Monday, June 30, 2014

Cantelme took Judge Wake's bait; #Machiavellian Democracy

In the April 29 judgment entered by the three-judge panel in Harris v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Judge Neil Wake dissented from the majority opinion and wrote up a doozy of a political harangue. It was obvious that Judges Clifton and Silver made thorough legal arguments justifying the ruling. Wake, who had seemed during the trial to be asking highly partisan questions, wrote up an opinion that was light on the legal justification and heavy on partisan politics.

Lead attorney for Harris and his gang, David Cantelme, took the bait. Last week, Cantelme filed notice of appeal to the Supreme Court.
Notice is given that plaintiffs Wesley W. Harris, LaMont E. Andrews, Cynthia L. Biggs [Senate President Andy Biggshot's wife], Lynne F. Breyer, Beth K. Hallgren, Lina Hatch, Terry L. Hill, Joyce M. Hill, Paula J. Linker, Karen M. MacKean, and Sherese L. Steffens appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States from the final judgment entered in this action on April 29, 2014. This appeal is taken pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1253 and 28 U.S.C. § 2101(b).
I don't know how long Cantelme has before he is required to file his briefs, but I will certainly keep you posted. Wouldn't it be nice if we could get Cantelme to disclose who is funding this appeal?


There's been plenty of gnashing of teeth today over the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby contraception and the Harris (not the same Harris as in the AIRC redistricting case) ruling attacking unions. By the way, Hobby Lobby, while claiming religious freedom as the basis to deny benefits to female employees, has been outed as having major investments in its retirement funds in companies that produce contraceptive and abortion related drugs and medical devices.

By the way, the message from most corporate media outlets is doom for Liberal causes. But that's not how I see it. First, Forbes and Mother Jones are, today, running stories shining light on Hobby Lobby and its contradictory religious beliefs and practices. This begins to approach the original thinking of the Founders behind the First Amendment's freedom of the press clause.

#MachiavellianDemocracy is the concept of holding the ruling elite accountable to the people. We're a long way from Lincoln's declaration that "government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth."

However, in Arizona, there is widespread acknowledgment, except obviously by the two themselves and those whose power depends on them, that (as Robert Robb puts it),

Meanwhile, current Republican officeholders – Attorney General Tom Horne and Superintendent John Huppenthal – are in free fall.
Thank you, Captain Obvious. Well, to be fair, it's not necessarily obvious to everybody. But even to many people outside of political junkies in Arizona, it seems to be a plainly apparent fact.

The question must be asked, WHY are they in free fall? Besides the obvious, because they've done dumb and corrupt things, that is. Thence, why does anyone in Arizona actually KNOW that Horne and Huppenthal have been doing stupid stuff?

In Huppenthal's case, there's no question that Blog for Arizona regular blogger Bob Lord, following his curiosity and his persistent inquiry, figured it out and reported it. The other Blog for Arizona regulars (and veterans, like David Safier at Tucson Weekly) piled on.

I dare anyone to make and back up a claim that corporate media (well, except maybe the Phoenix New Times) would or could have broken that story.

In Tom Horne's case, we've known from the start of his term at the beginning of 2011 that Horne was dirty. Corporate media, in deference to Republicans in Arizona, didn't hammer Horne as much as they could and perhaps should have even based solely on his campaign shenanigans from 2010.

But once former Horne staffer Sarah Beattie realized the extent of the corruption in which she found herself, she found the right advocate in Tom Ryan.

Ryan packaged the situation quite nicely in a way that Horne has found it extremely difficult, no matter how accomplished he is at slipping out of tight spots, to get out of this one.

My point: egalitarian media has been crucial to getting the word out. And getting that word out, Republican oppression in Arizona is in decline.

In a facebook discussion today, an old friend was among many expressing the concern that so many voters seem to not care about the political situation these days. Here's what I said in reply,

In general, throughout history, "the people" have had significant tolerance of bullshit done by the ruling elite.
However, when oppression becomes obvious, that tolerance goes out the window.
#MachiavellianDemocracy is about holding ruling elites accountable to the people. We've seen glimpses and glimmers of it over the last year here in Arizona. Granted the right-wing populist movement co-opted by the Koch's has proven to be less than efficacious, but they do respond to what they perceive as oppression.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, goes beyond just voting. It also includes pointing out, with confidence, what and how these latest moves by the right-wing SCOTUS is oppression.
It might be easy to think there is no chance for genuine relief from this oppression. That's the message corporate media ALWAYS sets forth. Corporate media doesn't reflect what really is going on.
American history, from inception through today, is FILLED with progressive change. WE must see to it that this progression continues.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Another chapter of Tom Horne investigates himself!

It's been more than a month since Sarah Beattie dropped the bombshell, reporting that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne was, among other corrupt practices, operating his reelection campaign on the taxpayer dime, without shame, and in his official state office.

Of course, that's a no-no.

Now we have Tom Horne initiating an investigation of himself.

Clever, isn't it?

In the category of, "there's no new thing under the sun," Arizona voters and taxpayers should take a lesson from Georgia (the one in the United States).
Former Dalton, GA Mayor David Pennington was next: “Nathan Deal’s abuses of power, ethics flaws, and strong-arm, good old boy politics no longer have a place in our state. If we Republicans actually want to defeat Jason Carter this November, we must ensure an ethical conservative is on the top of the ticket.”
Republican Gov. Nathan Deal's 2010 campaign was hit with allegations of ethics violations. People who tried to do an actual independent investigation were forced out of their jobs because Deal was able to exert undue influence on the process.

The power structure is somewhat different here in Arizona, but the concept of an apparently mentally ill elected official ostensibly conducting an "independent" investigation of himself is no less absurd here than in Georgia or anywhere else.

Anyway, Horne's chief deputy, Eric Bistrow, hired Horne campaign contributors John Kaites and David Derickson, for a fee not to exceed $50k, to conduct the investigation and write the report that will exonerate him. And, of course, the investigation MUST be fair and independent.

