Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian
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Friday, November 11, 2016

The First Step: We MUST emphatically and unequivocally repudiate Neoliberalism

The inability of the liberal class to address our reality leaves the disenfranchised open to manipulation by demagogues. -Chris Hedges
That insight from Chris Hedges describes in the most succinct way possible what took place on Tuesday.

"Neoliberal globalism is NOT at all a model of "economic deregulation," and it does NOT promote "private initiative" in general. Under the ideological veil of non-intervention, neoliberalism involves extensive and invasive interventions in every area of social life. It imposes a specific form of social and economic regulation based on the prominence of finance, international elite integration, subordination of the poor in every country and universal compliance with US interests." -- from the Introduction (by Alfredo Saad-Filho and Deborah Johnston) to Neoliberalism: A Critical Reader, (2005, Pluto Press, London)

In other words, neoliberalism is ALL about austerity. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties are all about neoliberalism. The Democratic primary contest between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was fundamentally a potential revolution against the Democratic Party's deep-rooted neoliberal ideology. The neoliberal candidate won the nomination. But shockingly lost the general election.


I have been extremely uninspired to write about politics since May 2016. By that time, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee had undermined Bernie's campaign and candidacy. Bernie then did the right thing by campaigning for Clinton. I am personally appalled at the gall exhibited by Trump since Tuesday. The next few years will be tumultuous.

However, I just never could muster any fire inside me for Clinton. Yes, she was (IS) highly qualified. I voted for her. Jill Stein on the other hand was and is not qualified, despite having values that line up with the Progressive movement and my world view.

I'm not going to bash Stein voters. They are NOT the problem. The problem is NEOLIBERALISM. That's a major factor underlying how and why Clinton never connected with Blue Collar voters. Yes, many (but NOT all) Trump voters are deplorable.

Clinton's fatal mistake was in her handling of the Wall Street speeches. Everything else (or, at least enough of it) could have been reconciled to address voter concerns had she been contrite and leveled with the American people. She lost Independent and Blue Collar voters who could have put her over the top.

Refusing at THAT time (last Spring) to realize that she had lost the necessary margin of victory (percentage of the electorate) is what made Trump victorious in spite of his morally dubious personal values and business practices. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

Had she admitted her error and gotten real with the Working Class, Clinton likely could have salvaged a victory. Yet, she acted as if she believed doing so would jeopardize her ability to have raised enough money to wage a victorious campaign. But Bernie proved there was a better way to raise money. Elizabeth Warren proved it a couple of years ago and Bernie adopted that approach. Those two, Sanders and Warren, connected with the necessary voters. Clinton did not.

I admire Clinton's persistence. But ultimately SHE lost the election. She owns it.

The DNC, complicit in highly questionable conduct, also owns it (joint tenancy with right of survivorship).

Anyone who embraced Clinton and her approach to the campaign must NOT be elevated to head the DNC. That includes my friend Ruben Gallego. Ruben, though young, bright and energetic, has a history of locking into support for neoliberal candidates. Besides Clinton, in 2012 he unequivocally supported Third Way candidate Andrei Cherny who ran in the primary against Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema now holds the seat for Arizona's Ninth District in Congress.

That is, unless Ruben repudiates neoliberalism and the concept of superdelegates loud enough and in ways that empower rank and file Democrats to hold him accountable to that repudiation. If he does so, it might become reasonable to consider him for the DNC chair position.

We will have social and political problems over the next couple of years. One friend captured the zeitgeist well when he said that the Blue team will come roaring back next time.

But it won't come to pass unless we make the right choices in setting the direction and leadership for the next two years. If the next DNC chair is someone who embraced Clinton, the concept of superdelegates and/or neoliberalism, it won't matter how bright and energetic that person is. He or she will be doomed to fail because he or she will not have learned the necessary lesson from the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

“Free to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg: The Story of Women and Law” by Teri Kanefield

Teri Kanefield's “Free to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg: The Story of Women and Law” is so much more than the title suggests.

American history began as and has been a constant quest for freedom. From multiple forms of oppression. The Union (of the original 13 states) was far from perfect. Hence the Preamble to the Constitution, “We the People... in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility...

Even now, 240 years after declaring independence from England, we have so much work to do to perfect the Union. Our nation's stories often revolve around heroes. Kanefield offers a dynamic, delightful and compelling telling of the story of a diminutive giant of a heroine, one of the most important contemporary figures in the ongoing quest for a Just, domestically Tranquil society.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg personifies, regarding civil rights law, particularly on gender and racial issues, Teddy Roosevelt's oft quoted adage, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Ginsberg's stick, for more than fifty years, has been the practice of law, including as a law school professor, appeals court judge for the DC circuit and Supreme Court Justice.

Setting the stage by illustrating with female law pioneer Myra Bradwell's experience, Kanefield weaves together a wonderful patchwork of case law and life experiences on how Ginsberg patiently but persistently knocked down immense walls precluding women and men from opportunities to lead fulfilling lives according to how each sees fit. Bradwell, in 1869 passed the Illinois Bar exam but Illinois refused to grant her a license to practice because “a woman had no legal existence apart from her husband.” 

The barriers to women's – and because rights can be a double-edged sword, certain men's – rights have been challenged many times since. In 2016, barriers still do exist.

For example, as a practicing attorney and law professor, Ginsberg took on the case of Stephen Wiesenfeld, whose wife died in childbirth. Even though his wife was the primary breadwinner in the family, Social Security denied the man survivor benefits which he needed in order to raise his newborn son. A law student at the time, Sandra Grayson, said “working alongside Ruth was like fighting an uphill battle that you might actually win.”

Kanefield relates that (according to legal scholar Herma Hill Kay) “Quite literally, it was her [Ginsberg's] voice, raised in oral argument and reflected in the drafting of briefs, that shattered old stereotypes and opened new opportunities for both sexes. She built, and persuaded the Court to adopt, a new constitutional framework for analyzing the achievement of equality for women and men. In doing so, Ginsburg in large part created the intellectual foundations of the present law of sex discrimination.”

Justice Ginsberg's mark on American law will be indelible because the potential for American women to make great contributions to society is vast and runs deep.

For me, this is personal. My daughter is the primary breadwinner in her family and my granddaughter could one day follow in the footsteps of a human rights pioneer like Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Free to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg, by Teri Kanefield in my opinion is a must read.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Who is Ha-Joon Chang and why should you care?

