House Ed Chair Paul Boyer, Rep. Drew John Endorse Tracy Livingston for Superintendent

Phoenix, AZ – Two more members of the Arizona House of Representatives, House Education Committee Chairman Paul Boyer (R-LD20) and Representative Drew John (R-LD14) today announced their support for Tracy Livingston as the  next Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“As Chairman of the House Education Committee, I am responsible for advancing policies that will strengthen every classroom in Arizona,” said Rep. Boyer. “As a teacher, I am responsible for the best interests of my classroom full of kids. Because I have to approach education from both perspectives, I am very encouraged by what I’ve seen and heard from Tracy Livingston. I’m supporting Tracy for Superintendent of Public Instruction because we need someone who understands the impact education policies have on kids, on teachers, and our classrooms. Tracy will fight to end Common Core and will champion giving parent’s choices and control over their kids’ education.”

Echoing the sentiments of his colleague, Rep. John had this to say: “Improving Arizona’s schools will require more than just good policies. We are going to need dedicated teachers who love their kids and what they do. And what better place to put just such a teacher than into the office of State Superintendent. That’s why I’m endorsing Tracy Livingston and why I hope you will support her.”

While 13 states currently elect their Superintendent, none of those elected in recent years appear to have spent the majority – or even a significant portion – of their careers in the classroom. Unlike them, Tracy Livingston has spent her entire career teaching kids and understands the needs of students, parents and teachers alike.

“The non-traditional student of 20 years ago is now the norm,” Mrs. Livingston noted, “and teachers are having to adapt, but school policy and administration isn’t keeping up. Teachers are facing a greater burden today than ever before, yet the enormous run-up in educational spending over these last few decades hasn’t reached the classroom. As a classroom teacher, I know we can do better – and I know what we need to do to make it happen. It’s time for a teacher to lead.”

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Mrs. Livingston is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelors in Broadcasting from the Walter Cronkite School, and a Masters of Education. First elected in 2014, Tracy is a member and former President of the Maricopa Community College Governing Board. Before that, she served two years on the Peoria Unified School Board. Tracy has also served as an elected Republican Precinct Committeeman in Legislative District 22 since 2011.

Tracy and her husband, David, have one son, Kyle, who is an EMT in Prescott, Arizona. David Livingston is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives. The family currently lives in Peoria with their two rescue Siberian Huskies, Katie and Spencer.

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Legislation Restoring Integrity to Initiative Process

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Representative Vince Leach (R-11) today applauded the Senate Judiciary Committee for passing legislation (HB 2404) that he’s introduced to restore integrity to Arizona’s initiative process.

HB 2404 would prohibit the payment of petition circulators per signature and modify the number of days from five calendar days to ten business days within which a challenge to the registration of circulators can occur.

“By removing the incentive for fraud, HB 2404 keeps the initiative process intact as a legislative tool for Arizonans yet restores some badly needed integrity to the system,” said Representative Leach.  “I thank my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee for their support and look forward to consideration of the bill by the full Senate.”

Former Governor Janet Napolitano first advocated for the reform in 2009, using her State of the State address to ask the legislature to “crack down on signature fraud” by prohibiting the payment of petition circulators per signature.

Bob Stump: Why is Airbnb funding a group attacking Arizona Republicans?

All you Airbnb fans take heed! The company has decided to inject itself into Arizona politics by funneling dark money against Republicans. In this letter, former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump hits back with an email to Arizona legislators.

Bob StumpDear Honorable Member:

It is rare for me to contact you as a private citizen and former colleague. I believe this issue is important enough to merit it.

An extremist far-left organization, Checks and Balances, is active again in Arizona. Yet again, it is attacking elected Republicans.

I fully expect Republican members of the House and Senate to be next.

Airbnb, which has enjoyed a friendly regulatory environment in Arizona thanks to you, is funding Checks and Balances. According to Penn State’s Daily Collegian, “Airbnb representative Nick Papas said Airbnb supports the work CBP does.”

