Andy Biggs’ Fundraising Event Features Big Dollar Lobbyists

By East Valley Evan

In case you missed it, Arizona State Senator Andy Biggs held a Paradise Valley fundraiser Monday night featuring a who’s who of political lobbyists and local sports celebrities.

Andy Biggs Fundraiser

In an email that went out to invitees, Biggs said, “It has truly been an honor to serve my constituents, the business community and the advocates in the public affairs crowd.”

By “public affairs crowd,” Biggs really means lobbyists and political insiders.

Headlining the event were Arizona Coyotes Shane Doan and former Phoenix Suns player and now broadcaster, Tom Chambers – Yes, THAT Tom Chambers.

If Andy Biggs is trying to hide the fact that he’s not part of the political establishment, he’s doing a terrible job. Holding big dollar fundraising events with big name lobbyists is a sure way to show you’re part of what’s wrong with career politicians and the status quo.

Andy Biggs’ Special Fire District Still Burned In My Memory

By East Valley Evan

They say an elephant never forgets. This Republican certainly doesn’t but sometimes it takes an incident to help recall.

The massive fire in Gilbert recently stoked my memory about one of our local politicians who tried to take advantage of a serious public safety threat.

Andy BiggsBack in 2005, Rural Metro notified the Town of Gilbert that they were ceasing operations in Gilbert because it was becoming too expensive to service the town due to the numerous county islands. That provoked a political fight between Gilbert and the county islanders.

In early 2006, county islander and State Representative Andy Biggs jumped feet first into the fight by sponsoring legislation allowing his fellow islanders to form a special fire district that would also pay back the Town of Gilbert for use of their municipal fire service. There was only one problem. The town of Gilbert was not going to recover the full cost of providing that service – an additional $5 million! Gilbert taxpayers like me would have had to pay the difference and subsidize all the folks in the county islands who were receiving Town of Gilbert services.

To add insult to injury, we would have had to pay the start up costs for a year and a half for Biggs’ special district before we even saw any reimbursement for our up front costs.

The Town of Gilbert decided to sue based on the grounds that Biggs’ law was specially catered for his county islanders.

After Gilbert filed the suit, Andy Biggs snuck in another special amendment that would force Gilbert residents to pay the legal fees in lawsuits against the formation of his special fire district. It was written specifically to apply to the Town of Gilbert.

In the first round of legal battles, a judge saw through the special legislation and shot down Biggs’ special law. Unfortunately that the same judge made us pay for the legal costs in stopping Biggs’ unconstitutional law. It ended up costing us over $292 thousand.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, under Don Stapley’s lead, filed an appeal against the lower court’s decision but that case also ended up losing in court. In it’s decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals stated that Andy Biggs’ law failed to be written in a constitutional manner.

This battle over Biggs’ expensive unconstitutional fire district became so heated that it spilled over as an issue in the 2006 elections. Biggs was challenged by a Gilbert resident but ended up winning reelection because most voters thought the issue was settled and other issues dominated. But not this voter.

Fast forward to 2016 and Andy Biggs is now running for Congress in my district. Ten years may have passed and the memories of some voters may have faded but I won’t be voting for Andy Biggs. He’s proven himself time and time again to be the ultimate career politician who’s only interested in one thing – what’s best for Andy Biggs.

It might seem like an eternity in politics but this Gilbert Republican won’t easily forget what’s been seared into memory of how another politician divided a community to serve his own personal interests.

Former Sen Jon Kyl: Let’s Debunk The Myth That Prop. 123 Will Hurt Us

Former senator: I’m baffled by claims that Proposition 123 will do irreparable harm to Arizona’s permanent fund.

I strongly support Prop. 123 and am baffled by opposition to it, most of which seems to claim it will do irreparable harm to the state’s permanent fund.

Jon KylThis simply isn’t true.

To help Arizona transition from a frontier territory to the 48th state, the federal government turned over to the new state about 11 million acres of land, to be held in trust for the support of public needs, the first and foremost of which was K-12 education.

