FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

LISTEN: Sen. McCain Likens Obama/Castro Handshake To Chamberlain/Hitler; RELATED(!): Arizona's Raul Castro Receiving "Global Diplomat Award" Tomorrow

When I heard on the news that President Obama had shaken hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial service today, it did not take much to know that that would prompt a lot of chatter.  And that, with Arizona's two Senators, some would emanate from our political scene. What I did NOT anticipate is that Arizona's former Governor of the same name as Fidel's brother would also be in the news.

Sure enough, senior Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was asked by PRI reporter Todd Zwillich his
opinion of the Obama/Castro handshake.  McCain actually dug deep to pull out the oft-controversial comparison to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain shaking Adolf Hitler's hand.  Here's the raw audio:


We have not yet heard from Arizona's other Senator, Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who has been front and center in efforts to end the U.S. embargo against the Castros' Communist Cuba.  When he does comment, it is unlikely to echo McCain's.

In Tweeting about @SenJohnMcCain's quote (and with tongue firmly in cheek) I noted the "context and little-known fact" that Castro had been Arizona's Governor in the 1970's. I included a link to Gov. Raul Castro's Wikipedia page, but neglected to put a winky-faced emoticon.  (In fairness, I should have noted that Sen. McCain was probably not in Arizona when Castro was Governor; while that is saying something in itself, the Senator could be excused for not catching the attempted "pun.")

I had actually met Arizona Gov. Raul Castro when he was Governor, and realized today that - like Obama - I had also shaken Raul Castro's hand!

Minutes after the Twitter exchange, I received - apparently, coincidentally - a news release about an event tomorrow night in Phoenix.  97-year old Raul Castro - former Arizona Governor and former U.S. Ambassador - is being presented with the Global Diplomat Award, by the Consular Corps of Arizona.

Awesome coincidence, and I am very glad that it gave me the opportunity to point out the honoring of one of Arizona's icons.  Congratulations, Governor!


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Monday, December 9, 2013

Former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe Leads GOP LGBT Push-Back Against "Outrageous" Effort By Republican Congressman To Prevent Party Funding Of Gay House Candidates

Former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe is the most prominent co-host on a new joint fundraising effort for two gay Republican Congressional candidates, after last week's "outrageous" comments by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) that the national GOP party should not fund gay candidates.

Forbes' anti-gay views were made public last week by Politico, and were quickly knocked down by many other Republican leaders.  Forbes expressed his concerns that GOP Congressmen are required to contribute money to the National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC"), and could thus be forced to support candidates that go against their moral beliefs.

The invitation from an ad hoc joint fundraising group for the two gay candidates cited in the article - Carl DeMaio in San Diego and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts.  Both are touted in the article as "promising openly gay" candidates for seats currently held by Democrats.

In the Washington Blade, Kolbe called Forbes' comments "outrageous" and called for NRCC leadership to "condemn" them.

Tisei and DeMaio have yet to file the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (as of this writing, it is not listed on the FEC's website), but the invitation from the newly-minted Equality Leadership Fund (reproduced below, courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation's Political Party Time site) and donation web page are up and running.

Kolbe is among 13 co-hosts listed, but the only one with an honorific in front of his name.  He served southern Arizona in Congress between 1985 and 2007, acknowledging his homosexuality midway through his tenure.




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READ: Sheriff Arpaio Fundraising For Tom Tancredo's Colorado Campaign: "If Anyone Can Solve America's Immigration Problem, It's Him."

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is putting his fundraising muscle into another campaign today, calling "good friend and fellow immigration crusader" Tom Tancredo the right man to lead Colorado and the nation in solving "America's immigration problem."


(Arpaio's entire fundraising e-mail is below the jump.)

Arpaio, who has already been fundraising for his 2016 reelection campaign and for a Super PAC dedicated to preventing Hillary Clinton from becoming President in 2016, sent out the fundraising e-mail to his vast e-mailing list today on behalf of Tancredo for Governor in 2014.

Tancredo was a Republican Congressman who largely based his campaign for President in 2008 on fighting illegal immigration.  He was an unsuccessful third party candidate for Colorado Governor in 2010, and is currently leading in the Republican primary for a re-match against current Governor John Hickenlooper.

Arpaio calls Colorado "frighteningly soft on illegal aliens", and says that Tancredo is fighting "the liberal elite and Open Borders (caps his) crowd."

Of course, Arpaio has to reference his (self-perpetuated) "America's Toughest Sheriff" nickname, noting that he has "made tremendous inroads in cracking down on immigration across the country as a sheriff (emphasis his).... But think about the impact Tom Tancredo could make as the governor of a state with a self-proclaimed immigration problem!"

Arpaio raised funds for Tancredo's 2010 campaign, as well.

(Arpaio's fundraising e-mail is below the jump.)




Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WATCH: Rep. Sinema Loses Outreach Director/DREAMer Erika Andiola To Fight Mother's Deportation

Erika Andiola, prominent DREAMer and Outreach Director for Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9), has announced her resignation as a House staffer, so that she can help her mother in her upcoming deportation hearing.

Her departure was first profiled yesterday on BuzzFeed.com, and she was interviewed on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" last night (below).

Later on the day that Sinema hired Andiola as Outreach Director, Andiola's mother and brother were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Mesa.  (Arizona's Politics was first to report that the hiring preceded the raid, and was not in response to - or, to capitalize on - the raid and ensuing publicity.)

