FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Monday, June 26, 2017

READ: CBO's Report On Senate Healthcare Reform Bill





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Thursday, June 22, 2017

READ: Senate's Bill To Repeal and Replace Obamacare

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

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




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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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



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Saturday, June 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Here are McSally's interviews on both networks.

***


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President Trump's New Personal Lawyer Very Familiar To Arizonans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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Friday, June 16, 2017

WATCH: Rep. Franks Confirms FBI Contacted Him, Probably Was On Shooter's Hit List

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R-CD8) carefully confirmed that he has been contacted by the FBI about the investigation into Wednesday's mass shooting at a Republicans-only baseball practice. "And yes, that I might be involved in that investigation." Fox News and other media are reporting that the FBI found a list of six GOP Congressmen on the shooter's body, and that Franks is one of those.

Franks spoke carefully with Fox News' Martha MacCallum (below), and preached that "we have to speak to the issues facing us with a principled persuasion rather than just screaming at each other."

"We solve our problems by ballots, not with bullets," he added.

This is the 3rd day in a row that Arizona's Politics has reported on Arizona Congressmen or former Congressmen opining about the political rhetoric. Former Congressman and a victim from the most recent political mass shooting (in Tucson) aimed at a Member of Congress Ron Barber spoke with us eloquently on Wednesday, and Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) spoke on NPR about bins of hate referencing his young daughter yesterday.

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



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BREAKING: New Lawsuit Seeking Trump Administration Plans/Analyses/Etc For Arizona's Portion of Border Wall

The new watchdog group American Oversight filed a FOIA lawsuit today to obtain government plans and analyses regarding the border wall that President Donald Trump made a cornerstone of last year's campaign. The suit is partly focused on Arizona's portion of the border that would be on land that is part of the Tohono O'odham nation.
(NBC News)

The news release from American Oversight highlights the Freedom of Information Act requests that it is seeking to enforce, including these regarding the sovereign Tohono O'odham portion:

  • DOI: Communications and analysis from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) related to the wall’s impact on the Tohono O’odham Nation.
  • DHS: Communications from DHS with, and related to, the Tohono O’odham Nation.
  • DHS: Analysis of the impact of the border wall on the Tohono O’odham Nation.
The communications include any contacts the federal government has had with the Tohono O'odham Nation or its lobbyists. The Nation has one of the largest lobbying contracts in Washington, although until recently, much of that was focused on the battle to open up the heavily contested casino west of Phoenix.

Here is the specific part of the Complaint dealing with the Tohono O'odham portion. (The rest of the complaint can be found here):

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

LISTEN/READ: Arizona Rep. Schweikert's Received "Bins...Of Vile Hate...Going At My Little Girl"

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) said today that he has received "bins" of hate messages directed at his daughter. Earlier in the same interview, he said that President Donald Trump has not learned "the disciplined use of language and what certain words mean in (political) context."

(The interview is embedded below and the transcript is below the jump.)

Schweikert "sort of" acknowledged that his comments about the President seem "sort of odd coming from sort of a conservative libertarian", but that he thinks it is reasonable for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be looking into possible efforts to obstruct justice.

Schweikert made his remarks on NPR's Morning Edition program today, and noted that he was supposed to be at the practice where the mass shooting injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others took place.*  He went on to note that he and other GOP House members have been talking about "the ocean of sort of vile sort of hate that has come running into our social media, into our mailboxes and taped to our doors and even mailed to home."

The eye-opening part of that is that Schweikert stated that his recently-adopted young daughter has not been immune from the vitriol.  "we have bins where they they're even going at my little girl."
INSKEEP: You've received messages referring to your daughter?
SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. And it just shows you there's something that's become toxic in the souls out there.

Yesterday, Arizona's Politics reported on comments from former Rep. (and mass shooting victim) Ron Barber, calling on everyone to stop the "political rhetoric and harsh vitriol" that has created such an environment.

Schweikert was elected to Congress in 2010, defeating Harry Mitchell in a campaign that focused on the passage of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). However, he typically personally refrains from the incendiary rhetoric that others engage in - both supporting and opposing him.

* In a funny flip from Arizona Sen. John McCain's explanation last week, Schweikert says he missed baseball because he overslept due to time zones.



(Transcript below the jump)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Former Rep. Ron Barber: "Political Rhetoric and Harsh Vitriol Which Creates This Environment Just Has To Stop"

Former Arizona Congressman Ron Barber has a unique perspective - and many thoughts - on today's shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others at the Republican baseball practice in Virginia. The bottom line is that he is amplifying his call for civility, and for an end to the "harsh vitriol" that dominated the 2016 campaign and since.