What exactly is this “work”? Smearing, suing or harassing Arizona Republican officeholders such as Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, members of the Arizona Corporation Commission — including four Commission chairs — and yours truly.

Consider the “work” of the group Airbnb supports financially:

In an act of pure malice, Checks and Balances published my mother’s private mobile number on the Internet.

At a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and staff time, and with the help of Democratic activist Dan Barr, Checks and Balances sued the Arizona Corporation Commission in an attempt to break the chain of custody of my phone and publish private text messages to my family and friends. Despite Checks and Balances’ conspiratorial fantasies, I was vindicated in court: Two judges determined that nothing retrieved from my phone met the definition of a public document.

Undeterred by losing in court every single time, Checks and Balances has taken to the pages of the Arizona Capitol Times to attack Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Tom Forese and Commission legal counsel Tim LaSota, who defended me in court.

Until recently, SolarCity, the nation’s largest solar rooftop leasing company, sponsored Checks and Balances. SolarCity’s aim was to attack and sue sitting regulators nationwide, in an attempt to alter regulatory outcomes and thereby enhance SolarCity’s bottom line.

SolarCity was shamed into withdrawing their support for Checks and Balances.

It is past time for Airbnb to follow SolarCity’s lead and cease funding a mercenary band of character assassins which exists to intimidate citizens at the behest of its corporate sponsors.

Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, ignored my letter to him, written when I was a sitting member of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Perhaps he will be more responsive to you.

I would suggest you contact Mr. Chesky and his lobbying team and ask why Airbnb is funding an unsavory group that sues and smears Arizona Republicans.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. And thank you for your service to our great state.

Sincerely yours,

Bob Stump

Former member and Health Committee Chair, Arizona House of Representatives (2002-2008)
Former Commissioner and Commission Chair, Arizona Corporation Commission (2008-2017)

Democrat Randall Friese ‘Sour’ Over TANF Sponsorship

JD Mesnard

House Speaker JD Mesnard

There’s a short news item on AZCentral by Mary Jo Pitzl this morning reporting a “sour note” in the harmony sought by Arizona House Speaker, JD Mesnard.

Apparently, State Representative Dr. Randy Friese (D-9) wanted to sponsor the bill restoring funding to TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) but was beat to the hopper by Republican State Representative Jeff Weninger.

Friese called the move an example of “hyper partisanship.”

Jeff Weninger

Rep Jeff Weninger

During his State of the State address on Monday, Republican Governor Doug Ducey announced a round of legislative and budget initiatives including the restoration of TANF funding. Weninger, who represents Chandler, is spearheading the bill.

Dr. Friese and his Democrat colleagues made it obvious that they don’t approve of Republicans stealing their brand of helping the most needy because it takes away an issue they’ve used to craft political dependency. It pains them to lose credit on the issue and by alleging the move as an act of “hyper partisanship,” Friese hurts his credibility should he sign on as a co-sponsor the bill.

Randall Friese

Randall Friese

Speaker Mesnard, perhaps presented a more realistic forecast of legislative action acknowledging the challenges of finding room in the budget to fully restore TANF.

Unfortunately for Rep. Friese, Democrats don’t control either chamber so it’s in their best interest to stop acting petty and become team players on issues they support.

Senator Sylvia Allen on National Popular Vote

Senator Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

I am getting a lot of email about the National Popular vote asking me to change the way the electoral college works in our state.  How the Electoral votes are appropriated is only one of two of the powers the state Legislators have been given in the US Constitution.  The other is Article V which allows the states to propose amendments to the Constitution.

The National Popular Vote debate is picking up steam since Trump does not have a majority of the total national vote when adding up all votes cast in each state.  Some of the argument is that voters feel their vote does not count and that if your state is not part of the battleground states you are at a disadvantage.  One email said, “I’m tired of hearing that Ohio and Florida are the only states that matter in presidential elections.  What about Arizona?  Our votes should count too…”

I took a very hard look at this issue last session.  I read the National Popular Vote manual and had many discussions with legislators and my constituents.  Here is how I reasoned it out in my mind from the discussions that were held last year, from what I studied and read, and from my understanding of our government.

