Category Archives: Larry Bodine

Campaign to Outlaw Dirty Money with a “Right to Know” Initiative

Dark Money is so prevalent that it helped defeat preschool scholarships in Tucson. The Koch brothers’ front organization “Americans for Prosperity” teamed up with local Republicans to kill Prop. 204. And that’s not all.

Governor Doug Ducey was elected in 2014 with $3.5 million in spending by six dark-money groups, and he signed a law in 2016 that loosens state control over anonymous campaign donations. Ducey regularly visits the Koch brothers to get his marching orders and to collect more anonymous cash.

On the Arizona Corporation Commission, Republicans Doug Little and Tom Forese are suspected of taking $3.2 million in “dark money” from Arizona Public Service Co. to elect them in 2014.

How much have the right-wing Kochs and power companies spent locally and statewide to sabotage Arizona’s elections? We may know one day if a state constitutional “right to know” amendment is adopted.

Don’t call it dark money

To expose how dark money is spent in Arizona, former Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard is spearheading a campaign to amend the state constitution that will expose any donor who contributes at least $10,000 into any campaign.

Without the measure, there is no way to find out how is behind commercials, yard signs and phone calls paid for by the Kochs and other right-wing groups. Many are “social welfare” fronts created under 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code and don’t need to disclose their donors

“Don’t call it ‘dark money,’” says campaign strategist Bob Grossfeld. “It’s dirty money. These donors follow a procedure that’s identical to what criminals and drug dealers follow to launder money. The purpose is to hide the source. That’s because the donors are cowards. If they weren’t, they’d step out in public to say ‘I oppose this.’ They don’t do that, they want to hide.”

Arizona has become ground zero for dirty money since the US Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case in 2010 that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend all they want in political campaigns. Anonymous interests spent at least $15 million trying to get their favored candidates installed in Arizona’s state and legislative offices in  2014.

“These people are sitting in the shadows, targeting good ideas or fostering bad ideas. What the legislature did to expand school vouchers was a Koch brothers operation,” he says.

The “right to know” public initiative must be approved by voters in November 2018, and the campaign is working to collect the 225,963 signatures needed by July 5 to qualify for the statewide ballot.

Grossfeld says that a poll taken before the 2016 election showed that 85% of voters want to stop dirty money contributions. “That cuts across all party lines,” he says. “We know the support is there if we can get it only ballot. That means we need a whole lot of volunteers.”

Your can visit the Outlaw Dirty Money Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/outlawdirtymoney, or contact Bill Elliott at info@outlawdirtymoney.com and 602 770-6735

This article originally appeared in the Democratic Party LD9 newsletter.

Gordon Promises to Oust Secretary of State and End Voter Suppression

Mark Robert Gordon, an Arizona native, has 25 years of experience as a voting rights watchdog.

Mark Robert Gordon, an Arizona native, has 25 years of experience as a voting rights watchdog.

Mark Robert Gordon, a Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, vowed to end the voter suppression tactics and partisan politics that have infected the office that serves as the chief elections officer for Arizona.

He called Republican incumbent Secretary of State Michele Reagan “a Grinch who stole democracy,” at the recent Democrats of Greater Tucson meeting.

Reagan and GOP legislators “are supposed to promote democracy and protect the vote. They did just the opposite,” he said. “The people we have in Arizona running our election system are among the worst violators and offenders of voting rights in the country.”

Arizona was one of only seven states listed in federal court for intentionally restricting the opportunity to register and vote. Under the Voting Rights Act, the state was subject to pre-clearance by the Justice Department before making any voting changes.

Travesties

But that went out the window with the 2013 US Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that gutted the Voting Rights Act. Gordon said that since then, the following travesties have happened:
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ACLU Report: Arizona Charter Schools Illegally Discriminate

Arizona charter schools are illegally choosing students who fit their mold by applying exclusionary policies, failing to fulfill their “school choice” promise that all students have an equal opportunity to enroll, according to a new report by the ACLU of Arizona.

The report, Schools Choosing Students, exposes Arizona’s 543 charter schools and their discriminatory—and sometimes unlawful—policies, which create barriers to enrollment for low-income students, English learners, students with disabilities, and other vulnerable student populations.

Schools Choosing Students found that at least 262 charter schools, or 56 percent, have policies that are clear violations of the law or may discourage the enrollment of some students. Some of the troubling findings include:

  • At least 19 charter schools have policies or language in their enrollment documents that may prevent or discourage the enrollment of students who have struggled academically in the past. Arizona law prohibits schools from choosing students with high test scores or grades over other students.
  • At least six charter schools place an enrollment cap on the number of students with special education needs, violating federal law and an Arizona statute that states charter schools shall not limit admission based on a student’s disability.
  • Under the Arizona Constitution, students have a right to a free public education; however, at least 35 charter schools charge fees for a range of items without giving parents a waiver option.

