Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Catherine Miranda -- the saga continues... and will continue

It looks like Catherine's loyal son, Gavin Tucker, has taken up the cause to defend his mother's honor on Facebook.

Someone took screenshots and forwarded them to me.





It reads:
For those of you who are TRYING to bash my mother for actions SHE has taken, always remember one thing... NEVER judge ANYTHING you are not educated about. OF COURSE it looks crazy from outsiders who have NO CLUE why that's because GOD didn't choose you to change the world.
HE chose her. It's not a position for small minded people to understand or grasp. There is ALWAYS a positive reason why decisions are made that MANY of us WILL NEVER understand because YOU are not in the shoes of a woman who is about to not only change the state of Arizona... but the world.
GOD didn't give you HER vision or strength to make a change that NO ONE HAS EVER DONE IN THE HISTORY OF POLITICS. They say the shoe can always fit no matter whose foot its [sic] on.... these days seem like SHE is squeezing in them.
Whoever wore them before just wasn't thinking big enough or outside the box. In order to have or achieve something you have never done... you sometimes have to do things you have never done or has never been done before.  Just sit back and chill, she is about to change the game and the world.
She has already proved to EVERYONE she's been a fighter for her ENTIRE community since day 1, a woman of her word, and the positive example of the greatest gift given to her besides her body... her children. Keep Going ma. This ain't nothing but a chicken wang. It's expected for small minded people to lash at you and freak out when they assume negative right off the bat and aren't educated about it smh lol.
What would life be without pressure or people trying to bring you down lol? This is a mission and path you are doing for GOD.... everyone and everything else will fall into place and follow. #KeepGoing #ProudSon
Good for Catherine that she has a loving son who supports her unquestioningly. But not so good for the citizens and voters of LD27.

As you can tell, much of what Catherine's son wrote is just nonsensical rambling. But it still reveals what can only, rationally, be described as the dangerous viewpoint of Catherine (and/or her son) believing she is called by God to change the world.

That reeks of grandiosity and narcissism. I certainly do not offer a professional diagnosis of any one person's mental or emotional condition or health, but I think it's fair to reflect on what people do and say and compare those with professional literature to gain insight on those specific claims an apparent grandiose narcissist makes.
All narcissists are self-absorbed, see themselves as superior, and lack empathy. All display arrogance and disdain toward others, experience "narcissistic injuries" when others don't treat them as superior, and can't take direct feedback about their behavior. They are consistently very oblivious of their effect on others. 
Elsewhere, on what you find in grandiose narcissists,
Characteristics of the narcissist-grandiose subtype (as opposed to the narcissist-vulnerable subtype) include:
  • Being labeled the “oblivious narcissists”
  • Observed lack of insight into the impact they have on others
  • More likely to regulate self-esteem through overt self-enhancement
  • Denial of weaknesses
  • Intimidating demands of entitlement
  • Consistent anger in unmet expectations
  • Devaluation of people that threaten self-esteem
  • Diminished awareness of the dissonance between their expectations and reality, along with the impact this has on relationships
  • Overt presentation of grandiose fantasies
  • Conflict within the environment is generally experienced as external to these individuals and not a measure of their own unrealistic expectations

On the notion that Catherine Miranda, or ANY one of the 90 members of the Arizona Legislature being able, in and of themselves, to "change the world," get real. Lawmaking is a team sport.

On the notion that God may have called Catherine to change the world, I can only call attention to Ecclesiastes 1:9.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.



Ducey boasts at Clean Elections debate that (Republican-owned Democrat) Catherine Miranda has endorsed him UPDATED 3:05 am 9-30-14

She apparently waited until after the deadline (September 25th) for write-in candidates to register for the general election, but Catherine Miranda has, according to boasts by Doug "Tooth Fairy Math" Ducey at the September 29 Clean Elections debate, declared her endorsement of the GOP nominee in the race for governor of Arizona.
Ducey, of course, is hoping for crossover votes. He has offered ZERO insight, rationale or valid reason for critically thinking voters to vote for him, but he doesn't think he needs that. If he can get key Democrats to endorse him, he won't necessarily have to offer anything legitimate as a reason for anyone to vote for him.