This national government was created by the states.  Sovereignty is held by the states.  The way to look at the Electoral College is that it is the States electing the president by the majority vote of the people who live in each state.  As in every election cycle, the President is elected by a majority of each state’s electoral votes, which means the majority vote cast by the people in their respective states elected the President by their electoral votes going for that candidate.  When you think about it, this is the way we preserve Federalism.  Looking at the map in any election you will see that the majority of the states, by the majority vote of their citizens, did elect the President.  Arizona did elect the president by the majority vote of our citizens, which means Arizona does count.

A true popular vote will only mean that highly populated states would prevail and the smaller states would not have a voice in the election which would mean that the citizens in those states would be at a disadvantage.

This nation was founded as a Republic using democratic processes to elect our leaders, but we are not a true Democracy.  We are a nation ruled by law the federal and state constitutions. Educating our citizens on the founding principles is so important, as our Founders said, that without it we will not remain free.

Senator Sylvia Tenney Allen serves as President Pro Tempore in the Arizona State Senate. She is a native Arizonan representing Arizona’s 5th Legislative District.

Death of a Reformer

By Rachel Alexander

Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey fired his top reformer last month, Tim Jeffries, who he’d recruited to head the Department of Economic Security in February of 2015. Jeffries came in and cleaned up the agency, firing corrupt employees and improving morale, but once those terminated workers complained to the left-leaning Arizona Republic, the paper went all out to take him down with baseless smears, and the governor eventually deserted him.

With a background in the private sector, Jeffries went about reforming government at the “speed of business.” When Ducey took office almost two years ago, he instructed state agency directors to reduce their agencies by 2 percent. Jeffries is probably the only agency director who accomplished that goal, terminating 475 employees and eliminating some of those positions. Prior to Jeffries’ arrival, DES had become a bloated agency, the second largest in the state with over 7,000 employees and several hundred temporary workers and high-priced contractors.

Jeffries had the Arizona Attorney General’s Office bring charges against a corrupt state legislator who fraudulently obtained $1,726 in food stamps. Democratic Rep. Ceci Velasquez “falsely claimed she had two dependents, gave a false address and allowed two other people to use her food stamp benefit card.” A grand jury indicted her on three felonies for welfare fraud. The investigation had started under Jeffries’ predecessor, but went nowhere since he was afraid to touch it. Why are elected officials above the law? No Arizona public official had ever been investigated and prosecuted for food stamp fraud prior to Jeffries’ directorship. The AG’s office eventually caved, letting her plea to a mere misdemeanor charge and probation. Velasquez plans to run again for the Arizona House in 2018 after her lone misdemeanor clears.

Velasquez’s friend, Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada, launched a Twitter firestorm bashing Jeffries and defending Velasquez, predicting Jeffries’ demise. Jeffries set up a meeting with Quezada about the situation, but for well over an hour, all Quezada could do was act as an apologist for Velasquez. He talked about her lower income level and the poverty of her constituents, and claimed she was being targeted. Jeffries responded, “The only people that DES targets for investigation are those who steal from the poor. I’m not a policymaker, I’m a policy implementer. So if you and your elected colleagues want to pass a law that allows members of the House and Senate to have food stamps they’re not entitled to, then you pass a law to do so. Until then, DES will investigate anyone and everyone who rips off the poor.”

Once the media decides it doesn’t like you, it throws a bunch of accusations together with the words “controversial” and “scandal.” Craig Harris, a reporter with the Republic, is known for putting together sloppy paragraphs with a flashy headline, repeating the same baseless claims over and over throughout multiple articles. Additionally, the Republic suffers from a failure to separate between news and opinion articles. Republic opinion writer Laurie Roberts, also known for her hit pieces on conservatives, tag teamed with Harris against Jeffries. She became increasingly hyperbolic with her histrionics, titling one column “Booze Before Blood.” It was a cruel jab at Jeffries, because she knew fully well that one of the men who killed his brother drank alcohol before killing him.  

