Friday, January 19, 2018

WATCH: CODE WORD ALERT: Mark Steyn On Fox News Decries "Cultural Transformation" That Makes Arizona's Future Part Of Mexico (COMMENTARY)

(Arizona's Politics is an independent, non-partisan political news blog. When we engage in analysis or commentary, we attempt to label it as such. This article may be classified as "commentary".)
"Arizona's future is as an Hispanic society," said conservative talker Mark Steyn last night on Fox News. Citing an unsupported claim that "a majority of the grade school children are now Hispanic," Steyn claims that, "in effect", Arizona is now part of Mexico.

When Arizona's Politics came across his quote in a tweet from Fox News, we immediately searched for the full video, hoping that the context would show it to be a little less... uhhh... racist. No such luck, the video added the "cultural transformation" angle to his comments. (He analogized Arizona's future to Sweden's own cultural transformation into a Muslim country.)

(video will open in new window; Arizona comments start at 3:50)
First, Steyn makes an unsupported claim that "a majority" of grade school students in Arizona are Hispanic. Arizona's Politics searched for any figures that would back him up on that. The closest was a 2016 article by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, which went through state data to conclude that 44% of all students (not just grade school) were Hispanic. We asked AZCIR - a worthy non-profit, by the way - to help update that data. They did, and found out that 45.9% of students in Grades 3-8 are Hispanic. (We have reached out to Mr. Steyn for additional information and comments, and will supplement as necessary.)

Second and more importantly, Steyn's seemingly-uneducated - Arizona has always had a culture with large elements of Hispanic and Native American, and part was purchased from Mexico - and definitely-European-centric remarks can only fan the flames of fear and divisiveness.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson's reaction to the pronouncement that anyone who does not support the hardest of hard-line immigration stances is guilty of permitting Mexico to take over one of the 50 United States was not reassuring. He gave typical Carlson responses of "bewildering" and "it's real".

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Quote of the Day? Grijalva Characterizes Zinke/EPA Wobbling On Offshore Drilling And Florida

Early #QOTD entry from AZ @RepRaulGrijalva, at hearing re: Administration's wobbling on offshore drilling near FL coasts:

"Instead of carefully following laws and regulations, this administration writes policy on a napkin, announces it on social media and calls it a day."

Rest of his quote: "Our nation’s oceans and coastlines are being managed by an out-of-control administration with incompetent top leadership. Secretary Zinke’s tweet either represents official policy, in which case he’ll lose in court, or it doesn’t, in which case he shouldn’t have announced it in the first place. Both options are deeply embarrassing for this administration and unacceptable to the American people who demand better environmental stewardship.”

At a hearing of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee moments ago, Walter Cruickshank, acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), said Florida is not off the table for offshore drilling activities, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tweeted statement a few days ago following a hasty meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). Cruickshank’s statement calls into question the entire process behind Zinke’s tweet and raises serious questions about who sets drilling policy for the nation’s coastlines.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

BREAKING: Good News - FEC Quickly Removes Filing By Crazy Trying To Use FEC To Raise "Reward" Money To Assassinate President

(UPDATES below article)

Arizona's Politics has confirmed that the Federal Elections Commission today intentionally removed a public filing made yesterday by a crazy soliciting "reward" contributions for his plan to assassinate President Donald Trump.

Upon checking the listings of newly-filed campaign committees, etc., Arizona's Politics noticed the unusual and scary committee titled "I Am Going to Assassinate President Donald J Trump". Wanting to make sure that it had not been filed by some crazy person located in Arizona, we did more checking.

The FEC indicated that "No Committee Records found".  Further checking indicated that a couple of other outlets had already published information about the filing. A self-described "conservative news organization", TruePundit, published a no-longer-working link to the filing (which included the FEC number assigned to the committee), along with quotes from the filing.

Freddy Black listed his Illinois address and referenced his Illinois Department of Corrections parole agent.

This evening, FEC Press Officer Judith Ingram confirms to Arizona's Politics that "the filing was removed from the website intentionally. The decision to remove the posting was made internally."

In other words, the FEC did not take the notice down under a request or order from the U.S. Secret Service or any other law enforcement agency.

