Congressman Franks endorses Adam Kwasman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, December 31st, 2011
CONTACT: info@adamkwasman.com

Congressman Trent Franks endorses Adam Kwasman

Oro Valley, AZ. U.S. Congressman Trent Franks has endorsed Adam Kwasman for Arizona House of Representatives.

Congressman Franks stated, “Adam Kwasman is a true conservative and we need leaders like him in the Arizona Legislature. His faith and values are based in the founding principles that have made America an exceptional nation. Arizona is at an economic crossroads and Adam has the insight and understanding to move this state forward in the right direction.”

Kwasman responded, “Congressman Franks has been a champion for lower taxes and smaller government. He is also a strong advocate for life and liberty. I am honored to have the endorsement of Representative Franks.”

Adam Kwasman was born and raised in Southern Arizona. He lives in Oro Valley and is running for the House of Representatives in Legislative District 11. Adam is running on a platform of limiting the size of government, attracting new jobs to Arizona by making our state a better place to do business, and on enforcing our immigration laws. Please visit www.adamkwasman.com for more information.

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Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich release new ads, videos

The battle for the GOP nomination continues with these three ads/videos just released:

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John Huppenthal Statement on Ruling that TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Program Violates Arizona Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 27, 2011

Statement of Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal on Administrative Law Judge’s Decision that the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program is in Violation of A.R.S. § 15-112 

Phoenix, AZ, December 27, 2011– Today, Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal released the following statement on the decision of Administrative Law Judge Lewis Kowal that affirmed the Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD’s) Mexican American Studies Program was in violation of A.R.S. § 15-112 as per his ruling from June 15, 2011:

“I was very pleased to receive Judge Kowal’s decision today affirming the ruling that I made on June 15 that TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Program was in violation of A.R.S. § 15-112.

In my role as State Superintendent of Public Instruction I have a legal responsibility to uphold the law and a professional imperative to ensure that every student has access to an excellent education.

Upon taking office on January 3, 2011, I was faced with the immediate circumstance of the Tucson Unified School District being found in violation of A.R.S. §15-112 by the outgoing Superintendent. Instead of making a snap decision on the matter, the Arizona Department of Education, at my direction, conducted an intensive investigation, spanning many months, of TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Department (MASD) and its program.

In the end, I made a decision based on the totality of the information and facts gathered during my investigation – a decision that I felt was best for all students in the Tucson Unified School District. The Judge’s decision confirms that it was the right decision.

I will be issuing my final ruling regarding the matter in the near future after a thorough and deliberate review of the Judge’s decision.”

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Chuck Gray Endorses Matt Salmon for Congress

“Matt has a very conservative voting record and I know he will represent the East Valley in the conservative manner we have come to expect.” 

EAST VALLEY – Former Congressman and candidate for Arizona’s 6th Congressional District Matt Salmon today received the endorsement from former Arizona State Senator and congressional candidate Chuck Gray. Gray, a longtime East Valley conservative leader, released the following statement today in an email to his supporters:

“There is one candidate that I feel most closely reflects my conservative values and voting record. And while I have not discussed my decision to withdraw, with either of my challengers or their campaigns, I do hope that my endorsement of Matt Salmon to represent the East Valley in Congress will be accepted in the spirit it is given. Matt has a very conservative voting record and I know he will represent the East Valley in the conservative manner we have come to expect. He has my full support.”

Salmon released the following statement in response to Gray’s endorsement:

“Without question, Chuck Gray is one of the most influential conservative voices in the East Valley and his surprise endorsement today is a great gift for a promising new year. I have known Chuck since our days in Boy Scouts, and have always valued his friendship and ideas on how to restore accountability and fiscal responsibility to Washington. I look forward to having him on our team as we begin 2012 ready to communicate our conservative message to every voter in the East Valley.”

About Matt Salmon 

Matt Salmon was first elected to the United States Congress in 1994 and served until 2000, honoring his term limit pledge. A proud conservative, Salmon was rated in the top five among all 535 members of the House and Senate by Citizen’s Against Government Waste for all six years he was in office. He is a lifetime member of the NRA with an A+ rating and also earned a 100% rating by the National Right to Life. He was also the proud recipient of the American Cancer Society’s “Top National Elected Official” award.