"We need to have the kind of political leadership from the White House on down, and the political rhetoric and harsh vitriol which creates this environment just has to stop," Barber told Arizona's Politics this afternoon.

Barber was the District Director for Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when both were shot at close range in January, 2011. Six people were killed and 16 others were hit in the last mass shooting targeting a U.S. Congressperson.  He then replaced Giffords in Congress for 2 1/2 years.

As a result, he knows both Scalise and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (witness/action-taker), and he urges people to join him in being "especially mindful of the families, in addition to the witnesses, the police and those who are personally affected." In keeping with his emphasis on mental health before and after his political experience, Barber urged Scalise and the others to seek out counseling services to deal with today's events. "I did, and I hope they do, too."

Barber notes that he knew Flake well and spoke with him many times - both because Flake and Giffords were friends and because they were part of Arizona's Congressional delegation. Noting how Flake immediately drove to Tucson and spent that January Saturday at University Medical Center during Giffords' struggle to survive being shot in the head, Barber says "I know (the 2011 mass shooting) had to effect him. He has a big heart and is a good person. (But) this may effect him more today because he witnessed it."

"My call then and my call today: more civility in public discourse," Barber concluded.


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WATCH: Sen. Flake Describing the Shooting Scene

Courtesy of CNN, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake describing the shooting scene this mornng.



It was no surprise that Sen. Flake was present at the Republicans' practice. He has participated in the annual Congressional Baseball Classic for many years.
(from 2013 game)


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

BREAKING: Reps. Grijalva and Gallego Among 196 Democratic Members Of Congress Suing President Trump (READ)

Arizona Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-CD7) and Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) are among the 196 Representatives and Senators filing suit against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. The
Democrats are claiming that the President is violating the Constitution's Foreign Emoluments Clause by not obtaining Congress' permission before accepting monies from foreign governments in his hotels, office towers and more.

Arizona's other two Democratic Representatives - Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and Tom O'Halleran (D-CD1) did not sign on to the case being filed in U.S. DC District Court. Nationally, 166 of the House's 194 Democrats are participating, as are 30 of the 46 Democratic Senators.

The Representatives and Senators are reportedly splitting the litigation costs, and are paying out of their pockets or their campaign committee's coffers.

Here is the Complaint:



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Phoenix Unanimously Approves Colorado River Water Conservation Agreement With Gila River Indian Community

This afternoon, the Phoenix City Council unanimously approved paying $2M this year, so that the Gila River Indian Community will give up some of its Colorado River water allocation and leave the water in Lake Mead.

Arizona's Politics reported yesterday on the agreement - which also includes the federal and state governments and the Walton Family Foundation.

Here is the overwhelmingly positive news release from the City after the vote this afternoon, with quotes from your favorite Mayor or City Councilmember (and more).

Phoenix Approves Historic Colorado River Conservation AgreementPartnership Aims to Protect Lake Mead Water Levels

PHOENIX – Mayor Greg Stanton and the Phoenix City Council today unanimously approved an agreement with tribal, state, federal and philanthropic leaders to help protect the Colorado River and preserve water levels in Lake Mead. 

The agreement with State of Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Walton Family Foundation will save the equivalent of 35 percent of the Colorado River water used by Phoenix residents each year.  Specifically, it will fund a contribution of 13 billion gallons of Colorado River water to system conservation in Lake Mead this year.

The Colorado River – essential to Arizona’s water supply – is over-allocated and regarded as one of the most endangered rivers in the nation, and Lake Mead is at 40 percent capacity.  To preserve the state’s long-term water supply, cities like Phoenix must take a more active and leading role, said Stanton.  System-wide solutions like this agreement establish a long-term partnership between tribal, federal, state and local leaders and a philanthropic foundation that helps conserve precious water resources in Lake Mead.

“Smart water policy is essential to our economy and to every Arizonan,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “This historic agreement shows how by thinking creatively and working together we can protect our future Colorado River water supply and safeguard against the continued drought and climate change that are directly impacting Lake Mead.”

“With this action we will continue to plan responsibly for the future of our city, through partnership and collaboration,” said Councilwoman Kate Gallego.  “Sustainable solutions to our water supply needs require collaboration. This agreement not only supports the overall health of the Colorado River; it also establishes a long-term partnership that helps conserve precious water resources in Lake Mead.”

“With the largest Colorado River water entitlement delivered through the CAP system, the Community has the ability to meet our needs and still make its supply available elsewhere in times of need,” said Gila River Governor Stephen R. Lewis. “We consider this agreement a continuation of our commitments made to the United States in January that will allow Arizona parties to continue their negotiations and efforts to adopt a comprehensive plan that meets Arizona's water supply needs and also addresses the severe drought on the Colorado River.”

