APS stooges running for AZ Corp Comm are shady, even for Republicans.

24 Sep 2014 05:34 pm
Posted by: Donna

Candidates Forese and Little in front of a sign that was not paid for until a month later.

With all the important midterm races going on in Arizona this year, you may not have been following the shocking and brazen behavior of the Republican candidates for AZ Corporation Commission. Doug Forese and Tom Little are the favored candidates of Arizona Public Service (APS), which is the state’s largest utility (and is really a private corporation despite its name). But Forese and Little are running under the state’s Clean Elections funding, which means they have to pretend they aren’t wholly owned subsidiaries of APS for the duration of the election season. This has apparently not been as easy for them to pull off as one might think, since Forese and Little are the subject of complaints to the Clean Elections Commission about their highly dubious campaign activities and finance reporting.

Here’s AZ Capitol Times with a rundown of the complaint centering on signature collection:

Little reported paying $2,790 for paid signatures. Forese didn’t report paying for any. The vast majority of the 14,823 signatures submitted between the two of them were collected by professional signature gatherers.

Jim Barton, an attorney representing the Democratic Party, wrote in the complaint that an investigation into the matter is warranted because of the number of signatures submitted by the two candidates, who are running as a team, has a market value of roughly $19,500.

Because the two candidates are running under the state’s public financing system, their campaign spending is subject to increased scrutiny by the Clean Elections office. They could be fined, or even removed from the ballot if violations are valued at more than $24,405.

A complaint filed by Barton last week alleges that the two candidates either illegally went into debt to produce campaign signs, or illegally spent primary-specific money for the general election.

Actually 78% of Doug Little’s signatures were collected by one woman, Suzanne Dreher, who is known to be a paid petition circulator, while an impressive 100% of Tom Forese’s signatures were collected by Ms. Dreher. All for the low, low price of $2790 for one candidate and $0 for the other? Nah.

A complaint filed on September 9th has to do with the mysterious appearance of Little and Forese signs before there was any indication of them being paid for. Attorney Jim Barton, who is representing the AZ Democratic Party in the complaint, alerted the Commission to campaign finance reports stating that Forese and Little both made payments of most of their Clean Elections primary allotment to an outfit called Americopy on August 13th and August 11th, respectively. Americopy is owned by Alan Heywood, who happens to be the campaign manager for both Forese and Little.

If there were signs up prior to August 11th and 13th, then the candidates would be in trouble for getting what amounts to an illegal loan from their campaign manager. I’m sure I saw their signs well before August but you don’t have to take my recollection on that when there are seven people prepared to testify seeing the signs in July, according to the complaint. And remember that Forese and Little were in a tough primary against Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason, who were running as a more renewable energy-friendly team. Even if they wanted to pull some shenanigans to put all their primary money toward the general election (which is illegal with Clean Elections funding), they still needed to spend something in the primary to get their name out. And oh look, here are Forese and Little standing in front of one of their signs in July for a Republic photo op!

Once the complaint was out, and getting local media coverage, liberal activists around the state began noticing that Forese and Little signs were disappearing at a rapid clip. A source close to one of the Democratic candidates told me that his volunteers estimate that up to 80% of their signs were gone by mid-September. A man named Derrick Lee, who puts up signs for a living, reported to Jim Barton that he worked for Americopy and put up many of the Forese/Little signs. Lee said that Americopy is scrupulous – to the point of anal-retentiveness – about precise sign placement and accounting of their locations. Lee has made himself available for testimony about Americopy’s business practices, according to Barton in an email to the Commission. This mysterious disappearance of signs looks very much like an attempt to by the candidates and Americopy cover their tracks.

So where is APS in all this? They are believed to be the main funding source of independent expenditure (IE) dark money spent to defeat Forese’s and Little’s primary opponents, with a whopping $800K spent to defeat Vernon Parker alone. APS is expected to go after Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Jim Holway with more dark money in the general and may even play in Attorney General and Secretary of State race. My Democratic source tells me he believes the shady activity of the Republican Corp Comm candidates goes all the way up to the top of APS. Considering what a collection of doofuses Forese, Little, and their campaign manager Heywood appear to be, it shouldn’t be too difficult to determine if criminal conspiracy charges are warranted, if those in the position to do that are so inclined.

At the very least there should be enough evidence of brazen Clean Elections violations to get Forese and Little off the ballot.

Yes, women are going to jail for abortion. Right now. Wake up, Arizona Democrats.

