Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Redistricting -- litigation update

It may seem mundane at this point, and easy to lose track of the latest developments in the ongoing litigation -- with cases in both federal and Maricopa County Superior Court -- regarding aspects of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, questions of the legality of its very existence, and the Congressional and legislative district maps adopted this year.

However, the lawsuits are moving, albeit slowly at this point. Last Friday, attorneys Lisa Hauser and Michael Liburdi requested Judge Mark Brain (state court) allow them to submit filings more verbose than limits they had agreed to and therefore Brain had ordered. They apparently thought they could make their case in twenty pages or less. They've tried and tried and tried, but cannot address the issues raised in less than twenty-four pages. Poor babies. Apparently, Judge Brain allowed them to exceed the limit.

On Monday, Hauser and Liburdi filed their response to the AIRC motion to dismiss the first amended complaint. The document is actually 59 pages long. I have not been able to take the time to review the document prior to posting this, but you are welcome to read it yourself (link provided in this paragraph).

Additionally, last Friday, Judge Roslyn Silver, chief United States District Judge ordered changes to due dates for pleadings in the case seeking to completely obliterate the AIRC.

Lastly, on Monday, AIRC counsel filed a reply in support of its motion for reconsideration of having the federal court case heard before a three judge panel. Apparently, when a lawsuit challenging the apportionment and/or redistricting lines is filed, a three-judge panel is required. The AIRC position is that the lawsuit challenges the existence of the commission, not the particular lines that were drawn. Therefore, they say, a three-judge panel is not required and therefore should not be used to try this case.

I hope to take some time in the next few days to review the Hauser/Liburdi (Hail Mary pass) pleading hoping to keep their (state court) lawsuit alive. But I have a couple of things that I must take care of first.

In the meantime, do not forget that the AIRC will meet at 1:30pm on Friday, August 3 at the commission office. At this point, they are not sure whether they will be able to stream the meeting live online. I'll try to update this post tomorrow with a more definite answer to that question.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Redistricting -- IRC to meet this week

This morning, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission issued notice for an official meeting scheduled for Friday, August 3 at 1:30pm. The meeting will take place at the AIRC office, 1100 W Washington, Phoenix and will be streamed live online.

Agenda items include contract extensions for legal services and mapping consultants, a budget update, status of the Auditor General audit and review of current litigation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CD 9 Democratic candidate forum(s) UPDATED 4pm MST 7-26-12

This evening, David Schapira, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny participated in a forum/debate at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in North Tempe answering questions from KJZZ managing editor Al Macias and government reporter Mark Brodie.

The questions were substantive and well thought out. Rather than commenting on the responses, I recommend you listen to the audio recording at KJZZ.org. Macias promised it would be posted by late morning on Thursday, July 26.

Schapira, the current Minority Leader in the Arizona Senate, announced at the start of the forum that just this afternoon former Congressman Harry Mitchell has endorsed his candidacy.

"The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends. I believe that each of them would serve admirably – and the creation of this new Tempe-centered district has presented a great opportunity to send a strong community-based representative to Congress.

Tempe has always been different than other cities, especially when it comes to elections. Yes, we’ve disagreed on issues and done so passionately. Yes, we’ve debated and we’ve fought hard. But the nature of our politics has become increasingly polarized and divisive. We witnessed it in the last mayoral race. It was discouraging, to say the least. This is also why I didn’t wade into endorsing a candidate in this race lightly.

I believe it is important that we elect someone who understands and values our community – and will work hard to represent it. This is why I’ve decided to cast my primary vote for Tempe's State Senator, David Schapira.

I’ve often said that you can’t be successful unless other people want you to be. For the better part of close to 40 years, I’ve held the titles of teacher, councilman, mayor, senator and Congressman. I’ve been blessed to have so many people in our community be supportive of me. This is why I hope you will join me in supporting David Schapira for Congress."
Additionally, tomorrow (Thursday) evening (first shown live at 5:30pm) on KAET Channel 8 in the Phoenix area, the three candidates are scheduled to debate on Arizona Horizon with Ted Simons.


I've been notified that this forum on Arizona Horizon has been rescheduled for August 7.

Also, David Nir at Daily Kos reports on this race:

Sometimes I see comments from a politician and, with a wince, I think, "I bet they wish they could un-say that." In this case, though, Andrei Cherny—currently atop the leaderboard for "worst Democrat running this cycle" (non-Larouchie division)—is such a d-bag that he probably doesn't, were it not for political pressure forcing him. John Celock at the Huffington Post summarizes:
A Democratic congressional candidate in Arizona is under fire for comments he made at a 2010 Tea Party forum, where he said he was "proud" of the group and said he opposed the Affordable Care Act. Andrei Cherny, a former state Democratic Party chairman who is seeking the Democratic nomination for a Phoenix-area congressional seat, said he believed in Tea Party ideas on economic and tax policy in 2010—he was one of several Democrats to appear at Tea Party events around the state that year. At the time, Cherny was the Democratic nominee for state treasurer, a race he lost to Republican Doug Ducey.
Amazing that a former state party chair could say such things. Now, of course, Cherny's trying to dance away from his remarks, claiming that the tea party has since been "corrupted" and that he actually opposed the ACA from the left. Unreal.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

When will we say, "ENOUGH already"? UPDATED 4:20am MST, 7-23-12

As Twenty-First Century Americans, WE (consciously or not) hold these truths to be self-evident: that all GUNS are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain UNALIENABLE rights, that among these are Life (the power to take anyone’s of whom we are displeased), Liberty (because banning assault weapons is a Slippery Slope that will lead, within mere days, to taking away any and ALL Liberties of any kind) and the Pursuit of Happiness (we Americans cannot possibly be happy unless we are prepared to defend ourselves from every – mostly IMAGINED – enemy, foreign, but especially domestic; most notably, Democrats in Congress). 

