in 2010.  Instead, the Democrats are arguing that HR372 is being oversold and neither permits health/dental insurance to be sold across similar lines nor increases competition on its own. They are also concerned that Republicans are attempting to "put lipstick on a pig". (Jackson Lee)

The American Dental Association has lobbied hard for this measure, and - among other things - has sent this explanatory letter:




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Monday, March 20, 2017

(BREAKING) PARDON ME? Arpaio Not Catching A Break (Yet) From (Trump's) DOJ In Criminal Contempt Trial

While there has been much speculation that former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio might catch a break - even a Presidential pardon - in his criminal contempt trial now that Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice, the DOJ today opposed even a two-month continuance of the trial currently scheduled for April 25.

As reported by Brahm Resnik of KPNX-TV, new co-counsel for Arpaio filed a plea for the continuance on Friday, noting that his only son's Bar Mitzvah was scheduled for April 29. (The Motion for Continuance is reproduced below.) The Motion also claims that the government's inclusion of Tim Casey as a likely witness also warranted the additional time to prepare.

The Department of Justice wasted no time in filing its Opposition to the request, submitting it to the Court this afternoon. The Response (see below) notes that new co-counsel Mark Goldman was actually present at the January 25 hearing which continued the trial until April 25 and that lead counsel Mel McDonald told Judge Susan Bolton that he was going to be bringing on Goldman (or other counsel) to the case.

The DOJ also notes that Casey  - the former attorney hired by Maricopa County -  is not a surprise witness and that he testified in the civil contempt trial. The Government also notes that there are no privilege issues (as Goldman claims) remaining which would justify delay.

Arpaio himself has been busy raising funds to pay his expanding attorney roster (as well as for his new social welfare organization).




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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

READ: Arizona Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects Chambers of Commerce Challenge To Minimum Wage Increase

With the formal opinion to follow, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously made quick work rejecting a post-election challenge to the initiative increasing Arizona's minimum wage and requiring paid sick time.

Proposition 206 passed easily. Rather than waging a vocal campaign before November 8, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce (and other Chambers) decided to try a legal challenge after the fact.

The newly-expanded Supreme Court did not take kindly to the effort, and issued a brief order at 4:50pm (without its usual practice - for opinions - of notifying attorneys in advance that a decision is coming the next day).

Oral argument had just been held this past Thursday.


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SOLICITATION: Sheriff Arpaio's New Dark Money Social Welfare Organization (BREAKING)

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is soliciting funds for his new "Joe Arpaio Action Fund". He has set it up as a social welfare organization under Section 501(c)(4) (of the Internal
Revenue Code), which allows him to accept unlimited donations while not disclosing the contributors, as well as to expend less than half of their funds on political activities.

The fundraising email sent out today by his former campaign manager Chad Willems over Arpaio's signature (published below) repeats his invective that President Obama's Justice Department - combined with the millions spent by George Soros - was responsible for his re-election loss last fall. He says he is forming the JAAF to "build an organization that promotes a conservative agenda, helps conservative ideas become law and help those conservatives win office." The IRS defines "social welfare" as "promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the people of the community".

It is possible that the JAAF will voluntarily disclose donors, and it is required to file an annual report with the IRS. Arizona's Politics is seeking additional information about their intentions.

The former Sheriff - who is staring at an impending trial in his criminal contempt case - is not on the Board of Directors of his new social welfare organization. That honor falls to Chris Hegstrom (his last Communications Director when he was the Sheriff), Charles Edwards and Tempe mortgage broker Dan Wickner.

Today's fundraising plea comes two weeks after one from Arpaio - for his equally opaque legal defense fund - admitting that he can no longer afford to pay his high-priced attorneys in his criminal contempt proceedings. Sheriff Joe put out the February 28 emergency plea to his many thousands of contributors in an email.
"Today is the last day of February and my legal bills for the month are due. Thanks to the help of caring and patriotic Americans like you I have been able to pay of (sic) much of my debt, but I am still $2,500 short." 
This IS, in fact, "urgent" as Arpaio is facing an April 25th trial in the criminal contempt case brought against him by the (Obama) Department of Justice, and there has not yet been any sign that new Attorney General Jeff Sessions is backing away from the case.

Of course, Arpaio has nearly $600,000 left in his campaign account ($587,271.60 as of December 31, 2016). However, by state law, that money cannot be converted to personal use.

Arizona's Politics has asked Arpaio's Chad Willems for more information on both the new 501(c)(4) and the legal defense fund, and will update as merited.

