FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Thursday, August 17, 2017

COMMENTARY: Push Back On Trump's Pro-Kelli Ward Tweet... From Inside The White House; What About Matt Salmon?

UPDATE, 3:55: Henry Gomez of Buzzfeed News reported this afternoon that Matt Salmon emailed him and said that he is not interested in running against Flake. (thanks, Dennis Welch)

(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".)

Trump's early morning tweet touting Dr. Kelli Ward's primary challenge against Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (after watching Fox & Friends) apparently surprised some on his political team still pushing for a different GOP savior to rise from these streets.

Politico reported on the internal angst this afternoon, and revealed that Citizens United President and former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie has been trying to woo (twice) former Rep. Matt Salmon into challenging his former colleague.

As was the case with yesterday's Washington Times article, sources are quoted mentioning anyone but Ward - this time, both Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former AZGOP Chair Robert Graham.

One can easily imagine a tense scene onstage at the Phoenix Convention Center next Tuesday, with several vying for one (or more) roses. (Psst, is that Kyrsten Sinema stage left?)

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Lobbyist Jim Norton Appeals To 9th Circuit In Arizona Corporation Commission Corruption Case

Lobbyist Jim Norton has appealed to the 9th Circuit, challenging a trial court's order restricting what information about the wider corruption investigation can be publicly disclosed by defendants. The appeal is part of the case alleging a scheme to bribe Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce on behalf of utility owner George Johnson.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tuchi ordered prosecutors to turn over the documents to defense attorneys, but restricted defendants and their attorneys from releasing information, so as not to interfere with ongoing investigations. The two protective orders are posted below.

Norton filed his interlocutory (i.e. while the case is continuing) appeal on Tuesday.  The trial is currently set for October 3. Besides Norton, Pierce and Johnson, Pierce's wife Sherry Pierce has also been charged.




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SURPRISE: Trump Echoes J.D. Hayworth/Fox & Friends In Pro-Ward/Anti-Flake Tweet (WATCH)

In advance of next Tuesday's Phoenix rally, President Donald Trump tweeted about Arizona's upcoming Senate race this morning. His 3:56am (Arizona Time) blast at Senator/antagonist Jeff Flake - and touting primary challenger Kelli Ward - came 35 minutes after former Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth talked about the race and rally on Fox & Friends.


Hayworth called Flake "toxic"; the President echoed it in the tweet. Hayworth deftly side-stepped the question about whether the President would rather support a different Flake challenger than Ward; so did the President.

Yesterday, Arizona's Politics reported on Ward's rejection of the anonymous speculation in the Washington Times that Trump had "soured on Ward". Ward called that "fake news."  This morning's tweet certainly seems to validate Ward's remarks, as well as validating people who had told us that current Arizona Treasurer and Trump campaign CFO Jeff DeWit was not going to throw his hat into the anti-Flake ring.

But, the idea that Trump's tweet was a planned-out announcement of support for Ward and a subtle indicator that his campaign CFO was staying out of the race took a hit when viewed in light of Hayworth's Fox & Friends appearance several minutes earlier.

After dismissing Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton's call for a rally delay as "grandstanding", Hayworth hit his stride. "Jeff Flake is toxic! According to one poll, he only has an 18% approval rating. Dr. Kelli Ward is out working hard, her spots are already up on radio and television. She gave John McCain a great race in the primary in 2016 - in fact, performed better than I did in 2010 - she's got the momentum, she's gaining some of the money. Keep your eyes on Kelli Ward."

When served a softball about the Trump/Flake relationship, Hayworth swung: "Nonexistent. Jeff has done his best to be obnoxious, to be the smirking Senator that he's really known to be."

Flake and Hayworth were Arizona House Republican colleagues for several years.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

WATCH: Exasperated Fmr Gov. Jan Brewer Loses It On CNN, Defending President Trump

Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was clearly exasperated with media coverage of President Donald Trump's Charlottesville comments when she appeared on CNN last night.

Brewer lost it a couple of times in the extended segment with host Don Lemon and GOP consultant Ana Navarro. In fact, all three of them seemed to spend much of the time talking past each other, and it was Navarro who was in finger-wagging mode.

Brewer was a frequent surrogate for Trump during the 2015 and 2016 campaign, but has not had much airtime recently. It may not have been a coincidence that this appearance was hours before the President's new rally in Phoenix was announced for next Tuesday.




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Amended Complaint Filed Alleging 22 Invalid Petition Circulators For School Voucher Expansion Referendum (READ)

(UPDATES, 8/17, 12:10pm: State Elections Director Eric Spencer informs Arizona's Politics that "at this point we have not issued any final totals or sent any signatures to counties for their review.” 

