Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Can AZ House Democrats stay united? UPDATED 6:00pm 5-29-13

Yesterday morning, a friend asked me:
Why would an Independent Expenditure Committee (Arizona 2014) be mailing out a pro Catherine Miranda 6" x 11" flyer now? Particularly when the IE is chaired by Max Fose (a max donor to Tom Horne)? [pun not necessarily intended]






To understand this situation, it seems we need to understand who Max Fose is. On Tom Horne's campaign finance report, with Fose's $840 contribution to the oh, so honest and non-partisan Arizona Attorney General (I jest, we all know that Horne is neither honest nor non-partisan), Fose disclosed his occupation as: President, Integrated Web Strategy. Colin Shipley**, IWS Director of Public Affairs is listed on the Secretary of State's record as campaign treasurer. On the IWS website, Shipley is said to have previously served as political director for the Arizona Republican Party and as Community Relations Manager for Jan Brewer as well as having worked for High Ground.

High Ground, you may recall, is the political consulting firm run by Chuck Coughlin, sometimes on the right side of an issue (Medicaid Restoration) but usually on the wrong side (privatizing prisons in Arizona).

I'm confident there is much more to learn about Max Fose. But why does he suddenly have such great admiration for Catherine Miranda?

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A little birdie today shared with me some intriguing insight on this situation.

Of course, right now any conclusions or inferences are speculative, but certain facts are true and known.

First, Fose's IE committee is very new. It formed on May 14, just two weeks ago. Because of its newness, we do not have access to any financial disclosure reports. Therefore, we do not know who paid Fose's committee to blow smoke up Rep. Miranda's skirt. And we do not know how much the mailer cost.

The little birdie told me that the mailer likely is thanks for her taking the lead in organizing a faction of five Hispanic members of the Arizona House Democratic caucus. Those five Democrats broke from the caucus to vote with House Republicans to seal legislative approval of HB 2485 Health and Safety Audit Privilege. The final House vote was 40-19. Other than Miranda's faction, the rest of the Democratic Caucus remained unified.

The bill adds an entirely new article to Arizona Revised Statutes Title 12 (Courts and Civil Proceedings), Chapter 13 (Evidence). The ultimate purpose of HB2485 apparently was to expand on the 2012 Polluter Protection bill. Catherine Miranda, by the way, voted NO on the final vote for the 2012 bill, HB 2199, officially titled Environmental Audit Privilege.

Last year's bill added a new article to ARS Title 49 (Environment). This year's bill, putting much the same language in the statutes on court procedure apparently closes what some people must have believed was a loophole that could have been used to hold corporations accountable for harm they cause damaging the environment.

Both bills (the 2012 HB2199 and the 2013 HB2485) appear to be very close to the language and provisions in ALEC model legislation from 1996 (Thanks VERY much to Tucson activist Lisa Hoffman for the ALEC research).

Here's a clip from the Senate Public Safety Committee hearing in which HB2485 was aired. Local attorney Richard Langerman testified on behalf of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association against the bill. He succinctly sets forth the reasons the bill is problematic for Arizona citizens.


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Before taking questions from committee members, Langerman summed up his testimony by saying,
APS (Arizona Public Service) is behind this bill. And the question is, what is it that they are trying to hide? They haven't told us the answer to that question, no matter how many times we've asked. And until we know why we're doing this, we urge you to vote no on Representative Carter's bill and protect Arizona citizens, the people you represent.
Apparently, APS was not the least bit coy about pushing this particular bill. Captain Al Melvin, chairman of the (ironically named?) Senate Public Safety committee, gave a clue right at the start when he asked if this bill applied only to Palo Verde (Nuclear Generating Station).

Folks, WHY is Arizona giving the operator of the largest nuclear facility in the nation the statutory right to hide health and safety problems? Has it been so long since Fukushima that we no longer are aware of the inherent risk of catastrophe? Does ANYONE at the state capitol realize how close Palo Verde is to Phoenix? The nation's sixth largest metropolitan area (in population, according to the 2010 census) is downwind only about 45 miles.
Tepco [Tokyo Electric Power Company] admitted for the first time on October 12, 2012 that it had failed to take stronger measures to prevent disasters for fear of inviting lawsuits or protests against its nuclear plants.
If there is no risk at Palo Verde, WTF are they in such a hurry to hide? If APS (which operates Palo Verde) is afraid to take stronger measures to prevent disasters (like Tepco admittedly was), doesn't that more realistically raise the urgency sky high for converting Arizona to genuinely renewable energy sources?

It might seem quaint just to say it, but when there's a SOLAR energy SPILL, isn't that just a typical Arizona nice day?