Matt Salmon has received endorsements from Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-49), Mayor Scott Smith (Mesa), Mayor Jay Tibshraeny (Chandler), Mayor Hugh Hallman (Tempe), Mayor John Insalaco (Apache Junction), Mayor Gail Barney (Queen Creek), former Arizona Congressman John Shadegg, Arizona State Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs (LD22), State Senator John McComish (LD20), and State Representatives Eddie Farnsworth (LD22), Jeff Dial (LD20), and Bob Robson (LD20).

NYT: Democrat Ed Pastor Makes the Elite Capitol Hill Millionaire’s Club

Over the last 20 years I’ve worked or volunteered on several campaigns (Don Shooter, Jim Buster, Jonathan Barnert and Janet Contreras) to unseat Democrat Ed Pastor. One of the message that has been used is that Ed Pastor does not represent the values of the people who reside in his district. Although he was born in a small mining town, he’s adopted the left’s position on policy and class warfare. In essence, he’s become an elitist.

Now comes confirmation that what we’ve been preaching as populist pronouncements all these years is actually true.

Today’s article in The New York Times backs that assertion up.

According to writer Eric Lichtblau:

Today, Mr. Pastor, a miner’s son and a former high school teacher, is a member of a not-so-exclusive club: Capitol Hill millionaires. That group has grown in recent years to include nearly half of all members of Congress — 250 in all — and the wealth gap between lawmakers and their constituents appears to be growing quickly, even as Congress debates unemployment benefits, possible cuts in food stamps and a “millionaire’s tax.” 

Mr. Pastor buys a Powerball lottery ticket every weekend and says he does not consider himself rich. Indeed, within the halls of Congress, where the median net worth is $913,000 and climbing, he is not. He is a rank-and-file millionaire. But compared with the country at large, where the median net worth is $100,000 and has dropped significantly since 2004, he and most of his fellow lawmakers are true aristocrats.

Largely insulated from the country’s economic downturn since 2008, members of Congress — many of them among the “1 percenters” denounced by Occupy Wall Street protesters — have gotten much richer even as most of the country has become much poorer in the last six years, according to an analysis by The New York Times based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group.

We decided to pull Pastor’s personal financial disclosure reports from Legistorm, a DC-based non-partisan data resource entity, to see exactly what the congressman from Arizona’s 4th congressional district claimed on his 2011 disclosures. This included earned income, assets and unearned income, liabilities and travel payments and reimbursements. You can view them as well: [2011 Disclosure] [2011_Disclosure Amended].

We also took a look at information revealed by Open Secrets which shows the political side of Ed Pastor’s congressional lifestyle. It’s not hard to see that Ed Pastor has taken a lot of money from unions and trial lawyers.

How will the so-called 99% react to this new revelation? You won’t see them protesting outside his office or shouting him down at his next public appearance (if he ever has one). No, all you’ll hear from the Occupy folks is the sound of silent sanction as Mr. Pastor readies for his next campaign for congress.

Chuck Gray Withdraws from CD-5 Contest, Endorses Matt Salmon

Republican Chuck Gray issued the following statement to supporters on Tuesday, December 27, 2011:

In February of this year, when I announced my run for Congress, the congressional district lines were not drawn and I had no immediate challengers. As the campaign progressed, others entered the race but their physical residences were so far removed from my own that it was generally thought that we would be running in different congressional districts.

The district lines are now drawn and have pitted three good men against each other. And while I was the first to enter the race, I cannot permit the conservative vote in the East Valley to be split in a way that allows a less conservative voice to prevail. Our next Congressman will likely be our voice for many years to come.

It is therefore with the support of my wife, friends and family that I announce my withdrawal from the race for Congress in hopes that the conservative voice that I have represented all these years be united behind a single candidate.

I have, in the course of my race, thoroughly investigated the backgrounds and voting records of my challengers. I have known both of them for many years. There is one candidate that I feel most closely reflects my conservative values and voting record. And while I have not discussed my decision to withdraw, with either of my challengers or their campaigns, I do hope that my endorsement of Matt Salmon to represent the East Valley in Congress will be accepted in the spirit it is given.