23 Sep 2014 05:40 pm
Posted by: Donna

Katie Halperin of the New York Times interviewed the mother in Pennsylvania who is beginning a harsh prison sentence for obtaining abortion pills for her teenage daughter.

Whalen told me that in the winter of 2012, her daughter came to her and said she was pregnant. Whalen told her she would “support her in any decision she made.” Her daughter, who was in high school, took a few days to think and then asked her mother for help ending the pregnancy. “She said, ‘I can’t have a baby right now,’ and she asked me to look up clinics,” Whalen said.

Together, they looked online. The closest clinic was about 75 miles away. Pennsylvania requires women seeking abortions to first receive counseling and wait 24 hours before returning for the procedure. The cost of a first-trimester abortion is typically between $300 and $600. Whalen works as a personal-care aide at an assisted-living center for the elderly. She didn’t have health insurance for her daughter. And she was worried about taking time away from work and her family to make two trips or to stay overnight. At the time, Whalen and her husband shared one car, which they both used to get to work. And she hadn’t told her husband about the pregnancy. “I knew he would be upset, and I was protecting the whole family,” she said. (Whalen’s husband, who waited outside in the car during our interview, declined to talk to me.)
Continue reading the main story

Whalen called a local women’s center on her daughter’s behalf but was told no one there could help, she said. She and her daughter did more online searching, and a site popped up with misoprostol and mifepristone for sale for $45. Whalen hadn’t heard of the medication before. “I read all the information,” she said. “They said these pills would help give a miscarriage, and they were the same ones a doctor would give you.” She says she had no idea that buying them was illegal.

Anti-choice activists deny that women themselves will be prosecuted for abortion but Halperin notes that several cases of that have occurred, despite abortion being legal.

In the era before Roe v. Wade, the laws against helping with self-induction aimed to protect desperate women from dangerous procedures and unscrupulous providers. But the recent prosecutions of women are about something else. In many of these cases, women were charged after trying to end pregnancies that had advanced far into the second trimester, after fetal remains were discovered. For example, in a 2011 case from New York, a 20-year-old was charged with the misdemeanor of self-abortion in the first degree when the superintendent of her apartment building found a stillborn fetus in the trash. The district attorney later dropped the case. Nash’s list includes one person, other than Whalen, who went to jail: a 22-year-old mother of three in South Carolina who was sentenced to 90 days in 2005 after taking misoprostol about 16 weeks into her pregnancy.

Which means that anti-choicers are (shockingly!) lying about their punitive intentions toward women. Always have been. Some conservatives, like Ian Tuttle of NRO, seem to know the game is up and and are now advising women to just do what anti-choicers want so as to avoid be hurt or jailed.

One can sympathize with Jennifer Ann Whalen’s daughter’s panic, and with her mother’s desire to help. And perhaps Whalen broke the law not willfully, but on account of ignorance — in which case, perhaps her sentence is severe. Regardless, Whalen’s case offers no evidence that Pennsylvania legislators have done anything to endanger women. In fact, Whalen’s daughter would have been safer had her mother simply followed the law.

This is no longer in the theoretical realm. It is real. It’s only a matter of time before it’s happening in Arizona (if it isn’t already). So why aren’t voters getting a constant message about how Doug Ducey (and the other Republicans) will put women in jail for abortion? How many young women are going to sit out this election because no one scared the shit out of them about the very real possibility of being jailed for an abortion or even a miscarriage under an anti-choice Doug Ducey administration with an equally anti-choice Attorney General Mark Brnovich enforcing his agenda? Yes, ads telling women voters that Doug Ducey will put them in jail would be met with stern disapproval from the AZ Republic ed board but so what? If conservative gasbags aren’t outraged by your attack you’re doing it wrong.
Let them harrumph about a strong pro-choice message against Ducey et al like they are over the Gabby Giffords ads truthfully pointing out how Republican candidates embrace gun policies that lead to stalkers and domestic abusers getting guns easily and people ending up murdered.

Anti-choice laws lead directly to women taking matters into their own hands and facing death, injury, and/or prosecution. That is a fact. It does not matter that Roe v Wade is still technically the law of the land nor does it matter what Doug Ducey’s own intentions are. The Dems in Colorado aren’t afraid to run hard on reproductive rights. When are Arizona Dems going to catch up?

The AZ Republic believes that Gabby Giffords is rude for, and also isn’t capable of, talking about gun violence.