Many Republicans who unthinkingly vote for their party, will not need to be convinced. Most Democrats cannot be convinced to vote for him. But then there's the Independents and low-information Democrats who might decide based on someone else's thinking.

But WHY would Catherine Miranda endorse Ducey?

First, why would Republicans like Grant Woods, Paul Charlton and many more vote for Fred DuVal? Well, those Republicans are not obviously looking for something from DuVal in return for their endorsement. I respect the political positions of Woods and Charlton, even though I don't embrace the GOP.

Then there's Catherine Miranda. The Arizona Eagletarian began documenting her dissembling and dubious dealings with corporate interests that are at odds with the interests of her legitimate constituents in the spring of 2013.

She won the LD27 Democratic primary for the state senate last month. She is still a state Representative. But this is what she has on her Facebook page.


On September 29, 2014, REPRESENTATIVE Catherine Miranda (and not a very good representative at that) shows on Facebook that she is a "State Senator."

Some will say, "so what?" she will be a state senator. But what underlies the premature posting? Not only has she not taken the oath of office but she has not even been elected yet.

In this case, could it be anything but fair to conclude that Ms. Miranda has an overgrown sense of entitlement? Could it be anything but fair to conclude that for her, it's not about the law or her legitimate constituents?

By the way, to me the concept of "legitimate constituents" is important. Who delegated their authority as citizens to her to serve as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives (in 2012)? It certainly was NOT Arizona Public Service or Cathi Herrod's Center for Arizona Policy. But when Catherine voted as the lawful representative of the citizens residing in LD27, she voted contrary to the interests of those residents.

Instead, Catherine voted to take away womens' self-determination over health care decisions. That's a Cathi Herrod constituency. Catherine voted to allow Arizona Public Service to escape accountability for environmental risks they take at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. And Cathi Herrod, Arizona Public Service and their friends started paying for mailers telling voters how good a job Catherine has been doing for THEM (the ILLEGITIMATE constituents) at least as early as Spring 2013.

Mario Diaz' Dark Money operation spent more than $50,000 directly in support of Miranda in the primary. All told, various Independent Expenditures totaling more than $71,000 was reportedly spent advocating for her in that race. An additional $11,900 was spent in May 2013 on her behalf but was reported as being for the general election. Those amounts are just the IEs. Most of the IE donors refuse to disclose their identities.

Let's not forget the citizen complaint filed against Miranda for campaign finance/reporting violations the day before the primary election. No determination has been made on that as of yet by the Secretary of State's office.

A citizen this evening posted this comment to a Facebook discussion of Ducey's announcement of Miranda's endorsement.
I need to know how can we vote her out!
THAT is the salient question. Some folks wanted to point fingers at the Democratic Party. That's just misguided lashing out. The fact of the matter is that Catherine was given the opportunity to seek Maricopa County Democratic Party endorsement but just declined to even answer any questions from the screening committee. So, she did not get the endorsement. The only other thing the Party can do for her is to give her access to voter lists to facilitate canvassing door to door and by phone. If she had that in the primary, she will most likely not have it for the general election.

Then again, she thinks she is already a state senator.

To answer the question of how we can vote her out, the first thing I had to determine was the deadline for registering as a write-in candidate to oppose her. Any voter can write-in any name on a ballot, but only those write-in candidates who properly and timely register become eligible to have any votes cast for them counted. The deadline was September 25. Five days ago.

The next possibility is to meticulously document her every move in the senate starting in January 2015. At minimum, that will happen. Then APS and Herrod will not be able to spend enough money to hoodwink LD27 voters in 2016.