Also, the Court docket does not yet show any hearing date for the circulator challenge.)


* * * * *

Proponents of expanding school voucher eligibility to all Arizona students have filed an amended complaint and are alleging that 22 petition circulators were invalid and all/most of their signatures to refere the expansion law to the 2018 ballot must be thrown out.

No court date has yet been set on the challenge filed by the Arizona chapter of Americans For Prosperity, and the Secretary of State's Office has now completed its initial review of the petitions. The County Recorders will have approximately three weeks (from when they receive the petitions from the Secretary of State) to verify a 5% sample.

The Save Our Schools Arizona referendum group turned in more than 111,000 petition signatures to halt the law passed earlier this year. If more than 75,321 are found to be valid after the random verifying and the court challenge(s), voters will determine the fate of the law next November.

The court challenge (so far) focuses on some of the petition circulators - both volunteer and paid - rather than on individual signatures. One of the more unique allegations is that eight circulators marked on some petitions that they were "volunteers" but then filed registrations with the Secretary of State indicating that they were "paid circulators".

Approximately 300 signatures might thus be tainted, according to attorneys Tim LaSota and Kory Langhofer for the plaintiffs. Toward the end of the petition-gathering period, the Save Our Schools committee decided to hire some circulators to increase their numbers; they may have hired some who had been volunteers.

Langhofer tells Arizona's Politics that Elections Director Eric Spencer has not yet determined what positions he will take on either the circulators issues or the separate issue of whether the petitions should be disqualified because they were improperly worded.



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"FAKE NEWS": Ahead Of Rally, Ward Disputes Washington Times Article Claiming Trump "Soured On Her"

Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward was immediately put on the defensive after next Tuesday's Trump rally in Phoenix was announced this morning. The Washington Times published a news article speculating that the President would spurn Ward's primary challenge to Senator Jeff Flake and instead endorse State Treasurer Jeff DeWit. In doing so, the unnamed Arizona sources said that Trump "soured on (Ward)" since meeting with her.

"Fake news," Ward told Arizona's Politics in a statement. "Our private discussions with the White House have been extremely positive and any report that say (sic) otherwise is utterly false, or fake news."

The campaign says the meeting(s) happened in the "end of June", and would not disclose who she met with.

Ward has made waves in recent weeks with a mega contribution to her super PAC by the Mercers (who gave heavily to KelliPAC last year when she ran against McCain) and some big hires. Her campaign declined to tell Arizona's Politics whether they are seeking a place on the stage at the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday.

However, DeWit has been a key surrogate and financial officer for Trump and his campaign organization. He has not given any indications that he plans to run against Flake, however, even though Trump would dearly love to knock the Senator out of Congress.

Former AZGOP Chair Robert Graham and Rep. Trent Franks have also been mentioned as possible primary challengers, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is considering running for the Democratic nomination.


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Monday, August 14, 2017

President To Fox News: On Verge Of Pardoning Fmr Sheriff Joe Arpaio; Arpaio "Happy", "100% Not Guilty"

(UPDATE, 3:20pm: The Department of Justice today declined to answer Arizona's Politics' questions about whether anyone from the White House has reached out to Attorney General Jeff Sessions - or, anyone in the DOJ - about either last month's conviction and/or a possible pardon. Added to article.)

President Donald Trump signaled yesterday to Fox News that he is on the verge of wiping out the July criminal contempt of court conviction of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio told Fox reporter Gregg Jarrett that he is "happy (Trump) understands the case,” and “I would accept the pardon because I am 100 percent not guilty.”

In an exclusive conversation with Jarrett, the President said he is "seriously considering a pardon for Sheriff Arpaio. He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him.”

(Some of) Arpaio's attorneys told Arizona's Politics today that they have no comment on these Presidential comments, and did not answer other questions about the case and legal fees.

The Court has set the sentencing hearing for October 5, and Arpaio and his counsel have promised appeals.

Jarrett notes today that the President could wait for the appeals process to unwind, but that Trump's comments tease a more impatient decision. “I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,” he said.

The Department of Justice today declined to answer Arizona's Politics' questions about whether anyone from the White House has reached out to Attorney General Jeff Sessions - or, anyone in the DOJ - about either last month's conviction and/or a possible pardon.

While neither Arpaio nor his counsel provided additional comment to Arizona's Politics, we did receive a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona reacting to the comments. The ACLU-Arizona has been a key player in the long-running legal action against Arpaio and the MCSO, including the Melendres case that led to the contempt of court charges.