The state accomplishes that role by selling and leasing state trust lands to produce revenue. The revenue from the sale of state trust lands are deposited into Arizona’s permanent fund. The money in the permanent fund is then invested by the state in stocks, bonds and other investments and produce additional returns.

We’re dipping into interest, not the fund

Arizona’s permanent fund is currently worth about $5 billion, and the trust earns money each year, with an average rate of return over 6.9 percent for the past 10 years.

Right now, 2.5 percent of the value of the permanent trust fund is distributed on an annual basis to beneficiaries like K-12 public schools. Voting “yes” on Prop. 123 would increase the distribution amount to 6.9 percent (roughly $342 million per year) from 2.5 percent (roughly $125 million per year) for a period of 10 years.

Given that the permanent fund has averaged a rate of return in excess of this proposed 6.9 percent distribution for the past 10 years, which includes the depths of this past recession, we should view Prop. 123 as an agreement to distribute the anticipated interest from the permanent fund to the trust beneficiaries – and not as an agreement to dip into the $5.1 billion corpus of the permanent fund.

Trust also includes $70 billion in land

We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the trust is composed not only of the $5.1 billion in the permanent fund, but also of the value of the remaining state trust lands, which have a current estimated value of some $70 billion.

As urban growth has reached formerly outlying areas of state trust land, it stands to reason that this value will very likely increase in future years as expanding infrastructure and growth drive values to those lands.

Using $3.5 billion of that combined $75 billion of value over the next 10 years to help educate our K-12 kids is hardly a wasteful dissipation of the trust assets. Indeed, the combined values of the state trust lands and permanent trust fund should very well be even greater in 10 years based on current and expected trends. In any event, the myth of destruction of the trust needs to be exposed.

Why not put this cash to better use?

Prop. 123 does not mandate the sale of any part of the land being held in trust for K-12. That asset will continue to be managed in the best manner possible to provide for this generation of students as well as future generations.

Prop. 123 does put appropriate pressure on the state to ensure it performs its role in producing a quality revenue stream to support the intended beneficiaries of the trust, including our K-12 system.

Here is my question. From what do we get greater value: sitting on the assets in the trust (earning a bit), or investing $3.5 billion to better educate millions of Arizona kids today?

An educated citizenry is the best guarantee of economic growth and societal health. In other words, this human capital will be much more valuable for the state than keeping the assets in the trust, which is supposed to exist to help educate our youth.

In addition, this funding will also satisfy a legal obligation resulting from court decisions holding that the state government had not devoted sufficient appropriations to K-12 education in the past. Without Prop. 123, it is likely a tax increase would be necessary to meet this legal obligation.

Let us keep in mind that the trust was intended from the beginning to provide support for our K-12 system. Rather than allowing the trust to continue to underfund our current students, we should support Prop. 123 and put those funds to work in our classrooms now.

Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl is senior counsel at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. 

Kyrsten Sinema Praises Matt Salmon, Endorses Andy Biggs?

Matt Salmon & Kyrsten SinemaNothing short of a political lovefest took place at the annual East Valley Partnership luncheon today. Held at EVIT and sponsored by APS, the event features an annual discussion by congressional leaders who represent the east valley.

Both retiring Republican Congressman Matt Salmon and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema delivered their reports with each praising the other during the conversation. At one moment, Sinema became teary over Salmon’s retirement from the House.

But what was most revealing was Sinema’s announcement that she was looking forward to sitting in the same seat next year alongside Andy Biggs.

Perhaps a little presumptuous a statement by someone like Kyrsten Sinema who sees herself as someone who moves gracefully among the political elite?

Without actually saying the word, it was essentially an endorsement of the east valley politician who is running to succeed Matt Salmon.

One thing is clear, it takes career politicians like Kyrsten Sinema to know other career politicians like Andy Biggs. After all, they’ve been both working the system for years.

 

Trump vs Cruz: Doing the math at the AZGOP State Convention

By Lisa Gray (reposted from Facebook.)

I’ve been reading/hearing things that are being said about the AZGOP State Convention on Saturday, that are just not accurate and this is extremely disappointing.