By the way, one "out" Bistrow may have given Derickson is when he wrote that the scope of the engagement "shall be limited to determining whether Tom Horne, Margaret Dugan, Kathleen Winn, Debra Scordato, Brett Mecum, Garrett Archer AND Sarah Beattie..." engaged in conduct in violation of election law statutes. Does the passive aggressive (client advocate) attorney say that well, since A, B, and C committed violations, but D, E and F did not, then taken as a whole, Horne's off the hook?

Anyway, here's what Derickson, a former superior court judge, and Kaites, a long-time lobbyist, former Republican state lawmaker and all around political hack wrote to Beattie's attorney, Tom Ryan.

Thus far, Bistrow's letter to Derickson, and Derickson's letter to Beattie's attorney, Tom Ryan, are written in classic "straight man" schtick, apparently hoping Beattie's attorney is a rookie, greenhorn, wet behind the ears, new law school grad.

But Ryan sees through the schtick immediately. Here's his reply:

Back to Georgia and its Republican corruption problem (as an example):
Shortly after the bombshell verdict came down, state school Supt. John Barge was demanding that Deal withdraw from the Republican primary (where he is opposed by Barge and former Dalton Mayor David Pennington). “The governor is in the middle of all this mess,” Barge said. “It is time for the governor to step aside, settle for one term and let us get Georgia back on track.”
In Arizona, it's time for the attorney general and the superintendent of public instruction to step aside. Rest assured, neither will do so of their own volition, however.

As such, it's time Republicans learned the REAL lessons given by Machiavelli*. The people of Arizona, this year, are going to put an end to this chapter in the GOP book of oppression.

In the meantime, Ryan says "history will prove that the Tom Horne 2014 campaign headquarters are as mythical as the legendary Mogollon Monster and as ephemeral as La Llorona.

h/t and thanks to Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times for the letter from Bistrow to initiate the "independent" investigation.


* NOTE: a key excerpt from the article on Machiavelli,
OurKingdom: Graham Smith and David Owen argue in a response to your book, published in The Good Society, that the Tribunate function might also be carried out by trade unions and labour parties. What’s wrong with this approach? Are there other possible approaches to thinking about the kind of institutions that could perform the Tribunate function?
John P. McCormick: I think its an excellent point, and I would include a free press within the ensemble of agents who have performed tribunician functions within modern democracies—it is no accident that many newspapers established during the Progressive Era in the United States invoked the Roman tribunate in their names, for instance, “The Chicago Tribune.”  However, both organized labor and a free media have, over the last generation or so, declined as potent agents of democratization in contemporary representative regimes. And, in any case, there’s something to be said, I think, for giving common people their own institutional branch through which they might assert their interests against other institutions more readily at the disposal of wealthy elites.  I justified the establishment of such “plebeian” institutions on the grounds of “affirmative action for common citizens.”
McCormick's conception of the Tribunate is an institution which excludes the wealthy and traditionally powerful citizens. This will allow for egalitarian public policy and for holding public officials accountable. We have seen examples of how this can work over the last year in our state. The HB2305 referendum was key and carried out by an organized citizenry not willing to tolerate GOP oppression over voter suppression.

The outrage and outcry over SB1062 this year is another extremely poignant and salient example of this concept.

I believe that despite the Republican legislature and governor repealing HB2305 this year -- for the obvious reason that they wanted to mitigate voter outrage come November -- they continue to trip over themselves doing stupid things that will make it impossible for them to successfully run enough misdirection this year to allow them to maintain their improperly attained and exercised dominion over the citizens. Horne and Huppenthal are cases in point.

Instead, the citizens will put a stop to the oppression. Period.

Of course, that fight will never be completely finished. It will remain a struggle for all time.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why can't COAL compete with SOLAR and WIND without taxpayer subsidies?

In a June 19 Arizona Republic story about Corporation Commission candidates Lucy Mason and Vernon Parker calling out Arizona Public Service and its parent Pinnacle West, we learn about allegations that FOR PROFIT power utility officials are trying to select their own regulators by influencing the election upcoming election.
Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason wrote a letter to APS CEO Don Brandt this week saying that donations to their opponents would be inappropriate because the elected officials would regulate the utility if they win their races.
"It is our opinion that it would be highly inappropriate for APS or its parent company Pinnacle West (Capital Corp.) to influence the elections of its regulators in any way," they wrote.
Mason and Parker cite an independent committee named Arizona 2014, which sent a recent mass email soliciting donations for Republicans Tom Forese and Doug Little, who also are running for the two open seats on the five-member commission.
Mason and Parker want to know if APS or its parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corp., are funding the committee.
The independent expenditure committee is chaired by Max Fose, president of the IWS advertising agency, according to records filed with the Secretary of State.
It would be illegal for Forese and Little to coordinate with such an independent committee, however, the committees can campaign on behalf of candidates, or in opposition of others, without the candidates' cooperation. Forese and Little's campaign spokesman declined to comment for this story. [...]
Mason and Parker have staked out a position on rooftop solar that is contrary to APS. 
This is unseemly and may or may not be illegal. But it's certainly improper. It's also nothing new. In 2013, APS was caught bribing Democratic state lawmakers Catherine Miranda and Robert Meza with tickets to an Arizona Democratic Party fundraiser. Arizona 2014 was also tied to election campaign mailers (more than a year prior to the election) for Miranda and Meza as thanks for their votes for a bill that was signed into law extending (expanding) polluter protections related to utilities.

Miranda, is currently in a contested primary election campaign against military veteran Aaron Marquez. Robert Meza is running for reelection. His domestic partner, Mike Snitz, sued in a very awkward effort to disqualify Ruben Gallegos from the ballot in the Democratic primary for the 7th District seat in Congress. Gallegos' opponent, Mary Rose Wilcox acknowledged publicly that Snitz did so on her behalf and with her full support. The lawsuit immediately blew up in Snitz' and Wilcox's faces.

I digress.

From the Republic story cited above, and from my May 2013 blog post, the connection of Republican political operative Max Fose and his IE, Arizona 2014 seem quite apparent.

But, what does all this have to do with COAL needing to be subsidized in order to continue competing with emerging disruptive technological innovation (solar and wind electricity generating capacity) in our state?

