Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Checks & Balances asks: Did Brnovich hide the ball? And other GOP subterfuge...

Far be it from ME to question the integrity of any of Arizona's Republican elected officials (wink, wink), BUT the latest book I've been reading, The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova, suggests we all fall for cons in our lifetime.

When I was a kid, my mother told me that politicians often employ "double talk."
noun 2. empty, deceptive, or ambiguous talk, esp by politicians
We've seen a lot of it lately from GOP lawmakers working on passing the latest Voter Suppression measure, HB2023. Except for an apparent slip up by Elections committee chair Michelle Ugenti-Rita, Republicans, most notably state elections director Eric Spencer, have been falsely claiming the bill is ONLY about stopping (what we know to be non-existent) voter fraud.

Chandler state Rep. J.D. Mesnard went so far as to openly state that it doesn't matter whether there's any actual voter fraud taking place because citizens BELIEVE there's actually been voter fraud. I would suggest we need to examine WHY citizens believe as such when there is none.

But I digress.

Today, Checks and Balances Project, which has been a persistent thorn-in-the-side of Trash Burner Bob for nearly a year now, posted to its blog saying, "Facts do not support" Stump's wishful thinking about exoneration. The blog post reads, in part,
Nearly 11 months ago, a reader tipped us that Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump used text messaging as his preferred means of communication. We found and reviewed footage of him texting repeatedly during Commission meetings.

That led us to ask to examine Mr. Stump’s text messages, in which he might have conducted public business and illegal electioneering with APS lobbyists, candidates who are now fellow commissioners, and political operatives.
We received a 240-page text message log from Verizon. Upon investigation, we learned that Stump had texted with APS lobbyist Barbara Lockwood 56 times – most in a concentrated period just before the August 14, 2014, GOP primary election when the utility’s favored candidates won.
But none of Barbara Lockwood’s text messages were provided by Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office to retired Judge and Special Master David Cole to review. [...]
... Cole himself said to the Arizona Republic’s Ryan Randazzo, the text messages he examined “either weren’t a match” to the more than 3,500 on our list “or they were with a person that was not one of the targets.” (emphasis in original)
If Cole saw these messages, what are the odds that none of the more than 3,500 text messages that Commissioner Stump exchanged with these people were public business? 
Immediately following release of Judge Cole's report, Stump was busy Tweeting the spin he wanted his fans and followers to believe. Notably, that anyone who doubted the report must be questioning Cole's integrity (which is clearly not true) and that Checks and Balances, even though it does NOT engage in electioneering of any kind, is a Dark Money operation (also clearly not true).

Stump's legal advocates now want the Judge Randall Warner to approve and adopt Cole's report and dismiss at least part of the lawsuit filed to compel disclosure of the texts. From Defendant's motion,
Defendants move the Court to adopt the master's report as the Court's own findings of fact and conclusions of law... Defendants further move the court to enter judgment in their favor dismissing count one of the complaint on the grounds that Defendants do not have in their possession, custody, or control any public records responsive to the request made by Plaintiff that is subject to the complaint. 
Nice try, fellas.

Today, on behalf of Checks and Balances, attorney Dan Barr filed a motion opposing adoption of the master's report. In it, Barr argues the report is fatally insufficient because it lacks the detailed findings necessary for the Court's review and it doesn't aid in resolving the complaint, as it was supposed to do.

Barr included, in his motion, a procedure by which Bryan Neumeister, expert in computer forensic examination, may -- supervised by the Attorney General -- review the devices in question and determine if the text messages are retrievable. That examination would be funded entirely by Scott Peterson and use a software program that the AG did not use.

Boiling this all down to the essence, Peterson's post concludes,
We have not received a reply to our reasonable proposal from the Assistant Attorney General, other than the Corporation Commission’s Motion to accept Cole’s report and dismiss our lawsuit.
Without answers to basic questions about why the AG provided more than 10,000 of Bob Stump’s text messages to Special Master Cole to review, but omitted more than 3,500 on our target list, and whether or not the latest forensic technologies were used to get the text messages to begin with, we’re left with the impression that the Attorney General is hiding the ball.
There are several video clips available on YouTube to illustrate the Hidden Ball con, which Major League Baseball teams keep in their repertoire often to the delight of (or agonized dismay) fans. Here is one. Enjoy.



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By the way, from the Arizona Republic's coverage of HB2023 (the latest voter suppression bill),
House Bill 2023 revives arguments that have roiled the Legislature since 2013. Although popular with the majority Republicans, the measure has failed due to quirks in timing.
This year, with a presidential election and the prospect of larger voter turnout looming, supporters are determined to get the provision in law and opponents are reviving arguments to defeat it.
This again, is a game of chicken. Does the GOP dare to incite another HB2305 referendum effort? Mesnard's doubletalk suggests they think they can get away with it this time. But really, in 2013 they had a year and another regular session in which to undo the damage and prevent the high turnout of an indignant electorate.

This year, all the marbles would be on the table without time, except for calling a special session, which would be highly publicized, to undo the debacle. Because it could intensify the political revolt against the plutocracy, this could actually throw the Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes to the Democratic nominee and help elect Bernie Sanders to be the next President of the United States. We will all thank them.

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