First, Trump camp is repeating the line that “more people clicked the Trump slate button than any other slate and therefore should have won more delegates.” Well, let’s look at that. Attached is a picture (and link) to the vote totals. Please note that when you add the number of “clicks” on Cruz (409) + “Select Own Delegates (180 people chose not to use a slate) + Kasich (57) + Unity Slate (29) = 675. So… 675 people apparently didn’t click on the Trump slate but 430 did. You tell me what number is larger? So it’s not true that more people clicked on the Trump link so therefore he should have gotten more delegate votes.

Cruz vs Trump Math

Second, if you clicked on the Trump button (or any of the selection buttons) ALL the candidates appeared. The only difference is depending on which slate selection you chose, names on that particular slate were already checked for you. HOWEVER, names could be unchecked and people could for example vote for 80% of the slate if they wanted to and then vote for another 20% who weren’t on that particular slate. So it was never a given, nor should it have been expected, that people would just blindly click one button and boom, they were done voting and they all voted the EXACT same way. Remember…some people weren’t on slates, so perhaps they wanted to vote for themselves, a few of their close campaign buddies who also weren’t on the slate, and then the rest from the slate…they were able to do that.

Third, comments from the Trump campaign that the voting was a mess, the system didn’t work and they should be allowed to vote again, on paper is also bothersome. For those who don’t know, about 700 people submitted their name to be National Delegates and all the names could NOT fit on one ballot. So, ALL THREE CAMPAIGNS met together, evaluated and approved the online voting method. YES… ALL THREE AGREED on this prior to Saturday.

Fourth, people were left off of slates. Now I really have no idea if this is true or not. What I can tell you is that the campaigns were responsible for their slates. And I’m disappointed to hear it said that someone was “cheated” and an election was “stolen” from them. However, what I do know is that Jan Brewer was elected as an alternate delegate in CD8. She and Phil Lovas tied for the first alternate position. A coin toss was done to break the tie and Brewer called heads, tails won and therefore Lovas won the first alternate delegate position. So she did win an alternate delegate position but then declined it and withdrew her name from that position so she could run for an at-large delegate position. Again, I have no idea what happened to her not being on the “Trump slate” however, she did win an alternate delegate position in her Congressional District and chose not to accept it. Also, she may not have been on the at-large “Trump slate” for whatever reason but she was on the “Unity” slate and her name was on the ballot listing all the candidates that were running for at-large delegates positions and she received 93 votes.

I want to thank the staff of the AZGOP for a well run meeting. If anyone attended the convention 4 years ago, you know how much better this meeting was! Lets remember that this meeting took months to plan, some didn’t sleep for days, and they worked their tails off to make it the best meeting they could…for all of us. Of course there were hiccups and there usually are when you are planning a meeting for more than 1,000 people that also needed to include multiple voting locations, multiple ballots to accommodate 700ish names, security, credentials, volunteers, feeding everyone, etc. We have a great team not only at the AZGOP, but also across our great state. And I pray that even though we may not agree on candidates, and sometimes issues, that we would take a deep breath, look for the truth and have respect for one another.

Here’s the link to the results: https://neverhillary.simplyvoting.com/index.php?mode=results&election=43455

Lisa Gray is a longtime volunteer Republican precinct committeewoman and former chairman of a west valley legislative district.

Priorities: Governing vs. Campaigning

By East Valley Evan

It’s that weird time of the political season when conflicts arise revealing where politicians’ priorities really are.

Yesterday, leaders of the Arizona House and Senate reached a deal on how to divvy up sections of Governor Ducey’s budget proposal. That deal will be revealed today.

Setting aside the details of the deal, it’s worth pointing out where leaders of both chambers are spending their time as this process unfolds.

Every legislator acknowledges that the most important part of their job is to pass a budget that establishes the financial priorities for the State of Arizona. It’s what voters elect candidates to do and it’s the epitome of responsibility for legislators once elected.

When it comes down to governing or campaigning, governing should always take priority.