Arizona's Politics has contacted the Secret Service and will update as warranted. Their Chicago office did acknowledge that they are "aware" of the situation.

UPDATE, 4:55pm: Following this article, @IAmTheWarax, an online national security-related poster located an HTML version that had inadvertently not been pulled down by the FEC. We have redacted the below image so as to not encourage any crazies to donate to the crazy.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

NEW: Arpaio Met With Steve Bannon In December, "Discussed Politics" (LISTEN)

Former Maricopa County Sheriff and longtime Trump surrogate Joe Arpaio met with President Trump's Senior-Strategist-Turned-Sloppy-Steve Bannon to "discuss politics" last month. Today, Arpaio announced that he will run to replace the retiring Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in the Senate.

Arpaio announced the meeting in an interview with Fox News' Todd Starnes in response to a question about former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has been running for Flake's seat for several months, and Bannon. He side-stepped Ward, but said "I know Bannon. I spent some time with him last month. We did discuss politics, but that's not my issue."

He then used the opportunity to point out that "I was with (Trump) since day one...when nobody would even stand next to him."

(click on button, will open in new window)

Bannon stepped down from his role as executive chairman from Breitbart News today, as he has come under withering attacks for the past month for his roles in the Alabama Senate race and the new book Fire and Fury.

Arpaio also used the interview to dismiss criticism from both Flake and the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. He said "I don't deal with that Senator," when asked about Flake. Perez was in charge of the Justice Department's lawsuit against the MCSO alleging racial profiling; Arpaio promised today to talk more about that in the future and warned Perez that he should be more worried about his own party.

Arizona's Politics has asked the Arpaio campaign for more details about the Bannon meeting, and will update this article as warranted.

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WATCH: Flake Happy That Trump Pulls Back From Attaching Long List To DACA Fix

After joking that he never thought he would see a day where the President would propose bringing back earmarks and Joe Arpaio would run for his Senate seat, Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said he was happy with today's meeting about immigration-related issues.

On MSNBC's MTP Daily program last hour, Flake noted that it was just a couple of days ago that Trump gave Congress a long list of demands to go with the fix for the revoked DACA program - and, just yesterday that several Senators spoke on the floor about attaching DACA to that list. As noted earlier on Arizona's Politics, the President today convincingly agreed with Flake to separate them out.  "I'm so glad that he seems to have pulled back from that, and that alone was worth it."

Their preferred DACA deal is not completely "clean", however. At the meeting, Trump added in the words "and security", and Flake repeated that "a few border security elements" could be coupled with DACA.

When asked about the possibility of being replaced by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio - Arpaio announced his candidacy this morning - Flake says he does not take it seriously and that Arpaio might not be in the race by next time this month.

For his part, Arpaio stated today that "I don't deal with that Senator."

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BREAKING/WATCH: Trump, Flake publicly agree that DACA Fix and Border Security Comes Before Efforts At Comprehensive Immigration Reform; McSally, Flake Both In Meeting

At the public White House meeting today regarding immigration-related issues, there was this remarkable exchange between President Donald Trump and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The two agreed that a DACA/Dreamer fix should not be held up by putting it into a comprehensive immigration reform measure that would have less chance of passing before the DACA protections are set to expire on March 5.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) was also at the meeting, prominently seated to the right of Trump and Sen. Richard Durbin. McSally's campaign emailed this afternoon that she will be making a political announcement on Friday, and she is almost certain to announce that she is looking to replace the retiring Flake in the Senate.

McSally spoke briefly about the need to first focus on making sure that the military is properly funded before the January 19th deadline.

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BREAKING; McSally To Announce Senate Run Friday

In the immediate wake of Joe Arpaio announcing his bid to run for retiring Senator Jeff Flake's seat, Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) announced today that she will be announcing her next move this coming Friday. Given that she is making the announcement in Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott, it is very safe to assume that she will be fulfilling her earlier promise to run for the Senate seat.

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio tossed his hat in the ring earlier today, and said that he intends to serve as President Donald Trump's guy, if elected. McSally has been positioning herself more closely to the President since Flake announced that he would not seek re-election. Previously announced Kelli Ward has long been running for the Trump endorsement.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) is the heavy favorite for that party's nomination.