Andiola's mother was on an ICE bus headed to being deported a few days later when the Justice Department exercised its prosecutorial discretion to release her.  The publicity from Andiola's YouTube plea and her Congressional hiring helped bring pressure to (temporarily) abort the deport.

Her mother now faces a January 2 hearing on deportation.  Andiola again hopes that she will be able to help keep her mother in the country.  In addition to providing support to her, Andiola has started an online petition to convince the immigration judge (or, the prosecution).

Sinema gave the following statement to BuzzFeed:
“While I am disappointed to lose Erika as a member of our staff, I understand that she needs to focus 100% on her mom’s case. We are hopeful that Erika’s mother can remain in the country because we believe families should stay together. Arizona families just like Erika’s are waiting for this Congress to pass commonsense comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, keeps families together, and grows our economy. Arizona has been waiting for too long already; we owe it to our state to pass immigration reform this year.”
Here is the MSNBC interview (begins about 3 minutes in, although the first three minutes are related)





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READ: Arizona Rep. Sinema Leading Bi-Partisan Effort To Get ENDA Vote In House; "We Are Not Seeking Special Privileges - Just Equal Protections"

Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) led a group of 10 Republican and Democratic lawmakers in sending a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), urging him to bring the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") to a vote in the House within the next year.

(The full text of the first page of the letter is reproduced below.)

ENDA seeks to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  It passed the Senate one month ago on a 64-32 vote (neither of Arizona Republican Senators voted for it - in fact, Sen. John McCain skipped town to tape Late Night With David Letterman that night).

Sinema and Maloney are both members of the LGBT that could be protected by the legislation, but not all of the 10 Representatives - five Republicans and five Democrats - are.

The letter emphasizes the "fairness" and "equality" that they say would be provided by the law, and that it "prohibits preferential treatment or hiring quotas".  It does not address the concern that many of the GOP opponents in the Senate - and Boehner himself - noted: that it would prompt a flood of lawsuits.

"An innate sense of fairness compels our country to rise above all forms of workplace discrimination. ENDA would help us move towards this goal in a manner that balances worker protections with respect for religious employers. Keeping with the notion that employees should be judged on their merits alone, the bill explicitly prohibits preferential treatment or hiring quotas. We are not seeking special privileges – just equal protections."
On the second page of the letter (not shown here), the signers are Democratic Reps. Jared Polis, Ron Kind and Kurt Schrader.  The other Republican signers are Reps. Chris Gibson, Jon Runyan and Richard Hanna.

Although the letter asks for a vote by the end of the 113th Congress (January 2015), Rep. Sinema would like a vote "today":  “Americans deserve to be judged in the workplace by their job performance, not their sexual orientation. I call on the House to ensure that all workers are treated the same by bringing ENDA to the House floor today.”

Her statement is from a news release out of Rep. Maloney's office;  Sinema did re-tweet Maloney's tweet on the subject.



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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arizona's Andrei Cherny NOT Joining Katie Couric In Yahoo-ing

Deep within some of the coverage of Katie Couric joining Yahoo! News(?), there was a note that she would be working with other "high-profile hires" such as "author and historian Andrei Cherny."

Arizona's Politics thought that its audience would be more interested in the former chair of the Arizona Democratic Party - and candidate for elective office - joining a bid for internet news dominance (relevance?) than in the network-and-platform-hopping Couric.

However, finding an original - or, even a second - source for the announcement proved difficult.  Until Cherny himself told Arizona's Politics that he had not even heard about his supposed new gig until our e-mail.

When Yahoo!'s PR person later responded that she was checking into the matter, we were able to tell her that she need not bother, but that they might actually consider bringing on Cherny, who has founded a journal ("Democracy: A Journal of Ideas") and blogged for Huffington Post.



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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FEC Dismisses Complaint Against Andrei Cherny; Stemmed From 2012 Arizona Congressional Primary Campaign

The Federal Election Commission ("FEC") announced this past week that they have dismissed a 2012 election complaint against Andrei Cherny, stemming from his unsuccessful primary run for Arizona's new 9th Congressional District.

The Arizona Republic just featured an article about Republicans trying to clear primary races, and noted that Arizona Democrats are less likely to have such face-to-face confrontations.  However, the FEC reminded us just this past Friday of a very recent Democratic tussle.  It announced the dismissal of a complaint filed last year against Democratic Congressional candidate Andrei Cherny in the heat of a three-way primary battle.  (Kyrsten Sinema won that battle and is now part of Arizona's Congressional delegation.)

Cherny was chair of the Arizona Democratic Party in 2011-12, and had personally paid for a poll to gauge his support in the upcoming scramble for the new district then being finalized by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.  Four weeks before resigning, Cherny met with State Senator David Schapira and shared the results of the poll (which showed Sinema winning a 3-way primary, with Schapira and Cherny finishing second and third, respectively).

Once the Yellow Sheet Report reported on the January meeting in May, opponents quickly noticed that Cherny had not reported the polling expenditure in his quarterly FEC report.   A Democratic activist (Sharon Thomas) filed the complaint (with the FEC) against Cherny, calling the violation "serious".  (A copy of the Yellow Sheet Report item is attached to the complaint.)

Cherny's attorney responded with a variety of legal arguments (it was not a "contribution", no possibility of corruption, amount too small, amending report), and the campaign amended the report to show that Cherny had made an in-kind contribution of $2,500 for the poll.