Citizens would think and expect leadership in the House and Senate to treat this constitutional obligation with the utmost attention. Apparently that obligation can take a back seat  if you’re a candidate for another office while holding down your leadership position in the legislature.

House Speaker David Gowan got it right (although he is avoiding interaction with members of the media these days) when he skipped a CD-1 candidate forum in Casa Grande Monday night. He stuck around the legislature to make sure the House wrapped up the budget deal.

It wasn’t the same on the Senate side. Senate President Andy Biggs was nowhere to be found in the State of Arizona. Instead, he is making the rounds in Washington, DC trying to raise money for his next government gig. According to the Arizona Republic:

Senate Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler — who was acting as Senate president while Andy Biggs was in Washington, D.C., Monday fundraising for a congressional campaign… 

Senate President Biggs who has become the professional career politician obviously feels the need to fly back to Washington, rub elbows with lobbyists and return home with a bundle of campaign cash.

Meanwhile, his colleagues in the House and Senate will work through the details on how best to spend Arizona taxpayer dollars.

It’s all about priorities.

~ He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much (Luke 16:10)

Gov Ducey: Why Vote For Prop 123? Some Teachers Have More Kids Than Books​

Vote Prop 123

By: Governor Doug Ducey

This week, Arizonans will receive early ballots in the mail for one of the most important policy initiatives of this election cycle – the passage of Proposition 123 to increase funding for public schools in Arizona.

As many in our state know, there has been a dark cloud hanging over Arizona’s budget when it comes to funding education.

Our kids have needs today

Voting “yes” on Prop. 123 will settle a years-long lawsuit and put $3.5 billion into our K-12 public schools over the next 10 years without raising taxes. It’s time to stop paying lawyers and start paying teachers.

I’ve visited schools all across our state, and the message is clear. Our kids have needs today, and our educators need more resources to do their jobs.

Prop. 123 is a fiscally responsible, historic first step towards giving our students and teachers the resources they need. It puts money back in the classroom. And it doesn’t raise taxes. I know it sounds almost too good to be true: If this doesn’t raise taxes, how are we paying for it?

How it works

What many don’t know is that Arizona has a something called the State Land Trust – a fund with assets that have been set aside and invested for decades specifically to benefit education. This plan ensures we are managing the trust responsibly while putting the money to use for the purpose it was intended: funding our K-12 public schools.

So how does it work?

When Arizona became a state, the federal government granted our founders nearly 11 million acres of state land. Every time we sell a piece of that land, proceeds go into the Land Trust where the money is invested and earns interest. The trust has been growing rapidly in value – nearly doubling in the past five years. And now it is valued at more than $5 billion.

Currently, only 2.5 percent of the trust is distributed to schools every year. We can do better. A “yes” vote on Prop. 123 will increase the distribution rate to 6.9 percent for the next 10 years. That means we will be able to use more of this money for its intended purpose: funding our schools.

We haven’t ignored future needs

But this plan also takes into account the needs of future generations. An analysis done by the non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee shows that even with the higher distributions if Prop 123 passes, there will be more than $6 billion in the Land Trust in a decade. That’s a billion dollars more in the trust after 10 years, even while we are increasing funding to education.

And let’s not forget: Arizona still has 9.2 million acres of land worth approximately $70 billion that are yet to be sold and fund the trust.

The bottom line is that passing Prop 123 ensures the long-term health of the trust, while injecting an infusion of resources into classrooms that have needs today.

When there are more kids than books

I’ve met with teachers and parents across the state, and they’ve made it clear — while reforms are important, right now they need resources to provide the excellent education all our children deserve.

Too often, I hear stories of teachers and parents spending part of their paychecks to ensure there are supplies in the classroom – even basic necessities like pens, pencils and paper. This is unacceptable.

Just a few weeks ago, I met a fourth-grade teacher named Maddy Sporbert who was volunteering for Prop. 123. She told me that she wants Prop. 123 to pass because right now she has 34 students in her class, but only 25 textbooks.