As it turns out, Arizona taxpayers take a DIRECT hit by a 30 percent reduction of the transaction privilege or use tax paid for the coal used by IOUs (investor owned utilities). Arizona Revised Statutes § 43-1178 states,
A. A credit is allowed against the taxes imposed by this title for a taxpayer that purchases coal consumed in generating electrical power in this state. The credit is equal to thirty per cent of the amount paid by the seller or purchaser as transaction privilege or use tax with respect to the coal sold to the taxpayer.
And in case that's not a sweet enough incentive on its own, subsection C allows the credit to be carried forward for five years.
C. If the allowable tax credit exceeds the taxes otherwise due under this title on the claimant's income, or if there are no taxes due under this title, the amount of the claim not used as an offset against income taxes may be carried forward to the next five consecutive taxable years as a credit against subsequent years' income tax liability. 
So, the next time you hear some hack (or any uninformed citizen) claiming solar and wind can't stand on their own without government subsidy, feel free to show them this.

Additionally, taxpayers and citizens pay an even higher price because the costs of environmental damage (not limited to global warming ramifications), such as pandemic respiratory distress, are borne by the people who are stricken with lung cancer, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other related ailments.

So why, again, is it that COAL fired electricity generation can't compete on its own without massive subsidies from Arizona taxpayers?


For kicks, check out this technological innovation that has the potential to make a big difference, even if not in Arizona.

Friday, June 20, 2014

MAYDAY.US -- Let's fight Big Money with crowdsourcing


Please join me in making a pledge to a crowdsourced SUPER PAC, MayDay.Us

I pledged $10 this month and $25 last month.

Please join me at MY MayDay.Us page.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Huppenthal: It's time to POLISH THAT TURD!

Here's the turd, as spelled out by the Arizona Republic, in an editorial today:
The anonymous Internet is a revealing place, full of dangers and pitfalls. It has snared many people who failed to realize it is never as anonymous as they think.
John Huppenthal, Arizona's state schools superintendent, is the latest. For at least three years, while holding his statewide office, he has trolled various political websites. He shared ideas he would never utter as John Huppenthal under the names "Falcon9" and "Thucydides."
"I chose this approach because I felt that any other would limit a free and open exchange," he said in a statement e-mailed to The Arizona Republic.
Well, yes. It is rather limiting to be held accountable for expressing as facts statements that cannot withstand scrutiny. [...]
Yet the Internet is never really anonymous. Bloggers from the staunchly liberal Blog for Arizona and the equally conservative Seeing Red AZ noticed that a lot of Falcon9 and Thucydides' postings defended or advocated Huppenthal — and that they included personal details, including the names of childhood friends. From there, it didn't take long to trace the postings back to Department of Education computers.
I wonder how many news or law enforcement agencies have requested copies of the Arizona Department of Education's employee handbook to find out what the official policy is on private use of state computers.

Anyway, there's a reason news websites like,, Huffington Post and many more have eliminated anonymous comment posting in favor of Facebook, which has a policy requiring members to use their real names. Granted, there's some abuse of that (Facebook) policy but it still has made for higher levels of civility on those sites.  And then there is the narcissist John Huppenthal, who apparently fancies himself a champion of conservatism and "... [a] father [of sorts] of "scientific history" because of his strict standards of evidence-gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect..."

Several sites have reported on notable examples of Hupp's grandiose proclamations. The Phoenix New Times cited a top ten list of them.

New Times' Stephen Lemons called Hupp at home the other evening.
See, after waiting all day Monday to get a response from the GOP officeholder through regular channels, I figured I'd try him at home and ask him about being outed as a not-so-secret blogger by Bob Lord, attorney and former Democratic Congressional candidate, who writes for the influential, lefty opinion outlet
Why, I hadn't talked to my old bud, Hupp, since I saw him at a gun nut rally a while back at the state Capitol. I was certain he'd be happy to hear from me.
Boy, was I mistaken.
"Hey, Steve, how ya doin'?" he asked. Then, immediately, "You're gonna have better luck on your next phone call. I'm gonna let you go."
"Aw, come on," I said. "Why don't you wanna talk to me . . . about you pretending to be somebody else online? I want to make sure you actually are doing that. You know, using sock puppets online."
(Could've sworn he actually chuckled a bit here.)
"Hey, you're going to have better luck on your next call," he repeated.
"So you're not denying it?" I shot back.
"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet," he said before hanging up.
The next morning, he had his chief of staff, Merle Bianchi, POLISH THAT TURD.

Bianchi writes:
Context is everything.
I think she forgot that in most arenas, "Timing is everything." Or that in retail and real estate, it's all about "Location, Location, Location."

Bianchi finishes her turd polishing exercise with this statement that positively OOZES with irony:
When people are as passionate as I am about developing sound public policy occasionally emotions of the moment interfere with sound judgment and a more steady voice... I hope and trust our citizens will look deeper into individual records and reject superficial rhetoric. 
I trust that Arizona voters are most certainly tired of Huppenthal's superficiality. By the way, if you've EVER met him or heard him talk, he's about as passionate as a wet noodle.

For YEARS, he has presented, on his superficially imaged campaign signs, pictures of himself with his wife and daughters. This year, his spiffy 4 by 8's have him surrounded by a large and diverse contingent of happy children. I had wondered why. So, given the need to look beyond superficiality, it was only this week that I learned Hupp is no longer married. In 2011, his wife filed for divorce. A consent decree (agreement on the terms of the divorce) was entered into the court record in April 2012.

There is a LOT that John Huppenthal needs to account for, having advocated vigorously for the undermining of public education in Arizona. I hope and trust that Arizona voters will not be distracted by shiny objects this year. I trust that they (WE) will speak loud and clear at the ballot box in rebellion against the oppression of the Huppenthals and Hornes and Al Melvins, Doug Duceys, Michele (HB2305) Reagans and many more (if not all) Republicans in this 2014 election season.