From where I sit, Professor Ha-Joon Chang is the guy who is now and will continue to provide a great deal of research and economic theory which will serve as philosophical underpinning for OurRevolution (following up on Bernie Sanders' earth-shattering and revolutionary presidential campaign).

Chang says he has been influenced by a wide range of economists,
Many people find it difficult to place me in the intellectual universe of economics. This is not surprising, given that I have been influenced by many different economists, from Karl Marx on the left to Friedrich von Hayek on the right. [...]
With the collapse of communism, people have come to dismiss Marx as an irrelevance, but this is wrong. I don’t have much time for Marx’s utopian vision of socialism nor his labour theory of value, but his understanding of capitalism was superior in many ways to those of the self-appointed advocates of capitalism.
Frankly, I believe advocacy for the philosophical underpinnings (economic theory) that will support OurRevolution is a much more productive focus than right now being overly concerned about how and why Bernie Sanders is not now the Democratic nominee for President.

Consider some of Chang's thoughts and perspectives on current issues. These clips are brief. Two of them are roughly two minutes; the third is about five minutes long.

and on so-called Free Markets

and on neoclassical (and neoliberal) economics

In 2018, there will be more statewide offices on the general election ballot in Arizona. Prospective candidates should be thinking NOW about preparing for those campaigns, all of them. Especially important will be the governor's race.

One factor in the 2014 contest between Fred DuVal and Scrooge McDucey was that the Democratic candidate did not adequately distinguish (contrast) himself with the opponent. 

Despite Bernie losing out on the nomination this year, he set forth a powerful example of how to rally electoral support. In 2018 Arizona, there will be no need to be concerned about electing the first female governor for our state. So, let's see someone with DuVal's presence take Bernie's example to the next level.


Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Beware the High-Voltage Wires -- APS sued Bob Burns to quash subpoenas

On Friday, right before the weekend -- a traditional time to break news one hopes will not get much attention -- Arizona Public Service and its mother ship, Pinnacle West Capital Corp sued Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns in Maricopa County Superior Court claiming the subpoenas he issued recently are politically motivated and constitute illegal harassment. APS's action and statements are dripping with irony.

Robert Anglen, Arizona Republic reporter, posted about it Friday evening.
Arizona's largest utility is suing a state regulator for trying to determine if it used money from ratepayers to influence an election.
Arizona Public Service Co., in a series of legal filings Friday, said subpoenas filed by Arizona Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns are unlawful and is asking the court to make him pay legal fees and other costs.
APS accused Burns of using his official position to harass and retaliate against the company in violation of the First Amendment. They said he intentionally made demands to coincide with key election dates to influence the 2016 commission races.
"Commissioner Burns is demanding election-related disclosures based on his personal view that support for any particular (Arizona Corporation Commission) candidate should be open and transparent," APS Vice President Barbara Lockwood wrote in a letter to the commission Friday. "Arizona law does not require the disclosure he demands."
A spokesman for APS said Friday that the documents laid out the company’s position and he would have no further comment.
“We don’t discuss pending litigation,” APS spokesman Jim McDonald said.
First, typically institutions targeted with litigation generally don't discuss pending litigation. APS launched this attack. One would think they'd want to tell their story about the situation. But they don't.

Might that be because the more attention the public pays to the lawsuit, the greater the likelihood it will backfire on APS?

Second, Arizona's two largest power utilities, APS and Salt River Project are ALWAYS, during legislative sessions, working diligently to exert political influence on lawmaking. While they do some of that work in the open, very few everyday citizens ever hear about it.

This blog has covered these issues on numerous occasions over the last four plus years. Scan through the archives (in the right hand column) for background insight.

For a utility that's accustomed to being protected by elected officials, don't you (now that Bob Burns is persecuting and harassing them) feel a deep sense of compassion for poor buggers like APS/Pinnacle West chairman and CEO Don Brandt (who reportedly makes $12 Million/year)? By the way, Pinnacle West (a publicly traded company) is worth, according to it's 2015 annual report, more than $7.1 Billion (see page 19 of the linked pdf file).

The squawking from an agency under investigation by the FBI for its role in the triumphant installation of Doug Little and Tom Forese, APS's wholly-owned stooges, seems a lot like a cat that got its tail caught under a rocking chair.

Beyond just the squealing, APS and Pinnacle West are conducting themselves as if they are cornered predators. That's not necessarily unreasonable. They are predators after all. And if Burns is re-elected along with Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin winning the two other open seats in November, they might actually be boxed into a corner.

A sweet set of possibilities for sure from the vantage of Arizona ratepayers and citizens.

Barbara Lockwood also wrote, in an item filed with the Corporation Commission,
The Commission is clearly entitled to APS information as it relates to setting electric rates. As such, and completely independent of these subpoenas, APS will provide the requested publicly-available APS information to Commissioner Burns on September 15th. APS will also provide the remaining responsive non-public APS information upon the execution of an appropriate confidentiality agreement, as is routine Commission practice for the disclosure of non-public information. This information will demonstrate, yet again, that no ratepayer funds have been used for political purposes.
Through his subpoenas, Commissioner Burns is demanding election-related disclosures based on his personal view that support for any particular ACC candidate should be open and transparent. As a citizen, Commissioner Burns is entitled to his view, but as a Commissioner, he is bound to follow the law, and Arizona law does not require the disclosure he demands.
One can read between the lines of Lockwood's letter to the ACC. She states that "no ratepayer funds have been used for political purposes." But as has been reported repeatedly over the last several years, APS has refused to deny spending money to influence the election of commissioners who will do its bidding. This is not simply "Commissioner Burns' personal view." It's widely understood public opinion based on APS's non-denial denials over the years.

APS is hoping to bypass citizen concerns about its plutocratic abuse of the electoral process by getting courts to again assert that Corporations are People.

We must not allow them to get away with it.


Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Is THIS the way to get voters' attention?

Though I've become pretty much disillusioned with the Arizona Democratic Party, these two candidates, Tom Chabin and Bill Mundell rise above the crowd because they are taking a stand to be proud of.

The last several years the Arizona Corporation Commission has been taken over by Arizona Public Service-owned henchmen.

Republican Bob Burns, the only current member of the ACC that has had the balls to stand up to the state's largest utility, has taken a lot of flack from the crony capitalists. When Mr. Burns was in the state legislature, I was no fan of his. But he has demonstrated genuine independence and commitment to his word in representing ratepayers and taxpayers since first elected to the ACC in 2012.