She was spending spring break — her vacation — getting out the vote for Prop. 123 to ensure her students have enough textbooks next year. She needs us to vote “yes.”

Good teachers are fleeing our state

Eighth-grade science teacher Paul Strauss told me that in his many years of teaching he’s seen countless dedicated teachers leave the profession because it is so hard to support a family on a teacher’s salary in Arizona.

We know teachers are fleeing our state or leaving the profession because of a continued lack of funding for education. Voting “yes” on Prop 123 will allow us to reverse that trend and start paying teachers what they deserve. In fact, school boards across Arizona have committed that boosting teacher salaries will be their number one priority if Prop. 123 passes.

Many districts even have two budgets: one if Prop. 123 passes, and one if it fails.

If it fails, that means more litigation and less certainty for our teachers and students.

Please join me, Mayor Greg Stanton, a bipartisan coalition of legislators, countless community and business leaders, teachers and parents in voting “yes” for Prop. 123 on May 17.

Christine Jones – Right for Congress

Guest Opinion

Although she has yet to announce, Republican Christine Jones would be a conservative force among a growing crowd of men in Arizona’s 5th congressional district.

The former 2014 gubernatorial candidate and Vice President/General Counsel for GoDaddy is seriously considering a bid for the congressional seat that will be left open upon the retirement of Congressman Matt Salmon.

Christine Jones

Christine Jones

Jones, who placed 3rd in the 2014 Republican Primary for governor, is no stranger to political campaigning. Not only would she bring extensive statewide campaign experience to the race against opponents lacking in the same depth, but she would also have the financial resources to wage a serious ground and media effort.

Her conservative credentials are also proven – a criteria essential to win and represent the east valley’s 5th congressional district. On national security and immigration, Christine Jones has called for deploying National Guard troops to the border, using high tech monitoring and fortifying the wall in critical strategic places. During a 2014 RealClearPolitics interview she said on immigration, “I just know that I’m an unapologetic conservative and I think if you break the law you should have a consequence.”

On jobs and the economy, Jones is no stranger to private sector job creation. As Vice President at GoDaddy, she oversaw the creation of 4,000 jobs during her service to the internet giant. During her gubernatorial campaign she called for a focus on the “5 T’s” – technology, training, transportation, tourism and taxation. Her plan would have moved Arizona’s economy forward with an emphasis on the economic drivers taking Arizona into the next century. The plan would rely heavily on an education system that creates a world-class workforce that focuses on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

To spur economic growth, Jones has proposed cutting taxes, streamlining and downsizing government and reducing or eliminating regulatory and legal reforms in order to create an environment that encourages private investment and job growth.

One issue extremely important to Christine Jones is education. In November, 2015, she was appointed as interim CEO of charter school giant, Great Hearts Academies. There, she has overseen the classical education of more than 13,000 students and 29 schools in Arizona and Texas. Some 98% of graduates of Great Hearts graduates go on to college and university. In her appointment, Great Hearts Chairman and co-founder Jay Heiler said , “Christine Jones has the gifts, the background, the dedication and the knowledge of our organization to advance this process as our interim chief executive.” The January, 2016 Niche rankings recognized Chandler Preparatory Academy as the top performing school in Arizona.

While at GoDaddy, Jones pushed for legislation to protect children from online predators and stopping the sale of drugs by illegal online pharmacies. She has testified before congressional committees on several occasions regarding internet threats and illegal activities.

On cultural issues, Christine Jones has proven herself conservative on such issues as religious freedom, traditional marriage and protecting the sanctity of life. She identifies as an evangelical Christian and is active in her church. She is an ardent and fierce defender of the US Constitution, the Second Amendment and eliminating Common Core.

Should Christine Jones enter the race for CD-5, it will certainly stir up the dynamics of the race. The east valley which is considered by political experts as a stronghold for Mormon candidates, has never elected a woman to congress. Since statehood, Arizona has only sent six women to the US House of Representatives with Martha McSally being the only Republican woman elected in Arizona. (Republican women represent only 5% of the current US House.) The election of Christine Jones in the east valley would set a precedent and hopefully reinvigorate efforts to elect more Republican women to Congress.

