Election Complaint: Scott Smith Failed to Disclose Travel and Event Gifts

Smith ComplaintFriday afternoon, Mesa resident and city hall activist Gene Dufoe filed a complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State arguing that former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith failed to disclose travel and event gifts, a requirement candidates must follow when seeking public office.

The complaint provides a detailed list of travel expense gifts that Smith did not claim on his personal financial disclosure form when he submitted the forms on May 21, 2014.

Exhibits in the complaint detail expense reports filed with the City of Mesa in the year leading up to his announcement for Governor. Those same gifts are also required to be disclosed with the Secretary of State when becoming a candidate.

Smith’s failure to disclose the gifts draws into question whether he may have any conflicts of interest issues related to seeking the office of governor.

Dufoe’s complaint states:

Whether Mr. Smith was justified in accepting these gifts is not the issue here; the only issue is that he failed to report them. Arizona has several important reasons to require candidates to disclose gifts. One reason is so that voters may assess whether a candidate is beholden to special interests. The disclosure may reveal the leanings of the candidate on policy issues. It also reduces the possibility of corruption, or the appearance of corruption. Here, the United States Conference of Mayors is a policy-driven organization, and voters have a right to know that they have flown Mr. Smith all around the globe, put him up in nice hotels, and fed him at nice restaurants.

With Wednesday’s controversy over the use of government resources during a campaign trip to Yuma now drawn into question, this latest complaint may reveal a pattern of shielding important financial information from the general public.

In 2011, several Arizona lawmakers were caught up in a controversy surrounding unreported gifts received to travel and attend sporting events. That investigation led to the conviction of the Fiesta Bowl CEO, John Junker. (Arizona Republic article)

Due to conflict of interest issues, the Secretary of State’s office will forward the complaint to the Attorney General’s Office for an investigation.

To read the complaint letter, click here.

A Governor and Three Candidates to Yuma

There’s a rumor going around that Wednesday’s trip by Governor Brewer and three statewide candidates who she has endorsed was piggybacked on to official business – paid for by Arizona taxpayers.

What has given this rumor legs is modern technology.

According to two sources, Michele Reagan, one of the three candidates sent out a tweet including a photo of her on a plane with an official state seal in the background. Once the photo was tweeted it was quickly deleted.

Brewer’s trip to Yuma was covered by local Yuma media.

Holly Sweet of the Yuma CBS affiliate, KSWT reported that Brewer had official business with Yuma city hall before heading to a political rally at the Kress Ultra Lunge with Scott Smith, Randy Pullen and Michele Reagan – all candidates who she has endorsed.

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Christy Wilcox also reported on the visit:

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The Yuma Daily Sun also covered the event which included a number of photos.

The Governor’s official website also posted nothing about an official visit to Yuma on her public calendar.

All this begs the following questions:

If media reported Governor Brewer making the trip as a meeting with Yuma City Hall, why would that visit not be listed on the official calendar?

Did Governor Brewer, Scott Smith, Michele Reagan all travel together to Yuma?

Did all three candidates travel with Governor Brewer together aboard an official government or chartered plane to Yuma?

If all three candidates traveled to Yuma with the Governor on an official state plane or chartered plane, will their campaigns reimburse the taxpayers of Arizona?

Is Governor Brewer lending the weight of her office to assist those candidates she has endorsed?

Finally, were there any members of the media who traveled with the Governor or the three candidates to and/or from Yuma?

We hope each of the campaigns and the Governor will clear up these questions.

 

Sal DiCiccio: Arizona Republic Fails to Mention David Leibowitz’s “Dark Money”

Great catch by Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio on the article in the Arizona Republic about gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith. I’ll let Sal’s Facebook post explain:

The article fails to mention Smith’s PR person is hired by the unions and is chairman of the dark money group “Independent Voices Arizona” which is attacking other Republicans. First time in AZ history a Gov candidate has on staff a dark money person and the media ignores that fact. He is paid by the same union that brought financial chaos to Phoenix, that spent $1.1 million attacking me and my family and is fighting against financial accountability.

