Category Archives: Ethics

Tea-Publicans in Arizona House vote to protect their ‘dark money’ campaign financing lifeline

The Republican National Committee and Arizona Republican Party have largely been supplanted by what amounts to a private political party of billionaire donors and corporations and their nonprofit PACs who supply the GOP’s “dark money” campaign financing lifeline. For example, see the Center for Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets.org) Who are the top Dark Money Donors?

Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature have consistently defeated measures requiring greater transparency and disclosure of sources of campaign financing, and have advanced measures making opaque “dark money” campaign financing easier and more wide-spread out of pure self-interest — the GOP is entirely dependent on “dark money.”

In response, local governments have tried to step in to fill the void created by our GOP-controlled state legislature, and have enacted “clean election” disclosure requirements for campaign contributions. Our authoritarian GOP legislature won’t stand for this, and is acting to quash local government “clean election” disclosure requirements for campaign contributions.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, House passes measure to keep cities from banning ‘dark money’:

State lawmakers voted Tuesday to block any efforts by Arizona cities and counties to find out – and inform the public – who is funneling money into local elections through nonprofit groups.

On a 33-25 margin the Republican-controlled House voted to prohibit local government from requiring organizations declared to be tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service from registering as political action committees, even if they are putting money into races.

More to the point, it would preclude any requirement that these so-called “dark money” groups identify donors. And it would bar local governments from auditing the books of these groups or requiring them to respond to subpoenas, even if there were allegations that they were violating campaign finance laws.

HB 2153 (.pdf) now goes to the Senate, which also is dominated by Tea-Publicans.

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Arizona Tea-Publicans want to negate the Seventeenth Amendment

Here we go again … the Tenthers and Secessionists in the Arizona Legislature want to negate the Seventeenth Amendment (popular election of U.S. Senators) and return the selection of senators to the Arizona legislature.

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Panel okays proposal for state lawmakers to tap U.S. Senate nominees:

Claiming they’re being ignored by John McCain and Jeff Flake, Republican state legislators took the first steps Tuesday to allowing them — and not the voters — to choose who gets to run for the U.S. Senate.

On a 6-3 party-line vote, members of the House Committee on Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy approved a  measure which would give lawmakers the power to nominate Senate candidates. Legislators from each political party would choose two nominees for each open seat, with the four names going on the general election ballot.

HCR 2022 now goes to the full House. If it gets approved there and by the Senate, the change would have to be ratified by voters in November.

In essence, the proposal would partly return Arizona to the way things were prior to 1913 when U.S. senators were chosen outright by the legislatures of each state, with no popular vote at all.

The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution overruled that, providing for direct election of senators in the same way voters get to choose members of the House of Representatives. But Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, said nothing in that amendment requires a popular vote to determine who gets to be on that general election ballot.

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Evil GOP bastards are trying to negate the AIRC so the legislature does redistricting maps again

SCR 1034 (.pdf), sponsored by Senator Yarbrough, would alter sections of the citizens initiative that established the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Among the changes are an increase in the number of Commissioners to eight, selected directly by legislative leaders rather than the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, which would lead to partisan gridlock because it also requires a supermajority vote of the AIRC to adopt a map (unlikely), which would then allow the legislature to refer its own alternate maps to the ballot (by simple majority vote), and if approved by the voters, would supersede the maps drawn by the Commission. Thus the legislature is back in the redistricting business again! Bwahahaha!

The Senate Government Committee approved the resolution on a 4-3 partisan vote on Wednesday. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, GOP proposal would restructure Arizona redistricting:

Critics warn that a plan to alter the membership of a commission responsible for drawing Arizona’s congressional and legislative district maps is designed to fail.

Senate President Steve Yarbrough conceded that by increasing the number of members on the Independent Redistricting Commission from five to eight, it’s likely that the commission would face gridlock.

“That is indeed going to create a probable 4-4 (vote) by my own estimation, but that is by design,” the Chandler Republican told the Senate Government Committee, which approved the resolution on a 4-3 partisan vote Wednesday.