Jones will likely make an announcement very soon as urgency increases to collect petition signatures for the August ballot. Her opponents should not underestimate her ability to change the entire formula of winning in east valley politics given her tested campaign experience, her ability to communicate conservative values and voters’ anger to overthrow a system of politics as usual.

Christine Jones has challenged and overcome the status quo throughout her life. Winning the 5th congressional district may very well be her next victory.

Andy Biggs’ Fundraising Struggles in Arizona’s CD-5

By East Valley Evan

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs has made a lot of noise about the ethics of his campaign. In the weeks since Matt Salmon announced his anointment of Biggs upon vacating his seat in the U.S. House, Biggs has claimed that he is being extremely careful in his fundraising so that no ethical questions can arise over possible conflicts with his current position as Senate President.

But that’s a pretty weak excuse for the low numbers that his campaign is posting. With only $200,000 raised so far (according to Yellow Sheets), $100,000 of which he loaned his campaign from his personal funds, Biggs is clearly struggling to find supporters to fund what will be an expensive and hotly contested campaign.

Some disagree that the number is low, given the short amount of time–a little over a month–since Biggs announced his campaign. But, if we look at the breakdown of those funds, he can only claim $100,000 from outside funds, since he gave the other half to himself. A source close to Biggs claims that this may not be the last of the cash Biggs loans himself, meaning that the Senate President doesn’t plan on increasing his fundraising efforts any time soon.

How long until his money runs out? Currently he’s self-funding 50% of his campaign with plans to keep bleeding his accounts over the coming weeks. Regardless of his personal wealth, achieved by winning a sweepstakes contest, that’s unsustainable. Furthermore, it might be a bad move to brag about the amount of money he is willing to spend to buy the race from money he did not earn.

If Biggs continues to lack support from grassroots donors in the state of Arizona, he may have to continue to self-fund. While it is admirable that Biggs’ message is that he wants to keep clean from donor influence, it seems less like the truth and more like a desperate attempt to save face under the light of such small fundraising success. If he’s really concerned about being connected with outside interests, why not push funding from more private citizens? If ethics is his aim, why not take a pledge to not take money from lobbyists at all?

Sheriff Touchy Can’t Handle Mockery of his Pansy Logo

Guest Opinion by Sam Stone

Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos is running for re-election after taking office a little over a year ago when his 79-year old boss – Clarence Dupnik – handed him the keys to the castle after 35 years at the helm. It was a apt promotion: Nanos had been reportedly running the office for his aging Sheriff for a number of years – proving conclusively that he could effectively maintain the bureaucratic bloat, insider favoritism, and mediocre results his predecessor had become known for.

Since taking office, Nanos has overseen at least one scandal: giving almost $20,000 to the niece of one of his detectives so she could buy the equipment to run for-profit cafes at their headquarters and the county jail.

He also defended the actions of deputies when they shot and killed decorated Marine veteran and father Jose Guerena – actions that resulted in a $3.4 million dollar settlement against Pima County.

All that, of course, while his Deputies get stiffed.

But none of that makes Sheriff Nanos mad. What really gets Chris Nanos mad? People mocking his pansy ass logo.

ChrisNanosFB1

After the first few, more people chimed in, including yours truly…

ChrisNanosFB2

That’s when Sheriff Touchy stepped in to regulate!

ChrisNanosFB3

I mean, good advice, I thought…

ChrisNanosFB4

And he did “like” it….

ChrisNanosFB5

But, no, Sheriff Touchy couldn’t let it go at that.

A couple of points:

  1. I think he’s referring (one sided-story) to the café. Maybe they had really, really good sandwiches. Or something.
  2. I wasn’t actually referring to his website, just his Pansy logo.
  3. If I was running his campaign, I’d probably be running for the hills right about…now…

Let’s hope Pima County voters do the same in November.

(In case you were wondering, Mark Napier, who narrowly lost to Sheriff Touchy’s boss in the last election, is vying for the office again.)