Responsibilities to our families and fellow citizens, to live peaceably and conduct ourselves with civility be damned.


Credit and apologies to the principal author of the American Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. 

Can it be said that the Founders even imagined the country we have today, with transportation, communication, agriculture and manufacturing technologies in use now? If they could not imagine our country and our society, how could they possibly have considered the ramifications of the forms and structures of government, the Constitution, laws and court system they established in addressing the challenges before us today?


As to the Slippery Slope nonsense, University of Chicago Economics Professor Richard Thaler wrote recently,
More generally, we would be better off as a society if we could collectively agree to ignore all slippery-slope arguments that aren’t accompanied by evidence that said slope exists. If you are opposed to a policy, state your case based on the merits — not on the imagined risk of what else might happen down the road. The path of that road is so unpredictable that it may even produce a U-turn.

Predictably, in the immediate wake of the most recent mass murder, there has been a wide variety of written media (news, blogs and social media postings) bemoaning the fact that this kind of thing continues to happen in America. I know it happens elsewhere too, but I'm addressing our country and the set of laws and unwritten mores that allow it to continue.

I've seen the predictable, and largely irrational, claims that had there been someone in the Aurora, Colorado theater with a concealed carry permit, packing heat, the murderer "shoulda, coulda, and woulda" been stopped before causing as much harm as he did.

That is, in my not so humble opinion, complete bullshit.

This person was decked out in full tactical gear. A gas mask made him immune to the smoke grenade he deployed in the theater. His weapon was loaded with a 100 round magazine.

In November 2009, in Lakewood, Washington four heavily-armed, highly trained police officers were slain. If they could be ambushed and slain, it is absolutely insane to think a lone civilian with a CCP, in the chaotic scenario early Friday morning, would have been able to neutralize James Holmes.


A number of thoughtful op-ed columns and blogs have been published in the last day or so with some common themes. First, most suggest that there is neither now, nor ever will be political will to change guns laws in the US in any substantive way that could minimize the risk for the next mass murder.

Beyond that, there have been a number of legitimate ideas set forth that, except for the Slippery Slope fallacy, would be given serious consideration by public policy and lawmakers. Links to some of those materials include:

Here are ideas Nick Kristof posted on his Facebook profile:
A thought after the cinema shooting: If it's politically impossible to curb even assault rifles, then maybe at least we can adopt a public health approach to guns, to minimize the harm. That could include limiting gun purchases to 1/month, making serial numbers harder to erase, banning oversize magazines, more thorough safety checks, a mechanism to show whether bullet is in chamber, etc. This public safety approach has been very successful in reducing both auto fatalities and drunken driving deaths. Isn't it worth trying with guns as well? (emphasis mine)

Further, it appears the Supreme Court of the United States has previously ruled, in some cases, that the Second Amendment (Holy Scripture that it is these days) is actually a STATES rights, rather than individual rights issue.




Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol makes a strong statement for reasonable gun control on yesterday's edition of Fox News Sunday, hosted by Chris Wallace.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Update -- CD9 Dem race

Tuesday evening, the three Democratic candidates vying for nomination for Arizona's newest Congressional seat faced off**, sort of, at Changing Hands Bookstore.

Store management figures at least 200 people attended what turned out to be a standing room only forum, pretty much a love fest, in a locally-owned institution in Tempe.

Later that evening, a friend asked me on Facebook how it went. After mentioning that all three candidates did well and seemed to feed off of the warmth of the friendly crowd, the friend remarked,

"Sounds like it would be fairly useless in helping Dems figure out whom to support."

Which is kind of true, but not completely. There were some nuggets worth your time to consider. Early on, the candidates were asked what they believe was the best political advice anyone has given them, and from whom did they receive it.

Kyrsten Sinema responded by saying she had been told (by a long time member of the Arizona Legislature, the only thing she said to identify her source) that it is better to listen than to be heard and to develop meaningful relationships with members on both sides. Though not identifying her source, she later described how that enabled her work with Tucson Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori to get a bill passed which makes all veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately eligible for in-state tuition at any of the state universities.

Andrei Cherny cited former President Bill Clinton as saying, "I keep score," when it comes to political disagreements. Cherny had to specify that Clinton did not necessarily mean it as a way to intimidate people, but that getting results counts. Actually, Cherny needs to re-work that response because it sounded pretty awkward to me.

David Schapira, without hesitation named Harry Mitchell as the source of the best advice. Former Congressman Mitchell told him that "representative" is both your title AND job description and that you can earn it (win the election) by knocking on doors, meeting and listening to the voters.

Rather than give you additional play-by-play, I'll tell you that my overall impressions include that both Sinema and Schapira will do well in campaigning if she or he wins the primary. And at least Cherny did not go negative during the forum (unlike what he had done during Sunday Square Off on Channel 12 two days earlier).