There are five members of that commission. They set policy and also act as judicial officers in matters of enforcement. If Arizona voters stand firm and elect Chabin, Mundell and re-elect Burns, the people of our state will be able to count it a victory. With three members (should Mundell, Chabin and Burns win in November), citizens will once again be able to build trust in a utility-regulating commission that answers to us rather than to APS.

We have the opportunity to reclaim that institution from the corruption it has operated under for far too long. Trash Burner Bob Stump is termed out and will no longer be able to serve his corporate masters in that role after the beginning of 2017. Andy (toxin) Tobin, appointed by Scrooge McDucey to replace Susan Bitter Smith, is also on the general election ballot. He too can and will be ousted if the message remains clear and focused for the next two months.

This is a crucial opportunity to demonstrate that Arizonans will no longer tolerate our state government earning the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt in the country.

Candidates for county-wide offices (such as Maricopa County Sheriff) will, if they intend to win, take a lesson from Mundell and Chabin, two guys with steel backbones.


Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AZ SoS commits Election Tampering by "Oops?"

World renowned computer scientist Admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992), as a way of busting through military bureaucracy and promoting innovation, is credited with the saying, "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission." Unfortunately, that saying is often employed to escape accountability for "inadvertent" election tampering.

Chandler attorney and citizen activist Tom Ryan today filed a 5-page complaint with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Secretary of State Michele Reagan calling for Brnovich to seek a court injunction to postpone next week's special election for Propositions 123 and 124.

To view video of Ryan explaining the complaint and answering questions from reporters, go to (I have trouble embedding video from that website)

According to state statute, elections for ballot measures must be preceded by timely delivery of disclosure and explanation to all voters of the questions they are being asked to decide. Ryan's complaint cites violations of Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 19-101.01 and 19-123 and references the Article VII, § 12 of the Arizona Constitution, which states,
There shall be enacted registration and other laws to secure the purity of elections and guard against abuses of the elective franchise. 
19-101.01 was passed by the legislature because they were pissed off about those pesky voters who thought they knew better than the elected representatives. Now they may find themselves hoisted upon their own petard. This provision requires strict, rather than substantial compliance with election procedures regarding referenda.
The legislature recognizes that a referendum may overrule the results of determinations made by representatives of the people and therefore finds and determines that strict compliance with the constitutional and statutory requirements for the referendum process and in the application and enforcement of those requirements provides the surest method for safeguarding the integrity and accuracy of the referendum process. Therefore, the legislature finds and declares its intent that the constitutional and statutory requirements for the referendum be strictly construed and that persons using the referendum process strictly comply with those constitutional and statutory requirements.
The provision Secretary Reagan (a person) must comply with is in 19-123,
A. When the secretary of state is ordered by the legislature, or by petition under the initiative and referendum provisions of the constitution, to submit to the people a measure or proposed amendment to the constitution, the secretary of state shall cause to be printed, at the expense of the state, except as otherwise provided in this article, a publicity pamphlet, which shall contain: [a list of six items follows] [...]
B. The secretary of state shall mail one copy of the publicity pamphlet to every household that contains a registered voter. The mailings may be made over a period of days but shall be mailed in order to be delivered to households before the earliest date for receipt by registered voters of any requested early ballots for the general election.
Ryan's complaint also cites a story indicating Reagan's spokesman Matt Roberts acknowledged the problem, blaming it on a vendor.

Of course, Mr. Roberts immediately began the process of minimizing the Secretary's error and rationalizing it away.
Roberts acknowledges the 200,000 pamphlets are going out after the deadline, but he doesn’t see this as having a major impact on voters.
“Many folks I’m sure take the time to educate themselves via their local newspaper, the media, their legislators. We make a lot of information available on our site,” he said, adding that publicity pamphlets are a part of that.
As for why they didn’t alert the public back at the end of April about the problem?
“In all candor, we’ve been focused on getting those pamphlets out immediately and as soon as possible,” Roberts said.
From the story,
Arizona's string of election problems continues.
Heavyweight Valley attorney Tom Ryan has asked the Attorney General's office to postpone next week's election for at least 90 days, claiming the state's top election official botched it. [...]
The error, according to Ryan, potentially means 400,000 voters were left without publicity pamphlets when early voting began April 20.
These pamphlets provide information as well written arguments for and against two current ballot propositions: Proposition 123 and 124. [...]
The problem is the latest to plague Arizona's election system.
In March, Maricopa County voters stood in line for up five and six hours to cast their ballots in the presidential preference election.
Last month, errors on the Spanish language May 17 ballot were discovered, costing taxpayers $400,000 to fix.
Ryan is no stranger to political fights.
Last year he forced the resignation of the chairwoman of Arizona Corporation Commission, Susan Bitter Smith, over a conflict of interest.
The Arizona Republic reported on the complaint,
Ken Bennett, who was secretary of state from 2009 to 2015, said there were no complaints from voters about not receiving their pamphlets in earlier elections. And Bennett, who now lives in Pinal County, said he thought it was curious when he received his pamphlet just a few days ago.
"I wondered why we didn't get our pamphlet 30 days early," he said.
He said initial explanations from the Secretary of State's Office that the 2011 policy was intended to spare voters on the early-ballot list from getting the pamphlet "made no sense."
"That's exactly who should get it," Bennett said, noting those voters by definition cast their ballots ahead of the official election day and need the information in the booklet.
Corporate media and American governmental institutions typically are loathe to acknowledge election tampering, given the sheer complexity of the systems that must be employed in order to facilitate the process of casting, collecting, counting and reporting on millions of votes; in national elections, hundreds of millions of votes.

However, EVERY election system is subject to intentional and unintentional errors. Even inadvertent problems can (adversely) impact the outcome of any given election. The higher the stakes, the higher the likelihood that somebody will try to influence the election in ways that subvert the will of the people.

In Arizona, found by Harvard researchers to be the most corrupt state government in the country, that should be considered a given.

In the upcoming special election, with billions of dollars at stake, should we give either Reagan, or Scrooge McDucey, the benefit of the doubt?

By the way vote NO on Prop 123, whether the election is held on May 17 or some other time.

Cartoon posted by authority of the Fair Use Act.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


What does it take to enact substantive societal change?

Has any major change in American society, or throughout human history, occurred without a movement?

An important tactic in political movements is civil disobedience.