Here is the email that McSally sent out at 1:15pm (below jump):

Monday, January 8, 2018

WATCH: "Let's Get Real!" Jeff Flake Goes On Offensive To Secure DACA/Dreamers Resolution; Will Be Meeting At White House Tomorrow

"The President's instincts are better than some of the advice he gets." With those words, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) sprinted from Mesa to the Senate floor today to give a speech about the need to keep focus on a DACA/Dreamer fix without losing it amidst the Trump Administration's demands to tie it to favored changes to the legal immigration system and funding for a border wall for the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Let's get real about the time involved between now and the time we need to fix this...March 5th," Flake pleaded in his 12-minute speech. He set a goal of January 31st to have something on the floor of the Senate.

Flake announced last month that the White House had promised him a seat at the table for discussions on the Trump-revoked DACA program (partly) in return for his vote on the tax bill. In fact, he and several other Senators from both parties met at the White House with Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly in December.

However, on Friday, the White House released documents connecting DACA to the other issues. And today, Republican Senators Grassley, Tillis and Cotton spoke on the Senate floor that indicated the issues had to be put together. Grassley said they were proposing a "five pillar" plan that also includes "sanctuary cities".

Flake asked for "a limited measure" with some related issues, and to table the rest. "I'm all in for comprehensive immigration reform," but this is not the time to try it at the expense of a DACA fix.

Flake is part of a bipartisan group of five Senators (Democrat Durbin and Republicans Bennet, Gardner and Graham) who will be meeting tomorrow.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

NEW/WATCH: Arizona First PAC Organized, Starts By Bolstering Martha McSally For Senate

The Arizona First PAC was formed earlier this month, and it's first order of business is to post an online video touting Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
(click picture to open new window with ad)
Longtime Arizona political consultant/activist Lisa James is behind the new super PAC. Her last public roles in 2012 were on behalf of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. James declined to answer Arizona's Politics queries about the PAC after the December 4 filing.

McSally reportedly told her Arizona GOP House colleagues that she would be running to replace Flake, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week touted her last week as one of his best new recruits to maintain a Republican majority.  However, her office apparently removed her name from a list of likely candidates, and there have been questions about whether Governor Doug Ducey might appoint her if Sen. John McCain leaves the body.

KPNX's Brahm Resnik tweeted the digital ad this morning and noted the PAC's connection to Gordon C. James Public Relations. Below is the FEC filing to support that.

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READ: Court Orders Blocking Arizona From Enforcing Ethnic Studies Restrictions

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NEW: Rep. McSally Meets At White House To Discuss Immigration-Related Issues

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) headed to the White House last week to discuss immigration-related issues. It was the 2nd time in five weeks that she joined other Republican lawmakers to meet with President Donald Trump.

Politico reported yesterday that the meeting was primarily to discuss a DACA fix for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. However, indications are that the meeting agenda was more broad and included topics near and dear to both the President's and Republicans' hearts, such as border security, so-called chain migration and interior enforcement.

Of course, McSally's district reaches the U.S.-Mexico border and she has frequently spoken about these issues. Last month, she introduced a bill to drastically reduce the number of immigrants who are granted diversity visas.

After leading a September letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to take up the DACA issue because "it would be wrong to go back on our word and subject these individuals to deportation" after they had provided personal information and biometrics to the federal government, the Speaker added her to "an informal group of Republican members to help address border security and identify solutions for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program." It was apparently that group that met with the President on the 19th.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has also been actively involved in efforts to reach some sort of agreement on helping Dreamers remain in the country after the President's rescission of President Obama's DACA executive order becomes effective in March. Flake indicated he received a promise from the White House to be involved in the DACA negotiations, in return for his recent vote in favor of the tax bill.

However, it does not appear that Flake and McSally are working together on the DACA issue.  McSally has expressed interest in replacing the retiring Flake in the Senate. 

She also went to the White House on November 16, as part of a group of Republican House members meeting with the President about an earlier version of the tax bill.

Arizona's Politics has reached out to McSally's office and expects the Congresswoman to respond after the first of the year.