For more than a year, the complaint sat untouched in the FEC's files, until its general counsel recommended that the Commission exercised "its prosecutorial discretion and dismiss this (low-rated) matter."  The report did agree that it was not an in-kind contribution when made because it was below the $5,000 "testing the waters" cap, but that Cherny did have an obligation to report it once he declared his candidacy.

The Commissioners voted 4-0 (one non-vote) at its October 21 meeting to accept the recommendation, and the file was made public one month later.

Cherny acknowledged to Arizona's Politics having received the news, but declined to make further comment.



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Friday, November 15, 2013

UPDATE, READ: Statements from Reps. Barber ("Aye") and Kirkpatrick ("Nay") On Today's Upton/Obamacare Votes

Arizona's Politics was first to report on the individual votes this morning by Arizona's Congressional delegation - particularly the three Democrats representing hotly-contested swing districts - on the GOP/Upton bill to change Obamacare to permit insurance companies to not only renew canceled policies but to sell the non-conforming policies to new customers.  Two of those three have now sent out statements explaining their votes.

The full statements from Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2), among 39 Democrats to vote for the bill, and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) - who voted against it - are below the jump.

Barber emphasized the customers who have received cancellation notices, while not addressing the President's and other Democrats' concern that the Upton bill permits people who did not receive a cancellation to sign up for those policies which likely do not qualify under the terms of the 2010 law.

“Today I voted to give people the option to keep their current plan until these and other issues are resolved. That’s only fair.”

Kirkpatrick emphasized her frustration with the "disaster" of "the stunning ineptitude of the ACA marketplace rollout", while noting that today's bill was part of the "partisan noisemaking" that undermines the reforms instituted by the law.

(full statements are below the jump)


House Passes Upton Bill, GOP Obamacare Alternative; Two Arizona Democrats Vote Aye

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to allow health insurers to renew non-conforming policies and to sell them to anyone else interested (aka "The Upton Bill").  The bill passed 261-157, with 39 Democrats voting along with the Republicans.  Two of Arizona's five Democratic Representatives - Reps. Ron Barber (D-CD2) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) - voted along with the Republicans.

Many Democrats were in favor of an alternative that will be considered in the Senate that is more along the lines of what President Obama proposed yesterday - allowing policyholders with plans that are being canceled to renew them for another year.  The Upton bill expands that and allows insurance companies to sell those non-conforming policies to people who do not currently have them;  opponents believe that that will torpedo the heart of the health insurance reform law widely known as Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.

Barber and Sinema are both in very close, swing districts.  Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) is also in such a district; she voted "nay".

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) did not participate in any of the votes today.

The bill's chances in the Senate are iffy, and President Obama has promised to veto it if it gets to his desk.


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WATCH, READ: Rep. Grijalva On Crossfire - Obama's Action Yesterday "Took a Lot of Guts"

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-CD8) placed himself in the crossfire yesterday on the current debate surrounding Obamacare fallout.  On CNN's "Crossfire", that is.  And, he stated that President Obama's announcement yesterday to administratively permit non-conforming policies to be renewed for one more year "took a lot of guts."

Former House Speaker and Crossfire co-co-host Newt Gingrich repeatedly questioned Grijalva about the reports that some working on the healthcare.gov website had warned about the site's inadequacies, and whether he worried about "an Obama insurance disaster" on top of the "IT disaster."  Grijalva allowed that he was not defending the unfortunate website issues, but that what he was "defending is the substance of this legislation that was passed."

(below the video, and the jump, is CNN's rush transcript from the program)




Arizona Congressional Delegation Toes Party Line On Preliminary Vote On GOP Obamacare Alternative Bill

Arizona's Congressional delegation did not stray from party lines this morning on the vote to consider a bill to allow health insurers to renew non-conforming policies and selling them to anyone else interested (aka "The Upton Bill").  The House of Representatives voted 228-189 to bring the Upton bill to the floor this morning.

Six Democrats voted with the Republicans, but none of Arizona's five Democrats were among them.  Rep. Ron Barber (D-CD2) had been reported yesterday morning (by NPR) to be considering voting in favor (depending on what President Obama would propose to fix the cancellation notice problem);  however, he did not cast a vote this morning - probably because he was the ranking minority member at a hearing going on concurrently about the Department of Homeland Security's accounting systems.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) also did not vote this morning.

The debate on the Upton bill is proceeding at this moment (10:05am, Arizona Time), and should be going to a vote shortly.  Its chances in the Senate are iffy, and President Obama has promised to veto it if it gets to his desk.




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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WATCH: While Avoiding ENDA Vote, McCain Misdirects Thousands Of Potential New Followers Of GOP Senator From Arizona

Arizona's Politics reported yesterday that Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ducked yesterday's key (and, close) vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") by going to New York to tape Late Night With Jimmy Fallon at the same hour his colleagues were voting;  as it turned out, he was also (unintentionally, I assume) misdirecting thousands of potential followers.

Much of the six-minute interview was spent discussing the Senator's use of his cell phone - both for Twitter and for video poker.  More than once, McCain (and Fallon) encouraged viewers to follow him on Twitter:

"I have 1.8 million followers, and it's @SenatorJohnMcCain, sooo, follow me on Twitter.... And, if you have trouble sleeping, follow me on Twitter."

Fallon and McCain both repeated that Twitter "handle".