Of course, if Tom Horne hadn't cheated his way into office, we'd likely be able to expect an official investigation into Huppenthal's unauthorized use of state resources for political purposes. In one of the video clips in the stories below, Hupp says he believes this will blow over and he'll have nothing to worry about in his re-election bid.

Hey John, have you never heard that "Pride goeth before the fall?"



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ballot challenge hearings continue... UPDATED 4:30 pm 6-19-14

According to the Secretary of State's website,

  • Barry Hess, Libertarian for governor is ON the ballot, case dismissed. 
  • Chuck Wooten, Republican in CD2 primary, is ON the ballot, judge ruled against plaintiff.
  • Carlyle Begay, Republican in Democratic sheep's clothing, LD7 state senate, is ON the ballot, case dismissed.
  • Erminie Zarra, Republican for LD29 state representative, withdrew, leaving Aaron Borders to hope for a single shot miracle.
  • Jennifer Knepfler, Libertarian for LD26 state senate disqualified from the ballot, leaving Dale Eames (I) as the sole opponent to incumbent Democrat Ed Ableser.
The only remaining challenges unresolved at this time appear to be Justin Henry, Kimberly Yee's GOP primary opponent for LD20 senate and Scott Ryan, LD18 Independent seeking election as a state representative. Those matters should be decided tomorrow (Thursday).


Justin Henry is OFF the ballot.

Scott Ryan is OFF the ballot.

Dropping like flies... well, not all of them; other "High Drama"

Hearings in Maricopa and Pima County Superior Court began Tuesday in the lawsuits challenging candidates for the legislature and statewide offices.

Of course, high drama ensued as Scott Fistler's Cesar Chavez strategy played out... and it culminated in what they call in show biz, "exit stage left."

Apparently, however, all the claims in the lawsuit against Fistler, such as the fact that he circulated petitions as a Democrat before he actually changed his voter registration to Democrat, that he changed his name to fool voters, and especially the fact that he used the wrong size paper for some of the signatures he submitted, all came to naught. According to the Arizona Republic,
A judge ruled Tuesday that Cesar Chavez, the former Republican who changed his name from Scott Fistler, will be removed from the primary ballot in the 7th Congressional District because hundreds of his signatures were invalid. [...]

Chavez accused political competitors of targeting him. Ruben Gallego and Mary Rose Wilcox are considered the frontrunners.

"I don't know why. I try to play by the rules," he said. "They wanted to knock me off the ballot. It was simply a strategic, heartless maneuver made by my opposition." [...]
[Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John] Rea ruled that 711 of Chavez's 1,455 signatures, or about 48 percent, were invalid because the signers were not registered to vote, did not live in the district or were not Democrats or independents.

The ruling put Chavez's nomination 295 signatures below the 1,039 requirement to make the ballot.
Because the Secretary of State's office does NOT verify the signatures on nominating petitions, the only available enforcement mechanism to ensure somebody doesn't cheat to get on the ballot is for volunteers to check signatures and file a lawsuit. For Scott Fistler, that's that. And we move on. Well, technically, he can appeal but that doesn't seem likely in this situation. However, IF Rea had disqualified Fistler for some of the reasons claimed in the lawsuit, there may have been the possibility of a successful appeal.

But if the candidate doesn't get enough valid signatures from registered voters living in the district, that's the end of it.


According to the Secretary of State, 20 lawsuits were filed challenging 19 candidate nominations. Of those, only eight remain unresolved and therefore pending hearings in court.

Today's updates, besides Fistler, include:

  • Don "Shoot 'em up" Shooter's lawsuit failed. The judge ruled against Shooter. Therefore, Republican Toby Farmer will be on the ballot for the LD13 GOP senate nomination. To me, this is no surprise. Cathi Herrod's husband was the judge in this case and Farmer's website uses the code words she loves. He seems to have scrubbed the site of some of them, but still invokes "family values" which is code for opposition to same sex marriage and to a woman's sovereignty over her own body and health care decisions.
  • Bryan Hackbarth, Republican LD21 candidate for state representative, lost the lawsuits (both of them) challenging him. He's OFF the ballot.
  • Sharon Thomas, Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, will be ON the ballot as the case against her was dismissed.
That leaves 8 unresolved, but probably only 7 because Pima County Democrats dropped their challenge to Ethan Orr's candidacy. Apparently, official word had not yet reached the SOS.
  • Justin Henry, LD20 Republican for state senate (primary against Yee)
  • Scott Ryan, LD18 Independent for state house (general election against Republicans and one Democrat)
  • Barry Hess, Libertarian for governor (probably being targeted by the AZ GOP itself for fear that he may dilute opposition to Democrat Fred DuVal)
  • Chuck Wooten, Republican for CD2 (in the primary against Martha McSally and Shelley Kais)
  • Carlyle Begay, Democrat (Republican in Democratic veneer?) for LD7 state senate; challenge filed by attorney Tom Ryan who has maintained since Begay was appointed last summer to succeed Jack Jackson Jr. that Begay is not a lawful resident of LD7.
  • Jennifer Knepfler, Libertarian for LD26 state senate. Targeted by an LD26 Republican voter (Eric Orton) apparently on behalf of Independent Dale Eames, because Knepfler will likely dilute the opposition vote to incumbent Democrat Ed Ableser.
  • Erminie Zarra, Republican for LD29 state house, targeted by the only other LD29 Republican seeking a seat from that district.

In (indirectly) related High Drama, LD8 House incumbent Republicans Frank Pratt and T.J. Shope drew the wrath of a Pinal County Tea Party group on Monday. According to the Yellow Sheet Report (paywall), primary election opponents Darla DeWald and Wayne Bachmann,
...set up a broom and a mop on the stage to represent the two incumbents, which Bachmann proceeded to address รก la Clint Eastwood at the 2012 RNC convention. “This is my third debate that neither one of them has showed up for, so I decided to bring them,” Dawald said in her opening statement to the crowd of about 20 people. The two mostly trashed Shope and Pratt for their support of Medicaid expansion, and repeatedly said that the pair voted for it in order to get bribes from the hospital and health care industry. (emphasis mine)
Further, Bachmann (no word as to whether he's related at all to Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann)
Bachmann and Dawald also expressed support for allowing guns in schools...Bachmann said that, when he was a kid, he would bring a new rifle to school and show it to his friends. “It’s ridiculous that you can’t do that today,” he said.
LD8, was the one Cantelme most wanted changed in the Harris case. Most recently reported voter reg numbers in LD8 are 28,410 Democrats, 23,824 Republican, 29,925 Libertarian & Other. Or, 34.6 percent D, 29.0 percent R, 36.4 percent L & O. So, if Dewald and Bachmann succeed in the primary, chances are very good that Carmen Casillas, the only Democrat currently seeking a house seat in that district, can win. That, of course, would still hypothetically elevate one of the Tea Party candidates in to the house.