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Friday, December 22, 2017

WATCH: Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Makes 2 Arizona-Related Muffs Back-to-Back

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did begin his annual year-end news conference by explaining he's been fighting a cold, so perhaps his two back-to-back Arizona-related fumbles 15 minutes into the questioning are understandable. The 2nd one was a minor bobble that he immediately recovered, but the 1st one is more significant.

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2) has been widely expected to announce that she is running to replace the retiring Jeff Flake in the Senate. However, she has held back and appears to be pulling back from the anticipated announcement since it was leaked that she had told several of her House colleagues that she would run.* That has led many to speculate that she has received assurances that she will eventually replace the ailing Sen. John McCain.

However, the official word is that she is NOT a candidate.

So, imagine reporters' surprise** today when McConnell decided he would hold her out as one of two examples of "great candidates" that he has recruited to help Republicans retain control of the Senate next year. (Missouri's Josh Hawley is the other example.)

The slip certainly lends credence to the speculation about McSally's strategy and sudden reluctance to announce. And, it in no way was related to McConnell's slip seconds later when a reporter asked him his thoughts about McCain.

"He's the finest person I've served with," McConnell began. "And watching him fight his way through this healthcare... uh, health struggle." McCain cast the deciding thumbs-down to a major effort to repeal Obamacare earlier this year.

(The video starts with his McSally answer.)

*As reported by Arizona's Politics, someone using a House of Representatives' URL last week removed McSally from a Wikipedia article listing candidates running to replace Flake.
**h/t to Washington Post reporter Paul Kane.
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READ: Arizona Supreme Court Says State Can't Tell Cities How To Run Elections (Commentary)

Just read Howie Fischer's article on a bill proposed by State Sen. Jay Lawrence to require cities to allow candidates to advertise their political party on the election ballot.  The well-reported article notes that the Arizona Supreme Court struck down the mirror image law passed by Republicans in 2009.

Here is the Supreme Court's unanimous opinion in that earlier case, finding that the Arizona Constitution permits charter cities to run their elections as they choose. Given such clear direction, Lawrence could save taxpayers significant money by withdrawing the bill - after all, isn't that what his party label would indicate?

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Arizona: Ground Zero In Steven Seagal/Tom Morrissey Book... and the Amazon Review Battleground

Former Party Chair Tom Morrissey is calling for Arizona Republicans to read and review the book he recently co-wrote with Steven Seagal, in order to combat a sudden rush of negative reviews on Amazon.

The book takes place in Arizona and was released on October 1, but the spate of 1- and 2-star reviews started Wednesday after a Twitter account with 3,000 followers - @IAmTheWarax - began highlighting the book and a positive review from a colorful individual.

This morning, Morrissey published a plea in the MCRC News Briefs, a widely-read unofficial daily newsletter for Arizona Republicans. He claims that "the Establishment and other Deep State people" are "vastly upset" and that the attack is coming from "the Left". Morrissey calls for Republicans who have already purchased the book to "write an honest review of it and post it on Amazon to help counter this attack from the Left. They do not like what Steven Seagal and I have been able to convey and they are now in an attack mode, trying to silence us."

Already, at least one new positive review has been posted on Amazon's site. More positive and negative reviews can be expected, as a New York Times reporter with 139,000 followers just re-tweeted the Warax missive with the comment: "Recently-minted Russian citizen Steven Seagal."

Contacted by Arizona's Politics this morning, the person writing The Warax twitter feed noted that he or she does "satire and commentary for what is usually a small, niche natsec audience. We were all surprised when the Seagal thread got so much traction." Then notes that the focus really was on the reviewer who claims to have connections to the "US Army war college."

As noted on the cover of the book, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio provided a foreword. He notes that he "strongly identifies with this book because in many ways I lived what is portrayed on its pages."