ACLU-Arizona Deputy Legal Director Cecilia Wang said "President Trump would be literally pardoning Joe Arpaio’s flagrant violation of federal court orders that prohibited the illegal detention of Latinos. He would undo a conviction secured by his own career attorneys at the Justice Department. Make no mistake: This would be an official presidential endorsement of racism.”

Trump's pardon comments are not totally out of the blue. Arpaio's allies' calls for a pardon have increased since the July 31 conviction, and Arpaio has quietly fanned the talk while claiming that he is not asking for one from the President.

Arizona's Politics broke the story last week that rather than disburse the $462,000 leftover in his unsuccessful campaign account, Arpaio chose to file a new Statement of Organization. Because no 2016 committees are permitted to exist under Arizona law, the new committee preserves that bank account for future efforts, including the 2020 election cycle should the 85-year old Arpaio choose to run a redemption campaign.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

BREAKING: Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio Re-Files His Campaign Committee, Starts With $462k In Bank; "It's Stinky"

Last week, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt and ordered to appear for a sentencing hearing. Now, Arizona's Politics has learned the 85-year old Arpaio re-filed his Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio campaign committee the day after the contempt hearing ended.

Arpaio terminated his campaign committee on July 7, after losing his bid for a 7th term as Sheriff last November.  That termination (below) explained that he had had $462,049.01 left in the bank. Arizona law gives a candidate several options in how to dispose of surplus funds; Arpaio chose to transfer it to a new version of the "Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio" committee.

The paperwork for that new committee was posted yesterday afternoon by the Maricopa County Elections Department, although it was apparently filed on July 7. The next election for Maricopa County Sheriff is in 2020. (Sheriff Paul Penzone filed his new paperwork
on July 12, and has $25,100.92 in the bank as of July 1.)

The former long-time Sheriff signed on again as Chair of the new "Elect Sheriff Joe Arpaio" committee. Arpaio has until early 2020 to make up his mind about whether he wants his name on the primary election ballot, but this new filing keeps his options open and allows him to collect and spend money for a campaign.*

In an apparent clever attempt to avoid questions about trying to re-take his office, Arpaio's new Statement of Organization suggests that it is for the now-nonexistent "2016 election cycle."

Chandler attorney and election law expert Tom Ryan told Arizona's Politics that the new filing "is stinky."
"In the kindest words, it's sloppy to identify it as for the 2016 cycle. More likely, it is highly disingenuous given his past misconduct. Talk tough and later say he wasn't aware."
The new Statement of Organization is signed by both Joe as the "candidate" and "chairperson", and his wife Ava, as Treasurer. In another sloppy-at-kindest move, the phone number listed by the Arpaios is disconnected and the email address listed is inoperable.

If he decides to, there is little doubt that the 6-term former Sheriff could raise money for a campaign. Arpaio collected - and, spent - more than $13 million in his 2016 campaign committee.

Supporters of the self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff" claimed that the criminal contempt verdict was a "complete travesty of justice" James Fotis - who now claims to have raised/donated at least $300,000 to pay Arpaio's legal bills - and Arpaio's legal counsel said that an appeal would again be filed to seek a jury trial. (Courts all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled against Arpaio's pleas for a jury trial.)

On Thursday, Judge Susan Bolton held a 24-minute telephonic conference with attorneys for both sides in order to discuss procedures leading up to the October 5 sentencing.

*Although he wrote that the new committee is for the 2016 cycle, that is nonsensical and expressly counter to Arizona statutes. The freshly-amended laws required all committees active as of election day, 2016, to terminate; reading the new Statement of Organization as applying to the 2016 election cycle would be a Groundhog Day-esque attempt to set back the clock and would nullify the (required) Statement of Termination filed for the 2016 committee.





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Thursday, August 3, 2017

READ: AZ Supreme Court Breaks From The Herd - Shuts Out California Bar-7 Cattle (Without Re-Branding) (LEGAL ANALYSIS)

The Arizona Supreme Court unanimously reversed lower court judges today and rejected a California cattle rancher's efforts to bring its Bar-7 cattle to Arizona without rebranding them.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture had allowed the cattle drive. However, David Stambaugh, the Arizona rancher with the registered Bar-7 brand, protested the Department's decision, even after it was determined that the location of the branding would be on the left rib rather than Stambaugh's left hip-branded cattle.

Both the Superior Court judge and the Court of Appeals judges found that the Department's approval was okay based on interpretations of the Arizona branding statutes.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that the statutes were as clear as the June skies that the cattle were grazing under, and Justice Robert Brutinel authored the 6-page opinion (below) explaining why. Eureka Springs Cattle Co. will have to come up with another brand if their cattle will graze in Arizona.