Matt has a very conservative voting record and I know he will represent the East Valley in the conservative manner we have come to expect. He has my full support.

I want to thank my supporters. They have worked hard and they have championed the founding principles of liberty at every turn. They are the best. I love them dearly. I encourage my supporters to embrace Matt Salmon as they have embraced me. I must set aside my own desire to serve and put the future of this country first. I hope my supporters will do the same. For the good of the nation, I seek to unite the conservative vote.

Sincerely,

Chuck Gray

The Lobby Needs More Room

by Bill Ponath

The history of civilized man has seen a never-ending evolution of what we call a “system of  justice.”  It was not until well after Christ that the concept of a judge and jury was born to enable the accused in criminal matters to be judged by a group of his/her peers.  As a matter of fact; in ancient Rome there was no such thing as a “criminal court.”   If a person were to have been criminally wronged it was his/her responsibility to pursue a civil claim against the accused.  The government took no interest in prosecuting any crimes unless they were against the government itself.  Essentially; a person with no immediate family could be robbed and killed in the middle of the street in broad daylight and there would be no prosecution because no-one had standing to pursue the claim.

My; how things have changed.  In today’s world we are all judges, juries and prosecutioners who look only to the daily news and commentaries to reach judgment.  We assume that everything we see and hear; especially from any source of reasonably reliable information; such as the news media, is the gospel truth.  We feel no responsibility to question the conclusion reached by a public figure.  The problem is; if we are all guilty of everything we are accused of; Satan’s waiting area would simply not be large enough to process all of the new admittees.

Case in point: I enjoy listening to Barry Young every morning on KFYI but I am consistently baffled by his attacks on former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce.  Mind you; Senator Pearce is a friend of mine and that may appear to suggest bias; but with or without any predilection of opinion concerning anyone’s character I am frustrated by Mr. Young’s assumption that Senator Pearce participated in some sort of conspiracy to plant Olivia Cortes on the ballot for Senator Pearce’s seat in the senate.  Let’s look at the facts:

  1. Senator Pearce is; in no uncertain terms, the “father” of SB 1070; the legislation that adopted already existing federal law into a much less stringent set of Arizona statutes.  This made Senator Pearce a target for the liberal media to effectively “take him down.”
  2. The media fueled a recall effort that was; in no uncertain terms, baseless.
  3. Certain members of a tea party conspired to plant a sham candidate on the ballot in order to dilute Jerry Lewis’ support.
  4. Certain members of Senator Pearce’s political panel; including some of his own relatives, perceived the benefits of this independent candidate without any knowledge or understanding of the basis for her political support and actually assisted in the effort.
  5. Only after it became known that Ms. Cortes was not an actual candidate was any assistance and support withdrawn from her campaign.

Under no circumstances is there any shred of evidence that Senator Pearce, his campaign staff, or his relatives had any knowledge of the sham while they were taking advantage of it.  Nevertheless; they are duly tried, prosecuted, and convicted by Mr. Young and the rest of the media for a crime they did not commit.  The sad truth of this is that the State of Arizona has now been robbed of a man of unblemished character who has served us in law enforcement for many years, has been shot and wounded by criminals, and has almost lost his own son in the same fashion.  Yet he is a very happy man when he observes large groups of newly naturalized citizens of the United States; primarily Hispanics, as they are sworn in near the State’s Capital.  I have yet to see any of the liberal media; or even Barry Young, comment on this.  I must assume that this revelation of the actual truth may serve to confuse and mislead the propagandized readers and electorate and it therefore would be nonsensical to acknowledge this reality.  It is therefore best that the media let the sleeping dog lie and allow the general public to have grossly distorted opinions of one of their greatest heroes.  Sounds fair to me.

Senator Pearce; as I am certain we are all aware is not the only victim of the distortion of the truth.  I do not personally know former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas any more than occasional meetings and I therefore can make no comment concerning his matters before the Court.  I am nevertheless honored to claim that Rachel Alexander is a close friend who is also the victim of; sadly enough, malicious prosecution simply because she was doing her job.  Unfortunately; when doing one’s job may interfere with the goals of someone in power, somebody has to take the fall.