I will have more to say about David Leibowtz later…

The Truth About Dark Money

By Daniel Stefanski

“Dark money” is the phrase of the current political cycle, and most who hear it have a dislike for its menacing sound because of those who have made it a millstone for select candidates to bear.

The truth about “dark money” is this:

– “Dark money” has been intertwined into campaigns because of a desire by (mostly) liberals to silence the speech of those on the right who seek to fight to influence their side of the debate. If Person A gives to Candidate B or Cause C, everyone knows who Person A is. Depending on how charged that particular campaign is, Person A could face serious repercussions/persecution for doing his part to promote our Democracy. So, rather than have Person A sitting on the sidelines, unwilling to give to candidates or causes out of fear of subsequent persecution, Group D is started so that Person A can give to it anonymously, still participate in our Democracy, and not face the insatiable wrath of the left. Some times group D is on your side, and some times it’s not, but as long as the transactions are being handled legally, all is fair in political war – especially to protect the voices and livelihoods of those who have so much to lose.

– While the right gathers all of its “dark money” without a hint of coercion, the left has its own form of “dark money” completely saturated by force and coercion. Ever heard of union dues? The left will fight with the unions on the side of their liberal candidates, and turn around to decry the right’s use of “dark money” to combat the outside spending. Hypocrites. Think of it this way…. unions often outspend conservative “dark money” groups by a significant margin. The story should be reversed, if only we had a fair and balanced media.

– No Republican should ever take up a liberal talking point to take advantage of a politically charged issue, but in this case, some Republicans have done just that. Many Republicans who bemoan “dark money” are doing so because they would like the playing field to be leveled. Wouldn’t we all? “Dark money” groups involved in Arizona political races aren’t hindering other groups from also becoming involved in the process, nor are the groups that make the news most often breaking any laws, nor are they forcing money from any of their donors.

Truth is, the most talked-about “dark money” groups are just winning the war of ideas and policy in this day and age, and the left and those Republican candidates affected by the spending can’t stand what is happening. Keep that in mind next time you hear the gnashing of teeth which accompanies the phrase “dark money.”

The Links between Arizona Media and Leftist Non-Profits Attacking Dark Money

There’s a story in the Arizona Republic today about [queue eerie music]… “dark money.”

LeftsTangledWebIt is basically a hit piece on conservative Sean Noble and gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey. The underlying theme is that those “evil” Koch Brothers are trying to buy the election here in Arizona because organizations that they have supported are spending money on political ads.

Because I worked for one of these organizations – which are 501(c)3 and (c)4 organizations – I am very familiar with why donors who give to these are protected and not subject to campaign finance laws. There is a good reason for that and you can ask other organizations like NAACP or AIDs research non-profits why.

What the article doesn’t tell you is that the term “dark money” was coined by a non-profit organization called the Sunshine Foundation. The biggest donor to the Sunshine Foundation is another progressive organization called the Knight Foundation. That organization receives and gives to progressive causes. They also give to journalism work like the Cronkite School at ASU and have members of the Morrison Public Policy Institute at ASU sitting on its advisory board

I imagine if I dug a little deeper I would probably discover that they have also supported work associated with the Arizona Republic. The lesson in all this is that there are two sides. You just have to decide which side you’re on.

Top Journalists who serve on Soros-funded Boards of Directors or Advisers

Speaker Heather Carter???

Heather Carter

Heather Carter

I guess I’m a little behind in the rumor mill but this just crossed my input lines. I’ll toss it out to all my legislator friends to confirm.

The rumor is that State Representative Heather Carter has her sights on the House speakership.

How would she accomplish this one may ask?