Hope is belief in the plausibility of the possible, as opposed to the necessity of the probable.
We don’t have the tanks, and we don’t have the armed forces. Nonviolent civil disobedience is me making my voice heard against a powerful force that is holding us back.
Keystone turned out to be a great victory because all over the country and the world, people looked up and saw that you actually can beat big oil.
It may seem impossible right now to defeat/prevent climate chaos, but social movements have shown that the limits of the possible are there to be moved.
To practice civil disobedience is necessary to be able to pursue a better life for our people.
It’s the people who are engaged that determines what government does. And all we have is a choice to make about whether we’re going to be one of those people or not.

Join the global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
What makes a breach of law an act of civil disobedience? When is civil disobedience morally justified? How should the law respond to people who engage in civil disobedience? Discussions of civil disobedience have tended to focus on the first two of these questions. On the most widely accepted account of civil disobedience, famously defended by John Rawls (1971), civil disobedience is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies. On this account, people who engage in civil disobedience are willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions, as this shows their fidelity to the rule of law. Civil disobedience, given its place at the boundary of fidelity to law, is said to fall between legal protest, on the one hand, and conscientious refusal, revolutionary action, militant protest and organised forcible resistance, on the other hand.
Depending on the outcome of the 2016 general election, more civil disobedience may be necessary nationally.

In Arizona, because government, political, and election systems are so dysfunctional and corrupt, civil disobedience may become a prerequisite to keeping our state from becoming an official Koch Enterprises colony.


Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mundell and Chabin seek federal investigation into ACC corruption and conflict of interest

According to Stacy Pearson with Strategies 360, this afternoon, Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin, Democratic and Clean Elections candidates for seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission sent the following letter seeking a federal investigation into ongoing corruption and conflict-of-interest in that agency by John Leonardo, US Attorney for the District of Arizona.


Dear Judge Leonardo:

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is an elected body responsible for regulating the state’s public utilities (electricity, telecommunications, natural gas and water), in addition to facilitating the incorporation of businesses and organizations, securities regulation and railroad/pipeline safety. In carrying out its responsibility to regulate the telecommunications and electric utilities in Arizona, the ACC works closely with both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The commission also works closely with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and state and federal law-enforcement in enforcing both federal and state securities statutes. Commissioners function in an Executive capacity, yet they also adopt rules and regulations thereby functioning in a Legislative capacity, and have Judicial powers when making decisions in contested matters, most notably those affecting the utility rates of Arizona consumers.

Given the incredibly powerful and broad scope of their duties, it is imperative that the commission’s ability to impartially carry out its duties isn’t compromised. This is why we are running for two of the commission seats in 2016 – to restore integrity and balance to the commission. However, as more and more information becomes public, it is becoming apparent that an electoral solution alone may not solve the ongoing controversies of the ACC. We are gravely concerned that certain commissioners, and other elected officials, are engaged in unethical and potentially illegal activities.

On March 24, 2016, it was reported in The Arizona Republic that the newest appointed commissioner, Andy Tobin, had not reported the fact that his brother works for Cox Media. Cox Media is an affiliated business of Cox Communications – a business regulated by the ACC. The fact that Mr. Tobin hid this conflict-of-interest during his appointment process is incredibly troubling, and given the fact that he was replacing a Commissioner who also had a conflict-of-interest related to Cox Communications, it is simply inexcusable.

If this were an isolated incident one could chalk it up to a mistake, albeit a big one, but a mistake nonetheless. And if that were the case we most likely wouldn’t be writing this letter today.

However, this is just another in a series of troubling incidents that have surrounded the ACC since the 2014 election cycle. To wit:
  • The ongoing issue of Commissioner Stump’s text messages – some of which have been recovered despite vast efforts by Mr. Stump to discard his cell phone and any trail of his communications - with a utility executive, commission candidates, and political operatives running a “dark money” campaign aimed at getting those candidates elected to commission. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has stated that some of the text messages could be considered public records, yet a Maricopa County judge has ruled the texts are not public record. How is it that hundreds of text messages being sent to political operatives and regulated executives from a public official on a phone paid for by public dollars are not public record? The very notion defies logic.
  • There is evidence to support this theory. Since being elected, both Commissioners Little and Forese have vigorously defended the interests of APS at the expense of ratepayers and other interests. Even to the point of completely stopping fellow Commissioner Bob Burns’ efforts to require disclosure from APS on any political spending around the Arizona Corporation Commission races. The actions of Commissioners Little and Forese are unprecedented.
  • In addition to Commissioner Tobin’s undisclosed conflict-of-interest discussed above, he also has another conflict-of-interest which he initially concealed from Governor Ducey during the appointment process: his son-in-law works for SolarCity, another business which is regulated by the ACC. Upon learning about this conflict-of-interest, the commission’s own counsel told Mr. Tobin he wasn’t “electable or appointable”. Yet, this didn’t stop Mr. Tobin, Governor Ducey, or the Arizona legislature from moving forward with his appointment. Which begs the question, if the Governor is concerned about the impartiality of the commission, why would he replace a conflicted commissioner with another person who has not just one conflict, but two?
So, does all of this mean the ACC has been compromised? We honestly don’t know, but it is with that question in mind that we turn to you.

As the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, we are asking you to initiate a full investigation into possible corruption involving the ACC. Specifically:
  1. Is Commissioner Tobin eligible to serve on the commission?
  2. Does HB2123 constitute “special legislation”, which is illegal under Arizona state law? And is it an attempt to conceal an illegal appointment of an unqualified individual to the commission?
  3. Has the ACC been unduly influenced by Arizona Public Service or any other regulated entity’s political activities?
  4. Have there been communications between commissioners, candidates and independent political operations in order to illegally coordinate campaign activities?
  5. Why do Commissioner Stump’s text messages continue to be hidden from the public, even though the Arizona Attorney General has deemed some of them as public record?
  6. Has there been collusion between certain sitting commissioners and Arizona Public Service to prevent public disclosure of certain campaign expenditures?
We encourage you to look at any other commission related activities you deem appropriate to review. Ensuring an uncompromised commission is of the utmost importance to the consumers of Arizona.

We understand the serious nature of this letter. We turn to you only because we cannot trust the vast majority of our state officials to be unbiased in this matter.

It is obvious we cannot trust the commission to police itself – other than Commissioner Burns, the current commissioners have shown they will do everything to maintain a cloud of secrecy over their activities. It is also obvious that we cannot place faith in the Governor or the legislature to take any action. They have already shown complicity in supporting the questionable activities surrounding the commission and are actively seeking options to expand the influence of dark money on Arizona’s elections, as evidenced with the recent passage of Senate Bill 1516.