The report gives specific examples of discrimination against students with disabilities, special education needs, a need for academic assistance, and kids who “don’t fit the mold” (which is code for “not good enough for the school.”)

Arizona charter schools operate independently, but they are part of Arizona’s public education system and use taxpayer funds. They must be open to all students. Education leaders must act to remove discriminatory barriers to enrollment so that all students have equal opportunity to enroll at a charter school if that’s what the student’s family wants.

“School choice” means families choose schools, not the other way around.

Read Schools Choosing Students in its entirety, available in English and Spanish, on the ACLU of Arizona website.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley’s 3 Ways to Improve Arizona Economy

State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley outlined three ways the legislature can lessen economic inequality and create new jobs.

She called for ending corporate tax loopholes, giving seed grants to local scientists and allowing dental therapists to do dental screening and simple procedures.

Each point is a hot topic in the legislature.

“When the legislature cut funding for education, roads, safety, justice, healthcare and social safety net programs, they cut jobs and potentially threw people into poverty,” she said. “We need to push back. If we invested in the people’s to-do list, we would grow our economy and diversify our workplace.”

She spoke at the Democrats of Greater Tucson meeting. Based on a recent lecture by economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, she pointed to three key areas of the economy “that keep the rich rich and keep the rest of us in our places”:

  • Trickle-down economics and corporate tax loopholes in the state budget, which benefit special interests at the expense of the public.
  • Intellectual property rights, like patent protection for prescription drugs, designed to privatize scientific research.
  • Protecting highly-paid professions like dentists, making healthcare unaffordable and inaccessible.

1. Ending corporate tax loopholes
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Governor Candidates Farley and Garcia Will Restore Education in Arizona

Student moderator Patrick Robles of Sunnyside High School, Candidates David Garcia and Steve Farley, and student moderator Aiselyn Anaya of Amphi High School.

Democrats in Arizona have two outstanding choices in the candidates for Governor: college professor David Garcia and veteran Arizona state senator Steve Farley — both of whom pledged to restore school funding and raise teacher salaries after years of sabotage by the Republican legislature and governor.

They spoke at an education town hall sponsored by the Arizona Education Association at Pueblo High School on the far south side.

Highlights:

Farley pledged to give teachers a 20% pay raise, to fully fund education, to sponsor a constitutional amendment to allow collective bargaining by teachers, and to block deportation of DACA recipients.

Best quotes by Farley:

  • “Every time President Trump tweets, another Democratic activist is born.”
  • When Governor Ducey tell you we don’t have enough money for education, he’s lying.”

Garcia called for an end to reliance on standardized testing, restoring ethnic studies in schools, paying teachers as professionals, revising the public school funding formula, and going to teachers’ unions first to formulate school policy.

He repeatedly spoke in Spanish to the standing-room only audience, emphasizing his Latino heritage, and referring to himself as “The anti-Ducey.”

Best quotes by Garcia:

  • “My goal is to have Arizona be one of the best places in the country to be a kid.”
  • “The legislature looks at teachers like missionaries, as people who would teach just for the good of the kids. The reality is we must pay our teachers as professionals.”

Teacher salaries
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January Contreras Campaigns for Consumer Protection in Attorney General Race

Former Prosecutor January Contreras is campaigning to restore protections for Arizona consumers, kids and seniors as she runs to be state Attorney General.

“Consumer protection is the core mission of Attorney General’s office,” she says. “This has not been on the agenda of Attorney General. We need an Attorney General who is willing to ruffle feathers when it involves going after these drug companies purposely making money off the opioid crisis.”

Contreras seeks to oust incumbent Republican Mark Brnovich, who has been A.G. since 2015, carrying out the agenda of Gov. Doug Ducey. She spoke recently at the LD9 Democratic party meeting in Tucson.

She was Ombudsman and Director for U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2009-2012, Arizona Health Policy Advisor from 2006-2008, Assistant Director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System from 2004-2006, and an Assistant Attorney General from 2000 – 2003. Prior to that she was a deputy Maricopa County prosecutor.

She plans to enforce laws against drug companies and distributors that have caused the opioid crisis by flooding Arizona with hydrocodone and fentanyl. More than 3,200 suspected opioid overdoses have been reported to state officials since June 15, with more than 400 of those deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“Recently, 44 Attorneys Generals – Republicans and Democrats – took action to hold drug companies accountable. Mark Brnovich wasn’t one of them,” she says. “As this bipartisan group called on Congress to repeal legislation that weakens the DEA’s power to go after suspicious drug companies, Brnovich was one of six Attorneys General who looked the other way.”
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