By the way, Schapira is also the only one of the three of them who has won elections facing Republican opposition in a district with a competitive levels of Republican voter registration. To me, that's a game changer.

To get a better idea of the contrasts between the candidates, view this week's SSO (the first segment embedded below) with a debate of sorts moderated by Brahm Resnik.

I have to say that Cherny's answer, "I would put forth ideas" to Resnik challenging him to not avoid the question, "but what would you do" when faced with the GOP obstructing Democrats seems incredibly LAME.

Whoever emerges from this primary will certainly face a great deal of pressure and negative campaigning in the two months between the primary and the general election. So, in that regard, they were all able to practice, reflect and fine tune their approach, and gain confidence that will matter later on.


After last night's forum, Cherny's people responded with characteristic negativity.

My bottom line impression of Cherny from last night is that he cannot point to tangible accomplishments for which he can claim responsibility. Instead, he is big on dropping names. Clinton. Warren.

Those, in my book ARE big names. But what does it mean that he is dropping those names when he drops them? First, Cherny claims to have accomplished what Clinton accomplished. But Cherny was a speechwriter, not a cabinet member or ambassador or economic advisor, etc. And Elizabeth Warren IS a real big name of someone who has genuinely fought for America's Middle Class. I do not dispute that he was associated with (knows) Warren. But she's the one who did the fighting, not him.

When name-dropping is the closest you can come to demonstrating tangible results, the insecurity so apparent in his campaign is understandable.

Isn't it ironic that THE candidate who made the first allegations that his opponents were going negative; THE candidate who responded with a NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING HOTLINE (602-216-9960), is the only candidate throwing mud?

In the wake of last night's forum, Cherny ax-man Seth Scott issued a press release* (the text of which is reproduced entirely below) that blatantly and brazenly and undoubtedly with malicious intent mischaracterized Sinema's position on Luke Air Force Base.

In the text of the press release, the ONLY reference that does not provide specific citation is the alleged quote from a "questionaire during a bid for the state legislature." Do you remember how vehemently Cherny protested when people (accurately) quoted his campaign materials from 2002? And those campaign materials were faithfully and accurately reproduced. Yet, this allegation he makes is to some unspecified questionaire response.

I'm not going to address whether or not Sinema actually said what Cherny claims she said. She may or may not have. Even if she did, there is a lot more to the situation that Cherny did not tell us, so there can be no question that Cherny's intent is, at minimum, to mislead the reader.

Sinema's campaign provided the following response when I asked about the press release this evening:
  • In 2007, as a member of the Arizona House, Sinema voted in favor of HB 2076 which intended to limit encroaching development around Luke. The bill passed the House and died in the Senate.
  • In 2010, voted in favor of SCR1047, a proposed amendment to the Arizona Constitution to authorizes (subject to voter approval of the ballot measure) the disposition or exchange of state trust lands in order to protect military installation. Voters did NOT approve it.
  • Also in 2010, voted in favor of SB1410 which, if voters had approved the trust land exchange, would have provided the legislative mechanism for those exchanges to protect military installations.

The bottom line in Cherny's attack on Sinema is that they are mean-spirited and intentionally misleading. There is no question in my mind that despite dropping big names, Cherny's campaign is poorly managed, insecure and desperate. That does not make for a candidate who could possibly survive a general election in a competitive district.

July 18, 2012

Seth Scott

Sinema’s Call for Luke AFB
Closure Out of Sync With Arizona
Congressional Delegation Must Be Unwavering In Support of Luke

PHOENIX – Congressional candidate Kyrsten Sinema's past support for closing Luke Air Force Base is out of touch with Arizona, and would deliver a crippling blow to Arizona’s economy.

"I do not support keeping Luke Air Force Base open," Sinema wrote in a The Arizona Republic questionnaire during a bid for the state legislature. "What I do support is shifting funding from the military base to create alternative jobs for all individuals who would be displaced by the closing of the air force [sic] base." [emphasis in Cherny press release original]

Sinema said she supported closing Luke because of America’s "militarization."

Cuts to Arizona's defense industry are "the biggest threat to our recovery in Phoenix," according to Mayor Greg Stanton, who has championed a bipartisan effort to save Arizona's defense jobs. [Source: The Arizona Republic, July 18, 2012]

According to a 2008 study, Luke generated $2.1 billion of economic activity in Arizona. "Luke directly employs 10,281 people, and money from those employees is filtered into the local economy by way of direct and indirect purchases." [Source: Phoenix Business Journal, Jan. 22, 2010]

Arizona's Democratic leaders have offered their unwavering support to keep Luke open and support other Arizona military installations.

Former Attorney General Terry Goddard and Stanton took a leading role in protecting Luke, which prompted the Phoenix New Times to write "Goddard deserves props for filing a lawsuit against the county to protect the base from future encroachment." [Source: Phoenix New Times, July 29, 2010]

Arizona's congressional delegation has a history of strong bipartisan support for Luke. In a Oct. 20, 2009 letter, the entire delegation -- including Reps. Harry E. Mitchell, Gabrielle Giffords, Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva -- wrote, "We have worked together to enable Luke AFB and the Barry M. Goldwater Range to remain vital national assets in the Air Force’s support of the global contingency operations." [Source: http://lukeforward.com/news/, Oct. 20, 2009]



** Recording of the forum at Changing Hands is available at Radio Phoenix in three segment podcasts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More about Cherny's ethics reform notions; campaign issues in general

Sunday evening, I was engrossed in writing this blog post and did not watch 60 Minutes. Thankfully, I had my DVR set. The first segment was a rebroadcast of Leslie Stahl's interview with Jack Abramoff.