But the most immediate action that can be taken to vote Catherine Miranda out of the legislature will be a recall election that can be initiated once she takes office. She is not and will not be a new lawmaker in 2015. A recall can be initiated right away (anytime after five days subsequent to the start of the 2015 regular legislative session, January 19, unless the Secretary of State's office is open on Saturday, January 17). From Arizona Revised Statutes § 19-202,
A. A recall petition shall not be circulated against any officer until he has held office for six months, except that a petition may be filed against a member of the legislature at any time after five days from the beginning of the first session after his election.
Given that Catherine Miranda has committed violations of campaign finance laws, and has had her campaign volunteers tell bald-face lies to voters, any question about the timing of a recall effort beginning in January will be easily put to rest.

If Catherine thinks she will survive a recall by continuing to sell out her legitimate constituents, she will be sorely and tragically mistaken. The ONLY way for her to avoid the embarrassment, should a recall election be held, will be for her to meticulously avoid taking direction from the corporate and religious (Dominionist) interests who have thus far entangled her in their web of control.

For the record, this situation is not about Ducey. It's not about Miranda's endorsement of Ducey. It's about the straw that broke the camel's back.

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UPDATE

An anonymous source has revealed that what Ducey offered Catherine was... the ability to get bills passed and signed into law in 2015. By the way, the Ducey campaign was not the least bit discreet about enacting this particular transaction.

Do you wonder how many other soon-to-be members of Arizona's 52nd Legislature were offered the same deal? I certainly wonder.

A Latino activist mused aloud this evening that Catherine sold her soul when she endorsed Michele Reagan. From my perspective, THAT transaction occurred sometime before 2014 (figuratively speaking). Another person indicated an awareness that Miranda had a South Phoenix "Old Guard" that made deals in backrooms and had secret handshakes and whispers. I don't know how true that is, but making this backroom deal with Ducey is pretty much the same thing.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hey Ducey, you can't kickstart economy with austerity!!

An hour goes by so quickly. Especially when the debate moderator cuts off the responses much of the time because he has to move on to the next question. Way to go, John Hooks. Don't bitch about the candidates failing to set forth their plans in detail when you don't give them time to go into any detail when responding.

By the way, even though the overall subject of the debate was education, Ducey still managed to invoke his exceedingly lame slogan about wanting to #kickstart the Arizona economy. Doug appears not to grasp the idea that it takes money to kickstart a project or a campaign, or an economy. As a businessman, he knows that in order to kickstart a business opportunity, somebody has to invest capital into the project.

Both candidates however, when pressed about the Cave Creek Schools v Ducey court ruling demanding an immediate infusion of more than $300 million into our public k-12 schools, aggressively avoided any hint that either would want to increase taxes.

Somebody is going to have to take the ball that I have served up to debunk Ducey's #kickstart meme and run with it. The bottom line is that you cannot #kickstart the economy by imposing austerity measures. Period. End of that aspect of the discussion. Now -- somebody else besides me is going to have to have the balls to boldly declare that economic reality.

Anyway, here's the debate held on Sunday evening.





Now, on to the debate. Here is a critical thinking hint.

Notice the dramatically different focus in the two opening statements.

DuVal opens by saying, "I love Arizona," then expounding on what he means when he says that.

Ducey opens by saying, "I want to be your governor." Then ignores anything and everything that could possibly suggest to the critically thinking voter a reason why it would be in that voter's interests to vote for him.

Frankly, I don't see the relevance of everyone in Ducey's family having made their livings in education. I also don't see how having Lisa Graham Keegan endorse him makes Ducey qualified to be governor.

After Ducey's opening statement, Hook asked the first question, saying that all we hear about Arizona schools is that we lag in funding and we lag in test scores, so what grade would you give our schools overall?

DuVal said, "this is the real challenge. The real challenge is that we have "As" and we have "Ds." We are all over the map. We've accepted a system that is allowing a differentiation of the quality of the opportunities for our childrens' schools. And I think the most important thing we need to do is focus on how we bring all schools to being A schools. How we resource all schools to assure the kind of student achievement that we want and the kind of student success that we want. We have some of the best neighborhood schools and some of the best charters. And frankly we have disappointments in both of those categories and that is the core issue."