The only statewide elected official who has shown any interest in bringing some accountability to the commission is Attorney General Mark Brnovich. He sought the removal of Commissioner Susan Bitter-Smith prior to her resignation and has tried to secure the public release of some of Commissioner Stump’s text message. We have copied him on this letter in hopes that he will join our call to your office to fully investigate the activities of the ACC.

Arizona voters and consumers deserve to know if one of the most powerful regulatory bodies in the state is serving their interests, or if it has instead become a captive body to the very interests it is supposed to be regulating. Thank you for your time and consideration of this serious matter.


Bill Mundell Tom Chabin

[Ed. links embedded above provided by the Arizona Eagletarian and were not in the original letter. They are intended to provide background only, and not to infer any approval or disapproval by or from Mundell or Chabin.]

SCOTUS again validates Independent Redistricting in Arizona

The Supreme Court of the United States today UNANIMOUSLY ruled in favor of the people of Arizona, by way of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, in Harris v AIRC.

The opinion delivered by Justice Stephen Breyer reads, in part,

On the basis of the facts that we have summarized, the District Court majority found that “the population deviations were primarily a result of good-faith efforts to comply with the Voting Rights Act . . . even though partisanship played some role.” 993 F. Supp. 2d, at 1046. This conclusion was well supported in the record. And as a result, appellants have not shown that it is more probable than not that illegitimate considerations were the predominant motivation behind the plan’s deviations from mathematically equal district populations—deviations that were under 10%. Consequently, they have failed to show that the Commission’s plan violates the Equal Protection Clause...
On December 9, 2015, the Arizona Eagletarian reported,
Remember from yesterday's post that news coverage of the hearing seemed to lean toward wondering how the Harris plaintiffs could even justify bringing this case to the Supreme Court? Therefore, as USA Today reported,
"The Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared unlikely to toss out Arizona's state legislative districts because of population differences, but several justices expressed concern that an independent redistricting commission took politics, along with race and ethnicity, into consideration."
This evening I began reading the 74-page transcript. It didn't take long before I could see why Richard Wolf would be so bold as to make that his lede.
The AIRC issued the following statement regarding the ruling,
Wednesday, April 20, 2016 -
Today, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that Arizona's state legislative districts are constitutional.
The Commission is pleased with the Court's decision and is gratified that Arizonans will continue using the districting plans created by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in Arizona legislative elections through 2020. The Commission is grateful for the pro bono representation it received from Paul Smith and his team at the law firm Jenner Block.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Did Trash Burner Bob think his long nightmare -- accounting to Arizona citizens -- was over already?

Not so fast, young fella!

Checks and Balances Project has been fighting for more than a year to inspect public records Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump knowingly has withheld in defiance of Arizona's statutes. That law intends to prevent corruption by having elected officials conduct the people's business in the light of day. It's easy to recognize that, at minimum, Stump has succumbed to ingratiation*, which is bad enough. Wouldn't you like to know the extent to which elected officials favor their friends over your interests?

Last Friday, C&BP attorney Dan Barr filed a Second Motion for Further Inspection of Stump's phone. In part, the motion states,

C&BP also blogged today about the situation,

Strange Business
Of the 3,547 text messages we have asked to be examined, Attorney General Brnovich’s office has recovered only 36 or roughly 1%.
  • The 36 text messages were blank.
  • None had HASH values – the equivalent of a text message’s DNA.
  • The HASH value of a text message would show whether its content has been deleted or altered.
  • Stump claims he deleted text messages. But HASH values should still exist in unallocated space of the phone’s hard drive.
  • The AG admits a complete image of the phone, including all unallocated space, was not made.

The digital forensic expert that we have retained, with 36 years of experience, who is located in Phoenix, believes that “the protocols and the programs that I use… would be more effective in recovering information from the ‘unallocated space’ on the iPhone and thus in retrieving any deleted text messages.” (To read our expert’s affidavit, CLICK HERE.)
Arizona citizens have a right to know about possible public business and electioneering that Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump may have conducted via text messages on his taxpayer-provided iPhone.
The Bottom Line
This is a circus and an embarrassment to Arizona.
If there is truly nothing in Stump’s texts, don’t you think they would want these accusations put to rest and allow a second look by our expert? Why has Commissioner Bob Stump, the Arizona Corporation Commission, and Attorney General Brnovich worked so hard to keep them hidden?
Perhaps soon the citizens of Arizona will find out.

Stump should #ReleaseTheTranscripts! Oops, I meant that Hillary should disclose the text messages... or something like that.


* From the link above on ingratiation,
... ingratiation is probably the most common type of impression management. People attempt to be perceived as likable by doing various kinds of favors, by expressing opinions similar to those held by others, and by complimenting their interactants (Rosenfeld et al., 1995). Complimenting the targets of impression management shows the speakers’ fondness for them (Vonk, 2002) and raises the targets’ self-esteem (Leary, Haupt, Strausser, & Chokel, 1998). Because people tend to like those who like them (Backman & Secord, 1959; Singh, Yeo, Lin, & Tan, 2007) and those who reward them (Byrne, 1997), the targets of ingratiation are assumed to like the ingratiators. Previous research has indeed documented the effectiveness of the ingratiation tactics in making others like us and treat us nicely (e.g., Seiter, 2007). According to this research, it is much easier to succeed in ingratiation than in self-promotion (Godfrey et al., 1986). Even if an outside observer sees through the manipulative attempt, the target of the ingratiation usually likes the flatterer (Vonk, 2002).
THIS is the name of the game when elected officials and others who wield the power of government authority make hugely compensated speeches to, or mingle, dine and/or recreate with lobbyists.

Anyone who claims otherwise is either a fool or intentionally trying to deceive you.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Democratic Party lawsuit challenges Arizona election schemes that caused last month's debacle

Today, pursuant to news released and reported on Thursday, the Arizona Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee joined with several other plaintiffs and filed suit in United State District Court, District of Arizona, challenging the State of Arizona, including Secretary of State Michelle Reagan, the Maricopa County Supervisors and County Recorder Helen Purcell regarding voting laws and procedures. The 51-page lawsuit was brought,
to secure equitable relief from Defendants’ unlawful deprivation of Plaintiffs’ (and, in the case of the organizational Plaintiffs, their members’ and constituents’) rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. § 10301, and the laws of the United States.
According to statistical estimations presented in the AUDIT-AZ lawsuit (last week), more than 150,000 voters in Maricopa County were disenfranchised by the violations of the Voting Rights Act challenging in this new legal action.