22 Sep 2014 05:38 pm
Posted by: Donna

Pearl clutch

We don’t get the physical AZ Republic anymore so I missed yesterday’s editorial wherein the ed board wheezed itself into a paroxysm of umbrage over an ad that Gabby Giffords’ and Mark Kelly’s Responsible Solutions PAC are running in opposition to Tucson Congressional candidate Martha McSally (R). The ad depicts a mother who lost her husband and daughter to the daughter’s deranged ex-boyfriend who was easily able to get a gun thanks to decades of politicians caving in to the gun lobby in every way possible.

Actually the Republic op-ed came to my attention through this Politico piece in which Alex Isenstadt said the dumbest thing ever uttered on Politico.

On Friday, the Arizona Republic’s editorial page, which is typically liberal leaning, called the “Vicki” ad “base and vile.”

This is an impressive feat, considering it’s Politico. The gist of both the Politico and the Republic op-ed that inspired it is that Gabby Giffords is being terribly unladylike in the way that she is truthfully pointing out that certain Republican candidates have problematic stances on guns. It’s terribly uncouth to connect the dots between stalker ex-boyfriends easily getting guns and politicians who make that possible.

What’s even more precious about the AZ Republic op-ed is how it treats Giffords as if she’s an unwitting pawn.

So we ask again, Americans for Responsible Solutions, do you know what you’re doing?

Do the people who control your messaging know they are marring the legacy of a congresswoman known for her decency and good judgment, who practiced civility in office with such consistency she did not just reach across the aisle but found cherished friends there?…

…Perhaps the Tucson shooting changed Gabby Giffords. Perhaps she is the one who controls the message. But we doubt it.

That’s not who she is.

Do you know what’s really unseemly, AZ Republic ed board? Making assumptions about Gabby Giffords’ mental competence in the aftermath of her injury, because that’s exactly what you are doing here, you cretins.

But at least they’ll never forget the true hero in all this:

We have never forgotten the stricken face of Republican Jeff Flake after he raced down to Tucson in 2011 after a gunman shot his friend Giffords and 18 others.

Poor dear must have strained a brow muscle doing that.

AZ Republic won’t endorse in any Legislative race in the general election

19 Sep 2014 05:41 pm
Posted by: Donna

I got forwarded an email by a Dem consultant earlier. It was an exchange between a Dem campaign manager and an editor at the AZ Republic. I’m not calling this particular editor out because this is endemic problem at the paper and it is clearly coming from the top. Here’s the editor’s brusque reply to the manager’s query about general election endorsements:

We are not endorsing any legislative races in the general election. It’s a matter of staffing, time and resources.

Oh really? They had plenty of staff, time, and resources to devote to endorsing in the primaries, not to mention endless op-eds hand-wringing over them and cajoling those precious “independent” voters to ride in and save “moderate” Republicans. And now they don’t have anything to spare for general races? Not even for the handful of competitive ones like the House races in LD9, 18, and 28 (apologies if I’m forgetting other LDs)? This is not only unfair to Democrats who didn’t have primaries, thus never got interviewed for the primary endorsement, but it is incredibly dismissive of the majority of voters who show up for the general election. Basically the Republic is telling the general voters in LD28 that there’s no difference between Dr. Eric Meyer (D) and former Rick Santorum staffer and Tea Party darling Shawnna Bolick (R). Same goes in LD18 for teacher and community leader Mitzi Epstein (D) and Jill Norgaard (R), who is so rabidly anti-choice she doesn’t even support exceptions for the life of the woman, as well as Dr. Randall Friese (D), the surgeon who saved Congresswoman Giffords’ life and who is running to be a strong advocate for health care and Ethan Orr (R), who (yes) is not the worst Republican in the Legislature but that’s hardly high praise.

My theory is that the Arizona establishment’s fixation on primaries, and their near-religious certainty that all elections are won in them is of a piece with their belief that Clean Elections caused all the extremism here. It’s myopia and elitism. The idea is that if they could just get those damn unruly activist base primary voters out of the way, moderation would reign in Arizona! They’re wrong about that but appear to be uninterested in pursuing an actual solution to the problem with our Legislature, which would be to have Democrats take over at least one chamber. The invariable response I get to that from them is that it would be impossible for that to happen. Well guys, this ongoing project of rescuing the GOP from the radicals via primaries doesn’t seem to be working either. The thing that has moderated the Legislature in recent years was the addition of enough Dems to deprive them of a veto-proof majority.