Later DuVal explained that he sees talent as being evenly distributed throughout the state but you cannot say the same thing about opportunity.

On the other hand, Ducey emphasizes that in Arizona "we do have pockets of excellence and we have places in the state where we demonstrate that we can educate a child better than anyone else in the country." Overall, Ducey gives Arizona schools a "C-." He said that overall throughout the US, graduation rates are 81 percent but in Arizona, we're at 77 percent.

Hook then cited the US Chamber of Commerce which gave Arizona, on academic achievement, a D; on achievement for low-income and minority students, a D; workforce readiness, a D; return on investment, a B. He then asked what that says to each of the candidates.

DuVal responded that it shows school funding cuts have had huge, devastating impacts. He cited specifics, including 10 percent of classrooms in Tucson have been shutdown by OSHA for safety violations; that 500 classrooms today in Arizona have no permanent teacher; shutting down of music and art programs; and district superintendents having to make draconian choices that are denying our children the kind of educational opportunities that can build well rounded individuals.

By the way, right after the debate wrapped up, Rich Crandall, former Republican state senator tweeted,
Irony alert. When Ducey took the return on investment question, he mentioned that the Chamber gave us an A on school choice.

In fact, other states recognize that the Arizona School Improvement Act of 1994 led the way on that movement. That's a full 20 years ago. And YET, as Hook said, Arizona lags in test scores, educational outcomes.
Arizona’s School Improvement Act of 1994 remains the nation’s strongest charter school law, according to the Center for Education Reform, and the 509 open charters in the Grand Canyon State give parents a substantial range of options. Arizona also offers a tax credit for residents who donate to charitable organizations that offer scholarships to students to attend private schools. In addition, the state minimally regulates home-schoolers while guaranteeing home-schooled students equitable access to the state’s public colleges.

The Republican drive to promote school choice in Arizona is two decades old. Yet Ducey rests his education plan squarely on the shoulders of implementing open enrollment and propagating charter schools.

The only problem with that is Arizona has had open enrollment for TWO decades. And our state has led the country in the charter school movement (which is, by the way, the hallmark of Lisa Keegan's education philosophy) since 1994.

How has that worked out for you, Arizona voters? Average high school graduation rates in the US at 80 or 81 percent, but in Arizona they are 3 to 4 points LOWER after TWO decades of school choice. Quite a return on investment, eh?

When will it be time to take stock and admit the experiment has not been good overall for Arizona?

The ONLY thing that can be drawn as a conclusion, as far as the system impacts, is that charter and the religious private schools funded by the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts have and are still undermining neighborhood public schools.

Of course, Ducey has something else in mind when it comes to school choice. If asked, I am confident he'll change the subject but this is a course of action that will put more money in Steve Yarbrough's personal bank account than into our children's classrooms.

Don't forget that Cathi Herrod is one of Ducey's chief advisors. Private (religious) school vouchers are at the top of Herrod's priority list, right there with destroying the right American women have to make their own health care decisions and promoting discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

There's so much more to get from listening to the entire 57-minute debate. But it really all boils down to that DuVal has genuine vision for improving Arizona schools. Ducey's ideas are stale and past their expiration date.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Election Integrity -- Santa Cruz Co. lawsuit update