Unfortunately, you will not find Arizona's senior Senator if you type that in to Twitter's search bar. (We tried.)  Because, his handle is ACTUALLY @SenJohnMcCain.

It is a valuable Twitter feed to follow;  it was at the correct feed that Arizona's Politics learned that the Senator would be out of town during the ENDA vote - a vote which McCain was trying not to take a specific position.

Fallon did not ask about any issues other than Obamacare.



By the way, McCain's truly funny line was in their conversation about the video-poker-during-hearing picture.  Fallon was trying to say something about what the hearing was about ("It was a Senate hearing, and it was, what...") and McCain broke in to finish the sentence ("...boring!")

Arizona's Politics was also happy to have its question about that incident answered: he was not playing for real money.  He indicated that he had been winning that afternoon, and was up to $19 million. (Cue Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) scoffing and pointing out how many seconds of government spending that would have covered if it had been real money.)


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Monday, November 4, 2013

ENDA Moves Forward For Substantive Vote, 61-30; Sen. McCain Taping Late Night Show In New York During Vote

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") barely reached the 60 votes necessary in the U.S. Senate to advance to a substantive vote, falling one vote short.  

Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) missed the vote after he decided to go to New York City to tape Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.  While it is true that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) did not announce the schedule for the ENDA vote until Halloween, it is unclear when McCain first scheduled the comedy appearance (to air tonight at 11:35pm on NBC stations in Arizona).  And, of course, the Senator could have appeared with Fallon by satellite.

McCain had been leaning towards voting against, but he was being lobbied hard - including by members of his family.  Here is an interview he did last Thursday on the subject.

Arizona's other Senator, Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted against cloture this afternoon.

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Arizona ENDA-round-up: One Senator Out Of Town, One Likely "Nay"; Flake Worried About "T" Suits

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on anti-discrimination legislation this afternoon (resuming at 3:30 Arizona Time), and Arizona's two Senators are being watched closely, as proponents are near the 60 votes needed to advance the bill..

Senior Senator John McCain (R-AZ) opposes the bill, and will miss the vote(s) because he will be in New York taping Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, missing the senatorial action on ENDA ("Employment Non-Discrimination Act").  It was noted last week that Cindy McCain, his wife, signed a peition in favor of the measure, in spite of (or, perhaps because of?) John's opposition to it.

Junior Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) article on The Huffington Post today.  He voted for ENDA as a Representative in 2007, but says he is opposed to this year's model - which adds gender identity.  Flake says he is concerned with increased legal actions, though the article cites studies that say that that has not been in a problem when cities and states have passed similar measures.
is being closely watched and is the subject of an




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Friday, November 1, 2013

NEWS ANALYSIS: Arizonan for Responsible Leadership: Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey Remains Mum On Anonymized Donors of Anti-Sales Tax Campaign Monies

(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 "news analysis" because it attempts to "provid(e) interpretations that add to a reader's understanding of a subject.")

Last year, Arizonans defeated a ballot measure to continue the one-cent sales tax that had been dedicated to education funding.  Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey - now, a likely candidate for Governor - led the campaign to defeat the sales tax continuation, and accepted more than half of the committee's budget from anonymized donors.

Americans for Responsible Leadership ("ARL") and their sister organization (Center to Protect Patient Rights, or "CPPR") last week reached a settlement with the State of California's Fair Political Practices Commission in which they paid a $1.0 million civil fine and details of the anonymizing process were opened for public view.

(For more details on the anonymizing process uncovered in the California investigation and subsequent settlement, please click here for Arizona's Politics' accompanying article.)

That new information re-raises questions about ARL's involvement in the two committees opposing Arizona ballot measures last fall, and the State Treasurer's knowledge and understanding about the so-called "dark money" donations and his comfort level with the lack of donor disclosure.  Arizona's Politics has requested an interview or responses from Mr. Ducey on this subject;  when (if) he responds, we will supplement this article.

ARL assisted two different campaign committees opposing Arizona ballot measures in 2012: $575,000 to Save Our Vote, opposing Proposition 121 regarding an open primary process;  and $925,000 to No On 204, the committee chaired by Mr. Ducey.

In the case of No On 204, ARL's $925,000 represented more than half of the $1.8 million ($1,798,000, to be exact).

California's investigation showed that ARL became the primary funding conduit there out of a desire to protect the identities of the original contributors. The campaign committee gave potential donors the choice of allowing their identities to be disclosed, or protecting their identities through the use of a series of non-campaign non-profits (AJS/CPPR/ARL).

Did Mr. Ducey or his committee's political consultants provide potential Arizona donors with the same disclose/anonymous option?  This question becomes even more interesting when considering that one of No On 204's political consultants was DC London, a firm headed by Arizona political consultant Sean Noble.  Noble has been the money "wizard" behind the Koch Brothers' network of organizations last year, and was  praised in an e-mail to Charles Koch released in the California investigation.

It is, of course, possible that the ARL money for the Arizona ballot measure campaigns did not originate with Arizona donors and that it came from persons or businesses elsewhere in the country.  However, that the two ballot measures opposed dealt with local (Arizona) issues that would not likely be part of a national effort makes that possibility less likely.

California's statutory scheme and watchdog agency regarding disclosure of campaign contributions is much closer to the blurry dividing line where regulation oversteps constitutional rights of free speech/association/etc. than Arizona's, Arizona does have some statutes that could be of relevance in this and future cases (although even those statutes may be in legal limbo due to ongoing court cases).