Let me put this in perspective:  Ms. Alexander has not discussed with me any of the behind-the-scenes details of what led to her being accused of these compromises in ethical duties.  She was working at her post as Assistant Maricopa County Prosecutor.  Her boss; Mr. Thomas, assigned to her the prosecution of certain elected officials.  She was presented with facts and evidence that clearly raised reasonable suspicion concerning wrongs committed by these individuals.  It was therefore her duty to proceed with levying charges against them.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE DID SHE DO ANYTHING WRONG.  Nevertheless; exposure of these facts concerning these elected officials meant that they needed to fight back.  Please notice that there has never been a shred of allegation that Ms. Alexander did anything unethical in the rest of her life.  The ONLY claim that can be made may be that she was working very hard to do her job.

Ms. Alexander’s need to answer her accusers is entirely political.  It is work to take the attention off of the accused and shift it to the accuser.  It has thus far been successful; which raises the point, why continue to accuse Ms. Alexander of any wrong-doing when there is no shred of evidence that she was not simply doing her job? . . . . . Because somebody has to take the fall to save these politicos from personal humiliation.

It is an unfortunate circumstance of life that we are all wrongly accused of indiscretions throughout our existence.  It began in childhood with finger pointing at our siblings and even the family pet.  Even I must confess to having been prosecuted by the State Bar Association in the early 90’s similarly to Ms. Alexander.  I therefore understand the burden that she will carry whether she is completely acquitted or whether they determine that she deserves the least available public admonishment of a censure; which is a published reprimand without any suspension of her license.

Let me tell you why I was censured.  The facts are that I never did anything wrong but I nevertheless failed to oversee what my employees were doing and therefore my trust account didn’t balance.  The reason I didn’t see what was wrong with the account was that certain employees were scheming to embezzle money from the firm.  They put up smoke screens and hid from me what they were doing.  I nevertheless confessed to this and I simply made sure that the final reports specifically stated that I did nothing wrong, but that the errors were based on“negligence.”

The problem with this is that most people who see that I was censured ASSUME that I did something dastardly wrong and that I am a hardened criminal.  The worse problem is that I am in fact responsible for the errors made by my employees but that Senator Pearce and Ms. Alexander did absolutely nothing wrong.  They never had ill intent, they never consciously acted to wrong anyone.  They were simply doing their jobs and they were doing them quite well; only to be dragged into “politically necessary” damage control by their opponents fueled by the almighty left-wing media.

I beg of any who read this: do not rush to conclusions until you know and understand the facts.  That is a patent expression of “innocent until proven guilty” but it is painfully obvious that the media do not grasp the significance of those words.  Let me put it this way: Senator Pearce and Rachel Alexander both knew by virtue of considerable experience with politics and the media that any misstep would be attacked without mercy.  Do you really believe that either of them would have even contemplated doing anything like what they accused of?  If so; they are not the real victims of medial prosecution, you the general public are.  You are hypnotized into believing trumped up exaggerations produced by those who resist the good of what these people are doing for justice.  It is a baffling quandary that the very system we fight to defend is the very same thing that fights to defeat us.

Justice will begin to be served when Senator Pearce is back in office and when all charges against Rachel Alexander are summarily dropped.  That service will only end when every person acknowledges that these dedicated individuals are in fact innocent of any wrongdoing.

Please tell Satan to cancel the remodeling.

Presidential Candidates Release New Ads Heading into Iowa Final Stretch, New Hampshire

A couple of great ads by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as the Presidential race heads into the final week in Iowa:

First Mitt & Ann Romney:

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Newt’s message on the Christmas of 1776:

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Rick Santorum’s “Pop-Up:”

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Merry Christmas!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

~ Luke 2:1-20 (KJV)

On behalf of all our writers, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Only Romney and Paul to appear on Virgina Republican Primary Ballot

Gingrich, Perry, Santorum and Bachman fail to qualify. 

The VAGOP requirement is 10,000 validated signatures to make the primary ballot with a minimum of 400 coming from each of its counties.  Out of all of the GOP candidates, only Romney and Paul qualified.

46 national delegates were at stake in Virginia.

Gingrich plans an aggressive write-in campaign, which is against the law in Virginia for primaries, stating that voters should be able to vote for any “top contender”.