Why has Shawnna Bolick removed her previous employment with Rick Santorum from her campaign website?

18 Sep 2014 04:35 pm
Posted by: Donna

Y u no wanna namecheck me anymore Shawnna?

AZ Representative Dr. Eric Meyer (D-28) sent out a statement calling on his Republican opponent Shawnna Bolick to denounce Russell Pearce for his recent comments extolling forced sterilization of poor women. Pearce had proudly endorsed Bolick, even going so far as to recommend single-shotting her. Bolick responded to Meyer thusly:

Oh, she wants to talk about guilt by association, does she? It’s funny because I was looking at her bio to find that quote about how working with Sen. Rick Santorum was where her “pro-life and Republican values became cemented for life” and, lo and behold, the reference to her employment with him is gone! Here’s what the paragraph that contained the previous Santorum love says now:

Bolick graduated from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs with a B.A. While she attended college, she was involved with Alpha Phi Omega (national service fraternity), an early morning disc jockey on WERW, and Concert Board. Shawnna moved to the DC area upon graduation from the Maxwell School to complete her Masters coursework from American University. While attending graduate school, Shawnna worked on Capitol Hill. Shawnna also is no stranger to the inner workings of state government. She interned in the New York State Assembly one semester as an undergraduate. After completing her graduate coursework she moved to Austin, TX where she worked for now Texas Governor Rick Perry on his high tech council.

Ouch! Rick Perry gets to stay in the bio but creepy sweater vest Rick who thinks birth control makes the Savior weep gets erased? Interesting. Let’s ponder why Bolick mightn’t want the voters in the general election in LD28 to know that she not only found Rick Santorum tolerable, she actually admired him enough to seek out a job with him. Oh right, because that would tell them literally everything they need to know about her. I mean, ew. Sorry Rick, but Shawnna has to pretend to be not that into you right now in the hopes that she’ll get elected and turn right around and be a reliable vote for the radical Religious Right*.

My suggestion to Eric Meyer campaign is to bring up Bolick’s connection to Rick Santorum at every possible opportunity. I regret not screenshotting her original bio page but, whatever, Bolick was proud to tell Sonoran Alliance she worked for Santorum back during the primary.

Also, don’t vote for that stupid Goldwater Institute Right To Be Bilked Before You Die measure she’s shilling.

*Except she’ll leave your porn and gambling alone, guys.

How do you like your Hobby Lobby now, Doug Ducey and other GOP candidates?

16 Sep 2014 03:30 pm
Posted by: Donna

Per Ian Millhiser:

Citing Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court’s decision last June holding that the religious objections of a business’ owners could trump federal rules requiring that business to include birth control coverage in its health plan, a federal judge in Utah held last week that a member of a polygamist religious sect could refuse to testify in a federal investigation into alleged violations of child labor laws because he objects to testifying on religious grounds…

…The federal child labor investigation arose from a CNN report investigating claims that Jeffs “ordered all schools closed for a week so children could go to work picking pecans off trees at a private ranch” in Utah. The report included video of “hundreds of children, many of them very small” working on the ranch. When the reporters arrived, CNN also caught video of the FLDS children fleeing the cameras.

Yet, according to an order signed by Judge David Sam, a Reagan appointee to a trial court in Utah, the federal officials investigating this alleged violation of child labor laws will not be able to require an FLDS member named Vernon Steed to provide information that could aid the investigation because Steed objects to giving certain testimony on religious grounds. Steed claims that he’s made “religious vows ‘not to discuss matters related to the internal affairs or organization of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’” According to Judge Sam’s opinion, that’s enough to exempt him from providing the testimony he does not want to give.

Whoops.

A couple of things here: It’s possible that Sam’s ruling will be overturned if a higher court adheres to the Hobby Lobby v Burwell “narrowly tailored ruling” standard (translation: “This is strictly about the sluts!” “Also, too, only the religions we like”) so don’t be getting your schadenfreude going just yet. Still, this does show that opening the door to religious discrimination means that others will want to go through it and will be willing to tie up the courts for years, if need be. The other thing is that I warned everyone that the ruling didn’t just apply to bosses and business owners. It can be asserted by anyone – an employee, a student, in this case a witness to a child labor abuse case – who thinks that their “religious freedom” is being infringed by having to do anything they don’t want, which includes things that serve a legitimate public interest. Such as not forcing small children to work in fields.