Incidentally, new Justice Clint Bolick wrote a one-paragraph I'm-with-Gorsuch concurring opinion criticizing the well-known 1984 Supreme Court case Chevron v. NDRC. Bolick boasts that the Arizona Court has not given so-called "Chevron deference" to administrative agencies. ("I trust that, to the contrary, our (Arizona's) constitutional separation of powers remains vibrant, notwithstanding the extent to which the United States Supreme Court has eroded it in the federal context.")




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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

READ, ANALYSIS: Arizona's Minimum Wage Increase Initiative Legit Because Costs To State Are "Indirect", Supreme Court Unanimously Rules

The Arizona Supreme Court issue its unanimous opinion today, explaining why it permitted the minimum wage increase to go into effect in January. The challenge to the voter-passed initiative was brought by several Chambers of Commerce in Arizona, the Arizona Restaurant Association and others.

Written by Justice Ann Timmer, the opinion (below) spends most of its 11 pages analyzing the claims that the Fair Wages and Healthy Families initiative violated the state's constitutional Revenue Source Rule. That 33-year old rule (passed by voters) requires initiatives to provide for a revenue source if it mandates that the state spend money.

The petitioners claimed that the initiative - which passed easily in November - violated the Revenue Source Rule in at least two ways: that contracted providers (especially for the AHCCCS program) will have to pay their employees more and will pass those costs on to the state, and that the Industrial Commission will spend money to create rules and educate employers about the paid sick time provisions.

The Supreme Court feels strongly that the language of the Revenue Source Rule applies only if an initiative EXPLICITLY requires expenditures "or state actions that themselves inherently require expenditure of state revenues." However, Timmer writes, even if the wording of the rule was ambiguous, the Court would be concerned that invoking the rule "whenever an initiative or referendum indirectly causes an expenditure of state revenues would severely hamper the initiative process." (emphasis added) She continued:
It is implausible that qualified electors who seek to propose  an initiative measure could successfully scour the state’s innumerable dealings to anticipate and provide a funding source for any conceivable expenditures of state revenues that a ballot measure might indirectly cause. For example, electors would have to account for the costs to train affected employees, contract for goods and services, or even to publish the new law itself. Our construction of § 23(A) avoids this cumbersome consequence and preserves an initiative and referendum practice that has been a tool of direct democracy for more than a century.
She did warn, however, that proponents of future initiatives cannot blatantly avoid the rule:
We reject, however, the real–parties–in–interest’s assertion that the Revenue Source Rule, § 23(A) applies only when an initiative or referendum explicitly directs an expenditure of state revenues and not when it directs state action that itself inherently requires such an expenditure. If we were to adopt this construction, the Rule could be easily circumvented. For example, rather than directing the legislature to spend one million dollars to establish a new agency, an initiative could simply direct the legislature to establish the agency. This would result in the type of unfunded mandate the Revenue Source Rule sought to remedy....Thus, fairly read, the Revenue Source Rule also applies whenever an initiative or referendum expressly requires state action that inherently requires a non–discretionary expenditure of state revenues.
Nevertheless, the initiative at hand did not run afoul of the Revenue Source Rule because the ICA could control its costs to promulgate and educate until fines and penalties included in the initiative cover such costs. And, the state is not mandated to increase its payments to contractor simply because those contractors' costs have increased as a result of the higher minimum wage.

The Court quickly swatted away the other issues that the Chambers raised, saying that the Arizona Constitution's Separate Amendment Rule and Single Subject Rule were not relevant because the former applies to proposed constitutional amendments and that the latter does not apply to initiatives (only to acts from the Legislature).

In December, the Supreme Court denied a request for an emergency stay to keep the $10/hour minimum wage from going into effect on New Year's, then unanimously rejected the Chambers' action entirely in March, promising an opinion at a later date. That opinion is now here.


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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

LEGAL UPDATE: AZ Supreme Court To Explain Why They Allowed Minimum Wage Increase To Go Into Effect

Tomorrow, the Arizona Supreme Court will issue its opinion explaining why it permitted the minimum wage increase to go into effect in January. The challenge to the voter-passed initiative was brought by several Chambers of Commerce in Arizona, the Arizona Restaurant Association and others.

The Supreme Court denied a request for an emergency stay to keep the $10/hour minimum wage from going into effect on New Year's, then unanimously rejected the Chambers' action entirely in March, promising an opinion at a later date.

The Supreme Court announced this morning that that later date is here, and that the opinion will be released at 10a.m. on Wednesday.

The initiative also put into law allowing employees to accrue paid sick leave.




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Monday, July 31, 2017

READ: Guilty! Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio Guilty Of Criminal Contempt




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