What exactly is defamatory about Rotellini’s ad attacking NOT Tom Horne’s private prison ties?

06 Oct 2014 01:02 pm
Posted by: Donna

Democratic candidate for AZ Attorney General Felecia Rotellini has been running an ad attacking the Republican candidate Mark Brnovich, AKA NOT Tom Horne, for his lobbying for private prisons.

NOT Tom Horne’s camp responded with this very sad attempt to intimidate Rotellini by threatening to sue her.

NOT Tom Horne alleges that Rotellini is defaming him because the three violent inmates who escaped a private prison in 2010 and murdered a couple were from Arizona and had been sentenced here, so his lobbying for violent criminals from other states is not to blame for that. Also that the prison where the escape occurred was not operated by Brnovich’s client Corrections Corporation of America. Let’s unpack why NOT Tom Horne thinks he’s being defamed:

1. NOT Tom Horne is being defamed because violent inmates from out of state are incapable of ever escaping Arizona private prisons with lax security measures?

2. NOT Tom Horne is being defamed because the private prison where the escape occurred was not run by CCA? So what? The lobbying he did to strip out violent offender transfer prohibitions in SB1547 applied to all private prisons.

Bottom line is that NOT Tom Horne lobbied for more violent offenders to be put in Arizona private prisons, which were originally authorized in the early 90s to house nonviolent drug and alcohol offenders, not rapists and murderers. As the mission of private prisons has expanded, thanks to intense lobbying from the industry, it is clear that some of these facilities are incapable of accommodating violent offenders safely. That was Rotellini’s main point and her campaign is right to continue to running the ad. Obviously, Brnovich’s intention with this letter is not an actual defamation suit, which would be nigh impossible for him to win as a candidate for office. He’s clearly trying to distract and deflect from his private prison ties, since it’s hard to tell what the actual “defamation” is.

It’s worth noting that NOT Tom Horne’s activity with CCA involved a lot more than lobbying against one bill pertaining to out-of-state prisoners. Brnovich was a “senior director of business development” from 2005 to 2007. As the job title implies, he was out to grow the presence of private prisons. That can only be accomplished by getting more bodies into the beds of those facilities. It is also rather difficult to convincingly act as if you have been defamed by someone calling out your private prison ties when you not only lobbied for them but possibly used your position as a prosecutor to get bodies into them (while still a lobbyist for CCA):

The Assistant U.S. Attorney

The reason for stressing the minutiae of Mark Brnovich’s lobby activity/employment on behalf of CCA over the course of 2007 is this: according to a statement of financial disclosure filed by Susan Brnovich on January 24, 2008, Mark Brnovich had two sources of personal compensation over the course of calendar year 2007. Those two sources of compensation were: Corrections Corporation of America and the United States Attorney’s Office.

Indeed, according to federal court records, Mark Brnovich, as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, was assigned as a prosecutor on eleven federal criminal cases (involving the prosecution of ten individuals) in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, from September though November of 2007.

In connection with these cases, four individuals served substantial pre-trial detention time (from between several months to a year and a half) in the custody of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), or in the custody of a “designated representative” thereof.

That’s not good, NOT Tom Horne.

Doug Ducey loves Texas so much he wants to replicate it for poor women in Arizona

02 Oct 2014 09:20 pm
Posted by: Donna

Doug Ducey likes to praise Texas, often. He wants their state tax income rate (none) and their health care policies (no ACA exchanges, no Medicaid expansion). Ducey most assuredly wants the reproductive rights climate that currently exists in Texas, where the Fifth Circuit Court upheld spurious TRAP laws passed last year (and famously filibustered by State Senator Wendy Davis) which will close all but seven clinics in the entire state. Rural areas, including all of West Texas, will be without a single abortion provider.

Two years ago, Texas had more than 40 abortion facilities. Many clinics have already closed under a part of the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital admitting privileges, and now more than a dozen remaining clinics are set to shutter as well.

The decision by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans wipes out what was a fleeting victory for abortion rights groups — a lower court in August blocking requirements of the law that say clinics must meet hospital-level operating standards to stay in business.

The ruling is only a stay pending a full appeal, but the court wrote that Texas is likely to prevail. If it does, the clinics would have to make costly upgrades to meet the new standards and reopen.

The impact stands to be felt most along the Texas-Mexico border and in the western half of the state, where access to a legal abortion is especially limited. The only abortion clinic in McAllen, which reopened after the lower court’s ruling, now stands to close again. That would leave women in the Rio Grande Valley facing a 300-mile drive to the next-nearest abortion facility.

But the court wrote that “women from McAllen have been travelling outside their city for nearly a year and Plaintiffs made no showing that clinics in San Antonio (or any other city) have been deluged.”

I suspect the reason for that last part is that low income women in West Texas have been resorting to black market pills from flea markets or Mexico to terminate unwanted pregnancies which, of course, leaves them vulnerable to prosecution under whatever premise cops and prosecutors may want to dream up.

Doug Ducey is 100% on board with Cathi Herrod’s positions on reproductive rights, meaning he favors a ban on abortion with “limited exceptions” (what does that mean, Doug?), and is a sure bet to sign every Center for Arizona Policy anti-choice bill that hits his desk. Many of those bills, if past is precedent, will be TRAP laws presented as measures that improve the “safety” of abortion. Pro-choice activists are well aware this is complete horseshit – these regulations are fully intended to close clinics and/or make women deal with onerous barriers to getting the procedure. And now there is data to show that they do not, in fact, do anything to increase the safety of abortion but they are correlated with worsening conditions for women and children.