The opening graphic behind Stahl's introduction was of a book with the title "The Lobbyists Playbook." On it were handwritten words, titles of plays in the playbook, I imagine.  They include: gifts, football tickets, theater tickets, vacations, restaurant meals, and private jets. Two additional plays are listed that have to be factored into the discussion regarding Cherny's ethics reform proposal -- campaign contributions and job offers.

I've already mentioned campaign contributions and shown the contradiction between Cherny's proposal/press release and his response to inquiries about the fact that he had taken $1,000.00 from Countrywide during his California Assembly campaign in 2002. I will not expand on it here other than to underscore the connection between lobbyist influence and campaign cash.

The 60 Minutes segment on the STOCK Act, shows that most Members of Congress, even if they are not millionaires prior to taking that office, attain that financial status before or shortly after leaving Congress. I also noted that Cherny's reform proposal to disclose lobbyist meetings is not foolproof. How much do we actually pay attention to what they already DO disclose?

Yet, another way they enrich themselves, which is conspicuously not addressed in Cherny's proposal, is post-Congressional employment.

Public interest and reform groups have long called for closing the “revolving door” between government service and private employment. Although post-employment restrictions date back to 1962, groups consistently argued that the rules too easily allowed former Federal Government employees to lobby professionally for private industries they previously regulated. Congress responded to reformers’ calls by passing the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (“HLOGA”) in 2007 to address revolving door issues....HLOGA extends the time period for most post-employment restrictions and broadens the restrictions’ scope. President Obama one-upped Congressional efforts when, shortly after coming into office, he imposed even tighter post-employment restrictions for Executive Branch appointees.

In the current post-HLOGA/Obama era, organizations and companies seeking to hire former government employees should understand the post-employment restrictions so that they can modify their hiring practices accordingly. Post-employment restrictions limit a former employee’s ability to represent others before Government officials and employees; however, the restrictions do not generally prevent a former public employee from participating in behind-the-scenes lobbying strategy. (emphasis mine)

Post-employment lobbying restrictions differ based on an individual’s former Federal Government position.
    • Former Members and Officers of the House of Representatives are: (1) prohibited for one year from representing a foreign government or political party before the Government or advising such a foreign entity about lobbying activity; and (2) prohibited for one year from lobbying Congress. 

Abramoff's interview is most compelling.

From the transcript of the interview:

Stahl asked Abramoff, "Can you quantify how much it costs to corrupt a Congressman?"

Abramoff: I was actually thinking of writing a book - "The Idiot's Guide to Buying a Congressman" - as a way to put this all down. First, I think most congressmen don't feel they're being bought. Most congressmen, I think, can in their own mind justify the system.
Stahl: Rationalize.

Abramoff: --rationalize it and by the way we wanted as lobbyists for them to feel that way.

Stahl (narrating): Abramoff would provide freebies and gifts - looking for favors for his clients in return. He'd lavish certain congressmen and senators with access to private jets and junkets to the world's great golf destinations like St. Andrews in Scotland. Free meals at his own upscale Washington  restaurant and access to the best tickets to all the area's sporting events; including two skyboxes at Washington Redskins games.

Abramoff: I spent over a million dollars a year on tickets to sporting events and concerts and what not at all the venues.

Stahl: A million dollars?

Abramoff: Ya. Ya.

Stahl: For the best seats?

Abramoff: The best seats. I had two people on my staff whose virtual full-time job was booking tickets. We were Ticketmaster for these guys.

Stahl: And the congressman or senator could take his favorite people from his district to the game--

Abramoff: The congressman or senator uh, could take two dozen of his favorite people from their district.

Stahl: Was all that legal?

Abramoff: We would certainly try to make the activity legal, if we could. At times we didn't care.

Stahl (narrating): But the "best way" to get a congressional office to do his bidding - he says - was to offer a staffer a job that could triple his salary.

Abramoff: When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, "You know, when you're done working on the Hill, we'd very much like you to consider coming to work for us." Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to 'em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they're gonna do. And not only that, they're gonna think of things we can't think of to do. (emphasis mine)


To me, this insight on Abramoff -- in his own words -- is the lesson of history, demonstrating the theory documented in Cialdini's research. Do you need me to repeat the cliché about what happens if you don't LEARN the lessons of history?

If this puts pressure on Andrei Cherny, (AND Kyrsten Sinema and David Schapira) so be it. Politics is about conflict, not a love fest. Granted, all candidates offer a smile and a handshake. But before you cast your vote, before you work your tail off for a candidate, make sure you know how authentic that candidate is. Challenge him or her, especially if the campaign is for the first time the person will represent you in the office he or she now seeks.