This suit also challenges the recent legislation (HB2023) making felons out of those who assist voters in getting their signed, sealed early ballots delivered to elections officials.
2. “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws . . . .” Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17 (1964). Plaintiffs bring the instant lawsuit to protect that right and to prevent the continued disenfranchisement of thousands of Arizona voters—including specifically Arizona’s Hispanic, Native-American, and African-American voters—whose right to vote has been and will continue to be denied or unreasonably infringed upon due to the lack of oversight for Maricopa County’s allocation of polling locations; Arizona’s practice of not counting provisional ballots cast in a precinct or voting area other than the one to which the voter is assigned; and the State’s recent criminalization of the collection of signed and sealed absentee ballots with the passage of H.B. 2023.
The suit cites the history of Arizona being subject to preclearance of changes to voting laws and procedures before they could take effect -- because of the Voting Rights Act which in 2013 was defanged by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v Holder.

The suit then recites last month's debacle regarding the Presidential Preference Election in Maricopa County.

8. Arizona is also arbitrarily and disparately disenfranchising voters at alarming rates through its provisional balloting process, in which the ballots of some voters are rejected where they cast their ballot in the right jurisdiction but in a precinct different than the one to which they are assigned (“out of precinct” voting), while others are counted so long as they vote in any polling location found within the jurisdiction. Effectively, this means the ability of Arizona citizens to have their vote counted in such circumstances depends entirely on the county in which they live. These arbitrary differences cause voter confusion, which is compounded by the fact that some of the jurisdictions that accept out-of-precinct ballots in one election (e.g., Maricopa County in the PPE), may reject them in the next (e.g., Maricopa County in the 2016 general election). It is therefore not surprising that, in 2014, Arizona ranked fifth in the nation for the total number of provisional ballots rejected. The main reason that Arizona refused to count provisional ballots in 2014 was that they were cast in a precinct other than the one to which the voter was assigned. In Maricopa County alone, over 2,800 ballots were rejected for this reason. Upon information and belief, the provisional ballots cast and rejected across the state were disproportionately cast by Hispanic voters.
Therefore, the plaintiffs seek the following relief,
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for judgment in their favor and against Defendants as follows:
A. An order declaring that:
1. Arizona’s prohibition on the counting of out-of-precinct provisional has a disparate effect on Hispanic, Native-American, and African-American voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act;
2. Arizona’s prohibition on the counting of out-of-precinct provisionalballots burdens Arizona voters generally and, specifically, Hispanic, African-American, and Native-American voters as well as voters in Maricopa County without a sufficient state justification for doing so, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; 
3. Arizona’s policy of rejecting provisional ballots cast out of precinct in certain jurisdictions, while allowing for the counting of ballots cast out of precinct in others, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment;
4. H.B. 2023 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; and 
5. The rights and privileges of Plaintiffs will be irreparably harmed without the intervention of this Court.
B. An order preliminarily and permanently enjoining Defendants, their respective agents, officers, employees, successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them from: 
1. Allocating polling locations for the 2016 general election in Maricopa County without first submitting the allocation plan to this Court for review and approval to ensure that the plan is in keeping with state and federal law, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the United States Constitution;
2. Rejecting provisional ballots solely because they were cast in the wrong precinct or polling location, and requiring that such ballots be counted for all elections in which the elector is eligible to vote; 
3. Implementing, enforcing, or giving any effect to the challenged provisions of H.B. 2023.
C. An order requiring the Maricopa County Defendants to draft and submit to this Court for review and approval a contingency plan to address and remedy long wait times should they occur in the 2016 general election;
I'm not sure to what extend corporate media will compare and contrast this action with that filed one week ago by AUDIT-AZ. Briefly, Brakey's lawsuit goes after the balloting and ballot counting systems and procedures, as well as some of the points in this latest suit. But today's filing goes after the broader issues of racial discrimination and violations of the Voting Rights Act.

As I learn more about responses to these lawsuits as well as hearings to sort out the issues, I will keep you posted. 3TV | Phoenix Breaking News, Weather, Sport

Saturday, April 9, 2016

On Friday, AUDIT-AZ filed suit to challenge the Presidential Preference Election held on March 22

On the evening of March 22nd, after 7 pm, the official poll closing time, it was immediately obvious that there were substantive problems with the election as a whole. Most of the problems were in Maricopa County, where roughly 60 percent of the state's voters reside. 

Political decisions by the Republican-controlled state legislature to cut funding anywhere and everywhere possible, including in elections budgets, coupled with the Maricopa County Recorder and Board of Supervisors (each also Republican-controlled) approving reduction of the number of election day polling locations from 200 to 60 wreaked havoc. The last voters who got in line before 7 pm did not finish voting until after midnight.

Friends from all over the country who were watching corporate media reporting of the Arizona results also could quickly tell something was way off kilter. Broadcast media called the Democratic race for Clinton about four hours before voting finished.

There has been plenty of national consternation over Arizona and Maricopa County in particular since. 

My March 28 post includes video from the House Elections committee hearing. By March 31, Helen Purcell was complaining about it. From the Yellow Sheet (March 31),

Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said she was blindsided at Monday’s House elect hearing and was amazed that Ugenti-Rita and her committee allowed the crowd to get so raucous. Purcell said it was her understanding from Ugenti-Rita’s invitation that she and the Arizona Assn of Counties would simply provide information. So, she was surprised, she said, when Ugenti-Rita wouldn’t allow Jennifer Marson of AACO to assist with her presentation, which in effect kept them from giving the full presentation. Purcell said it didn’t feel at all like a hearing. “To me, it felt more like a public flogging. I was absolutely amazed that the Legislature would allow something like the conduct of the people in that room,” she said (YS, 3/28). Purcell said she tried to maintain decorum, “even though no one else did.”
Apparently Helen Purcell is more interested in her hurt feelings than those of the many thousands of voters she disenfranchised.