Three weeks ago, the Arizona Eagletarian reported that AUDIT-AZ and John Brakey had filed suit in Santa Cruz County to compel disclosure of elections department records.
Even though we don't have internet voting in Arizona, digital technology and computers are very much a part of the systems, processes and procedures we use. Brakey and others in AUDIT-AZ have been examining election systems for several years.
According to the Santa Cruz County lawsuit, elections officials didn't think they had to bother with AUDIT-AZ, considering them a distraction. But PITA or not, this kind of accountability is crucial to maintaining citizen confidence that all votes will be counted properly and transparently.
Last Wednesday, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Pro-Tem Kimberly Corsaro began hearing the claims and evidence from both sides.
The dispute revolves around a July 9 request to see copies of vendor contracts, central tabulator directories, event logs, audit logs, folder list, and file allocation table used in the election computer system. In addition, they asked to check the network settings of the election system, which would be done by appointment with county staff.
As Corsaro clarified at the beginning of the hearing, the parties were there to argue whether the records should be released, not whether the county is guilty of any wrongdoing with regard to elections.
The hearing lasted five hours and included several unsuccessful motions by [Counsel for defendant Santa Cruz County John] Holman to dismiss the case, as well as the testimony of five witnesses for the plaintiffs and one for the county. It is slated to continue on Oct. 9 and Oct. 15.
[Plaintiffs' attorney Alexander] Kolodin argued that complying with the records request would not harm the election system’s integrity, nor would it give the group access to any personally identifiable information. In addition to the release of the records, the organization requested attorney fees, double damages and expenses.
His clients “tried to resolve the issue through explanation, rather than litigation,” Kolodin said in reference to efforts by the group in recent weeks to clarify their request.
Holman argued the county is “right to be cautious” about releasing records on the electronic voting systems.
“Society is at the mercy of computer programs,” he said, noting a recent announcement by hardware chain Home Depot that customers’ credit card information had been hacked.
Irony alert: of course society is at the mercy of computer programs. That's why it's critical to ensure the integrity of the computer systems and procedures involved in our elections.

Holman's excuse for refusing to release the public records is the very essence of the need to examine those records.

Not long after my initial post on this lawsuit, news emerged of a troubling discrepancy in the primary elections in Apache and Navajo Counties.
Some precincts in northern Arizona tallied more ballots cast than there are registered voters, the Arizona Capitol Times reported. According to officials, errors made by poll workers and elections officials in Apache and Navajo counties led to the miscalculations. Initial reports from some precincts showed a turnout of anywhere from 200 to 400 percent.
Before my post, election reporting system problems emerged in Cochise County.
SIERRA VISTA — The interim county elections director and two independent monitors of the elections office believe they may have narrowed down where things went wrong during Tuesday’s Primary Election, which resulted in erroneous data being added to the Secretary of State’s election results.
After the polls close, data is transferred electronically via modem from the ballot counting machines to the elections office. That data is then received and tabulated by an Election Systems & Software program, placed on a thumb drive, transferred from the thumb drive to a server, which then sends the data on to the state.
“Somehow, when the information on the server went to the state elections system, that number got corrupted,” said Jim Vlahovich, interim director of the Cochise County Elections Office.
Various checks are in place to ensure the data collected from the polls is accurate.
Or are those checks in place? Of course, elections officials will TELL you the checks are in place. But are outside experts ever allowed to examine those checks to provide independent verification of the government claims? Well, in Santa Cruz County they are doing their level best to prevent that independent verification.

Then you have the Associated Press report -- on the Apache and Navajo County problems -- where Secretary of State Ken Bennett's right hand man,
Assistant Secretary of State Jim Drake said it appears the errors didn't cause any significant problems.
"They're all the same races — nobody voted in a race that they weren't entitled to, but we're probably going to look at consolidating them in the general election," Drake said.
Both counties are in the state's 1st Congressional District, which was hotly contested in the GOP primary. Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin narrowly edged out Gary Kiehne, who conceded the race last week. Chris Baker, a political consultant who worked with Kiehne, said he didn't think the extremely high figures indicated any suspicious activity.
Andy Toxin, er... Tobin, bested Gary Kiehne by a mere 407 votes (Tobin 18,814 to Kiehne 18,407) and the Arizona Secretary of State's office says it's no big deal.