************************************************************************
Dear Friend,

You were such a tremendous supporter of mine through the years while I was Sheriff of Maricopa County. I cannot tell you how much your support meant to me and my wife Ava through so many difficult times.

Unfortunately, last November I lost my battle for re-election. It wasn't because I lacked the support of so many great patriots like you.

Rather, I was the victim of a perfect storm comprised of a national and local media that was hell-bent on distorting my record, maligning me personally and not telling the whole truth.

On top of that, none other than the far-left George Soros spent nearly $4 million in attack ads against me that were nasty, vicious, and deceptive. 


And on top of that the Obama Justice Department, in a pure political move, announced they were filing criminal contempt of court charges against me the day before critical early voting started here in Arizona. Finally, with two weeks to go before the election, they formally filed charges against me.

The actions by the Obama Justice Department were completely politically motivated. Their rush to file a misdemeanor charge against me so close to the election was politically calculated in order to cause my campaign for re-election the most harm.

This was the same Justice Department that let so many of their own off the hook. 

Think about this: Hillary Clinton "allegedly" jeopardized national security and destroyed evidence; Lois Lerner as head of the IRS violated the civil rights of thousands of citizens; Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress; and none of them faced any consequences.

Thus, I was defeated at the ballot box - all because of my unwavering support for enforcing illegal immigration laws - and being so outspoken about the federal government's failure to do their job.

But, as I have said to you time and time again, I never back down from a fight and I never surrender. And I'm not about to now. While I may no longer be the Sheriff, I still believe in order for our Republic to stand, we must enforce the Rule of Law. 

So I'm going to continue to fight for the shared conservative values we hold so dear. After serving 55 years in law enforcement as a top director of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, including 24 years as an elected Sheriff, I'll be fighting for our values as a private citizen.

Recently, I formed the "Sheriff Joe Arpaio Action Fund" which I will use to counter the likes of George Soros who use their billions to influence public policy and elections. I learned a lot of lessons during my last campaign, but chief among them is that we can never idly sit by and get comfortable. Our cause must be vigilant, ever-ready to counter the progressive left's lies and deceit.

Obviously, I am not a billionaire who can write a personal check to buy elections across this country (like Soros!). But what I can do is reach out to loyal supporters like you and ask for your help. Together we can build an organization that promotes a conservative agenda, helps conservative ideas become law and help those conservatives win office.

So many of you have reached out to me since the election with heart-felt words of encouragement and support and asked what else they could do to help.

I'm asking for your support now. I know that if we work together we can build an organization that will strike fear into the heart of the progressive left movement and serve as a vehicle to move a conservative agenda forward.

Please don't skip over this email. Please make a contribution today to the Sheriff Joe Arpaio Action Fund. We can and will do great things together, but I need you on board today to get this organization rolling. The mid-term elections will be here before we know it. The radical left in this country is more energized than ever before to defeat President Trump's agenda. We simply cannot go to sleep on this. It's critical we all stay engaged and continue pushing for what we know is right.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I'm excited about this new chapter in my life and I'll never stop doing what I know is right.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Maricopa County, Arizona (retired)

P.S. Please don't delete this email. Your support for the Sheriff Joe Arpaio Action Fund today is critical if we are going to counter the progressive left's efforts to demonize President Trump and conservatism as a whole. If we don't stand up and fight, who else will? 


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Monday, March 13, 2017

WATCH: Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego Blasts Speaker Paul Ryan As "One Of the Best Liars...In the World"

Hours before House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) reacted to the new CBO scoring of the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) took to a national stage (at SXSW) to call Ryan "one of the best liars I have ever seen in the world."

Gallego was a featured speaker at Politico's Playbook Exchange, and he did not hold back. When one of the moderators interrupted to say it was being taped, Gallego replied that he was "being tame" and that "he clearly will go on TV and say, like, well, no one's going to lose coverage, and all these kinds of things that are just clear lies, and for me it is extremely personal."
<iframe src='//players.brightcove.net/1155968404/r1WF6V0Pl_default/index.html?videoId=5357860289001' allowfullscreen frameborder=0></iframe>

Later in the day, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released its cost estimate, estimating that while the repeal and replace measure would further reduce budget deficits by a total of $337B over the next 10 years, it would also increase the number of Americans without any health insurance by 24M over the same time period.