Politics are among the most ancient, enduring, and consequential sources of conflict, as they determine how power will be distributed among people, including over life and death, wealth and poverty, independence and obedience. Conflicts concerning these issues have shaped the ways we have interacted as a species over the course of centuries. At their core, as Hannah Arendt wrote, is the conflict that, "from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics: the cause of freedom versus tyranny."
Freedom and tyranny are factors not only in conflicts between minorities and nation states, but in small, everyday conflicts between parents and teenagers, managers and employees, governments and citizens, and wherever power is distributed unequally. If we define political conflicts as those arising out of or challenging an uneven distribution of power, including relational, religious, and cultural power, it is clear that politics happens everywhere.
In this sense, “the personal is political,” yet the political is also personal, due to globalization, the reach and speed of communication, reduced travel barriers, and increasing environmental interdependency. We can even identify an ecology of conflict, in which rapidly evolving international conflicts have the ability to overwhelm safety and security everywhere. Conflicts in Afghanistan, Sudan, Brazil, and East Timor can no longer be ignored, as they touch our lives in increasingly significant ways.
We therefore require improved understanding, not only of the conflict in politics, but the politics in conflict. As our world shrinks and our problems can no longer be solved except internationally, we need ways of revealing, even in seemingly ordinary, interpersonal conflicts, the larger issues that connect us across boundaries, and methods for resolving political conflicts that are sweeping, strategic,  interest-based, and transformational.

This election season, there are a few races in Arizona that have as much import and significance as this one. Obviously, the Republican candidate that emerges from the CD9 primary will require as much attention and scrutiny. But I'm content to let them fight it out and will pay attention to him or her at the end of August.

The Congressional districts that are heavily weighted in favor of Republicans or Democrats are also not my primary interest. If those races become intriguing, corporate media will cover them. Otherwise, what difference do they make? By the way, I live in the new CD6. Barring something earth shattering, one of the Republicans, either Ben Quayle or David Schweikert will represent me in DC.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- more about CD9 Dem race funding

Five days ago, I posted some information about campaign contributions Andrei Cherny has received.

Since then, he has issued a press release under the headline, "Countrywide Influence Peddling Scheme Shows Need for Reform" touting an ethics reform proposal he claims was his idea.

Last week, Cherny offered one of the toughest and most comprehensive ethics plans of any candidate for federal office. If Cherny's plan had been in place, members of Congress who took special mortgage rates would have been forced to disclose their meetings with Countrywide lobbyists. (emphasis mine)
• Limit Special Interest Influence
• Demand Greater Accountability and Toughen Ethics Rules
• Prohibit Personal Enrichment from Public Service
• Public Financing of Federal Campaigns 
Cherny's the first/only candidate to suggest we "limit special interest influence?" Really? Do I even have to provide references to show how absurd that claim is?

Prohibiting personal enrichment from public service was something that a couple of Members of Congress have been championing for years. The STOCK Act was first introduced years ago.

WE know about the issue because 60 Minutes recently broadcast a segment on the subject. Shortly after the 60 Minutes broadcast, the legislation suddenly gained traction. The bill was signed into law by President Obama in April 2012. As enacted, it still leaves a significant gap in accountability for a specialty called "political intelligence."
Political intelligence professionals get paid big bucks to gather information about government policy and pending legislation, often through lawmakers or other public officials. Their clients include hedge funds, mutual funds, pension funds and wealthy individuals who use the information to guide investment decisions.
Cherny's ethics reform proposal includes a promise to disclose meetings with lobbyists.

Cherny proposes to require that all Members of Congress disclose their meetings with lobbyists as well as the topic of those meetings. Cherny will lead by example on this issue and disclose each of his meetings with lobbyists along with the topics of the meeting on his House website.
This builds on the work of Arizona leaders such as Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell who brought transparency to the earmark process by making their earmark requests public.
In 2010, Cherny called on state legislators and officials to make their meetings with lobbyists public; they refused, and continue to refuse to do so. Cherny will take this call to Washington and lead by example.

I will not tell you that this is right or that it is wrong. But I will tell you that I neither believe he would keep the promise, nor would it be possible to enact a workable requirement that all such meetings (or telephone conversations) be disclosed. Therefore, I believe this claim and this promise is disingenuous.

I am willing and eager, however, for him to prove me wrong... well BEFORE early voting starts for the upcoming primary. For Cherny to demonstrate the feasibility of this notion, he will have to do more than just make a rhetorical claim or promise. Lay out how it will work, how people will try to get around it AND how those "loopholes" would be closed at the time the requirement is enacted.

If Cherny cannot do that, he should not be taken seriously as a candidate.


Oh, yes, I said this would be about the CD9 Democratic primary funding.

This afternoon, after spending time with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, I returned home to several comments on the previous post on this subject. Those comments claim that what I posted was incorrect or incomplete. So, I started looking into it.

Chris Addelia claims that Bobette Gorden contributed to both Kyrsten Sinema and David Schapira, in addition to Cherny. Addelia provided a link. However, the information at that linked site shows Ms. Gorden did, in fact donate to Sinema ($262.00) as well as Cherny ($5,000.00). But does NOT show anything given to Schapira. However, the Federal Elections Commission's database does show Gorden donated to Shapira ($250.00).