By the way, that's the same Jim Drake who posted on the legislature's Request to Speak system in January 2014, regarding the repeal of the Voter Suppression Act,
''There are some great ideas in last session's HB2305. Through testimony last year, we clearly demonstrated that campaigns picking up ballots had engaged in fraud by telling voters they were from the Maricopa County Elections department. Unfortunately, on the cusp of sine die, perhaps too many measures were rolled into one. We are supportive of the repeal."
What does this all mean? First, it means that Ken Bennett is now ON RECORD as supporting VOTER SUPPRESSION.
Another concern with county elections systems popped up when Democratic candidate for the LD13 Arizona Senate seat was initially denied Clean Elections funding because Maricopa County Elections officials incorrectly declared EIGHT of her $5 qualifying contributions to be invalid based on comparison with voter registration records.

In challenging that finding, Terri Woodmansee's campaign demonstrated that those eight voters were indeed properly registered in Maricopa County. Had Woodmansee not challenged, she would have been denied $22,800 in funding for her challenge to Don "Shoot 'em up" Shooter. Currently head of the Senate Appropriations committee, in 2013 Shooter made news when he threatened his grandson's teacher, and currently ranks number one among the 90 members of the Arizona Legislature in accepting gifts from those seeking to influence how he votes.

Taken as a whole, all of this means Arizona's got a LONG way to go before we can be assured that the integrity of our election systems and procedures are safe from intentional and unintentional irregularities. And it underscores the necessity for AUDIT-AZ to be aggressive in pushing to eliminate weaknesses in election systems in every Arizona county.



Goddard's plan of attack on Dark Money

Arizona Public Service-owned Republican candidate Doug Little, campaigning for a seat on the state utility regulating Corporation Commission spoke this week to a Payson area Tea Party group.

The good news is that the Payson Tea Party group -- unlike in Fountain Hills -- can at least vigorously challenge a Republican candidate on ties to those who pay their campaign expenses.
The issue of campaign “dark money” overshadowed Arizona Corporation Commission Doug Little’s appearance recently before the Payson Tea Party.
Conservative Republicans normally get a friendly reception at Tea Party meetings, but Little found himself fielding politely phrased, tough-minded questions on the millions of dollars spent on his behalf by independent groups, including several linked to Arizona Public Service.
“I heard that some of the candidates in the primary were subsidized finally by APS,” said one questioner. “Is that possible?”
“There was a lot of misinformation in the primary for one reason, to avoid having to address issues that are important to the commission,” said Little, who ran on a ticket with Tom Forese. Independent expenditure groups spent $2 million on their behalf, but the law doesn’t require the groups to disclose their donors. Forese is an educational software executive and state House representative who chairs the House Commerce Committee. Little is a retired software-industry executive and gun range owner.
“So we have a lot of independent expenditure committees and we have absolutely zero control over what they do,” said Little. “There’s never been any factual information that APS was the source of the money. We could talk about it until the cows come home.”
He later said that he had no idea where the money came from and made no attempt to find out. He said he could think of no particular reason that APS would get him elected to the commission that regulates its rates. 
Mr. Little responded just as evasively as Kavanagh did at last week's Tea Party forum. Why? Because they CAN. Because they get away with it. They get away with it because if someone dares to boldly challenge them in a forum, that person gets escorted out of the building.

And don't even get me started on the milquetoast manner of corporate media.

Well, actually, I should emphasize the point about corporate media. When candidates are evasive, corporate media ignores the infraction rather than reporting "the candidate gave only tangential answers." Or something like that.

On the other hand, when somebody makes a provocative statement, like Americans for Responsible Solutions did with Martha McSally a week or two ago, editorial writers at the Republic who don't have to sign their name to it are all over it.




