Category Archives: Campaigns

Kyrsten Sinema Stakes Out 5 Positions in US Senate Race

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema

In her first fundraising letter, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema stakes out five issues she will campaign on in the race for US Senator from Arizona:

  • Women’s health and reproductive rights. “I’ve earned perfect scores and endorsements from choice groups, and will defend reproductive health care, including access to affordable birth control, against all threats in the U.S. Senate. It’s wrong for politicians to use women’s health to score political points.”
  • Equal pay for equal work. “Women in Arizona still make 83 cents for every dollar a man earns for the doing the exact same work. I’ll fight in the U.S. Senate for pay equity for women, so Arizona families can make ends meet.”
  • Energy conservation and natural resource management. “We must be good stewards of the earth to protect our natural resources and promote clean energy to boost our economy and mitigate the effects of climate change.”
  • LGBTQ rights. “LGBT rights are under attack. No one should live in fear of losing a job or home because of who they are or who they love.”
  • Smart investments in infrastructure and innovation. “In the U.S. Senate, I’ll work across party lines to create good-paying jobs, strengthen communities, and give middle-class families the tools they need to succeed.”

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Education Shorts

Catching up on my “to do” list on education issues in Arizona.

In late November, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new analysis of school funding in 48 states which shows that funding for Arizona’s kindergarten to grade 12 public school system remains nearly 14 percent below what it was before the Great Recession hit in 2007. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Arizona school funding still lagging, report shows:

The study by the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research institute showed that even with an infusion of money since Gov. Doug Ducey took office in 2016, the state’s per-pupil spending is well below its 2008 funding levels when adjusted for inflation. It also said per-pupil formula spending dropped last year by 1.2 percent.

Ducey has touted his efforts to boost K-12 spending, and laughingly proclaimed himself to be the “education governor.”

“Arizona has put more money into K-12 education over the last three years than any other state in the country, without raising taxes,” he told KTAR radio earlier this month. “It has been the focus of every budget that we’ve had.”

But much of that increase came from settling a lawsuit brought by schools that alleged the state illegally cut spending during the recession. [And that case was settled for substantially less than the restitution actually owed by our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for its theft of education funds.]  The settlement added some state spending but most of the new cash came from increasing withdrawals from the state land trust dedicated to schools.

The study found that Arizona school funding hasn’t recovered from the cuts despite the new spending and could be getting worse, said Mike Leachman, the center’s state fiscal research director.

“It’s clear that Arizona school funding is down significantly and the data we have suggest further worsening at least in terms of formula funding, which is the major source for general support for all school districts in the state,” he said.

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Rep. Trent Franks to resign from Congress, special election to be called

Arizona’s Christian Right congressman Trent Franks (8th Congressional District) unexpectedly announced his pending resignation from Congress on Thursday after creeping out two staff members in his office by talking about surrogate pregnancy for he and his wife.

It is not at all clear from published reports whether Franks approached these two staffers about becoming the surrogate. That would give this story an entirely different context.

Rep. Franks told reporters that he would let his statement speak for him, which attempts to frame the incident in a light most favorable to him. (My Spidey senses are tingling that there is more to this story):

Franks’ full statement:

I have always tried to create a very warm and supportive atmosphere for every last person who has ever worked in my congressional office. It is my deepest conviction that there are many staffers, former and present, who would readily volunteer to substantiate this fact.

Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.

However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility for the ways I have broached a topic that, unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain individuals uncomfortable. And so, I want to shed light on how those conversations came about.

My wife and I have long struggled with infertility. We experienced three miscarriages.

We pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth.

A wonderful and loving lady, to whom we will be forever grateful, acted as a gestational surrogate for our twins and was able to carry them successfully to live birth. The process by which they were conceived was a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos.

My son and daughter are unspeakable gifts of God that have brought us our greatest earthly happiness in the 37 years we have been married.

