Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CBS 5 Investigates -- Lobbyist gifts; are they really BRIBES? UPDATED 5-25-14

CBS5AZ investigative reporter Morgan Loew dug through raw data obtained from the Arizona Secretary of State on (reported) lobbyist bribes, er, gifts to state lawmakers. Here's his report.

Current House Speaker (and CD1 Republican primary candidate) Andy Tobin (R-LD1/Paulden), a known prevaricator (he told Loew one thing and did the opposite, likely without giving it a second thought), said (in a written statement to CBS5AZ) that he supports "increased gift transparency." Tobin is currently ranked number two on Loews list. Because he is Speaker, he has more power to set the policy agenda than almost every other member of the legislature.

Because they never do anything tangible about the problem, "supporting gift transparency" is really GOP code for "we're not going to make it any easier for you to find out who's kissing our bee-hinds or giving us trips and other entertainment."

ALEC chair Rep. Debbie Lesko, on the other hand, said (in Loew's video), "There's nothing wrong with what we're doing. It's [ALEC] a great organization."

Right, nothing wrong, except that it is THE preeminent vehicle for ensuring, as Machiavelli put it LONG ago, the domination, exploitation and oppression of the GRANDI over the POPOLO.

Loew's interview with behavioral scientist Robert Cialdini is tremendous. In the 1980s, Cialdini literally wrote the book on INFLUENCE. In another video, he puts it this way, "All cultures teach their children that you must not take without giving in return." This is no longer in dispute. He did the research. It is scientific fact.

Loew's list of the top 5 lawmakers in terms of taking lobbyist gifts and entertainment (this story doesn't even consider campaign contributions, that's a whole other dimension to our elected state officials groveling to curry favor from lobbyists) consists of:
  1. Sen. Don Shooter (R-LD13/Yuma) -- running for re-election
  2. Rep. Andy Tobin -- running for Congress
  3. Sen. Kimberly Yee (R-LD20/North Phoenix) -- running for re-election
  4. Rep. Jeff Dial (R-LD18/Ahwatukee) -- this year running for state senate
  5. Rep. Tom Forese (R-LD17/Chandler) -- this year running for Corporation Commission. 
For more on Morgan Loew's report and to check the database to see how much lobbyists spent influencing your state lawmaker go to CBS5AZ.

You think that I'm exaggerating any of this? If anything, I've not been able to effectively illustrate the magnitude of the problem.

Clearly, Republicans are not the only ones who have their hands out to lobbyists. But as you can see, Republicans are at the top of the list at the State Capitol. This very much does directly impact public policy in Arizona.

Republicans cloak pretty much all of their public policy endeavors in terms of either being pro-business or, using Orwellian double-speak, they claim their Dominionist bills are about freedom.

On the other hand, what you don't see debated (even though Democrats may introduce bills along these lines) are pro-family economic measures like a living minimum wage and emergency family leave. You don't see pro-life bills debated to eliminate the death penalty, even though it's obvious that there have been innocent people executed. And you don't see lobbyist gift bans or ideas for strengthening the Clean Elections system.

What you do see, every year, are hateful, spiteful bills to oppress. SB1062 was all about religious oppression. You do see, this year especially, not at all subtle ways to undermine public education and promote private schools which are unaccountable to the people both financially and in the curriculum they use to indoctrinate our children.

We CAN and MUST change the tone of public policy debates and lawmaking in Arizona. We can start this year by picking up seats in the Arizona House, winning the Senate and the governor's office.

  • John "Private Prison suck-up" Kavanagh is vulnerable and faces a credible Democratic opponent in Paula Pennypacker.
  • Steven Yarbrough (R-LD17/Chandler), a key promoter of the Alt-Schools debacle, received the most expensive gift -- $2,400 trip to a conference paid for by Cathi Herrod's dubious organization -- and is as vulnerable as former House Speaker Jeff Groscost was after engineering the Alt-Fuels debacle. He faces a solid Democratic opponent in Kristie O'Brien.
  • Kimberly Yee, number three on the list compiled by CBS5AZ, who also thumbed her nose at US Armed Forces veterans suffering PTSD, is being challenged by Glendale Union High School Board President, Patty Kennedy.
  • Jeff Dial (number 4 on Loew's list) will face off with Democratic activist and long-time educator Janie Hydrick
  • Don Shooter (number ONE on Loew's list) will not be unopposed this year. He has a primary election opponent (Toby Farmer, who has been collecting signatures for more than a year, but has not yet filed them) and Democrat Terri Woodmansee, who plans to file her signatures on Tuesday.
You can also be confident that I (and others, like Morgan Loew) will keep just as close of an eye on Arizona lawmakers when Democrats take control at the Capitol, whether it's this year or down the road. But the tone will change dramatically when Democrats pick up at least two more seats in the Senate. 


UPDATED to include Terri Woodmansee as the Democratic opponent to Don Shooter for the senate seat to represent LD13.

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