Given that the crowd was only "about 20" strong, I'd be hard pressed to say that the Tea Party is alive and well in Arizona... or at least in Pinal County.


More court hearings are scheduled for today (Wednesday) and Thursday.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ballot challenge updates

It looks like today the Arizona Secretary of State found out about another ballot challenge having been filed last week. Republican LD29 state representative hopeful Aaron Borders filed (on his own behalf) a challenge to the only other Republican who submitted nominating petitions for the position, Erminie Zarra.

LD29 is a Democratic Voting Rights district and has been represented in the Arizona House since January 2013 by Democrats Martin Quezada and Lydia Hernandez. Those two are diametrically opposed on a number of issues. Quezada stands for the people, Hernandez generally stands for the lobbyist. Both are vying for the LD29 senate seat currently held by Steve Gallardo. Gallardo, of course, is running for County Supervisor.

Ballotpedia says this about the LD29 House race so far:
Elections for the office of Arizona House of Representatives will consist of a primary election on August 26, 2014, and a general election on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was May 28, 2014. Richard Andrade will face Steve Chapman, Denise Garcia and Ceci Velasquez in the Democratic primary. Aaron Borders and Erminie Zarra are unopposed in the Republican primary.
If Aaron Borders and Erminie Zarra are unopposed in their primary, why is Borders challenging Zarra's petitions?

Borders' website says this:
For far too long as a citizen I have watched the nastiness of Arizona politics. I have decided to run to represent Legislative District 29 as a whole. I don't believe in Democrat or Republican ideas, I believe there are Good ideas and Bad ideas. Before I cast a vote in the AZ House as YOUR Representative I wont ask if it's a Republican sponsored bill or a Democrat sponsored bill. I will ask myself ONE question after I read it, will this bill leave my children and your children better off? Or is this bill just promoting partisan brinksmanship from either side of the isle? If the answer is the later, I will vote against it. I am there to Represent you and it is up to me to make sure I don't go to the Capitol and become part of the problem but, to be part of a new generation of leaders determined to leave Arizona better for our kids and grandkids with common sense solutions for Arizona. (emphasis mine)
I have to chuckle. This blurb suggests or seems to imply that Borders wants to rid us of the "nastiness of Arizona politics." But for him to file a lawsuit to get the only other Republican thrown off the ballot in his race seems kinda nasty. I know very little about Zarra. But I do know that politics IS a nasty business. Maybe Borders was really implying just that he too wanted to get in on the nastiness.

Oh, and how does this help Borders (if it's successful)?

Because LD29 is a Democratic district (latest registration numbers show 26,818 Democrat; 13,536 Republican; and 28,210 Libertarian & Other -- or 39.1 percent D; 19.7 percent R; 41.1 percent L & O), Borders apparently believes he has a chance if Republicans "single shot" their ballots. If Zarra stays on the ballot, the odds of either Republican winning a seat are significantly lower.


According to the SoS worksheet on candidate challenges, James Samuelson, Independent candidate for CD5 (incumbent Salmon) withdrew his name from the ballot today, making Tim LaSota's lawsuit moot. The Maricopa County Superior Court website does not yet reflect it, but the hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, June 17 will be vacated.

Friday, June 13, 2014

More Ballot Challenges -- UPDATED 2:50 pm 6-16-14

In addition to the challenges mentioned in my previous post, several more lawsuits seeking to disqualify candidates for Congress, the state legislature and statewide offices have been filed.

Congressional candidates facing challenges:
  • James Samuelson, CD5 Independent; challenge filed by Tim LaSota, an attorney who works primarily for Republicans. Hearing scheduled for 6/17 at 1:30 pm.
  • Scott Fistler, aka "Cesar Chavez"; filed by James Barton, who generally works for Democratic candidates or party groups. Hearing scheduled for 6/17 at 10 am.
  • Chuck Wooten, CD2 Republican. Challenge filed in Pima County Superior Court. Information not as easy to find online for PCSC cases. There are two other Republican candidates. It's hard to see how anyone but another GOP candidate would be interested in challenging Wooten's candidacy at this stage. Wooten's facebook page (I don't find a website for him in a google search) has an interesting cartoon about cleaning out Eric Cantor's Congressional office. No doubt, Martha McSally doesn't want to get Cantorized. After all, the retired Air Force fighter pilot doesn't like to tell voters or the media what her positions are on issues.
Legislative candidate challenges:
  • Toby Farmer, LD13 Republican senate candidate, plaintiff is Don Shooter, the incumbent GOP senator. More than likely, Shooter doesn't like the idea of being Cantorized. I don't know much about Farmer, but clearly, Shooter is vulnerable. Hearing scheduled for 6/16 at 1 pm.
  • Patricia Flores, LD3 Republican house candidate. LD3 is an Hispanic Voting Rights district currently represented by Sally Ann Gonzales and Macario Saldate. Suit filed in Pima County, so I don't have hearing date/time or plaintiff counsel information.
  • Justin Henry, LD20 Republican senate candidate. The LD20 Republican incumbent, Kimberly Yee is very vulnerable for multiple reasons. Yee, like Shooter, is a fan of the lobbyist gravy train of gifts and entertainment. She also disrespected veterans suffering from PTSD during the 2014 regular session. Mike Liburdi filed the lawsuit on behalf of an LD20 voter. Hearing scheduled for 6/18 at 2 pm.
  • Ethan Orr, LD9 Republican incumbent/candidate. Orr made some moderate votes this year in the House, and therefore is loathed by the hardline GOP in Tucson, but this challenge comes from a Democratic voter and was filed by Jeff Rogers. Orr was quoted in the Arizona Republic as saying, "I don't want to be taken off the ballot on a technicality produced by a smart lawyer. I want to have a genuine policy debate and let the voters decide." Which is all well and good IF he actually has enough valid nominating signatures. Cheating is not a technicality, and playing the victim is a sign of weakness.
  • Scott Ryan, LD18 (Ahwatukee, West Chander, South Tempe) Independent house candidate. Hearing scheduled for 6/19 at 1 pm. Plaintiff is represented by attorney Adam Lang. I'm not familiar with Lang or who he generally represents. There are four Republican candidates (only one of whom is an incumbent, Bob Robson) and one Democrat (Mitzi Epstein, currently serving on the Kyrene School Board).
  • Bryan Hackbarth is facing TWO challenges in his bid to stay on the ballot seeking a seat in the LD21 Republican primary. There's only one incumbent running but a total of three GOP candidates for the two seats. Non-incumbent candidate Tony Rivero, a Peoria councilman is one of the plaintiffs and is represented by Eric Spencer. Voter Kathryn French is represented by Kory Langhofer in the other. Both are scheduled to be heard 6/18 at 2 pm.
Statewide candidate challenges:
  • Barry Hess, perennial Libertarian candidate for governor, is being challenged by Kevin McNeill who is represented by Eric Spencer. Hearing is scheduled for 6/19 at 9 am.
  • Sharon Thomas, Democratic candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction is being challenged by voter Patricia Ann Dowd, who is represented by Joe Kanefield. Hearing is scheduled for 6/19 at 10 am.
By the way, Tim LaSota did not respond to my request for a copy of his lawsuits against either Farmer or Samuelson.