Rae Waters commented that Dennis DeConcini (Mr. Private Prison company director) donated to both Kyrsten Sinema and David Schapira. According to Open Secrets, in one place he did not; in another query, he did. On the FEC website, and here (also FEC) it shows that the former US Senator from Arizona did, indeed donate to Sinema and Schapira, in addition to Cherny. And it appears that DeConcini, who does lobby these days, did give $1,000 to each of the three of them.

So, one of the first things I learned is that the data on the FEC and on the opensecrets.org websites are not complete and not synchronized. Secondly, despite the protestations by Cherny's surrogates, I'm not sure how they can claim that $250 is at all comparable to $5,000.

Rae also took issue with citing donations from Bain Capital employees to Cherny, pointing out that they also gave to Democratic candidates Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton,  and John Kerry, as well as the DCCC and DSCC. I do NOT like the system. But this is not a question regarding your choice on whether to vote for Obama, Clinton or Kerry. Only one of the three is facing election this year anyway. And for Obama, there are a whole lot more things to consider comparing Obama with Mitt Romney. I will not get into that in this post.

That brings us to another of the bullet points in Cherny's press release. Calling for public financing of Congressional campaigns.

It's EASY for a candidate to use rhetoric s/he knows an audience wants to hear. It's not so easy to say it if he does not know what the audience wants to hear. Cherny's experience speaking to tea partisans during his campaign for State Treasurer in 2010 highlights this problem. And I do believe it is of the utmost urgency and importance to institute public financing for Congressional campaigns.

We are not going to find much, if any difference in position on particular issues in what the candidates publish from their campaigns. But there is dramatic difference in how they have conducted themselves in campaigns and while holding office.

And THIS IS about evaluating three candidates for one seat in Congress. We can and must compare the experience in office, the campaign styles and the personal character in addition to stands on issues.

One person told me s/he thought Schapira was overbearing. I never experienced him that way. But given his physical stature (he's a BIG guy), I can see how people can get that impression. But if he is going to be assertive with his colleagues in Congress on issues that reflect MY values, I'm just fine with that. Nobody, to my knowledge, has made allegations that Schapira's demeanor even comes close to how inappropriate Daniel Patterson conducted himself in office. Schapira would not have been elected Senate Minority Leader if he did not have the respect of his colleagues.

Some people have told me they think Sinema is "too liberal" for this district; that she has "baggage" that will make it difficult for her to appeal to moderate and independent voters. Hispanic voters will have her support for Russell Pearce and a human trafficking bill in 2011 brought up to question her loyalty to their values. I don't know how to evaluate that until or unless she gets the opportunity to face a Republican in the general election this fall. If she does, I will support her.


On Friday, when Cherny's campaign issued the press release cited above, they also posted it to his facebook page. Very shortly thereafter, people posted comments asking about the campaign contributions Cherny had received from Countrywide during his campaign for the California Assembly in 2002. The company (not an employee) gave him $1,000.00.

That comment quickly disappeared. Then someone else posted about it.

This evening (almost midnight Sunday night), Ms Volpe's comment is no longer on Cherny's page.

Even so, the response, "there is no censorship going on..." together with, "If folks want to engage with the substance of the post and offer their thoughts about ethics reform then they are welcome to but our Facebook page is not here for people to post random attacks that have nothing to do with the subject..." demonstrates without any one else having to say anything, that they DID, in fact, censor comments that were directly to the question of ethics reform.

Also Friday afternoon, I sent an email to Cherny's campaign manager, Seth Scott asking him, "what about campaign contributions as a way to curry favor with elected lawmakers?"

I was actually surprised that he replied to the email, even though he did not reply to the question. We exchanged several notes with him trying to bait me into tangents and making the situation about me. I repeated the question. Several times actually. He finally decided to acknowledge the question by saying it was too vague.

So, I clarified the question:

What distinction does Andrei make between the gift giving (i.e. tickets to sporting events, or below market interest rates on home loans, or anything else like that) and a contribution from a business (e.g. $1,000 from Countrywide Homeloans, Inc.) to a political candidate? In what way is the campaign contribution not an attempt to secure favorable treatment from the candidate in the event he (Andrei) is elected?

The closest he ever came to answering the question was this:
Gifts are intended to influence politicians when the gift-giver says they are. Countrywide told investigators they offered discounted loans to top government officials and members of Congress these gifts in an attempt to secure favorable treatment. Here in Arizona, the Cardinals said they offered state legislators free NFL tickets in order to get more favorable treatment from lawmakers. Not only were the Countrywide gifts wrong, but they were undisclosed, and kept hidden from the public. That was also true with free sports tickets at the state legislature, where voters had no idea what kind of special treatment their representatives were accepting from those trying to influence decisions at the state capitol.
Since Scott did not address the question of campaign contributions AT ALL, I replied by restating his reply and asking him if I understood him correctly. I said this:

If I read your answer correctly, you’re saying that disclosed gifts (i.e. campaign contributions) are acceptable because they are disclosed, as long as the donor does not articulate that they want something in return. Is that a fair summary of what you wrote?
If I did not understand the essence of your response, please clarify for me. Thanks.