For example, A.R.S. Sec. 16-914.01  places notification responsibilities on large contributions from a "single source" to a ballot measure campaign close to an election.  Sec. 16-907 makes it a felony to make or accept contributions in the name of another, as well as to make or accept earmarked contributions.  (In the California case, ARL/CPPR made sure that the group sending them money included language that there was no earmark, although the interviews made it clear that the group did trust ARL/CPPR to send it to the specific campaigns - and, did in fact, make two successful specific withdrawals.)

California's investigation into ARL/CPPR resulted in the Settlement Agreement in which the groups acknowledged an "inadvertent" violation and paid the civil fine of $1,000,000.  If Arizona's Attorney General (Tom Horne, a Republican) were to conduct a similar investigation, it would be extremely unlikely to result in  any charges filed, a civil lawsuit, or even a Settlement Agreement.  At the most, it would identify the original source of the $1.5 million donated by ARL.

Nevertheless, it is a questionable campaign finance endeavor for a State Treasurer who is likely to run for Governor to be involved in.  Is it appropriate for the State Treasurer to be soliciting and/or accepting large amounts of anonymized contributions?  (While it was not for his personal campaign, his chairmanship of the successful No On 204 committee undoubtedly significantly boosted his political standing with many in Arizona's Republican party.)  And, what will be Mr. Ducey's positions on Arizona's campaign finance and disclosure laws if he becomes Governor?

As noted earlier, Arizona's Politics has requested responses from Mr. Ducey, and will update with his comments.

(For more details on the anonymizing process uncovered in the California investigation and subsequent settlement, please click here for Arizona's Politics' accompanying article.)


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Arizona-based "Dark Money Groups" Pay $1 Million California Fine, Likely Hold Most Of Demanded $15M Disgorgement

While steadfastly maintaining their innocence and good faith, two Arizona-based conservative money groups have paid their $1 Million fine to California, and likely hold on to most of the $15 Million in disgorgement monies owed by their California-based allies.

Americans for Responsible Leadership ("ARL") and the Center to Protect Patient Rights ("CPPR") - both with close connections to major conservative moneymen the Koch brothers - signed the Settlement Agreement with California's Fair Political Practices Commission ("FPPC") last week, and it was announced at an October 24 news conference.  In it, they were found to have "inadvertently" violated California disclosure rules and agreed to the $1,000,000 civil fine; in return, the FPPC closed their year-long investigation and agreed to pursue $15 million in disgorgements from the two California groups (one, defunct) that received the violative contributions from ARL and CPPR.

The FPPC and ARL's spokesperson Barrett Marson confirmed to Arizona's Politics that the two $500,000 fines (one for each transfer back to California groups) have been paid.  For the following reasons, that is not surprising.

(ARL also contributed $1,500,000 to two Arizona committees fighting ballot measures regarding a state sales tax, and an open primary; click here for Arizona's Politics' analysis of what the California investigation says about the Arizona effort.)

The investigatory documents released by the FPPC after the settlement was announced provide a window into the arrangements between the California groups opposing two ballot measures (and their political consultants) and ARL/CPPR.

The California campaigns had initiated a strategy that gave potential donors an explicit choice - they could either donate money directly to the committees fighting the ballot measures and have their contributions disclosed under California laws, or they could become a member of non-profit Americans for Job Security ("AJS") with the understanding that their dollars would go to "issue advocacy" efforts and their names and amounts donated would not be subject to disclosure.

AJS received a flood of "memberships" and realized that a new California rule might result in them having to disclose donors' names for advertising close to the November election.  Because they trusted the Koch Brothers' network of funding organizations, they routed $24,550,000 to CPPR in September and October.  (Their understanding of the law was that this would protect the original donors from disclosure, because they would just identify CPPR/ARL as the donor.)

There was no written commitment that the CPPR network would return all of that money to the California efforts, but the belief was that they could ask CPPR for contributions as advertising bills became due.

However, only $15,080,000 was "contributed" by CPPR/ARL to the California groups before the FPPC took action to learn the original donors of the monies.  E-mails obtained by the FPPC in this year's investigation show that CPPR/ARL told the consultants in California that the legal action prevented them from making any more transfers.

Thus, CPPR/ARL continued to hold on to $9,470,000 in monies received from AJS.  $1,000,000 of that is now in California's general fund.  Even if CPPR/ARL holds on to $1,000,000 more for their expenses (legal, bookkeeping, public relations, etc.), that would leave approximately $7.5 million of monies that went from Donors ---> AJS ---> CPPR with the intended final destination of the two California committees (SBAC and CFF).  One of the two CPPR/ARL donations back to CA was to the American Futures Fund, which held back an additional $3 million for whatever reasons, before passing on money to the California Futures Fund to spend on the campaign opposing the ballot measures.

Thus, some $10.5 million of the original donors' money is presumably still sitting in bank accounts belonging to three major conservative money groups.  That would cover 2/3 of the disgorgement that California's FPPC contends that that state is entitled to under law.

(ARL also contributed $1,500,000 to two Arizona committees fighting ballot measures regarding a state sales tax, and an open primary; click here for Arizona's Politics' analysis of what the California investigation says about the Arizona effort.)