The first step is to obviously get re-elected to her seat.  Next, she needs the votes of all her Obamacare Republican seatmates. Chances are, a deal was cut sometime ago to whip those votes into place. Carter would then cut a deal with House Democrats to make sure the Republicans (note: these are the majority Republicans who did not vote for Obamacare expansion) don’t hold a majority when it comes to selecting leadership. That deal with Dems would likely include handing over committee chairmanships to Democrats.

The icing on the cake would be all the Brewer-endorsed Republican challengers who defeat the traditional conservative Republican incumbents in the Primary. If all these planets fall into alignment – and it’s not too unrealistic – Heather Carter would have the votes to become Speaker of the House.

This would be a HORRIBLE turn to the left that would take Arizona deep into the purple zone.

For those of you new to the politics of legislative leadership, this is nothing new. Every election, the backroom game is all about who will help who (sharing donors, etc) during the Primary election so that the helpee owes votes to the helper who wants into leadership. The last example of this occurred in 2012 when Steve Pierce used Republican “leadership” PAC money to attack conservative John Fillmore who was in a primary with liberal Rich Crandall. Pierce’s PAC money was successful and Crandall won – only to see him bail on his senate seat for a School Superintendent position in Wyoming (which he  ended up losing later – karma).

What’s the lesson in all this?

Obviously the first major takeaway is to make sure Heather Carter loses her primary race. I’m working on defeating her and I know others are too. But her defeat will be tough because the Governor, Chamber of Commerce and all the corporate cronyists have poured over $150,000 into her race. (You bet they want her as speaker!) Cut her off in the Primary and she is no longer a threat to taking Arizona public policy left.

The other big picture voters should see is that these primaries have become very personal to the Governor and those who supported her Obamacare expansion. For over a year conservatives have said Republicans and Governor Brewer would make Obamacare the litmus test for the 2014 election (Common Core later entered the debate). Well, its happening now. If the supporters of the Governor and her new recruits (challenging her opponents) win, the State of Arizona will take another horrible turn to the left as the rest of the country apparently turns to the right. So this election is about fulfilling promises to the Governor and protecting her legacy in bringing Obamacare expansion to Arizona.

My appeal to readers is this. Defeat the incumbent Obamacare Republicans and the Obamacare challengers in the Primary Election.

Put an end to the agenda of liberal Republicans who would drive Arizona leadership to the left.

Scott Smith: His multimillion-dollar foreclosures, settled class action lawsuits, unpaid tax liens

What Scott Smith doesn’t want you to find out…

S-Files

2 multimillion-dollar foreclosures, 2 settled class action lawsuits, $78,000 in unpaid tax liens

PHOENIX (August 4) – Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith wants to make business records an issue in the Arizona governor’s race, but refuses to address questions about his business background. Today, The S Files looks into his record as a homebuilder, including two multimillion-dollar foreclosures and two settled class action lawsuits.

“Scott Smith and his campaign keep underscoring that he ‘pays his debts’ and ‘keeps his promises,’ but, with two multimillion-dollar foreclosures, two settled class action lawsuits and $78,000 in outstanding tax liens, his record shows that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Melissa DeLaney, spokesperson for the Ducey campaign. “If his plan to “Build a Better Arizona” is anything like his background as a homebuilder, it’s bound to be equally as defective. Arizona voters deserve better.”

SOLCITO LANE INVESTORS LLC
In January 2010, a $4.2 million note was called by a bank with regards to the development of a property by Solcito Lane Investors LLC. Scott Smith is co-owner of Solcito Lane Investors and he personally guaranteed the loan. The property sold at auction in April 2010 for $3.5 million – resulting in a $700,000 loss to the lender.

GW INVESTORS I, LLC
In May 2009, a $5.54 million note was called by a bank with regards to the development of properties by GW Investors I, LLC. Scott Smith again personally guaranteed the loan. The property sold at auction for $2.5 million, resulting in a $3 million loss to the lender.

2 CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT SETTLEMENTS

Scott Smith’s homebuilding company, Great Western Homes, settled two class action lawsuits with residents of Stonegate Estates, located in Mesa.Both cases were eventually settled but, curiously, no details on the settlements are available.