This brings me to Arizona, and our upcoming statewide elections. A lot of Republicans here thought the Hobby Lobby decision was just ducky, including candidate for Governor Doug Ducey (R) and Attorney General candidate NOT Tom Horne aka Mark Brnovich (R). Secretary of State candidate Michele Reagan voted for the legislative version of Hobby Lobby, SB1062, back in March, as did all but three Republican legislators. Many of those legislators are up for reelection. Back when they were having hearings about SB1062, Republican lawmakers chortled at the many scenarios Democrats (rightly) raised about where the law could go. One Republican called them “goofy hypotheticals”. Well, it appears those zany FLDSers have proven us right, Republicans.

This case was in Utah but FDLS has a big presence in this state too, and they are subjecting children to the same kind of horrors. But Ducey, Brnovich, Reagan, and a host of Republican incumbents and candidates for state legislature think it’s super important to let bosses pry into women’s private lives and businesses be able to deny service to LGBT citizens and have refused to trouble their beautiful minds over the possible unintended consequences. Then again, it’s likely that a lot of them consider things like child abuse to be a feature, not a bug.

They’re shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

15 Sep 2014 02:57 pm
Posted by: Donna

Let’s say you are Sean Noble, a Koch-ed up dark money operative who has been the focus of some negative attention for your activities. You’d probably prefer to be known for something else in the midst of a heated general election cycle in Arizona, where you are the manager of the GOP candidate for Attorney General. Then it comes to your attention that former AZ Senate President Russell Pearce has said some vile things in public, as he is wont to do. And as right wingers are wont to do so often, Pearce focused his wrath on poor women. In this case Pearce says that poor women on public assistance should be forcibly sterilized.

Forcible sterilization of poor women is not part of the GOP platform (yet) so you, Sean Noble, are provided with a perfect opportunity to change your own public image and help your candidate. You make a statement denouncing Pearce in the strongest possible terms and demanding that he resign as Vice Chair of the AZ GOP. Luckily for you, there are several columnists and pundits around these parts who are such suckers for the faint possibility of “moderate Republicans” taking over the state that you should easily find at least one to get your statement out there and obligingly portray you as the hero of the whole thing. If you are successful in this endeavor you can count on having any description of Sean Noble as “that Koch brothers dark money guy” countered with, “but he also went after Russell Pearce for saying that thing!”, for at least the duration of the election season, as if the latter cancels out the former.

More importantly, because not many people outside of insider baseball care about a consultant, your AZAG NOT Tom Horne candidate will also benefit by releasing his own statement condemning Pearce and calling for his resignation from that volunteer symbolic position with the AZ GOP (which Pearce did late Sunday night). Brnovich, a little known Tea Party protest candidate, is not exactly stellar competition to Democrat Felecia Rotellini in the general. He needs any help he can get to look like a mainstream guy, and especially one who isn’t hostile to women.

Noble and Brnovich were followed by GOP Governor candidate Doug Ducey and Secretary of State candidate Michele Reagan in denouncing Pearce, though only Reagan asked him to step down as chair. Pearce was quick, and you could even say good-sported, about resigning his unpaid party position, which makes it worth noting that, thus far, no Republican (including Noble and Brnovich) has demanded that Pearce resign or be fired from his highly paid cushy job with the Maricopa County Treasurer. I’m just saying this looks a bit contrived at this point. Never forget how Pearce was the hero of the Republicans only four short years ago for SB1070, which ensured a GOP statewide sweep in that midterm election, and he had already established a long track record of bigoted statements, like this one from 2007:

“Tough, nasty illegals and their advocates grow in such numbers that law and order will not subdue them. They run us out of our cities and states. They conquer our language and our schools. They render havoc and chaos in our schools. I’m stunned at the speed of this invasion. I’m further stunned that most American don’t see it or deny it or ignore it. We are much like the Titanic as we inbreed millions of Mexico’s poor, the world’s poor and we watch our country sink.”

EDIT: It’s also worth noting that Pearce has a history of problems with women that pre-date 2010, including divorce documents indicating that he abused his own spouse and opposition to expanded protections to women from domestic violence.

So now they’re really going to channel Claude Rains and act like, why heavens no, they had no idea Russell Pearce was so toxic! Give me a break. It is interesting to note how Pearce remains quite useful to them now, but just in a different way than he was in 2010. Could it be that we’re seeing the modern emergence of a Republican version of hippie punching?