The paper piled on Jeffries and his revamped management team for firing 475 employees, accusing him of terminating employees who didn’t deserve to be fired. Yet none of this reporting addressed the specific reasons the former employees were terminated, including the fact most of the employees were at-will employees and only one of them had sued the agency over it. The Republic and other newspapers could not stand Jeffries blunt-spoken style; Jeffries did not hesitate to call some of the fired employees “bullies, liars, racists, sexual harassers, and multi-year bad actors.” Instead, the biased articles discussed how many of the employees were women, seniors, and minorities even though the percentages released were in line with DES employee statistics.

The reality is there was a lot of unseemly, unethical and criminal activity taking place. After Jeffries was terminated, an employee emailed him, “I want to thank you for your selfless service to all employees, clients and taxpayers during your time at DES. It was obvious to most employees how you gave back and touched many people with the true intent of helping the poor and those who serve them. I’ve worked at DES since 2008 and believe me the agency as well as anyone who has ever paid taxes owes you a debt of gratitude. Most of those a**holes that got fired were stealing from the poor or manipulating those who bust their a** to serve them.”

The Republic is now sympathetically covering the attempts of the terminated employees to regain their jobs.

Ironically, Jeffries was fired in part for merely carrying out the governor’s orders — something probably all the other agency directors failed to do. They were instructed in the governor’s “8 Expected Traits of an Agency Director” to “Be wedded to a ‘promote the best; weed out the worst’ philosophy.” They were told, “The Bell Curve is a near-universal phenomenon. Figure out a way to eliminate the worst 10% of any category. … If there are employees who are clearly under-performing and ill-serving the taxpayers, then take steps to replace them with someone who will do better.”

Jeffries slashed the case backlog by approximately 60 percent at Adult Protective Services. He increased the percentage of employees who said they were satisfied with their jobs from 62 percent to 78 percent. Positive colleague engagement increased 300 percent. In other words, employee morale tripled. He created a fun, caring work atmosphere. He put together inspiring, lighthearted videos featuring the employees and outlining their accomplishments, often making fun of himself to give his “cherished colleagues” a laugh or two. One observer told him, “My guess is that for the vast majority of your employees, for one bright shining moment, they were somebody doing incredibly important work for an agency that they could be proud of.”

A DES employee told him it’s a shame the public doesn’t know that “you created merit payments, you brought back tuition, you raised wages on the front line and regularly visited staff around the state to address issues for clients and employees alike.” Jeffries describes himself as an “anti-bureaucrat,” telling National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, “I shepherd this agency like a multimillion-dollar nonprofit.”

The Republic extensively covered a series of allegations against Jeffries, but virtually all of them are false. He was accused of compiling a “do-not-hire” list of fired DES employees — but it was really another agency which created the list, the Department of Administration.

He was wrongly attacked for his Catholic faith, which I addressed in a previous article. Government employees do not check their First Amendment rights at the workplace door; when I worked for Arizona State Government, our Bible Study group legally used the email system to schedule our meetings. Jeffries is told he’s bold about his faith, but he says, “I’m just pursuing my faith and honoring my First Amendment rights.”

Leah Landrum-Taylor, a former Democratic state legislator who worked for Jeffries and reportedly wanted his job, told the Republic that Jeffries bought alcohol for employees during work hours in Nogales, but it was a lie; Jeffries has a time-stamped photo of him with Landrum-Taylor in the Nogales DES office after the time she stated the party started. The restaurant visit took place for colleagues after their respective work hours. Every DES client was kindly served that day in Nogales and throughout Arizona. The paper also smeared him for using the “governor’s plane” for the trip, however the three state planes are owned by the Department of Public Safety, and the interagency agreement for DES to use air assets was in place prior to Jeffries’ arrival. Furthermore, other Arizona agency directors use the planes too.

The Republic and other media sources have repeatedly featured DES employee Andy Hall, who Jeffries had terminated shortly after Hall criticized the DES press secretary for emailing employees about his latest disagreement with Jeffries. The Republic didn’t bother to report that “Hall is a know it all, never afraid to challenge, grate and insult people,” a source told me. Hall “sent two insulting emails to the DES press secretary” and ranted online frequently about DES and Jeffries. Regardless, as an at-will employee, no reason was required to fire him.