Now Gabby Giffords (founder of ARS) is somehow playing dirty.
The ad is a nasty piece of work. Demagoguery in heart-rending tones.
Horse shit. The Republic goes on,
The ad is meant to help Democratic incumbent Ron Barber in his bid for re-election. It is emblematic of a wave of tough new advertising the gun-control lobby pushed out after the slaughter of children and teachers at Newtown, Conn. did not result in meaningful gun-control legislation.
The anti-McSally ad is more than hardball politics. It is base and vile. It exploits a family's tragedy to score cheap political points.
"Cheap political points," really? THAT sounds more like demagoguery to me. When someone lives after being shot "through and through" the head in an assassination attempt, that's a pretty stiff price to pay. Not at all cheap. The Republic's lazy and highly offensive editorial writer, Doug MacEachern, is the likely author of that cheap shot. Because he rarely makes rational, sound, valid or even compelling arguments with any substance, the Republic is cheap.

From the actual content of the ad, by the way, it was meant to confront Republican Martha McSally regarding her position on the gun-show loophole. And the ad got McSally's attention.
Known as the "gun show loophole," most states do not require background checks for firearms purchased at gun shows from private individuals -- federal law only requires licensed dealers to conduct checks.
Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, federal law clearly defined private sellers as anyone who sold no more than four firearms per year. But the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act lifted that restriction and loosely defined private sellers as people who do not rely on gun sales as the principal way of obtaining their livelihood. 
But Gabby is now vile and cheap because Doug MacEachern is offended that her non-profit organization challenged McSally on this narrow point.

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Anyway, one of the most, if not THE most pressing public policy issue of 2014 is Dark Money. There are numerous public policies that require attention and updating. But because of Dark Money, the voice of the people in those matters is overwhelmed and drowned out.
In January 2010, at least 38 states and the federal government required disclosure for all or some independent expenditures or electioneering communications, for all sponsors.
Yet despite disclosure rules, it is possible to spend money without voters knowing the identities of donors before the election. In federal elections, for example, political action committees have the option to choose to file reports on a "monthly" or "quarterly" basis. This allows funds raised by PACs in the final days of the election to be spent and votes cast before the report is due.
Citizens United attacked limits on campaign contributions but did not validate Dark Money.
Undisclosed donations poured into electoral politics after the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, which allowed corporations and certain tax-exempt charities to spend unlimited amounts to influence outcomes. Proposals to require disclosure, much less turn off the spigot, have gone nowhere.
But according to a new analysis by New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio* that was provided to HuffPost, more than half the states already have it within their power to start compelling disclosure from groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, which spent more than $70 million during the 2012 elections.
In March this year, Morrison Institute for Public Policy senior research fellow David Berman, authored the 9-page report Dark Money in Arizona: The Right-to-Know, Free Speech and Playing Whack-a-Mole. Berman quotes Dark Money god, Sean Noble,
I firmly believe that anonymous political speech is not a danger to our nation – it has played an important role throughout our history. Anonymity in political speech protects the speaker from retribution, but it also serves a greater good: it allows the public to listen to ideas without any bias toward the messenger. (emphasis mine)
There you have the bottom line. Sean Noble, who launders gazillions of dollars of Kochtopus campaign cash, spells out the purpose as being to avoid accountability for what they say and do.

Berman also said, "Meanwhile, efforts to get a handle on it have been controversial and thus far unsuccessful.

On the issue of APS intervening in political arenas by way of dark money,
In 2013, Arizona Public Service Company admitted having given two nonprofits close to $4 million to run ads concerning net-energy metering -- an issue in dispute between APS and the solar power industry. The two nonprofits -- 60+ and Prosper -- were also associated with [Sean] Noble.
Then there's Michele Reagan, who said,
I think it’s really important that we allow our citizens and voters to see (who’s) paying for different campaigns. I have to, as a candidate, disclose who’s contributing to me. It seems like a no-brainer that if a group is spending money that the citizens have a right to be able to see where that money’s coming from ... 
The key word there may just be "no-brainer." Sure, the Republican candidate for Secretary of State, known throughout Arizona as one of the authors of the Voter Suppression Bill, agrees that Dark Money is a bad thing. But what could she possibly do about it? There's your no-brain...er. For me to trust a Republican on the issue of Dark Money, she (Ms. Reagan) will have to start sounding a whole lot more like Teddy Roosevelt. From the 1906 State of the Union speech,
I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party. Such a bill has already past one House of Congress. Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.       
Which brings me to this. Democratic Secretary of State candidate Terry Goddard announced and posted his plan to stem the tide of Dark Money in Arizona. As a two-term former Arizona Attorney General, Goddard went after and successfully tracked down Drug Cartel money. He has knowledge and experience on how to address the problem. He speaks with authority and passion on how to get it done.