The more abortion restrictions a state has on the books, the less likely they are to have evidence-based policies that promote the health and well-being of women and children.

For example, Kansas and Mississippi both have the maximum number of abortion restrictions (14 in total), but have only adopted 6 policies (of 18 total) demonstrated to promote the health and well-being of women and children.

States that have the most restrictions on abortion consistently have the worst health outcomes for women and children.
For example, Oklahoma has the maximum number of abortion restrictions (14 in total) and has some of the country’s worst outcomes for women’s health – including higher maternal mortality rates, higher uninsured rates, and lower rates of cancer screening, among other outcomes – and some of the worst outcomes for children’s health – including higher infant and child mortality rates, lower rates of preventive care, and higher rates of teen alcohol and drug abuse, among other indicators.

Texas is not exactly known as utopia for women and neither is Arizona, for that matter, but things are headed further downward for women in Texas and Doug Ducey intends to replicate that here. He wants to eradicate poor women’s (because women of his class will still enjoy access) right to determine their reproductive courses and yank the safety net out from beneath them. Maybe he’ll magnanimously phase poor women’s hopes out gradually, as he plans to do with the income tax.

Felecia Rotellini crushed it at the Channel 8 debate

01 Oct 2014 07:53 pm
Posted by: Donna

In case you missed it, here is Tuesday’s Arizona Attorney General debate on Channel 8 wherein Rotellini owned NOT Tom Horne.

Rotellini hit him right out of the gate on his anti-choice stance. Boom. Then she savaged him for his private prison lobbying and recommended that he run for County Attorney, since that seems to be the job he really wants. It was fascinating to see NOT Tom Horne shift from complaining about “federal overreach” into the state’s business to announcing his own intention to step all over county attorneys’ criminal law jurisdiction, contra our state constitution. Judging from the petulant tweets I was seeing about it from conservatives, they clearly knew she had bested him. All one guy could come up with when he trolled me about was to sniff that Rotellini was “loud”.

Jeremy Duda of the Capitol Times called me to get my reaction to it and asked what I thought about Rotellini seeming to distance herself from President Obama and vowing to defend SB1070. I told him that liberals had to expect that Democrats running for statewide or competitive district races have to pull to the center. After I got off the phone I thought about it and remembered that Luis Heredia is running Felecia’s campaign and I can think of no other who is as outspoken an advocate of immigrant rights as he is so there is probably a very good reason she’s doing it.

Interestingly, the debate caught the attention of the AP.

Yet another televised debate ignores reproductive rights.

29 Sep 2014 07:32 pm
Posted by: Donna

This is getting old. Monday night’s Clean Election debate was aired on Phoenix PBS Channel 8 and, of course, there was not one question on the candidates’ stances on reproductive rights. It’s as if the entire MSM here has developed amnesia about the legislature here and their constant attempts to restrict and deny access to common forms of women’s health care like abortions and contraception. Whoever is governor is going to be getting a buttload of bills concerning the proper use of the female chattel and their ladyparts. It matters who that Governor is and the candidates ought to be asked to provide detailed answers on their positions. I mean, dear lord, couldn’t these media people at least consider how much of their precious, holy tax money is going to go to defending these things in court? I guess not.

The topic of SB1062 did come up and Doug Ducey (R) defensively huffed that he’d “bring people together” on the new version of the bill that you know will be going straight to his desk if Arizonans are dumb enough to elect him. Trust me, the only people he’s going to bring together are religious bigots and other religious bigots and it’ll be the exact same bill only they’ll sell it on pharmacists not having to dispense the evil slut pills rather than on bigots who don’t want to serve LGBT people.

On three occasions Ducey brought up his endorsement by Dem state senator Catherine Miranda. I try not to be a retroactive armchair debate coach but I’m disappointed that Fred DuVal (D) didn’t seize one of those opportunities to respond with something like this: “Catherine Miranda is from my party but she holds terrible positions on women’s health and opposes a woman’s right to choose, just as you do, Doug. You are welcome to that endorsement.” Bam. Opening made. Possibly might have spurred question from moderator Ted Simons. None was going to be forthcoming otherwise, obviously.

So here’s where I, once again, direct my commentary to wobbly Democrats: Look, Republicans don’t just obligingly blurt out Todd Akin-type statements randomly during general elections and if you expect that from anyone but Trent Franks here in Arizona you are going to be waiting a long time. The reason Akin screwed up is because he was being asked about his position by a radio host, a friendly one, but on the radio nonetheless. And the reason Akin was being asked about exceptions for rape victims was because his opponent Claire McKaskill made an issue of his anti-choice positions, which I’m sure was done over the objections of the nervous nelly Dems who think it’s still 1989 and that this issue hurts us. Ask the Colorado Dems who got elected in 2010, while it was a bloodbath everywhere else for Democrats, about how attacking their opponents’ anti-choice stances was a bad idea. Never miss a chance to point out their anti-choice positions, Democrats!

And now that we have a sitting Dem senator actively sabotaging our Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is it time to consider dis-inviting the “pro-life” Dems from the tent already? Just a thought.

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.