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

REPRISE/WATCH: John McCain's Touching Farewell Speech To Joe Lieberman

Those Facebook "Memories" reminders of past articles and posts are often interesting reminders. However, we rarely feel compelled to reprise them (although we do sometimes use them to spur follow-up articles). This video of Arizona Sen. John McCain honoring his then-retiring buddy Joe Lieberman warrants it. His voice catches a few times near the end, when he says that Lieberman "is as fine a friend as I've ever had and irreplaceable in my life, and I cannot let him go." The original post was December 20, 2012.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) continued his Saying Farewell Tour today, bidding an adios to his long-time amigo Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

The short speech (7 1/2 minutes) was unsurprisingly personal, recounting much of what we have already heard McCain say about his buddy, who retired this year rather than face a(nother) tough re-election bid for a fifth Senate term.

"He came here to do justice, Mr. President, to love mercy and to walk humbly with his God. It’s hard to find anyone here who doesn’t like and admire Joe. He’s impossible to dislike even if you only know him a little. Most of his detractors seem to be people who don’t know him and who tend to view people very strictly through the perspectives of their ideology and partisan identity. The only thing to resent about Joe Lieberman is that he’s so damn considerate of everyone that you can find yourself feeling a little ashamed when he catches you raising your voice to someone or behaving in other ways that fall short of his unfailing graciousness."

McCain added that he "nearly" nominated Lieberman to be his Vice Presidential nominee in 2008. (It was widely reported that McCain preferred Lieberman - who had been on the Democratic ticket eight years earlier - to eventual pick Sarah Palin.)

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

WATCH: Arizona Rep. Schweikert Argues GOP Tax Bill Will Help Dems' Fight Vs. Increasing Income Inequality; Does Reduce His Real Estate-Related Income Taxes

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) voted with the rest of Arizona's GOP delegation (and all but 12 of his GOP colleagues) in passing the tax reform bill this afternoon, 227-203. Earlier, during debate, he took a novel tack and advised his Democratic colleagues that the tax cuts will help "the left" in its fight against increasing income inequality. Meanwhile, his office declined to respond to reports that one added provision that increases his after-tax income.

The International Business Times reported last week on the provision that had just been inserted that would benefit Congresspersons - and, others - with interests in real estate-related LLCs. (Some of the pass-through income will become deductible.) Schweikert was included in the article because he is on the House Ways & Means Committee, because he was on the conference committee for this bill, and because he is one of the five Republican leaders with at least $1M in such real estate investmennts.

(The provision became popularized by opponents as the #CorkerKickback, because Sen. Bob Corker is a potential beneficiary and became a supporter of the bill after it was inserted.)

Schweikert's personal financial disclosure filings indicate that he has owned Sheridan Equities LLC and Sheridan Equities Holdings LLC as long as he has been in the House, and that they are worth between $1M to $5M.  (He formed the 1st LLC while he was Maricopa County Treasurer, in 2006, and is the sole member of both.)

His income from the real estate LLCs has been between $980,000 and $1,375,000 for the years 2010-16. The annual income has fluctuated several times (up and down) during that period; coupled with Schweikert being the only member and that he has taken some capital gains, it would appear that he likely has some ability to manipulate how much money he receives from the businesses in a given year.

In researching this article, Arizona's Politics also discovered that Rep. Schweikert amended his personal financial disclosure statement one week before the initial bill was introduced to uncheck the amount of income (range) he received and to add that a portion of the income was capital gains and a portion from rents. (The initial and amended filings are below.)

Because of these factors, it is impossible to calculate how much tax savings the Congressman may realize as a result of the new provision.

The Congressman's office declined to respond to repeated requests for a reaction to the IBT article and an explanation as to the amended financial disclosure statement. If Arizona's Politics receives a response, we will update this article as needed.

Today, Schweikert was the only Arizona Representative to speak on the House Floor during debate of the new bill. In his trademarked impassioned delivery, he decided to "give everyone a slightly different view." He noted that a Wall Street Journal editorial simplified the differences between the two political parties into focusing on economic expansion ("the right") and income inequality ("the left").

Schweikert made the argument that the new bill is necessary because it will get the country out of a relatively-flat economic growth rate of 1.8%, and that income inequality will decrease when the economy grows. Even if it is widely believed that the bill sent to the Senate today will benefit wealthier people more than those at the bottom of the income scale.

(Below is the transcript from his comments. The C-Span website is not operating normally this afternoon, and the video will be added later.)

David Schweikert

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