Ryan praised the CBO's report:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">CBO report confirms it → American Health Care Act will lower premiums &amp; improve access to quality, affordable care. <a href="https://t.co/jNzmYFPe9H">https://t.co/jNzmYFPe9H</a> <a href="https://t.co/f0NGuLiztl">pic.twitter.com/f0NGuLiztl</a></p>&mdash; Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) <a href="https://twitter.com/SpeakerRyan/status/841388103529058304">March 13, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Gallego released a statement calling the CBO's estimate "an embarrassment to Paul Ryan, the Republican Party and the conservative movement."

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

McSally's Town Halls Range From Open to Closed; Giffords Tells Republicans (Other Than McSally) To Face Constituents (READ)

As she was about to begin an open town hall in Sahuarita this afternoon, Rep. Martha McSally's (R-CD2) office sent out a release to the media announcing another town hall tomorrow, in Tucson.


A town hall meeting at a manufacturing facility? Sounded a little odd. Communications Director Pat Ptak confirmed to Arizona's Politics that the session would only be for the employees at Arizona Optical Systems.

Town halls have once again become a hot-button topic, as Trump opponents have made Congressmembers' town halls a focal point in expressing opposition to Republicans.

Earlier today, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert invoked the 2011 attempted assassination of McSally's predecessor, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as a reason for Republicans to avoid town hall gatherings. Six people were killed and 13 were wounded in that mass shooting at Giffords' constituent meeting event.

Giffords immediately retorted that her office was open to voters walking in the Monday following that Saturday shooting (while she was still in the hospital), and that Representatives have to have the courage to face their constituents.

Here is her full statement:




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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BREAKING/READ: Arizona Supreme Court Sets Oral Arguments On Minimum Wage Increase Challenge

The Arizona Supreme Court decided today that it would like to hear oral arguments on the Arizona Chamber of Commerce's lawsuit challenging the voter-approved minimum wage increase.

The Justices set a 40-minute oral argument for March 9. They only want to hear arguments regarding the claim that the measure forces the state to spend money and the appropriate relief. They rejected the arguments put forth by the Chambers of Commerce that the initiative violated state law by addressing two different issues (minimum wage and paid time off).

The Chambers will have 20 minutes to argue their case, and the State of Arizona and its agencies will have 10 minutes. The committee that passed the initiative - Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families - will have 10 minutes to defend.



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Thursday, February 9, 2017

TODAY'S TRUMP TWITTER TRASHING TARGET: McCain Again In Crosshairs; Endures It In Silence, While Friends Successfully Come To His Defense

Arizona Senator John McCain remained tight-lipped on becoming Today's Trump Twitter Trashing Target(tm pending), as the President renewed his attacks on "our hero" McCain. However, Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle rushed to McCain's defense.

Trump lashed out at McCain's mild criticism of the U.S. raid on an al Qaeda facility in Yemen which resulted in the death of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. McCain had originally called the operation "a failure", but his statement this week indicated that any operation which results in loss of American lives should not be called "a success".

That was enough for President Donald Trump to re-lash out at McCain in his regularly-scheduled tweets of the morning. Here is the three tweet series (read from bottom tweet, up)


The seemingly-sarcastic "our hero", and the references to "embolden(ing) the enemy" and "losing" all bring back to mind Trump's previous Twitter trashings of McCain and the period (after the Republican National Convention) when Trump and McCain temporarily endorsed each other.

While McCain has remained silent today about the tweets - he is handling a hearing on Afghanistan - other Senators have expressed their feelings about the simultaneously offensive and defensive Trump tweets. As the Washington Post reported:
But other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in both parties, had plenty to say to Trump in McCain’s defense.
“That’s a dangerous error, for President Trump to continue to trash John McCain,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Fla.), adding that McCain “is a guy who knows what he’s talking about” when it comes to the military.
McCain’s closest friend in the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added that the Trump administration should be more careful about how he tries to cast the Yemen raid to the public.
“One thing I would advise the Trump administration is: Don’t oversell success,” Graham said, noting that he thought the Obama administration oversold the success of various missions, to its detriment. He also advised to focus on finding common ground with Congress instead of picking fights with members like McCain.
“I don’t think President Trump will have a better ally in the United States Congress when it comes to rebuilding the military than John McCain,” Graham said.
One of Trump's earliest dust-ups in his successful Presidential campaign was when he said that McCain is not his idea of a war hero because he had been captured. His ability to weather the uproar and outrage from those statements was repeatedly pointed to as his ability to say very politically incorrect things and not only weather the storm but gather strength.

Arizona might also be the only state that has repeatedly seen both of its Senators receive twitter trashings from Trump. The now-President has taken offense to Sen. Jeff Flake's standing up to him last year and his statements that he was not sure if he would vote for Trump in November.


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