Prior to Jeffries’ arrival, over 30 DES service centers had armed security guards to protect employees and clients. After the terrorist attack in San Bernardino took place at a social services center for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, Jeffries directed his inspector general to transition the contract guard security force to a newly formed DES Protective Services. This group would continue the paramount mission to protect DES employees and clients. This group would also be better trained and more cost effective, thereby positioning DES to expand the number of service centers with armed protection. The Republic slammed him for implementing this common-sense measure, even though DPS guidelines were followed throughout and the effort to protect DES employees and clients was highly transparent.

This is a classic example of how the left is able to take down the brightest, innovative conservatives; through smears, insinuations and outright lies. Since Jeffries’ departure, many of the significant projects have been halted. It is the poor, disabled and downtrodden who will suffer as government returns to moving at the speed of a glacier, fired “bullies and bad actors” return, and agency morale plummets. The bright shining moment for thousands of DES employees is dimming.

For more information, see Arizona’s Poor Lost When Jeffries Was Axed

Jonathan Lines Announces Support for AG Brnovich Office to Protect 2nd Amendment

 

Candidate for AZGOP Chairman Supports Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s Repeal of Tucson Gun Ordinance

Jonathan Lines

Jonathan Lines

PHOENIX​ — Today, Jonathan Lines, a candidate for the Chairmanship of the Arizona Republican Party announced his support for Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich and the Attorney General’s Office. This week, Attorney General Brnovich filed a petition to repeal Tucson’s unlawful gun ordinance. State law prohibits the government from destroying firearms, which the City of Tucson instructed its police officers to do upon seizing firearms.

According to SB 1487, if an Attorney General finds a local government violating the constitution or state law, the Attorney General is then required to file a Petition for Special Action. Representative Mark Finchem submitted the request to have an investigation into the City of Tucson’s gun ordinance.

“I wholeheartedly support Attorney General Brnovich’s petition that asks the Arizona Supreme Court to rule on Tucson’s illegal gun ordinance,” said Lines. “As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I find the City of Tucson’s actions reprehensible and view it as an attack on our constitutionally protected freedom. However, this is a broader issue than an attack on the Second Amendment: this is an encroachment on our personal freedoms by the government. A bloated government — especially one that oversteps its boundaries — is dangerous to any democracy.

“I am thankful that we have strong, principled conservative leaders in our state, like Mark Brnovich, who will stand up to unlawful abuses of power and personal or political agendas.”

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The election of a new AZGOP Chairman will take place on January 28th at the Statutory Meeting and will be voted on by newly elected State Committeeman from every district or county committee.

For more information about Jonathan Lines, go to www.linesforazgop.com.

AZ Treasurer Jeff DeWit: Endowment Investments Outperformed Most US Endowment & Pensions

AZ Treasurer
PHOENIX
– As 2016 comes to a close, the Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund has beat industry benchmarks by a wider margin than in previous years.

Jeff DeWit“This is recognition of the hard work and incredible staff at the State Treasurer’s office,” Treasurer DeWit said.

The fund beat many of the large public investment funds in the United States including CalPERS, CalSTERS, Dartmouth, MIT, Stanford and Harvard.

“Our conservative, America first portfolio of 1,500 stocks and 405 bonds show that keeping our own staff and not outsourcing the management of Arizona’s money to Wall Street not only saves the state tens of millions in fees but also has produced better results,” DeWit said.

The $5.3 billion Endowment returned 3.32% in the last fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. This compares to the median one-year return of negative -0.74% for all endowments, according to results published by Wilshire Associates and reported by Bloomberg, LLC.  By these metrics, in the first full fiscal year under Treasurer DeWit Arizona’s endowment outperformed Wall Street’s average by over 4%.  This outperformance has continued through the end of November, to soon be reported at the upcoming December Arizona Board of Investment meeting.