From the Yellow Sheet (March 28), Purcell tried to explain the "rationale" for her role in suppressing the PPE vote,
Purcell was contrite, apologizing repeatedly throughout the hearing and taking full responsibility for the election night fiasco. Purcell also tried to explain how the county came to the conclusion to open only 60 polling precincts.
She said county election officials estimated that turnout at the polls (meaning the people who would vote on Election Day, not counting early ballots) would be 23 percent. They based that number on the turnout in 2008. Using the figure, they calculated that 71,300 voters would show up at the polls, which they believed would translate to roughly 1,200 voters per polling precinct if they consolidated precincts to 60. They rounded it up to 1,500 voters per consolidated polling place, and increased the number of workers per site.
The problem that those decisions created quickly became apparent on Tuesday night. At the end of the day, 83,489 people had voted at the polls, roughly 24,000 received provisional ballots, and 18,000 independents showed up, even though they’re legally barred from casting a ballot in the PPE. Both [Democratic state Rep. Jonathan] Larkin and [committee chair Michelle] Ugenti pressed Purcell if she and others had made allowances for the fact that people are energized by candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and that turnout might, in fact, be high. “Was that even a thought when you were deciding to set up 60 polling locations?” Larkin said. Purcell indicated that this wasn’t part of the consideration.
AUDIT-AZ point man John Brakey on Friday (April 8) filed a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court challenging the PPE. Allegations include three counts, misconduct by defendants, illegal votes, and erroneous count of vote totals.

Brakey, along with counsel Michael Kielsky (a partner with the law firm of Udall Shumway in Mesa) were granted an Order to Show Cause hearing before Judge David Gass on Tuesday, April 19 at 8:45 am. Defendants (Michele Reagan and all of the county recorders) will state their case for why the relief Brakey requested in the complaint should not be granted. Notably, a court order that the election canvass, signed on April 4, be voided and a revote be conducted.


In an e-mail newsletter last week, Maricopa County Democratic Party stated,
Most provisional ballots were disallowed because the voters were on County records as independents. In reality, there is some evidence that upwards of 20,000 party-aligned voters “lost their party identity” when ADOT's Motor Vehicle Division may have deleted that information when some licenses were renewed.
We know from anecdotal reports that this problem was not limited to Maricopa County. I would also note that MVD contracts with a private company, to process voter registration online. The website's about us page does not disclose the ownership of the contracting company, only stating it is "the Authorized Service Website for the Arizona Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Division."

That relationship itself opens election processes and the voter database to tampering and election fraud.

Comparing 2008 PPE voter turnout (the last contested Democratic PPE) AUDIT-AZ estimates that because of Maricopa County's drastic reduction of polling locations, upward of 152,000 voters (combined for all eligible political party voters) were excluded because of the chaos involved in reduction in the number of polling locations.  The 20,000 who made it into a polling place but whose provisional ballots were not counted because of voter database discrepancies would be in addition to the 152k.

So, as many as 172 THOUSAND voters were disenfranchised in Arizona through no fault of their own. An explanation of that calculation in included in Richard Charnin's affidavit, which is on pages 13 and 14 of the complaint.

The bottom line, and the position AUDIT-AZ has taken for years is that "elections must be transparent and verifiable. Anything less is unacceptable."


Can any reader of the Arizona Eagletarian honestly say that election security is a non-issue? Really? Never before in my lifetime (or at least since I turned 18 and became a voter) has the stakes been higher.

Rather than expound on those questions, I will simply recommend a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) offered by and taught by University of Michigan professor J. Alex Halderman.


In case readers have wondered about my absence/silence over the last couple of weeks, it was mainly because my mother passed on the day after the election. I had to take care of related issues.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Today's GOP AZLeg Dog and Pony Show on the Presidential Primary Election debacle

The discontent was more than palpable today at the GOP-controlled Arizona Legislature's hearing on last week's Presidential Preference Election debacle.

People from all over the country and perhaps all over the world watched Michelle Ugenti-Rita's Dog and Pony show. See for yourself.

A friend in New York City watched the hearing and said Ugenti sounded tough. It's ALL an act. And the stooge calling the names of the next people to testify was J.D. Mesnard.

For perspective, I give you this tweet,
My friend Laura disappoints me grievously because she won't listen to sound reasoning about the Democratic Presidential candidates. But she's on the mark with this tweet.

At 13 minutes into the video (you can FF if you want), Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Larkin, responding to comments by Air Force veteran Dean Palmer's testimony, calls attention to recent legislation, already signed into law (HB2023, sponsored ONLY by the person chairing this hearing). It's a bill for which this committee chair is responsible, which makes it a felony to assist a voter in turning in early ballots. A voting law and procedure change that would not have been possible before SCOTUS nullified Voting Rights Act preclearance.


Arizona Republic editorial columnist Elvia Diaz wrote today about the well-orchestrated plan to keep Arizona Latinos from voting.
To some, forcing voters to wait five hours to cast a ballot in last Tuesday’s Arizona presidential primary was merely the result of a colossal bureaucratic mistake [ed. I would consider the term clusterfuck (aka "Charlie Foxtrot") to be a more fair characterization] by incompetent Maricopa County election officials led by Helen Purcell.
But many others view it as part of a well-orchestrated plan by Republicans to keep minorities out of the election process. It’s a plan that has been slowly and powerfully moving through the political and court system, and which led to the dismantling in 2013 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Specifically, a provision of that act required Arizona and eight other states to get federal approval before changing election laws. Without that legal hurdle, Purcell, the county’s top election official, easily cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2008 to only 60.

Everyone casting a ballot Tuesday was affected by the long lines. But those in the poor and predominantly minority areas were particularly hit hard. How the 60 polling sites were allocated is at the heart of the outcry from Latinos and others who see this as a deliberate move to suppress their vote.
“You can conclude that Helen (Purcell) and everyone in her office suddenly grew massive invasive stupid cells in their brains. Conspiracy of the suddenly very stupid?” wrote former state legislator turned activist Alfredo Gutierrez.
A more legitimate question is: Was this part of the larger Republican national strategy to suppress the vote? I believe that is more likely than the "stupid Helen theory.” [...]
An analysis by The Arizona Republic shows that polling sites were sparse in poorer areas of west Phoenix, Glendale and the southwest Valley. 
The Justice Department should investigate, and most importantly, find ways to keep a watchful eye on Arizona.
It will require an act of Congress to revive a version of the Voting Rights Act, but given that Republicans are in control, that’s unlikely to happen.
Even so, advocates must keep on pressing Uncle Sam to get involved and they need to rally support from moderate Republicans in Arizona to put the brakes on the deliberate campaign against the 1.9 million Hispanics in Arizona and the nearly 300,000 Native Americans. [...]
Advocates and academics have documented concrete examples of discrimination against minority voters since statehood to the March 22 Republican and Democratic presidential preference elections. Those in power have adeptly used cultural and language barriers as a weapon. For instance, in the early 1900s, Arizona enacted its first English literacy test.
“The literacy test was enacted to limit ‘the ignorant Mexican vote’ … As recently as the 1960s, registrars applied the test to reduce the ability of Blacks, Indians and Hispanics to register to vote,” according to historian David R. Berman.
If you think about it, little has changed throughout Arizona’s history. Conservatives have incessantly targeted minorities and typically intensify their efforts during economic recessions or political turmoil.
During the past decade, Arizona lawmakers have gone after Latinos in various ways, including approving anti-immigrant bills that affected not only those living here illegally but their American-citizen relatives who can vote. 
They’ve approved laws designed to make it harder for Latinos and Native Americans to vote by requiring ID at the polls. Many Native Americans, for instance, don’t have a house or street address, which makes it difficult to register or show at the polls with a form of ID
It will take all Latinos voters to cast a ballot to change Arizona’s discriminatory attitudes, and that is what make conservatives most afraid.