Gingrich also failed to make the Missouri primary ballot stating it didn’t matter because the national delegates are allocated via the caucus system.

More here and here.

 

A MUST READ: How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission

Excellent article posted by the non-profit, independent, investigative journalists, ProPublica. This is a MUST read if you’ve been following the machinations of the Arizona ‘Independent’ Redistricting Commission. If you don’t think it can happen here in Arizona, it already has just like it happened in California. Here is a segment of the article:

This spring, a group of California Democrats gathered at a modern, airy office building just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The meeting was House members only — no aides allowed — and the mission was seemingly impossible.

In previous years, the party had used its perennial control of California’s state Legislature to draw district maps that protected Democratic incumbents. But in 2010, California voters put redistricting in the hands of a citizens’ commission where decisions would be guided by public testimony and open debate.

The question facing House Democrats as they met to contemplate the state’s new realities was delicate: How could they influence an avowedly nonpartisan process? Alexis Marks, a House aide who invited members to the meeting, warned the representatives that secrecy was paramount. “Never say anything AT ALL about redistricting — no speculation, no predictions, NOTHING,” Marks wrote in an email. “Anything can come back to haunt you.”

In the weeks that followed, party leaders came up with a plan. Working with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — a national arm of the party that provides money and support to Democratic candidates — members were told to begin “strategizing about potential future district lines,” according to another email.

The citizens’ commission had pledged to create districts based on testimony from the communities themselves, not from parties or statewide political players. To get around that, Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of configurations that coincided with the party’s interests.

When they appeared before the commission, those groups identified themselves as ordinary Californians and did not disclose their ties to the party. One woman who purported to represent the Asian community of the San Gabriel Valley was actually a lobbyist who grew up in rural Idaho, and lives in Sacramento.

In one instance, party operatives invented a local group to advocate for the Democrats’ map.

California’s Democratic representatives got much of what they wanted from the 2010 redistricting cycle, especially in the northern part of the state. “Every member of the Northern California Democratic Caucus has a ticket back to DC,” said one enthusiastic memo written as the process was winding down. “This is a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated by advocates throughout the region.”

(Read the entire article)

Rep Jeff Flake: Why should politicians use taxpayer funds to get their name to pop up in Google searches?

Reposted from the Wall Street Journal.

By Congressman Jeff Flake

Some would say it’s Grinch-like that members of Congress cannot send any mail pieces from their offices wishing constituents a “Merry Christmas.” But read a little deeper into this issue, and chances are you’ll be siding with the bah-humbug crowd.

Members of Congress can, of course, extend any holiday wishes they desire on a personal basis: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanzaa or even, with a nod to George Costanza, Happy Festivus. Members of Congress just can’t use taxpayer dollars to send these season’s greetings if extending such greetings “is the primary purpose of the communication.”

This is a good thing. Do you really need to pay for Congressman X’s awkward family photo featuring a dozen grandchildren and the family dog in matching sweaters with the U.S. Capitol photoshopped into the background?

While we’re on the subject of taxpayer-funded salutations, you may be interested to know that Congress is moving beyond the standard campaign-esque glossy mailers. Elected officials have begun touting their feats of strength on the right-hand column of your Facebook page and Google searches—and you’re paying for it!

Since members seeking to pay for these Internet advertisements with taxpayer-funded office budgets are required to file such advertisements with the House Franking Office, my staff and I examined a few of them. What we found may surprise you—or, given Congress’s 9% approval rating, perhaps not.

“Congressman X is Fighting the Madness,” screams one Facebook ad, “Fighting Plans to End Medicare, Government Shutdown, Giveaways to Big Oil.” “Rep. X is working to lower gas prices by increasing American energy production. Find out more and like my page today!” says another. “Congressman X is Committed to Creating Jobs, Driving Down Spending and Shrinking the Size of the Federal Government.” Well, apparently not all spending.

Each click on these ads costs taxpayers additional money, as each click-through drives up a member’s ad bill.

Members of Congress can also use taxpayer funds to make sure their name pops up when someone does a Google search. As a general example, clicking on the member’s name that was primed to pop up with a Google search for the phrase “raising debt ceiling” would cost taxpayers approximately $4.70 per click. Ouch.