The lawsuit challenging Sharon Thomas in her bid to become state schools superintendent can be viewed here. In addition to the Order to Show Cause hearing scheduled for 6/19, a telephonic hearing was conducted between plaintiffs counsel and attorneys for the Secretary of State and for some of the county recorders. From BallardSpahr attorney Beau Roysden:
There was an emergency telephone call with the judge, counsel for Plaintiff and counsel for the SOS (as well as a few counties) yesterday at 3:30 on the narrow issue of whether the SOS was the statutory agent for service of process for the county recorders and county boards of supervisors in this case. In plain English, the issue was whether formal service of process could be delivered to the SOS's office for these defendants or instead whether Plaintiff would have to formally serve each defendant separately. Given that there are 30 county defendants (one recorder and one board of supervisors for each of the 15 counties), it was impracticable to send a process server out to every county seat in the state to perform formal service yesterday. In the call, the judge indicated that he reads the statute as allowing service to be made on the SOS.
The SOS did not dispute that it was the agent for service of process for the candidate, it only disputed whether it was the agent for the counties.
The lawsuit challenging Carlyle Begay's quest to be elected to the office he was appointed to by Andy Biggs... er, the Apache County Board of Supervisors, to fill the vacancy when Jack Jackson Jr. resigned to take a job in the Obama administration... can be viewed here.

Regarding the challenge to Ethan Orr's candidacy, the Pima County Recorder apparently issued a report,
But the Pima County Recorder’s Office has reviewed the challenged signatures and determined that the freshman Republican lawmaker turned in 393 valid signatures, so Orr may have cleared the hurdle.
Rogers told The Range he was still reviewing the county’s report and didn’t know if he’d continue the challenge.
As a side note, Mary Rose Wilcox appears to be still trying to cast doubt on Ruben Gallego's name change situation.

June 16 UPDATE

I don't know if I missed it the other day or if the Secretary of State's office just found out today about the challenge filed by a citizen named Eric Orton (representing himself) against Libertarian candidate for the LD26 senate seat, Jennifer Knepfler. But the case is now on the SOS list and here's what I've been able to find out so far.

Knepfler, who submitted 14 signatures to qualify for the LD26 senate libertarian nomination, is being challenged (hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning 6/18 at 9 am) by self-represented Republican voter Eric Orton. However, there is no Republican candidate for that office. Independent candidate Dale Eames filed 1820 signatures to earn a spot on the November general election ballot against Democratic incumbent Ed Ableser. So, the most likely scenario is that Orton is a surrogate for Eames and doesn't want Knepfler splitting the opposition to Ableser.


Additional updates include that Republican Patricia Flores withdrew her candidacy for LD3 state representative; and Libertarian Helmuth Hack withdrew from the race for a seat in the Arizona House from LD21 (Peoria).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Cesar Chavez strategy, or why it can be reasonable to challenge nominating signatures

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes, in order for candidates for statewide or legislative offices (including Congress) to qualify to have their names placed on the ballot for the August 26th primary, a person must obtain a certain number of valid signatures of qualified voters on nominating petitions.

The deadline for filing those nominating petitions was May 28. The petitions are submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State's office which looks them over for basic criteria, such as whether the petition circulator signed each sheet s/he circulated and whether all of the necessary information is supplied for each voter signature (i.e. date signed, address). But the SOS does NOT verify that each of the names correspond to properly registered voters.

That's one of the things done by political party volunteers. If those volunteers determine that too few valid signatures were submitted, someone may file a lawsuit challenging the person's nomination for the ballot. The SOS maintains a list of challenges pending this year and the current status.

The two challenges that intrigue me the most so far this year are to Scott Fistler (aka Cesar Chavez) and Ethan Orr. The Pima County Democratic Party issued a press release explaining its position and reason for challenging Orr.

The Arizona Republic has reported on the challenge to Fistler's candidacy.

Another intriguing case is Don Shooter's challenge to Republican primary opponent Toby Farmer (search, in case history, for case number CV2014-008772). Traditionally, a rank and file voter files as plaintiff, but in this case Don "Shoot 'em up" Shooter brazenly filed as his own plaintiff. Filed yesterday, an initial Order to Show Cause hearing is scheduled for June 16 at 1pm before Cathi Herrod's husband. Tim LaSota represents Shooter.