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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WHAT THE? Sen. Flake Fundraiser Invite Features Star Trek Actor George Takei (Sulu) With Vulcan Salute; Reelection Campaign Will "Live Long and Prosper" (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) continues to raise funds for his re-election campaign... in 2018. But, this invitation for a November 5 lunch fundraiser was eye-catching enough to merit a mention at Politico today. (photo below)

Along with separate invites for two Representatives (Joe Pitts and Lee Terry) - all three using the same fundraising consultant - the e-mail features a photo of iconic Star Trek actor George Takei delivering the even-more-iconic Vulcan salute.

There is no further explanation, and it does not appear that the actor and human rights activist is connected in any way with the series of fundraisers.

Previous Flake fundraisers to earn mentions in Arizona's Politics are the post-shutdown weekend at the Royal Palms resort and the evening at the Washington Nationals/Arizona Diamondbacks "Take Flake Out To the Ballgame" game.

As of September 30 (2013), Flake's committee has only $26,000 cash on hand.

(Perhaps this invitation signifies that the reelection campaign will "live long and prosper".)



(h/t to Byron Tau's Political Influence column at Politico)


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WATCH: Rep. Schweikert Takes Floor To Ask SEC Not To "Crush Our Opportunities" Re: Crowdfunding Investments

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) took to the House floor this morning to urge citizens to oppose proposed "crushing" rules proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") regulating crowdfunding for investments.

Schweikert, who helped author and co-sponsor the legislation which passed and was signed into law last year, used the Congressional Budget Offices' recently-released Long-Term Budget Outlook as an introduction to his crowdfunding remarks.  Schweikert would like the crowdfunding opportunities to "help grow the economy, and then the bureaucracy hands us crushing rules that make it almost impossible to use."

Schweikert exhorted citizens to "please, go online, make comments, help them understand this is supposed to be helping the next generation of small entrepeneurs in this country, and don't make it 550 pages of bureaucratic legalese.  It can be simpler."

The proposed rules are actually less than 100 pages long, although the preceding introduction, background and discussion is about 460 pages.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White stated she is "pleased" with the proposed rules, noting that they want to make sure this new market thrives in a "safe manner."

  
(The transcript of his remarks is from the closed captioning and may (does) have "glitches" and misspellings.)