He replied thus:
Here's an updated response that will hopefully be more clear:
The problem with gifts is that they benefit a politician's personal pocketbook, and there can be no question that a gift is intended to influence a politician when the gift-giver says it is. That is what is especially troubling about the free gifts we've seen offered to politicians in Washington, D.C. and here in Arizona. Countrywide officials said the discount mortgages that personally enriched lawmakers were intended to influence, just as Arizona Cardinals officials said they gave free NFL tickets to state legislators in an effort to gain favorable treatment on votes at the state legislator.  
Is that more clear or less? Does that address AT ALL the issue of campaign contributions?

Ask yourself this, if Andrei Cherny REALLY believes that Congressional campaigns must be publicly funded, why will he (or his campaign manager) NOT address the issue of how private contributions establish a link of obligation between the candidate and the donor?

Another thing Scott tried to get at in the email exchange was that I told him I experience dissonance between Cherny's words and actions. He wanted me to explain what I meant. I told him that if he would answer my question, I would answer his. He never answered mine. But in this post, I answer his.

He was persistently evasive and defensive in all of the emails on Friday, even though he persistently claimed that he was not. He accused me of attacking his candidate. Isn't that being defensive?

Anyway, there's no question the Cherny campaign will consider this an attack.

However, I invite people to show me the error of my reasoning. Chris Addelia and Rae Waters did and did so without going off on wild tangents or name calling. I found that they were at least partly correct. I respect how they presented their disagreement.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Communist" pop culture? -- Final Jeopardy answer

On the day after the United States of America celebrated its 236th birthday, television's (perhaps all time) most popular game show featured an eye opening Final Jeopardy clue for all of you fans of VOTER ID laws.
The category: Facts and Figures --With only 58 % of residents, this state has the lowest percentage of licensed drivers.
That, obviously, got me to thinking. What does that number mean? Well, according to data reported by EACH STATE to the United States Department of Transportation,
Welcome to the Office of Highway Policy Information webpage. These pages serve as the repository of highway related data reported by the state, federal and local sources, and analyzed by FHWA into reports.
A statistical abstract for Arizona shows that (for the most recent year for which data is presented) our state then (in 2009) had population of 6,595,778 with 4,403,390 of them licensed to drive. By itself, that means 66.76 percent of the population had driver licenses. Does that mean 33.24 percent of the population is being prevented from voting? Not necessarily. So, we have to look closer.

This table shows that New York actually reports that 72.4 percent of its driving age population is actually licensed to drive. For Arizona, 87.2 percent of the driving age population is actually licensed to drive.

In Arizona, the minimum age for obtaining a driver license (for typical passenger cars and motorcycles) is 16 years. The voting age, of course, is 18 years. So, in Arizona, is 12.8 percent (646,015) of the driving age population (5,046,993) not yet 18-years old?

According to CLRsearch, in 2010, the total number of Arizona residents age 12-17 was 572,044. Stated another way, of the number of driving age Arizonans (646,015), those not yet 18-years old is not more than 572,044. So, hypothetically, (at least) 73,971 Arizona residents of voting age could possibly be disenfranchised by virtue of not having a driver license.

The Brennan Center for Justice, part of the New York University's School of Law has studied the issue in-depth. 

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Our work ranges from voting rights to redistricting reform, from access to the courts to presidential power in the fight against terrorism. A singular institution—part think tank, part public interest law firm, part advocacy group—the Brennan Center combines scholarship, legislative and legal advocacy, and communications to win meaningful, measurable change in the public sector.
From the Brennan Center's report, The Truth About Voter Fraud (by Justin Leavitt):
We are not aware of any documented cases in which individual noncitizens have either intentionally registered to vote or voted while knowing that they were ineligible. Given that the penalty (not only criminal prosecution, but deportation) is so severe, and the payoff (one incremental vote) is so minimal for any individual voter, it makes sense that extremely few noncitizens would attempt to vote, knowing that doing so is illegal.
Although there are a few recorded examples in which noncitizens have apparently registered or voted, investigators have concluded that they were likely not aware that doing so was improper. In one highly publicized case, for example, noncitizens were given voter registration forms by a group helping them through the naturalization process, immediately after successfully completing citizenship interviews with federal officials and receiving letters beginning “Congratulations, your application for citizenship has been approved.” Though the actual swearing-in ceremonies were still up to 90 days away, these individuals most likely mistakenly thought it their obligation and privilege to complete the paperwork, and did not intentionally fabricate their citizenship status in front of federal officials who knew that they were noncitizens.
Listen (less than a minute) to Paul Weyrich, co-founder of ALEC, on the subject of voting:

Now, hypothetically, what kind of difference could disenfranchising even 74,000 voters make in Arizona elections?

In 2010, the official general election canvass shows that Republican candidates for all but one statewide office won their races by more than 74,000 votes. 2010 was a Republican landslide election year. Republicans gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives because of it.

However, Tom Horne won his election against the Democrats' strongest Arizona candidate that year by 63,298 votes. How would Arizona's history over the last 18 months have been different had we elected Felicia Rotellini to be Attorney General?

The bald-faced intent of ALEC and the pushers of Voter ID laws in Arizona and throughout the country is to disenfranchise voters who would likely vote Democratic.