I've requested LaSota send me a copy of the lawsuit. I'll post it and update this blog when I receive it.

Three of the petition challenges listed so far have been resolved. Miguel Olivos, Libertarian hopeful for CD3 withdrew his candidacy as did Johnny Robinson, CD7 Democratic hopeful. On the other hand, the suit against Randy Camacho, also running for the Democratic nomination in CD7, was dismissed and his name will appear on the ballot.

Independent candidate James Samuelson, running for CD5 (currently held by Salmon) also is being challenged by a voter represented by LaSota. There is a Democratic candidate in that district also, but Samuelson filed 4,606 signatures, so Salmon is apparently taking him seriously. I'll keep you posted on that one too. It is scheduled for hearing before Judge Katherine Cooper on June 17 at 1:30 pm.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How long will we continue to be hoodwinked by the NRA? SCALIA says there are LIMITS to the 2nd Amendment

At the end of the summer in 2013, in the wake of another in the seemingly routine occurrence of a mass shooting somewhere in the United States, I posted an essay written by Jerry Gettinger about guns. In the roughly nine months since, there have been several more such incidents. 

On Thursday, it happened at Seattle Pacific University.

The shooter was stopped before he could continue his rampage, but it wasn't a "good guy with a gun" that stopped him.
When a lone gunman armed with a shotgun at a small Seattle university stopped firing at students to reload, another student pepper-sprayed him and subdued him with the help of others and prevented more deaths, police said.
"There are a number of heroes in this," Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said. "The people around him (the gunman) stepped up."
A 19-year-old man was fatally shot and two other young people were wounded after the gunman entered the foyer at Otto Miller Hall on the Seattle Pacific University campus and started shooting Thursday afternoon. When he paused to reload, a student building monitor disarmed him. The gunman had additional rounds and a knife, McDonagh said.
"But for the great response by the people of Seattle Pacific, this incident might have been much more tragic," he said.

It appears that as many as hundreds of millions of Americans have been HOODWINKED. We are or have been under the false impression that anyone suggesting any form of legislation to protect Americans from gun violence are jeopardizing or encroaching on 2nd Amendment freedoms.

That appearance and the misunderstanding undergirding it have been fostered by parochial interests. Most prominently, the National Rifle Association, which -- all pretense aside -- lobbies for firearms manufacturers. Part of that lobbying effort is to build a public perception of what 2A means. With that public perception as a basis, the NRA effectively either buys off or intimidates Congress and (with ALEC) state lawmaking bodies.

Why do I say that we've been hoodwinked?

The NRA and anyone else so inclined (and they are legion) point to the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v Heller. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Antonin Scalia stated (in a pertinent part that has been pretty much overlooked by EVERY body),
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. See, e.g., Sheldon, in 5 Blume 346; Rawle 123; Pomeroy 152–153; Abbott333. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. See, e.g., State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann., at 489–490; Nunn v. State, 1 Ga., at 251; see generally 2 Kent *340, n. 2; The American Students’ Blackstone 84, n. 11 (G. Chase ed. 1884). Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.26(emphasis mine)
There you have it straight from the mouth (pen ---> keyboard) of one of the most "conservative" (Right-wing anyway) justices ever to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States.

NOTHING in the opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions of possession by felons and the mentally ill; or laws forbidding carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as SCHOOLS and government buildings; or laws IMPOSING CONDITIONS and QUALIFICATIONS on the commercial sale of arms.

THAT should be all we need to know in order to begin writing, enacting and enforcing laws to underscore the rights of Americans to LIVE and to do so peacefully to the extent possible.

When the pushback starts to worry gun fetishists, they will get vocal. Well, lift up YOUR voices and be heard over them. To overcome cultural inertia will require very smart people coming up with a message that gun rights advocates recognize as genuine at the same time as it advocates for those changes within the constraints of Heller to keep our communities safe(r) from gun violence.

The answer is NOT, more guns.


NOTE 26*: "We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive."  


h/t to

Monday, June 2, 2014

Arizona's Lawless top Law Enforcer -- Tom Horne -- responds to Sarah Beattie's allegations UPDATED 6-4-14 12:05am

You may recall that a few weeks ago, former Arizona Attorney General staffer Sarah Beattie resigned her position in the AG office and filed a complaint against Tom Horne stating that re-election candidate Horne was extensively using elected official Horne's taxpayer supplied resources -- including but not necessarily limited to office space and staff time -- to conduct fundraising and other campaign related activities.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett, with whom Beattie's complaint was filed, responded with a letter to Horne attorney Dennis Wilenchik setting June 2 as the deadline for a response to the complaint.
Our original deadline for a response was May 21, 2014. Your letter requests sixty days to respond and while we cannot accommodate that request, we can extend our deadline to 5:00 pm. on Monday, June 2, 2014. The complaint consists of a 15-page declaration that contains allegations and the remaining documents providing supporting evidence of those allegations.
Apparently, Wilenchik couldn't be bothered breaking his summer vacation plans. Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times reported that Wilenchik then declared that he would not be representing Horne in this matter.
After further review and consideration, and discussion with the Attorney General, I will not be representing him in either the Secretary of State matter or the Clean Elections matter from this date forward. Mr. Horne, it is my present understanding, will be representing himself in responding to both of your inquiries so you may deal with him directly. Thank you for you professional courtesy and cooperation extended to me previously.
Since I am headed to Peru and the Galapagos Islands through mid June starting this Wednesday I think I will be having the better time than working on this anyway. In any event, thanks again to all, and Mr. Horne is fully aware of your deadline of June 2nd and intends to comply with it. Have a wonderful summer (if there is such a thing here) and take care. There is no need to copy me on anything further with respect to this matter.
Today, Horne responded to the complaint with a 44-page denial. Part of it is something you would expect to be written by a defense attorney rebutting criminal charges. Other parts of it seem a bit surreal. Actually, it makes me wonder (I'm not clinically qualified to professionally diagnose, but I read...) if Tom Horne is not actually a psychopath.*