00:00:04MR. SCHWEIKERT: MR.
00:00:05SPEAKER, I REQUEST TO REVISE AND EXTEND.
00:00:08THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE: WITHOUT OBJECTION.
00:00:10MR.
00:00:14SCHWEIKERT: MR.
00:00:16SPEAKER, FIRST, I APPRECIATE THE HOUSE GIVING ME THESE FIVE MINUTES, THOUGH IT'S ALWAYS DANGEROUS WHEN A MEMBER STARTS WALKING TOWARDS THE MICROPHONE AND THEY'RE DOING IT BECAUSE SOMETHING HIT THEIR DESK AND IT ANNOYED THEM.
00:00:28AND SO WE'VE BEEN WORKING ON SOMETHING IN OUR OFFICE TO TRY TO EXPLAIN AN INTENSE FRUSTRATION I HAVE AND THAT IS I BELIEVE WASHINGTON AND ITS EMBRACING OF DELUSIONAL MATH.
00:00:46LOOK, I'VE ONLY BEEN HERE THREE YEARS, AND I'VE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE SINGLE BIGGEST PROBLEM I SEE IS NOT THE RIGHT-LEFT CONTINUUM BUT THOSE WHO OWN CALCULATORS AND THOSE WHO DON'T, THOSE THAT LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE MATH ACTUALLY HAS A VALUE.
00:01:04I'M RIGHT NOW HOLDING THE C.
00:01:07B.O. REPORT, THE 2013 LONG-TERM BUDGET FORECAST.
00:01:12AND IN HERE -- AND YET I'VE NOT HEARD SOMEONE ELSE COME TO THIS MICROPHONE -- IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF A PARAGRAPH THAT SHOULD TERRIFY YOU.
00:01:21FEDERAL DEBT, AS A PERCENTAGE OF G.
00:01:25D.P. IN 2038, UNDER THE EXTENDED BASELINE IS PROJECTED TO BE ABOUT TWICE -- TO BE ABOUT TWICE AS LARGE AS THE AMOUNT ESTIMATED LAST YEAR.
00:01:39YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS REPORT IS SAYING.
00:01:43THAT BECAUSE OF THE POLICIES FROM THIS ADMINISTRATION, THE POLICIES COMING OUT OF OUR BUREAUCRACIES AND THE THINGS WE NEED TO ACTUALLY DEAL WITH IN THIS HOUSE, THE NUMBERS ARE ALMOST TWICE AS BAD AS IT WAS LAST YEAR.
00:02:00YOU KNOW, FOR THE SPEED THAT WE'RE GOING TO HIT 100% OF DEBT TO G.
00:02:08D.P. AND THE THING YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND IS IT'S WORSE THAN IN THE LONG-TERM BUDGET OUTLOOK FORECAST BECAUSE THERE'S DELUSIONS BUILT INTO THAT BECAUSE WE HERE AS A BODY INSTRUCT THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE SAYING, FOLLOW CURRENT LAW.
00:02:26THAT'S WHAT YOU NEED TO BUDGET OFF OF.
00:02:27HOW MANY OF US HERE COME JANUARY WHEN THE S.
00:02:31G.R. IS UP?
00:02:32MANY OF YOU KNOW IT AS DOC FIX, ARE GOING TO HOLD THE NUMBERS, HOLD THE CURRENT LAW WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE END OF ABOUT A DOZEN YEARS DOCTORS WHO SEE MEDICARE PATIENTS WILL SEE 73% LESS SO WE'LL WALK ONTO THE FLOOR HERE PROBABLY DECEMBER, JANUARY, AND FIX THE S.
00:02:53G.R. SO DOCTORS ARE COMPENSATED, SO THEY CONTINUE TO SEE THEIR MEDICARE PATIENTS AND WE BLOW UP THE NUMBERS IN THE LONG-TERM BUDGET FORECAST.
00:03:01AND WE DO THAT ON LOTS OF THINGS.
00:03:02SO WHEN YOU ACTUALLY DO THE ADJUSTMENT FOR MATH REALITY, POLICY REALITY, LONG-TERM BUDGET NUMBERS ARE MUCH, MUCH WORSE THAN WE TALK ABOUT AROUND HERE.
00:03:15AND NOW TO MY POINT.
00:03:17A YEAR AND A HALF AGO, WE ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING BIPARTISAN.
00:03:21WE DID SOMETHING CALLED THE JOBS ACT.
00:03:23YOU KNOW, IT WAS -- IN THE SCALE OF THINGS IT WAS SMALL, BUT THERE WERE SOME NEAT THINGS IN THERE.
00:03:29ONE OF THE THINGS I FIXATED ON WAS SOMETHING CALLED CROWDFUNDING, AN OPPORTUNITY TO HELP THE TRULY LITTLE ENTREPRENEUR.
00:03:36THIS IS ONLY UP TO $1 MILLION, AND IT WAS USING THIS THING CALLED THE INTERNET TO BE ABLE TO RAISE MONEY.
00:03:42SO IF YOU'RE THE CUPCAKE SHOP OR MECHANIC SHOP OR YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF GETTING SOME ANGEL INVESTMENT TO GET GOING, WELL, THE S.
00:03:51E.C. TOOK A YEAR AND A HALF TO DO WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SIMPLE RULE SET SO THEY'RE A YEAR LATE AND HERE'S WHAT THEY BROUGHT US.
00:04:02THIS IS THE LAW -- THESE HANDFUL OF PAGES, SIX, SEVEN PAGES IS THE CROWDFUNDING OF THE JOBS ACT.
00:04:12HERE'S THE PROPOSED RULE SET.
00:04:17SO IF WE'RE IN A WORLD WHERE WE HAVE CRUSHING DEBT SCREAMING TOWARDS US AND SOME OF THAT'S BECOMING NOW BECAUSE WE'RE BEING TOLD THAT THE NEW NORMAL IS A 2% G.
00:04:33D.P. GROWTH, WE NEED TO BE DOING THINGS THAT ACCELERATE THAT ECONOMIC GROWTH OR WE'RE IN INCREDIBLE TROUBLE.
00:04:40SO AS HOUSE BIPARTISAN, WE PASSED THE JOBS ACT, WHICH WAS ONE OF THE LITTLE INCREMENTS THAT IS SUPPOSED TO REACH OUT AND HELP GROW THE ECONOMY AND THEN THE BUREAUCRACY HANDS US CRUSHING RULES THAT MAKE IT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO USE.
00:04:56SO FOR WHOEVER'S LISTENING, WATCHING, CARING ABOUT THINGS LIKE THE CROWDFUNDING RULES THAT ARE BEFORE THE S.
00:05:04E.C., YOU GOT 90 DAYS NOW.
00:05:07PLEASE, GO ONLINE, MAKE COMMENTS, HELP THEM UNDERSTAND THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SMALL ENTREPRENEURS IN THIS COUNTRY, AND DON'T MAKE IT 550 PAGES OF BUREAUCRATIC LEGALLIES.
00:05:26IT CAN BE SIMPLER.
00:05:28WE CAN DO GREAT THINGS IN THIS COUNTRY, BUT WE CAN'T DO IT IF THE BUREAUCRACY CONTINUES TO CRUSH OUR OPPORTUNITIES.
00:05:35MR. SPEAKER, I YIELD BACK.






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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Endangered Mexican Wolf Plan To Get Arizona Hearing On December 3; Comment Period Extended To Dec. 17

After much howling from Arizonans and our Congressional delegation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ("FWS") announced today that an Arizona hearing on their plan to list the Mexican Gray Wolf as an endangered subspecies (delisting Gray Wolves elsewhere) will take place December 3 in Pinetop.

The FWS had initially announced hearings to take place (in October) in Albuquerque, Washington, D.C. and Sacramento(!?!).  The Albuquerque and Sacramento hearings were rescheduled (to November 20 and 22, respectively) because of the shutdown, and an additional hearing has been scheduled for Denver (November 19).

As Arizona's Politics reported a month ago, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1), who represents most of the rural Arizona area where the Mexican Wolf will be protected, took to the House floor to echo calls from Arizonans and Arizona's Game and Fish Department that a federal hearing needed to take place in Arizona.  The previous week, Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain (both Republicans) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-CD4) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior (FWS' parent agency) also asking for a hearing (and to extend public comment period until 30 days after such hearing).

FWS Director Dan Ashe wrote back on October 16, saying that the 16-day government shutdown had delayed the process of setting an Arizona hearing.  Today's announcement indicates that the comment period will be extended from October 28 to December 17, two weeks after the Pinetop hearing.