Requiring a supermajority to approve maps during redistricting, a highly-contentious process that creates district maps that will be used for the next decade, will require commissioners to find true bipartisan consensus, Yarbrough said.

“I want the most bipartisan and fair process that we can design,” he said.

This is a bald-faced lie. Keep reading for the true reason.

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Intelligence agencies are at odds with President Trump on Russian interference in 2018 midterms

The nation’s five intelligence heads, all Trump appointees, were on the Hill yesterday testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. All five testified that Russia interfered in our presidential election in 2016, and is already interfering in our 2018 midterm elections, and that President Trump has not issued them any express directives to stop the Russian interference. The nation’s top spies said Russia is continuing to target the U.S. political system:

The nation’s top intelligence chiefs were united Tuesday in declaring that Russia is continuing efforts to disrupt the U.S. political system and is targeting the 2018 midterm elections, following its successful operation to sow discord in the most recent presidential campaign.

Their assessment stands in contrast to President Trump, who has repeatedly voiced skepticism of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In fact, CNN reports, Trump still unconvinced Russia meddled in 2016 election: President Donald Trump still isn’t buying that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, even as his intelligence chiefs unanimously told a Senate panel Tuesday that Russia meddled in 2016 and is planning to do so again in 2018, three sources familiar with the President’s thinking say he remains unconvinced that Russia interfered in the presidential election.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, Democrats demanded to know what the intelligence community is doing to counter Russia’s actions and whether Trump has given explicit directions to do so.

“We cannot confront this threat, which is a serious one, without a whole-of-government response when the leader of the government continues to deny that it exists,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

The disconnect between Trump and his senior-most intelligence advisers has raised concerns that the U.S. government will not be able to mount an effective plan to beat back Russian influence operations in the upcoming midterm elections. And Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said there is “no single agency in charge” of blocking Russian meddling, an admission that drew the ire of Democrats.

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Mitch McConnell reneges on DACA debate deal (Updated)

Well that didn’t take long …

The Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has one again demonstrated that he is a manipulative liar whose word is worthless and who should not be trusted to honor any promise or agreement he makes. Only one day into the open-ended debate on immigration and DACA that the Turtle Man promised, he has reneged on the deal he made with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

I have said before that history will not be kind to Mitch McConnell, he will be remembered as one of the worst senators in the history of the U.S. Senate in the pantheon of worst senators.

Joan McCarter at Daily Kos reports:

The Senate debate on immigration has begun and it’s not good. Despite the promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that they would have as much as two weeks of free-wheeling, open amendment debate, he’s already stated his desired outcome: Trump’s complete white supremacist wish list in return for the Dreamers’ path to citizenship. He’s also creating a false threshold for legislation—something that will get 30 Republican votes.

And as for the two weeks of consideration? He sent out his number two guy, the odious Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), to renege on that, giving the Senate essentially two days.

“This is Sen. (Dick) Durbin and Democrats’ opportunity and so far they kind of seem to be a little confused about what they’re planning on doing — but they better get it done quick because it’s this week or not at all,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.”We need to get it wrapped up by Thursday,” Cornyn said.

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Gov. Ducey fails to lead on renewal of Prop. 301 education sales tax

Democratic lawmakers last year introduced legislation to extend and expand Prop. 301, the education sales tax set to expire in 2021 unless renewed, but Republican leadership never granted it a public hearing or vote. I posted about Prop. 301 earlier this year. Pass HB 2158 to permanently extend Prop. 301 education funding (excerpts):

The education sales tax, which voters passed in 2000 as Proposition 301, is set to expire in mid-2021.

State Rep. Doug Coleman told The Arizona Republic that House Bill 2158 would essentially “get rid of the cliff” surrounding Prop. 301.

Prop. 301 is a 0.6 cent per dollar education-funding sales tax. Its future has been a point of contention and concern among education and business advocates and state leaders. The money funds things such as teacher salaries and classroom expenses.

The sales tax — and the hundreds of millions of school-funding dollars that come with it — will be gone unless voters approve an extension of the tax in the 2018 or 2020 election or two-thirds of the state’s 90-member Legislature pass legislation to maintain the funding.

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