Then there are the political hijinks that members of Congress can play using taxpayer dollars. A member trying to lure conservation voters can use taxpayer funds to buy ads on conservation-themed websites. A member with an eye on a governor’s mansion can use taxpayer money to purchase ads that will pop up when a person in the member’s state searches for “governor” on Google.

So what do all of these ads cost taxpayers every year? The truth is, we don’t yet know. The current practice of the House is to shield the actual cost of these ads from public view. And this practice probably won’t change any time soon: Both parties engage in this ad buying, so both parties tend to look the other way when it comes to policing the practice.

Sitting members of Congress have abundant opportunities for earned media and press secretaries to ensure that our accomplishments, such as they are, are trumpeted far and wide. Social media have become a useful tool to promote ideas and policies, and many such media are free—or at least don’t cost the public anything. Why, then, should members be able to use taxpayer funds to purchase additional name ID for themselves?

Mr. Flake, a Republican, is a congressman from Arizona.

Governor Brewer reacts to S&P credit upgrade, calls it one more sign of recovery for State of Arizona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Benson

Standard and Poor’s Upgrades Credit Outlook for State of Arizona
Latest Indication that the Arizona Comeback is in Progress

PHOENIX – One of the nation’s largest credit ratings services, Standard and Poor’s, announced today that it has upgraded to “stable” its outlook on the State of Arizona’s fiscal condition. S&P also upgraded to “stable” its outlook on the State’s certificates of participation and lease revenue debt.

State of Arizona finances previously carried a negative outlook from the credit ratings service.

“This is fantastic news, and serves as one more indication that Arizona is on the comeback trail,” said Governor Jan Brewer. “The last three years haven’t been easy. But I’m happy to say that the difficult decisions I’ve made, together with the Arizona Legislature, have helped put this state back on solid financial ground. For the first time in years, Arizona has a growing economy and a state government it can afford.”

In announcing the credit outlook revision, S&P pointed to the State of Arizona’s diverse economy, continued population growth, moderate debt burden and expectations of a sizable budget surplus in fiscal 2012.

“We base the outlook revision on what we view as Arizona’s improving fiscal outlook,” S&P credit analyst David Hitchcock explained in today’s report.

The S&P announcement is just the latest sign of the state’s improving economy and financial position. In other recent news:

- Arizona added 12,800 jobs in November, driving down the state’s unemployment rate to 8.7 percent. The rate is the state’s lowest since February 2009.

- Arizona has added an estimated 45,800 jobs so far this year. The state’s job growth from October 2010 to October 2011 ranked 7th best nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

- State revenues continue to outpace projections, and the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting now estimates a combined surplus of $1.3 billion between the remainder of this fiscal year and next.

“Our mission isn’t accomplished, but today’s announcement from S&P is validation that we’re on the right path,” said Governor Brewer. “We’re going to keep state government small, efficient and effective, and continue working to put in place the conditions for private enterprise to flourish and grow. I believe that 2012, Arizona’s Centennial year, is going to bring more great news for the people of our state.”

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Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery Concludes Fiesta Bowl Probe, Issues Recommendations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2011
CONTACT: Jerry Cobb

PHOENIX, AZ (December 21, 2011) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced the conclusion of an 8-month criminal investigation into whether public officials illegally accepted or failed to report gifts from members of the Fiesta Bowl organization and its representatives. While the investigation did not find evidence leading to criminal liability for those investigated, it did identify areas where Arizona law does not meet legitimate public expectations for transparency in disclosure of the receipt of gifts.

“Despite the public’s legitimate expectations that current laws ensure a reasonable degree of open and honest government, Arizona’s statutes governing receipt of gifts and reporting requirements fall short of meeting those expectations,” Montgomery said. “A combination of inconsistent laws, vague reporting requirements, and a ‘knowing’ standard of conduct created significant hurdles for our investigation in establishing the required mental state to prove criminal liability,” he added.