The changes are being proposed as FWS reached legal settlements with the Center for Biological Diversity in August. They would remove most gray wolves from the endangered species list, with theMexican Wolf being the only subspecies to remain on the list. It would also make changes to the re-introduction program in New Mexico and Arizona. The full proposed rule changes can be read here.

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LISTEN: NRCC Radio Ad Attacking Arizona Rep. Kirkpatrick For Vote On Obamacare Support For Congress/Staff

The National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC") released a radio ad today that it says it intends to run against Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1).  It targets women in the far-flung district and attacks Kirkpatrick for an eve-of-shutdown vote against a GOP measure that would re-strip health insurance premium support for members of Congress and their staffs.

The NRCC has not yet responded to Arizona's Politics' request for information on where and when the ad will run, and how much is being spent on it.

The audio ad is below (complete with photo of Kirkpatrick with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi), along with a transcript.  Arizona's Politics' Fact Check of the ad will follow shortly.



VOICEOVER 1:  This is so frustrating.  I’m trying to sign up for the new government healthcare program and it just won’t work.
VOICEOVER 2:  A lot of folks are having trouble with that.
VOICEOVER 1:  They spent 500 million of our tax dollars to build it, and it won’t work.
VOICEOVER 2:  And if you’re facing all these issues just signing up, imagine how difficult it could be to get medical care. Finding a doctor’s appointment will be a nightmare. And have you looked into how much your insurance premiums will rise?
VOICEOVER 1: I haven’t. Maybe I’ll call my Congressman, Ann Kirkpatrick and ask for help.
VOICEOVER 2: She’s part of the problem! Kirkpatrick voted to keep special subsidies for Members of Congress.
VOICEOVER 1: Ann Kirkpatrick did?
VOICEOVER 2: Yep, Ann Kirkpatrick is using our tax dollars to fund her healthcare benefits.
VOICEOVER 1:  That’s not right.
VOICEOVER 2: Typical Washington.  Kirkpatrick protects her healthcare while our costs go up.
VOICEOVER 1:  Maybe you should call her too.
VOICEOVER 2: Oh, I will. We all should. Call Ann Kirkpatrick at 928-213-9977. Tell her we’re sick of paying for her taxpayer-funded healthcare.
VOICEOVER 3: The National Republican Congressional Committee paid for and is responsible for the content of this advertising. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. www-dot-NRCC-dot-org


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READ: Details On Settlement Between California and Arizona-based "Dark Money" Groups

The news release from California's Fair Political Practices Commission, announcing settlement.



http://bit.ly/HhJaIc

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WATCH HERE, LIVE: News Conference Announcing Major Settlement Between Arizona-Based Conservative Money Groups and California (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

California's Fair Political Practices Commission is announcing a major settlement regarding its grand jury inquiry into the $11 million in campaign contributions from Arizona-based conservative money groups "Americans for Responsible Leadership" and the "Center to Protect Patients' Rights".

ARL also pumped $1.5 million into defeating two initiatives on the 2012 Arizona ballot.

Ready to go at the news conference is a poster titled "The Dark Money Trail."

Below is the livestream of the news conference.



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Humorous Sidebar Story: WATCH California's Fair Political Practices Commission's October 17 Special Meeting Considering ARL Settlement

Now, THAT'S openness!  California's Fair Political Practices Commission ("FPPC") streams its meetings live on YouTube; nothing outrageously open about that.  But, last Thursday, they held a "Special Meeting" to go into Closed Session about the status of negotiations on the Americans for Responsible Leadership, et al inquiry.  They live-streamed that!

Out of the hour, 35 minutes (posted below), the screen was blank for all but about four minutes.

The FPPC is holding a news conference at 12pm to announce the settlement.


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California Reaches Settlement With Arizona-Based Conservative Groups That Allegedly Violated Campaign Money Laundering Laws; Why Arizona Could Have Been - But, Won't - Next In Line ("Koch Classic") (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

California's Fair Political Practices Commission ("FPPC") has apparently reached a settlement with Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership ("ARL") - and, possibly other members of the conservative money network that participated in the secretive $11 million contribution last year to oppose a California initiative.  The same groups used similar channels to spend $1.5 million defeating two Arizona initiatives at the same time.

The Huffington Post is reporting that a source has confirmed that the settlement - the FPPC had prompted a grand jury investigation that reportedly had some allies of the influential Koch brothers "very puckered up" - will be announced tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Ann Ravel - the chairwoman of the FPPC who is now serving on the Federal Election Commission - simply tweeted late Tuesday afternoon that the FPPC would "be announcing a major case settlement tomorrow at 12pm."

After litigation that went to the California Supreme Court, ARL released the sought-after information about the source of the $11 million the day before the election: another secretive (does not release donor information) Arizona-based group, the Center to Protect Patient Rights.  Ravel and the FPPC called that an admission that California's campaign money laundering laws had been broken.

As noted, ARL also spent $1.5 million last year successfully opposing two Arizona ballot measures- $975,000 opposing renewing the one-cent sales tax, and $575,000 defeating the top-two primary measure.

However, Arizona's campaign finance laws were not as specific as California's, making an investigation by Arizona's Secretary of State or Attorney General (both Republicans) unlikely.  (An Arizona statute does prohibit making "a contribution in the name of another person", but the CPPR ---> ARL transfer would likely survive a challenge under that statute.

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