“This agreement will allow for the creation of tools that will be effective in protecting Lake Mead,” said Thomas Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. “Those tools will be enduring and inclusive, allowing for participation by a broad group of Arizona water entitlement holders and other constituencies.”

Under the agreement, the Gila River Indian Community will contribute 40,000 acre-feet of its Colorado River allocation to system conservation. The City will contribute $2 million towards the program. While the financial commitment in this agreement is for one year only, it is anticipated that the State of Arizona, the City of Phoenix, the Walton Family Foundation, and others may continue those contributions into the future to develop a regional system conservation program that will be open to additional water contributors and additional funders.

“Phoenix continues to plan for conditions on the Colorado River to ensure it is well positioned to contend with shortages,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams who chairs the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association.  “We must protect and preserve the rivers and lakes that our city and state rely upon; this agreement is a prime example of working together with regional partners to create a smart approach for system conservation of the Colorado River and Lake Mead.” 

“Economic development in the state of Arizona depends on a secure water supply,” said Councilman Jim Waring. “This agreement helps create resiliency on the Colorado River, economic security, and most importantly, certainty for the future of Phoenix.”

“The combined metropolitan areas in Arizona, Southern California, Colorado and Nevada served by the Colorado River represent the world’s 12th largest economy, and no matter how well Phoenix has planned to avoid a water shortage, the regional economy may suffer if reliable water supplies are threatened,” said Councilman Daniel Valenzuela. “This agreement shows the City of Phoenix is taking proactive steps to be sure we have enough water under any future circumstances.”

"Phoenix is a leader when it comes to smart, water supply planning, which is vital for our city's future," said Councilwoman Debra Stark. "As someone with a planning background, I know the importance of coming up with creative solutions for real issues. This agreement is a great partnership that has led to an innovative water conservation system."

“I am proud that the City Council unanimously approved this agreement to help preserve the state’s long-term water supply through system conservation on the Colorado River and in Lake Mead,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski. “With this vote, the City of Phoenix has a taken the lead in ensuring future generations will have a resilient water supply and a catalyst for economic prosperity.”

"I was part of the original water settlements for the City," said Councilman Sal DiCiccio, “And it's critical we continue to move forward with our conservation efforts. I am proud to support this innovative agreement that helps protect Phoenix's precious Colorado River water supply."

Funding for Phoenix’s portion will come from the Colorado River Resiliency Fund, which was approved by the Phoenix City Council in 2014. The Colorado River Resiliency Fund supports projects focused on water supply resiliency, including system conservation efforts.

“I particularly want to recognize the visionary leadership of Governor Stephen Roe Lewis and the Gila River Indian Community as we move forward with this partnership,” added Gallego. “The Gila River Indian Community has been an excellent partner for the City of Phoenix in this process, and I look forward to both our communities working together in the future.  As a desert city, Phoenix knows the value of water and its importance for our future, and I’m extremely proud to take part in this innovative water resource partnership.”


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REMATCH IN CD2? Matt Heinz Announces New Effort To Defeat Rep. McSally In #CD2 (READ)

Tucson physician Matt Heinz announced today that he will try again to unseat Rep. Martha McSally (R-CD2). He lost to her by a margin of 54% to 46% last year.

Of course, McSally herself took two tries to gain the hotly-contested, "swing" district in southern Arizona. The incumbent that she defeated in 2014 - Ron Barber - is now leading an effort to draft Ann Kirkpatrick (another former Representative) to lead the Democratic charge next year.

Heinz raised (and spent) nearly $1.6M in the 2016 campaign. McSally currently has $631,000 stashed in the bank for the 2018 campaign. And, of course, it is almost guaranteed that outside groups will once again spend heavily on both sides in this toss-up district.

Here is Heinz's announcement email:


Mitch – first, I wanted to say thank you.
Last year, your support made it possible for me to take on Martha McSally. Even though we didn't get the outcome we had hoped for, I was honored to have you by my side every step of the way.
Which is why I wanted you to be the first to know that I’m running again to defeat Martha McSally in 2018.
But I can’t do this without you. We need to show Martha McSally that we’re in it to win, so I’m hoping we can get 100 founding members to join my campaign in the next 24 hours.
Since the election, Martha McSally’s approval rating has dropped significantly. 53% of her constituents disapprove of the job she is doing. In the latest head-to-head polling, I’m beating her 48% to 44%.
This race is winnable in 2018, but only if I have the same support and buy-in from you that I did last year. With a grassroots movement behind me, I’m more confident than ever that we can turn the tide next year.
Let’s do this together. Please become a founding member of my 2018 campaign by contributing any amount now. >>
More soon…
Thanks in advance,
Dr. Matt Heinz

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