Further, the Endowment has outperformed all of Arizona’s public pension funds during the same time period.

“This past year has been exceptional for the State’s Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund, the returns will benefit K-12 education for many years to come. Being a father of three school aged daughters and husband to a wife who was a public school teacher, it makes me very happy to know that the hard work being done in our office will benefit not only current school children and taxpayers, but all future generations of school children and taxpayers.” DeWit said.

Deputy Treasurer Mark Swenson added “Also, this shows the foresight of voters to have selected someone with an extensive background in investments.  Treasurer DeWit brings a wealth of financial knowledge to the office which has been instrumental in the outperformance of our returns.”

As a statewide constitutional officer, Treasurer DeWit serves as the state’s Banker and Investment Official for the State of Arizona, charged with the prudent custody and management of taxpayer monies and oversight of more than $13.8 billion in assets under management.

Arizona AFP: LAST CALL: RSVP for Friday’s Celebration!

We are excited to celebrate YOU this Friday.

Arizona AFP

This is the last call to attend our Liberty Celebration, this Friday, December 9, to celebrate your legislative and policy victories for 2016. We would love for you to join us.

RSVP as soon as possible for our Liberty Celebration as seats are limited!

Where:  Christ Church Lutheran, Arizona Room
3901 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

When: 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Why: Americans for Prosperity Arizona will be honoring our top activists-America’s freedom fighters and our friends! We will also honor legislators and local government officials with the designation of Friend of the Taxpayer of higher on our annual scorecards (Legislative Scorecard and Local Government Scorecard).

Dinner and drinks will be provided.

AFP across the United States contacted 30 million Americans at the phone and the door – that’s 10% of the entire country! All told, AFP advocated against Senate candidates in eight states. All but one of those candidates were defeated. That’s something to celebrate! We will giving each of our top winners a prized jackalope.*

Please RSVP and come celebrate YOUR efforts for promoting liberty and prosperity for all Arizonans!

For Liberty & Prosperity,

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity Arizona

*Think that jackalopes do not exist? Well, that’s how a lot of taxpayers feel when we tell them that there are pro-taxpayer elected officials and local activists. But they really do exist! And we plan to honor them on Friday, December 9th. Please join us!

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan: Arizona General Election Results Now Official

azsos-reagan

Secretary of State, AG and Chief Justice certify results

Phoenix, AZ – Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan today issued the official canvass of results for the 2016 General Election.  The Secretary was joined by Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Chief Justice Scott Bales for the formal certification.

Secretary Reagan reported 2.6 million Arizonans voted in the general election, making it the highest number of ballots cast in state history.  While there were a historic number of votes, turnout was about average at 74% ranking 6th highest in Arizona history.

1. 1980 – 80.1% Reagan – Carter
2. 2008 – 77.7% Obama – McCain
3. 1992 – 77.2% Clinton – Bush
4. 2004 – 77.1% Bush – Kerry
5. 2012 – 74.4% Obama – Romney
6. 2016 – 74.2% Trump – Clinton

Demographically, women made up 55% of Arizona’s electorate while 18-24 year olds made up 6%.  The average age of the Arizona voter is 55.

Early balloting continues to grow and the rising number of provisional ballots has finally been stopped.  The general election saw 73% of the electorate vote by early ballot, up from 54% in 2012.  While the number of early voters continues to increase, the issuance of provisional ballots declined by 80,000 since the 2012 general election.

“The reduction of provisional ballots is extremely good news, as it shows us our voter education efforts are working,” said Secretary Reagan.  “In the last three presidential elections, the issuance of provisional ballots had increased every year.  This particular election seems to indicate a new positive trend and I hope it continues.

“Running four statewide elections this year was extremely challenging for election administrators around the state.  Some things went well, and we uncovered a number of things we’d like to improve.  Finally, I’d like to thank our counties for their diligence to process and tabulate ballots as efficiently as they do.  While we will continue to explore options to get to results faster, we will always prioritize accuracy over expediency.”

Read press release online.

You can also view the official election canvass here.