The plaintiffs claimed that Great Western Homes’ poor building standards led to:

  • Defective architectural building resulting in water intrusion through several sources, including:
    • Defectively constructed stucco exterior
    • Roofs with defective installation
    • Windows with defective installation
    • Defectively planned, designed and constructed grading and drainage systems, and block wall failure

Resulting in:

  • Defective architectural elements resulting in water intrusion and damage
  • Defective grading and draining systems resulting in cracking, deterioration and weakening of building components.

State Rep Paul Boyer Files Complaint with Clean Elections, SOS over Scott Smith Campaign Coordination

Randy ReddState Representative Paul Smith filed the following complaint with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office along with the Citizens Clean Election Commission regarding illegal campaign coordination between the Scott Smith campaign, Better Leaders for Arizona and Randy Redd. In the complaint, Boyer alleges that Smith’s campaign and the independent expenditure committee illegally coordinated an attack against Doug Ducey using ads. The complaint states that Smith’s committee and Better Leaders for Arizona violated Arizona Revised Statute § 16-911.

Here is the complain in entirety:

August 1, 2014

 

Ken Bennett
Arizona Secretary of State
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Citizens Clean Elections Commission
1616 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

I submit the following campaign finance violation complaint against the following individuals and committees:

1.         Scott Smith
            Smith for Governor
            PO Box 5057
Mesa, AZ 85211

2.         Jim Simpson
            Virginia Simpson
            Better Leaders for Arizona
            6022 N. 51st Place
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

3.         Randy Redd
            52 W. Red Fern Rd
San Tan Valley, AZ 85140

In late July, 2014, Better Leaders for Arizona, an independent expenditure committee making expenditures in the Arizona governor’s race, released on its website a video advertisement featuring Randy Redd.  Mr. Redd is a failed Cold Stone Creamery franchisee.  The advertisement included commentary from Mr. Redd complaining about his failed experience as a Cold Stone Creamery franchisee.  Mr. Redd blames his business failure on gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey.

On August 1, 2014, the Smith for Governor Campaign issued a press release featuring Mr. Redd.  The press release tracks the same talking points that Mr. Redd used in his advertisement with Better Leaders.

The definition of independent expenditure is found at ARS § 16-911.  That statute provides that an expenditure is not “independent” if:

1. Any officer, member, employee or agent of the political committee making the expenditure is also an officer, member, employee or agent of the committee of the candidate whose election or whose opponent’s defeat is being advocated by the expenditure or an agent of the candidate whose election or whose opponent’s defeat is being advocated by the expenditure.

2. There is any arrangement, coordination or direction with respect to the expenditure between the candidate or the candidate’s agent and the person making the expenditure, including any officer, director, employee or agent of that person.

Or

4. The expenditure is based on information about the candidate’s plans, projects or needs, or those of the candidate’s campaign committee, provided to the expending person by the candidate or by the candidate’s agents or any officer, member or employee of the candidate’s campaign committee with a view toward having the expenditure made.

The facts illustrate several reasons for your agency to open an investigation to see whether the Better Leaders video and Smith press release are not “independent” of one another.  Both communications featured the same person, Mr. Redd, who complained about his failed Cold Stone franchise.  In both communications, Mr. Redd follows the same basic script.  In both communications, Mr. Redd blames Doug Ducey for his personal business failure.  Both communications were released close together in time.

Applying the facts to the law also justifies an investigation.  By providing services to both committees, Mr. Redd may be acting as a member, employee, or agent of both by supplying them with similar information about his experience.  He may be directing information on what content about his failures that each committee should include in the ad, based on the “plans, projects or needs” of Smith’s campaign.  It is reasonable to believe that the Smith campaign helped direct the Better Leaders expenditure through Mr. Redd and a pass-through, by requesting that they post the video a few weeks prior to Smith issuing his press release.  It is also reasonable to believe that the Smith campaign worked directly with Better Leaders to coordinate this “double punch,” with Better Leaders’ video followed by an aggressive press release and media campaign by Smith.