Levitt won’t comment on intent, but when he points to the “character of the electorate” most affected by the voter-ID viewed through this lens, intent is evident. Faced with an increase in minority populations—which tend to vote Democratic—Republican state legislatures are holding the future at bay.
The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, for example, found that 20 percent of Wisconsin’s residents do not now have the identification required to vote. That includes 70 percent of African-Americans under the age of 25, 177,000 elderly people, 36 percent of young voters, and approximately 224,000 college students whose student ID cards fail to meet their state’s new ID requirement. In brief: a lot of potential Democratic voters. Similar biases against minority voters can be found in every voter-suppression bill enacted across the country.
While in Arizona, in 2010, we can easily speculate about the difference 74,000 voters can make in one statewide election, can you imagine the possible impact in a tight presidential race like we expect to have in 2012?

I don't have the ultimate answer to the fundamental questions, and will not be able to pin it down without significantly more time to do the research. However, I'm confident that there are FAR MORE people who have been and are going to be disenfranchised by the VOTER ID law than the number of people who allegedly have unlawfully voted because they are not US citizens.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

LD24 candidate challenge update (and Maricopa County Sheriff)

This afternoon, the Arizona Supreme Court ordered Jean McDermott back on the ballot for the Legislative District 24 Democratic primary for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives.

Previously, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson had removed McDermott from the ballot based on the fact that she wanted to use her son's last name as part of her name.

The Supreme Court partially reaffirmed Anderson's decision, but reinstated her to the ballot with her name to appear as “McDermott, Jean Cheuvront” rather than what she wanted, which had her son's name first, “Cheuvront-McDermott, Jean.”

IT IS ORDERED affirming in part and reversing in part the decision of the trial court. The election challenge was timely. Ms. McDermott’s nomination paper did not strictly comply with A.R.S. § 16-311(G). That provision requires that a candidate’s surname be listed first in a nomination paper and on the ballot, followed by a candidate’s given name or names and any abbreviated versions of such names or nicknames. In her nomination papers, McDermott listed her name as “Cheuvront-McDermott, Jean” instead of “McDermott, Jean Cheuvront.” Nonetheless, we find that McDermott substantially complied with § 16-311(G) under the circumstances of this case. The nomination petition forms McDermott circulated for electors to sign listed her name as “Jean Cheuvront McDermott,” which the evidence supports as three names by which she has been known. There was no suggestion that the listing on her nomination paper “could cause any elector to be confused about the candidate” or her identity. See Moreno v. Jones, 213 Ariz. 94, 102 ¶ 42, 139 P.3d. 612, 620 (2006)*. Her substantial compliance, however, does not relieve the election officials of their obligation to follow this dictate of A.R.S. § 16-311(G): “The candidate’s surname shall be printed first, followed by the given name or names.” Therefore,
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED directing the Secretary of State, Maricopa County Recorder, Maricopa County Director of Elections, and Defendant/Appellant Maricopa County Supervisors to place the name “McDermott, Jean Cheuvront” on the August 28, 2012 primary election ballot.
Echoing his comment from last week, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell told me this afternoon, " I have no idea why she wants to use the Cheuvront name considering Ken's voting record."

For the record, Cheuvront's member page on the Arizona Legislature's website lists him as having been recognized as one of the "DLC 100" three different times. The Democratic Leadership Council, now defunct, was essentially "Republican-lite." That's also how Cheuvront conducted himself while a member of the legislature.


* NOTE: Attorney General Opinion I07-010 cites this case and explains the background as it relates to a question of dates on nominating petitions. It is instructive here for showing why the Supreme Court reinstated McDermott to the ballot. See Page 3 of the opinion.


Additionally, on June 19, I reported that Lois Pfau had challenged the nominating petitions filed by Independent candidate for Maricopa County Sheriff Mike Stauffer. That challenge was dropped. Mike Stauffer will appear on the general election ballot in Maricopa County as an Independent.

This, as I see it, makes the possibility that anyone will defeat Joe Arpaio this year remote. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Throw into the mix that a number of activists who support John Rowan (against Paul Penzone) in the Democratic primary are playing out the role of circular firing squad and I'm not seeing a path to victory for anyone in that race besides the villain, Arpaio.

Arizona UPRISING -- who is funding CD9 races?

As you know, I've expressed my deep concern about one of the Democratic candidates for Arizona's new Ninth Congressional district seats.

Now, we have more detail available on some of Andrei Cherny's big dollar donors, who they work for and what they might expect in return from Cherny in the event he succeeds in his quest to be elected this fall.

Notable on the list,

  • Mark Nunnelly, employed by Bain Capital (yes, THAT Bain Capital) $2,500.00
  • Josh Bekenstein, employed by Bain Capital (the same Bain Capital) $2,500.00
  • Samuel D Bekenstein (a student, apparently Josh's son, above) $2,500.00
  • Dennis DeConcini (former US Senator from Arizona, now on board of directors of private prison firm, CCA) $1,000.00
  • Bobbette Gorden, wife of Arizona State Professor Emeritus Robert Cialdini (author of Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion) $5,000.00
  • Numerous individuals with connection to capital investment firms
I should point out that Professor Cialdini's research at Arizona State established the link beyond a shadow of a doubt that campaign contributions create a sense of obligation for the successful candidate to repay the donor with favorable legislation.

Obviously, all of the candidates, from both parties, receive substantial campaign contributions. I'll dig more into the Republican side of this race after the primary. However, it is notable at this point that former CIA operative Leah Campos Schandlbauer received endorsement and a donation of $5,000.00 from the Citizens United Political Victory Fund.