Goddard's plan, spelled out in a 5-page document, begins
Our Democracy is under threat from anonymous corporate interests determined to hijack our elections. Transparency is, of course, our best tool in fighting these shadowy organizations. But providing that transparency will require a hard-nosed commitment and a careful plan of attack – I have that commitment to provide transparency for all political contributions and in this memo, I give the outline of my plan. The outline is pretty complicated, but closing the enormous loopholes that allow Dark Money groups to operate so freely in our state will take multiple different actions. Arizona must enact a multi-pronged effort to require disclosure which has state and federal law components.
An effective strategy will include:
• Additional, beefed up disclaimers on all political communications
• A bright line distinction applying disclosure requirements to all political    communications 60 days before an election
• An expanded definition of doing business in Arizona
• An audit capacity to verify organizational filings
• A way to ‘peel the onion’ to determine the identity of the original source of all political contributions and expenditures
• Reenactment of charitable registration requirements
• A commitment to real-time disclosure of all political contributions and expenditures
• Presumptions to avoid uncertainty as to which contributors have to disclose.
Perhaps most importantly, Goddard is postured and prepared to leverage the legislature with his commitment to advancing a citizen initiative to implement these steps -- if (when?) the legislature balks at the plan.

Consider this tidbit of wisdom from the first President Roosevelt.
No people is wholly civilized where a distinction is drawn between stealing an office and stealing a purse.
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* NOTE: Bill de Blasio, after the linked story was published, was elected Mayor of New York City.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Flabbergasted -- But it won't last.

flabbergasted (ˈflæbəˌɡɑːstɪd)
adj
1. overcome with astonishment; amazed; astounded

Late this afternoon, Robbie Sherwood, executive director of ProgressNow Arizona informed me that the Phoenix New Times had recognized the Arizona Eagletarian as the 2014 Best Left-Wing Blog of Phoenix.





By the way, Robbie was also honored by the New Times. He's the best Phoenician to follow on Twitter. On that one, I wholeheartedly agree.

Anyway, it's highly unusual for me to be at a loss for words but I do expect to be back at it tomorrow.


But remember, as Kyrsten Sinema, Catherine Miranda and Carlyle Begay know, accountability isn't reserved for the GOP on the Arizona Eagletarian.

Last, but not least, my thanks are due for the editors and reporters at the Phoenix New Times.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Redistricting -- SCOTUS brief deadline extended in Harris case

Last month, the plaintiffs in Harris et. al. v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed their brief, aka a jurisdictional statement, in the Supreme Court appeal of the district court decision.
Brief update on last night's post of the SCOTUS appeal brief filed by the Harris plaintiffs. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has 30 days to respond to the brief, aka the Jurisdictional Statement, unless the AIRC requests an extension which would make it 60 days. After the AIRC files its reply brief, the plaintiffs then have 14 days, as I currently understand it, to respond to that, which would then be the final item filed by the parties in this lawsuit.
This month, the AIRC filed a request for extension of that deadline. The Clerk of the Supreme Court has extended the AIRC deadline to October 29.


Recall that Harris and his fellow plaintiffs, under the apparent auspices of the UNfair Trust, challenged the legislative district map currently in use as a result of the 2011 redistricting cycle. A week long trial was held in March 2013. In April 2014, the three-judge panel before whom the trial was conducted ruled 2-1 in favor of the AIRC.

Stay tuned for more drama as the AIRC readies its brief and then Thor "the Thunder god" Hearne will get one more crack at it. As always, I will keep you posted as things develop.