As a consequence of the difficulties encountered in conducting the investigation, the County Attorney will make the following recommendations to both houses in the State Legislature:

  • Create a single reference point in law for lobbyists and legislators that clarifies what, if any, types of gifts are permissible, and establishes consistent definitions of gifts and items that require disclosure.
  • Establish an outright ban on gifts, or a minimum value threshold above which reporting and disclosure is mandatory for anything received above the set value (e.g. $25).
  • Establish an increased frequency of reporting, no less than quarterly, to eliminate record-keeping, memory and accuracy issues that can arise with annual reporting requirements. A web-based reporting system is also recommended to facilitate the public’s ability to review officials’ disclosures.
  • Adjust penalties for violations of reporting requirements, making “knowing and intentional” violations a felony offense instead of a misdemeanor.
  • Establish a “reckless” standard that carries misdemeanor or civil penalties that are significant enough to encourage accurate and timely reporting.
  • Remove legislative staff attorneys from the role of providing campaign finance disclosure recommendations, training and advice in order to preclude any claim of attorney-client privilege on these matters.
  • Amend lobbying disclosure forms to include a certification of having read the instructions, as required on campaign finance disclosure statements. Add an expenditure reporting category for Principals/Public Bodies to the Principal/Public Body Annual Report of Lobbying Expenditures.

“I trust that members of the legislature sharing my concern for upholding the integrity of our respective offices will address these recommendations in an appropriate manner,” Montgomery said.

The County Attorney’s Office began its investigation in April 2011, after receiving the case from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office which had declared a conflict of interest in the matter. Over the course of the investigation, a team of experienced prosecutors and investigators from the County Attorney’s Office reviewed thousands of pages of documents and conducted interviews with multiple legislators, lobbyists and Fiesta Bowl employees. The investigation looked at 28 legislators and 3 non-legislator elected office holders. The Attorney General also declared a conflict on two Fiesta Bowl-related cases involving three lobbyists, which also became part of the County Attorney’s investigation.

Legislators investigated:

  • Paula Aboud
  • Chad Campbell
  • Linda Lopez
  • Russell Pearce
  • Kirk Adams
  • Rich Crandall
  • David Lujan
  • Gary Pierce
  • Linda Aguirre
  • Sam Crump
  • Lucy Mason
  • Michelle Reagan
  • Ken Bennett
  • Adam Driggs
  • John McComish
  • Pete Rios
  • Robert Blendu
  • Steve Gallardo
  • Robert Meza
  • Andrew Tobin
  • David Bradley
  • Laurin Hendrix
  • John Nelson
  • Steve Tully
  • Bob Burns
  • John Kavanagh
  • Ward Nichols
  • Thayer Verschoor

Non-legislator elected officials investigated:

  • Joe Arpaio
  • Ben Arrendondo
  • Elaine Scruggs

Lobbyists investigated:

  • Charles Coughlin and Doug Cole as part of the lobbying firm, “HighGround”
  • Kevin Demenna

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like … A Change for the Worse: ESI vs. Walgreens

Submitted by US Navy Veteran

If you like the quality of pharmacy service and choices that TRICARE provides to veterans, don’t get too comfortable with it. It’s beginning to look like that will all change at the start of the year – and not for the better.

Through the end of 2011, Walgreens will provide pharmacy services as part of DOD’s TRICARE pharmacy program. But come January 1st, that will disappear because Express Scripts, Inc. (ESI), the company that manages the service, has a contract dispute with Walgreens and will not negotiate a settlement.

Actually, they will negotiate: my-way-or-the-highway is basically their position.

Walgreens is the largest pharmacy chain in the country. They serve 40 million consumers every week through nearly 8,000 stores nationwide. They have more stores that are open 24 – 7 than any other pharmacy network. And 70% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Walgreens.

However, after the first of the year, we won’t have access to that network or services.

Because ESI manages the Defense Department’s TRICARE pharmacy benefit, Walgreens offered a separate contract guaranteeing its prices would match or beat the average costs per prescription with all other retail pharmacies. The company has also committed to keeping the cost per Medicare prescription flat for the next four years. Such cost containment measures could be a real boon to the Federal government, as well as control the prices consumers pay.

Unfortunately, not only has ESI ignored or rejected these proposals, but it has also demanded unacceptable rates and terms from Walgreens. For example, they have demanded rates that are below the average industry cost to fill prescriptions. They also want to dictate which drugs are generic and which are not.