When our twins were approximately 3 years old, we made a second attempt with a second surrogate who was also not genetically related to the child. Sadly, that pregnancy also resulted in miscarriage.

We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests.

Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.

I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.

We are in an unusual moment in history – there is collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety. It is so important that we get this right for everyone, especially for victims. 

But in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation. Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018. It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle I have spent over three decades fighting. I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have made. My time in Congress serving my constituents, America and the Constitution is and will remain one of God’s greatest gift to me in life.

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‘Lock him up!’ Michael Flynn to plead to lying to the FBI (updated)

What goes around comes around, Mikey.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was charged Friday with making a false statement to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, marking another monumental development in the wide-ranging probe of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Michael Flynn charged with making false statement to the FBI:

Flynn is expected to enter a plea at 10:30, according to the special counsel’s office. The charge relates to false statements Flynn made to the FBI on January 24, four days after President Trump was inaugurated, about his meeting with Kislyak during the transition.

Flynn is accused of making false statements to the FBI about asking the ambassador in late December to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day.” Flynn also told authorities he did not recall the ambassador saying the Russians would moderate their response to Obama administration sanctions after the conversation.

Separately, authorities say Flynn lied about asking the ambassador to delay a vote on United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The count for lying to the FBI is the bare minimum charge that was anticipated to be filed against Michael Flynn. This tells me that he is cooperating with the Special Counsel as has been widely speculated about over the past couple of weeks. See, Flynn’s lawyer shuts down communications with Trump’s team, a sign he may be cooperating with Mueller probe; A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller; Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal.

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A roadmap to the crime of conspiracy?

First, a preface to some earlier reporting that provides some background and context to the post by Martin Longman highlighted below.

Philip Bump of The Post breaks down the George Papadapolous plea agreement and the Carter Page testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Russian officials and allies repeatedly signaled support for Trump to his campaign team.

Philip Bump of The Post also reported on the Drudge Report linking directly to individual stories at Infowars, as well as RT and Sputnik News, both content-sharing arms of the Russian government. One of the busiest websites in the U.S. in 2016 regularly linked to Russia propaganda.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Shorenstein fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, explains how “the wide distribution of strategically aligned messages increases the likelihood that Russian efforts — including posts, ads, tweets and the release of stolen emails — changed the outcome of the 2016 election.” Could Russian trolls have helped elect Donald Trump?

Which brings me to this fascinating post by Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog. A #TrumpRussia Confession in Plain Sight:

At about 11:14pm on November 6th, 2012, enough states were called for President Obama that he was declared the winner of the election by NBC News. That was quickly followed up by a similar call on Fox News and finally by CNN. At 11:29pm, Donald Trump blasted out the following defiant tweet:

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 9.47.23 AM

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Politicizing the Census Bureau for GOP authoritarianism

Steve Benen warns of an ominous development at the U.S. Census Bureau. Trump eyes radical choice for the Census Bureau:

The Census, conducted every 10 years by constitutional mandate, is one of those incredible important tasks that most people probably find rather dull. That’s a shame because getting this right has an enormous impact on everything from federal spending to representation in Congress.

With that in mind, it was disappointing when Census Bureau Director John Thompson, in the midst of a funding fight, decided to resign unexpectedly in May. Making matters worse, we’re just now getting a look at the replacement Donald Trump apparently has in mind. Politico reports:

The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the bureau’s plans.

Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

Some Trump personal choices are alarming, some are disheartening, and some belong in the you-have-got-to-be-kidding me category.

As Slate explained earlier this year, “The decennial census is critical to ensuring that Americans are fairly represented in Washington, since it’s used as the basis for congressional redistricting. A mishandled census could undercount poor and minority populations, putting some states and many cities at a demographic disadvantage.”

It’s against this backdrop that Trump is eyeing someone who has not only played a direct role in helping Republican gerrymandering efforts, but who quite literally wrote a book criticizing competitive elections.

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