In conclusion, I ask that your agencies open an investigation into Better Leaders, Smith, and Mr. Redd based on the apparent lack of “independence” between the video and press release.

The contents of this letter are based on my personal knowledge.  I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Sincerely,
Paul Boyer

Cute IE Takes Aim at Bob Worsley

And the cutest independent expenditure mailer goes to…

IEWorsleyCute

the Arizona Free Enterprise Club for this mailer targeting Senator Bob Worsley for his vote supporting Common Core.

The Shocking Link Between Tom Horne and An Alleged Fast & Furious Co-Conspirator

Campaign finance reports occasionally reveal a donation or two that can place a political candidate in the awkward position of having to defend a donor. Oftentimes the candidate is unaware of the controversy until notified by a persistent pesky reporter or the opposing campaigns.

However, it’s also not often that a donor rises to the level of being at the center of what many believe is the biggest scandal of the scandal-plagued Obama administration.

Once such donation is to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who accepted a political contribution of $500 from Patrick Cunningham on February 13, 2014. If Cunningham’s name sounds familiar it’s because he was named as a co-conspirator in the Fast and Furious scandal.

The Chair of the House committee that investigated the Fast and Furious scandal, Congressman Darrell Issa, went as far as to say that “Mr. Cunningham may have engaged in criminal conduct with respect to Fast and Furious…” and that his refusal to testify before congress was a “…major escalation of the department’s culpability.”

Justice Department officials even claimed Cunningham misinformed them about Fast and Furious. The conservative local blog SeeingRed AZ previously covered the scandal here.

The Operation Fast & Furious “gun walking” saga placed hundreds of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The scandal had a distinct Arizona connection. The firearms were sold and bought in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas, and ultimately one the guns was used to murder Arizona Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, the former Chief of Staff to former Governor Janet Napolitanoran the Fast and Furious operation. Burke eventually walked away from charges and resigned from his post despite his fingerprints being all over the scandal. Many considered Burke to be the sacrificial lamb for the Obama Administration.

Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa criticized the U.S. Attorney’s office including Cunningham and Burke for their obstruction in the case:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office advised ATF that agents needed to meet unnecessarily strict evidentiary standards in order to speak with suspects, temporarily detain them, or interdict weapons,” Chairman Issa said. “ATF’s reliance on this advice from the U.S. Attorney’s Office during Fast and Furious resulted in many lost opportunities to interdict weapons.”

Advice and management from people like Dennis Burke and Patrick Cunningham.

Patrick Cunningham worked directly under Burke as the chief of the criminal division. Cunningham was called before Issa’s committee to testify, but ultimately he plead the 5th rather than incriminate himself, Burke, and members of the Obama Administration. Cunningham was allowed to resign his position and eventually he accepted a position working for HighGround Public Affairs in Phoenix. Ironically, HighGround now serves as a campaign consultant to Tom Horne’s re-election bid.

Cunningham provided the inaccurate (or false) information to Senator Grassley and the Justice Department that the ATF (which was overseeing the program with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona) never intentionally allowed the the guns to cross the border or knowingly allowed the sale of weapons to suspicious straw buyers. That was obviously later proven false and the Justice Department later took the unprecedented step of pulling the letter they sent to Congress.

While Tom Horne attacks his Republican opponent, Mark Brnovich, for a $120 donation made to a Democrat back in 2006, Tom Horne is actively soliciting donations from Democrats.

Tom Horne is running on a message of border security and fighting back against Obama this cycle, but how can you truly trust Tom Horne to secure the border and fight the overreach of the federal government when he’s receiving financial support from the very people who were engaged in the Obama Administration’s Fast and Furious cover up?

Editor’s note and correction: This post was in error regarding the political affiliation of Patrick Cunningham. A representative of High Ground clarified Cunningham has been a registered Republican since the early 70’s.