ESI has claimed Walgreens wants to increase prescription reimbursement costs by 20 percent. That is pure malarkey. Walgreens has offered ESI a number of cost-savings that would, in effect, hold the average prescription reimbursement cost increases to less than two percent annually over the course of the three year contract.

In an open letter to vets and active duty military, Walgreens’ CEO said, “We do not wish for military beneficiaries to be ‘in the middle’ of this issue.” Well, we are. Meanwhile, Express Scripts has rejected all efforts to reach an agreement that would keep Walgreens in the TRICARE network of pharmacies.

What can we do about this? Make noise. Register an opinion. Let DOD and Express Scripts know how you feel. Here’s a link to a page where you can sign a petition to do just that:

http://www.ichoosewalgreens.com/tricare-plans/

You can also send a letter to your Senator and Member of Congress, letting them know you value the convenience of having a Walgreens nearby. Another point to make is that Walgreens is working to keep prices as low as possible. With Walgreens gone, Express Scripts will be much freer to set prices that benefit them, not us.

Walgreens is doing all it can to keep serving us as customers. It only seems right that we return the favor.

Senate Leadership calls for end to 53/47 contribution rate for state employees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2011
CONTACT: Mike Philipsen

Majority Leader to author bill that will put money back into teachers’ paychecks

(Phoenix, State Capitol) —Senate President-elect Steve Pierce and Majority Leader Andy Biggs announced today a bill will be offered in the upcoming legislative session ending the recent 53% employee/47% employer contribution rate split. That split went into effect in July, as part of the FY 12 budget. The change plugged a $40 million hole in the budget and reduced employee paychecks.

The bill will return the contribution rate split to 50/50, and increase the paychecks of teachers and other state employees by $20-40.

“Last session we made a commitment to Arizonans to deliver a balanced budget. The 53/47 split helped that happen, but many members agreed it was one of the toughest decisions they had to make. Conditions have changed, and I am comfortable now running a bill to repeal 53/47,” says Majority Leader Biggs.

“The truth is, the economic landscape is very different from March, when these budget negotiations were taking place. Because of our fiscal discipline and an improving economy, revenues are coming in at a much higher clip, and we can reverse this contribution rate change,” says President-elect Pierce.

“Republican leadership continues to put a high priority on strengthening education during these difficult times. We held K-12 reductions to about one percent last year. Today’s announcement is another way to honor the hard work of our district and charter school teachers,” says Pierce.

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Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Releases Final ‘Tentative’ Maps

CONGRESSIONAL MAP (GOOGLE)

LEGISLATIVE MAP (GOOGLE)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2011

TEMPE, Ariz. (Dec. 20, 2011) – The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission this evening adopted a tentative congressional- and legislative-district maps, pending analyses by the panel’s legal counsel and voting-rights consultants.

Both maps passed on 3-2 votes, but with different breakdowns. On the congressional map, Chairman Colleen Coyle Mathis voted “yes,” along with Vice Chairman José Herrera and Commissioner Linda McNulty. Vice Chairman Scott Freeman and Commissioner Richard Stertz voted “no.” The legislative map drew “yeas” from Mathis, McNulty and Stertz and “nays” from Freeman and Herrera.

“This is a significant step toward fulfilling our mission,” Mathis said. “We’ve spent four weeks improving the draft maps, incorporating many of the suggestions we received during our second round of public hearings, as well as comments submitted to us in writing. We worked very hard to reach consensus on the map where possible, and it was also our consensus that it was time to move the process along.”

According to counsel Mary O’Grady, the panel will have to vote on the maps again after receiving the legal and technical analyses. The commission’s lawyers and staff then must prepare the state’s submission to the Department of Justice for its approval as mandated under the federal Voting Rights Act.

Major tweaks to the congressional map included:

  • Reuniting Fountain Hills with Scottsdale in the proposed 6th District;
  • Making Cochise County whole in the proposed 2nd District, along with the eastern portion of metropolitan Tucson; and
  • Moving western Maricopa County to the rural 4th District, leaving the proposed 8th District more compact and suburban.

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