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Back to the final vote in the Arizona House on HB 2485. Reportedly, mention was made during the House Democratic Caucus meeting on this bill that it was, in fact, ALEC model legislation. Why, then, would Miranda, Lydia Hernandez (this is NOT Lydia Guzman*), Lupe Contreras, Juan Carlos Escamilla and Mark Cardenas all vote Aye on the bill?

I cannot definitively answer that question. But I can clearly point to this situation as an example of what I described about two weeks ago in reporting on the effort made to keep the Senate Democratic Caucus unified.
There IS speculation as to whom those other Democratic votes might be. Right now, I don't know enough to name them, but traditionally, legislative Republicans have been able to obtain support from members from Northeast Arizona in exchange for appropriations to build special projects on the Navajo and/or Hopi Reservations. I do NOT know who Biggs is trying to buy right now, so, I am not calling out Senator Jackson.
This is only an example. In the 1990s, I saw it work like this, when I served as an accountant with the Arizona Department of Economic Security. The special appropriations were funneled through that agency in several fiscal years.
We do know that this HB2485 was pushed aggressively by Arizona Public Service. We also know that at the recent Heritage Dinner, an Arizona Democratic Party fundraiser, Catherine Miranda and Sen. Robert Meza (D-LD30) sat with the delegation (lobbyists) from Arizona Public Service. Meza was one of only two senate Democrats voting Aye on HB2485.

The only dot we are unable to connect at this time between Miranda and APS has to do with who provided the funding for the mailer Max Fose sent out buttering her up.

By the way, didn't APS make a big deal about ending its association with ALEC a year or so ago? So much for that.

We are left to ponder the question of why Catherine Miranda is cozying up to Arizona Public Service and ALEC?

Another fact, likely related, is that Rep. Miranda has already established a committee "to explore" running for the seat now held by term-limited Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor. Don't let yourself be fooled, is it at all possible that -- after Fose's group sent out such a strong message of support for her -- Miranda could find fault with any position APS, Fose, or whoever was responsible for it will want pushed through the House this year and next, and the Senate after that?

Any lawmaker or candidate will tell you she or he "cannot be bought" so easily. The only thing that really means is that the lawmaker is not fully aware of the strength of the invisible chain the Big Money interest has put around them. Did Ben Arredondo or Richard Miranda (Catherine's brother-in-law) -- both of whom were recently convicted of corruption related charges -- believe they could not be so easily bought?

Would it be reasonable to infer that this was a pre-emptive strike hoping to prevent anyone from challenging Miranda in a Democratic primary in 2014 when she runs for the Senate? Could it have been anything but?



There are a number of issues tied into this situation. One of which illustrates the difficulty that House leaders on both sides of the aisle will have in getting a budget passed that includes Medicaid Restoration. There are, after all, twice as many members in the House as in the Senate. Speaker Andy Tobin and Minority Leader Chad Campbell probably feel like their jobs right now can easily compared to herding cats.

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UPDATE

Apparently, this situation has been building up like the water behind a dam. Now that the dam has been breached, the information just keeps wanting to pour over it. So, this looks to be something about which more details will be forthcoming.

Thus far, we know that there were questions about Catherine Miranda's nominating petitions and documents involved in her requests for Clean Elections funding in 2012.

Additionally, the entire concept of Independent Expenditures excludes coordination between the candidate and the group paying for the particular campaign piece, in this case, the mailer. However, the picture on the mailer may be the very same picture used by Ms. Miranda on her 2012 campaign signs. If that is the case, how did Fose obtain the picture?

Though it's only guilt by association, but ALEC documents show that Miranda's now convicted brother-in-law was, in fact a MEMBER of ALEC. On page 55 of a June 30, 2011 ALEC memo, Richard Miranda is listed as a member of the Public Safety and Elections Task Force.

LATER UPDATE

Heard around the Capitol this afternoon that utility interests (like APS) are pushing hard for Brewer's TPT (transaction privilege tax) reform bill and that Miranda's faction of rogue Democrats are said to be willing to trade their votes on it in exchange for mailers like was sent out this week for her (Miranda).

Of course, it's possible this is just an empty rumor. The rogue Dems certainly can prove the rumor false by declaring their support for cities and towns who, as the TPT bill stands now are likely to see serious negative ramifications.


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* NOTE -- Lydia Guzman is an outspoken advocate for justice and takes bold stands to do the right thing for all people. Guzman testified against Sheriff Arpaio in the civil case ruled on last week by federal Judge G. Murray Snow. She does NOT currently hold elected office. Lydia Hernandez apparently sometimes allows people to think she's Guzman. That, of course, is not a good thing.

** NOTE 2 -- I just learned that Arizona 2014 treasurer is apparently also former Republican Governor Jane Dee Hull's grandson.

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Hernandez, I know Lydia Guzman, and you are no Lydia Guzman!

    ReplyDelete