Horne characterizes part of his response to be witness statements from people who have no connection to the Horne campaign. One of which is,
Kevin Demenna (lobbyist Who had employed Beattie): “When Sarah Beattie left my employment, I was told by a number of people that she claimed I had pushed my religion on her. That was never the case.” [...]
So, to believe that Beattie is a truth teller, one has to not only believe that five co-workers are liars, but that the former Deputy Director of the McCain campaign is a liar, in a situation where he has no motive one way or another. It is more probable that Beattie is the fabricator, then [sic] that all those other people are liars.
It may be nit picky on my part, but how anyone could make an objective judgment about a person based on DeMenna's denial of allegations of proselytizing is beyond me. If DeMenna mentioned his religion even once, it's reasonable for a person uncomfortable with his doing so to characterize it as "pushing it on" her, unless SHE is the one who brought it up. In a tweet he posted about six months ago, DeMenna reveals himself to have a religious frame of reference. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
My hunch is that there might be SOME truth to SOME of the things in Horne's 44-page document. I have asked Beattie's attorney, Tom Ryan, a couple of related questions. When I hear from him, I'll update this post.

Ms. Beattie, in an interview with 12 News reporter Brahm Resnik, did tell Horne to hit her with his best shot. We'll soon see if that's actually what, with the response today, he did.

In the meantime, a number of Arizona Republicans, including Congressman Matt Salmon and blogger Shane Wikfors, have called for Horne to end his campaign... apparently hoping he will concede to Republican challenger Mark Brnovich, thereby saving the GOP an embarrassing defeat come November.

To which I pose this: Felecia deserves a rematch!

And despite the state legislature having repealed #HB2305 a couple of months ago, I expect there has been too many oppressive shenanigans done in the last couple of years for the voters to forget. In 2014, Arizona voters will reclaim Democracy for the people.


* NOTE: Resources for consideration of whether Arizona, in 2010 put a psychopath into the office of Attorney General.

By the way, for all of Sarah Beattie's youthful boldness, I figure she's got plenty of chinks in her armor, or personal faults, just like ALL of us do. But I've got to hand it to her, it's a momentous undertaking to challenge someone like Tom Horne. I hope she's got plenty of support.

I also think it's way past time for local media to ask and explore the question of whether Tom Horne is a psychopath.  One of the hallmarks, according to what I've read, from the article Suffering Souls,  
Psychopaths don’t exhibit the manias, hysterias, and neuroses that are present in other types of mental illness. Their main defect, what psychologists call “severe emotional detachment”—a total lack of empathy and remorse—is concealed, and harder to describe than the symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. This absence of easily readable signs has led to debate among mental-health practitioners about what qualifies as psychopathy and how to diagnose it.

Will the Arizona Republican Party succeed in getting Horne to step aside in favor of Brnovich? Not a snowball's chance in Phoenix on a hot summer day in August.

Will Brnovich be able to knock Horne off in the primary? I seriously doubt it. He doesn't seem to have the "killer instinct" that may be necessary to win that contest.



Earlier today, Sarah Beattie's attorney, Tom Ryan provided some comments to questions I posed to him. Here are some of them.
Horne's response fails to meet the specifics of our allegations. We provided 146 pages of documents with embedded meta data proving our allegations. He doesn't deny them. Instead, he tries to "spin it to win it." For example, Sarah stated in her affidavit that she never once had a substantive discussion with Tom Horne about actual office work. Instead,she only talked campaign stuff with him. That is not refuted by Horne in his response.
Like with Horne's appearance on local news broadcasts, his response shows ZERO remorse or any other indication he even has a conscience.

Another example is the issue of the donor book which we stated he deliberately mislabeled "Border Patrol" and used at his desk. 
His only response is (1) Sarah and Ryan stole the book & (2) Ryan held it up as a political trophy as a stunt to embarrass Horne. So let's look at each allegation. The donor notebook was not stolen by Sarah, Horne often gave it to Sarah to make donor calls. She simply forgot she had it in her trunk. Horne had Garrett Archer give him a new donor list off the computer which Tom Horne put into a new Border Patrol notebook. When Sarah gave me the notebook, I knew it was probable evidence of a crime. I did what any good attorney would do: I turned it over to the FBI
One thing Horne did get right about me is this: I absolutely held up the deliberately mislabeled Border Patrol notebook and allowed the New Times to photograph me with the notebook with the intent of embarrassing Tom Horne. He should be embarrassed! I do like how he accuses Sarah and me of "theft of intellectual property."
Of course, Horne is NOT embarrassed. He has no shame, no regret. After all, he is not the one (in his mind) who has committed a crime, or even a breach of ethics. Isn't that the hallmark of a psychopath?
...everything that Sarah attached to her affidavit was knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily sent to her for her use and knowledge. How can that be theft?!
How is taking a paper with the exhortation to the campaign staff that "we need to get our shit together," intellectual property? Indeed, what is " intellectual" about that at all?
In summary, all Horne has in response about Sarah's allegations is this: she has an unsavory past and no one should trust her. That is very ironic coming from a man who has a lifetime ban by the SEC for fraudulently ripping off innocent folks!
One other thought about Horne's response : he accuses Sarah of being a "plant" in his office by one of the other campaigns (Brnovich or Rotellini). I think it is time for Tom Horne to be officially fitted for his tinfoil hat! If Sarah was a"spy" for one of the other camps then she is probably the most successful mole since Mata Hari, because not only did Sarah get herself immediately invited into Tom Horne's inner sanctum without really trying, but she convinced Horne to raise her salary by $13,000 in just two months!
Let's reflect on Horne's lifetime ban by the Securities and Exchange Commission. That was widely known PRIOR to the 2010 election when Horne, as a result of dubious dealings by (and all but certainly personally coordinating with) a Dark Money group, Horne edged out Rotellini.

That seems to invoke the adage that the people get the government they deserve. Or it would if he had not had to resort to cheating in order to win in 2010. One way or the other, it DOES invoke another adage, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." (That's the way the phrase went before George W Bush got confused and mangled it.