Digressing to the headline for this post, the upside is that this story is going national and viral. The downside is that the GOP-controlled legislature will do everything it can think of to tamp down the consternation without making any substantive changes in funding or administration of elections.

You know, the way the Clinton campaign gives lip service to standing up for the rights of working class Americans, while maintaining her allegiance to her corporate special interest owners.

The bottom line is that if we keep the pressure up, the GOP in Arizona will ultimately cave.


And as far as corporate media pushing -- including by explicitly calling for Bernie to drop out of the race and acting as if Hillary has already won --  the likelihood is rapidly increasing that history will repeat itself.


Guess which Helen Purcell and Karen Osborne were in charge of Maricopa County Elections in 2004 when John Dougherty wrote this investigative story?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Gravy Train or Freedom Train: Which Side are YOU On?

Peddlers of mediocre influence in Arizona are still peddlers of influence.

On Tuesday, Arizona voters, at least in Maricopa and Pima Counties, had a hard time getting their votes cast. And there's plenty of blame to go around. Both at the state and county levels. Both the ruling GOP junta and -- even though they exercise near zero influence on public policy and lawmaking in our state, certain elected Democrats.

In the Democratic Presidential Preference Election, the beneficiary of suppressed voter turnout is, by definition, Hillary. She's the one who has the mega donors and Super PACs. She's the one who can get corporate media to bend to her will because corporate media is deathly afraid of a President Bernie Sanders.

This I deduce based on CBS president Les Moonves' declarations about Super PACs and the overt suppression of Bernie's campaign message and refusal to cover legitimately newsworthy Sanders events.

Dr. Cornel West, has drawn the contrast between the Gravy Train and the Freedom Train. I submit that the analogy is NOT limited to Black Americans/politicians.
Speaking to Anderson Cooper ... Professor Cornel West spoke out in support of Bernie Sanders and characterized Hillary Clinton‘s enduring popularity with African-Americans as an issue of “a neo-political, black political class that confuses the gravy train with the freedom train.”
West explained that Sanders’ social progressivism should have made him a much more attractive candidate than Clinton, whom he blasted for her ties to Wall Street, her husband’s policies that led to mass incarceration of African-Americans, her connections to lobbyists for private prisons, and remarks she made in 1996, in which she referred to urban youth as “super-predators” with “no conscience and no empathy.”
Nearly a year ago, Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute published Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. The book begins,

Ask Team Clinton about the flow of tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation (the formal name is the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, originally called the William J. Clinton Foundation) from foreign governments, corporations and financiers and you typically get an interesting explanation: it's a sign of love. "As president, he was beloved around the world, so it should come as no surprise that there has been an outpouring of financial support from around the world to sustain his post-presidential work."
Ask Bill about the tens of millions of dollars he has made in speaking fees around the world, paid for by the same cast of characters, and you will get an equally charitable explanation: it's evidence of his desire to help people. By giving these highly paid speeches, Clinton says, " I try to help people think about what's going on and organize their lives accordingly.
Millions of dollars as a sign of pure affection, millions more for helping people think about their lives. By this logic, politicians who raise millions of dollars a year must be the most beloved people in America -- and the most charitable.
The reality is that most of what happens in American politics is transactional. People look for ways to influence those in power by throwing money in their direction. Politicians are all too happy to vacuum up contributions from supporters and people who want access or something in return. After politicians leave office, they often trade on their relationships and previous positions to enrich themselves and their families.
Clinton Cash ends,
Hillary's apparent involvement in these transactions is even more troubling. While Bill was a private citizen, Hillary was still a government official. Her tenures as a senator and as secretary of state are marked by an alarming pattern of large money flows: the sources of the funds, the amounts, and the timing were frequently suspect. Many payments occurred as Hillary was grappling with vital national security questions involving everything from uranium to the Keystone XL pipeline.
In fact, the money flow did not slow down when Hillary became America's chief diplomat. On the contrary, it accelerated, especially the funds from overseas. And the funds came from a collection of troubling sources: foreign governments, third world oligarchs, and foreign corporations. The biggest paydays came not from countries like Great Britain or Germany, but from countries and industries with cultures where bribery and corruption are common and occur on a massive scale. [...]
The Clintons are perhaps the most politically sophisticated public figures of their generation. They know how things work in the corridors of power and around the world; they know that foreign governments are trying to influence American foreign policy; and they know that bribery is rampant around the world. They have numerous avenues for making money. Some of those avenues might not be as lucrative as giving a $700,000 speech in Nigeria, but they would be much cleaner. 
Even if nothing illegal occurred, one has to wonder about the political judgment involved. Surely the mere appearance of selling American power and influence to foreign interests should be enough to cause a former US president -- and a possible future one -- to steer well clear of such potentially embarrassing entanglements. "Bribery interferes with trade, investment, and development," Hillary Clinton said at the OECD's fiftieth-anniversary forum in 2011. "It undermines good governance and encourages greater corruption. And of course, it is morally wrong -- and far too common."
On that we can all agree.

The Washington Post declared about Clinton Cash,
When Schweizer's book hits stores Tuesday, heads in Washington are going to explode.
Despite the prophecy, it appears the book didn't cause near the scandal Bill and Hillary deserve. The fact of the matter is they are both masters of enchantment. And they've got key Arizona Democratic leaders under their spell.

If it weren't so, those people would be more interested in strategizing to gain influence over the GOP at the state capital rather than cheering on Hillary Clinton for mesmerizing unsuspecting voters.