Media ‘Punked’ By Democratic Dirty Trick Targeting Conservative Schools Reformer They Don’t Want To Face

Doctored Video Of Schools Chief Candidate, State Senator Was Shown On National Television And Hyped In Local Press; Student Journalist Is Speaking Out


PHOENIX, AZ. JUNE 16, 2010. A video of State Senator John Huppenthal’s interview with a student journalist was shown on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show yesterday.  The New Times reported Huppenthal was “humiliated” by the interview, “had to walk away,” and voted to “gut funding to the state’s Career and Technical Education programs…after Huppenthal bemoans such cuts.”


Now, it turns out the whole story was a sham. Democrats, indeed a former liberal opponent of Huppenthal’s, doctored the video to paint a false picture of what happened.  Huppenthal didn’t abandon the interview.  And… the budget cuts the student journalist asked Huppenthal about, and that some media reported as fact… those cuts never happened!


This dirty trick of doctored video tape is just the latest in Democratic tactics aimed at Huppenthal. The Arizona Democratic Party filed a lawsuit last week that seeks to have Huppenthal’s name removed from the Republican Primary Election ballot. The conservative reformer is seen by many as the leading candidate to be the next State Superintendent of Public Instruction.


“John Hupenthal is an accomplished conservative reformer and the Democrats are resorting to these kind of tactics because they know from previous experience that they can’t beat him in a fair General Election contest,” said Huppenthal spokesperson Jason Rose.


A story in yesterday’s Yellow Sheet Report, which is published by The Arizona Capitol Times newspaper sets the record straight regarding the doctored interview tape:

Arizona Capitol Times

High School Journalist ‘Upset’ At How Video Being Used

The student journalist who interviewed State Senator John Huppenthal about vocational education funding in a video that is now making the rounds told our reporter this morning the edited version that was posted by Democratic Diva blogger Donna Gratehouse does not accurately portray what happened in his meeting with the senator. Huppenthal did leave, Keith Wagner said, but he didn’t disappear and abandon the interview, as the video posted on Gratehouse’s blog purports. (Huppenthal defeated the Dem blogger in the 2006 election for LD20 Senate.)

Wagner said the senator returned with more information on education funding. “He did come back and he was very polite,” he said. Wagner also said he was irked that some are using the video, which was a class project, to score political points. “I am a little upset that the focus of that has been changed to ‘high-schooler interviewing a state senator and kind of catching him off guard,’” Wagner said.

As for the legislation Wagner asked Huppenthal about – he described it in the story only as a bill that cut $550 million from K-12 and decreased the career and technical education funds from $11 million to about $57,000 – the student said he was referring to H2028 (Laws 2009, Chapter 5), which lawmakers approved May 13 last year.

However, the student seems to have misunderstood what the bill did, as it didn’t cut $550 million from K-12 and didn’t wipe out funding for vocational programs. The bill, which was part of a two-bill package that closed a $650 million deficit in FY09, did three things: roll over $100 million in university funding; roll over $300 million in K-12 funding; and cut $250 million from K-12, but backfill the cuts with an equal amount of federal stimulus money. Additionally, budget documents from JLBC show the career and technical education funding levels are unchanged from FY09 at about $11.5 million.


[End of Yellow Sheet Report excerpt]



About John Huppenthal


John Huppenthal is one of Arizona’s leading authorities on education issues. In addition to being the current Senate Education Chairman, Huppenthal has served for 17 consecutive years on the State House and State Senate education committees.


Huppenthal’s reputation for making policy based on the best research available is well established. A September 2008 editorial in The Arizona Republic stated:


…Huppenthal is a veteran of the Legislature, having chaired five committees and being as knowledgeable about the bill-making process as any of his colleagues. He’s a pragmatic conservative who bases his positions on exhaustive research and works across party lines to get worthwhile bills passed. Huppenthal insists that legislation be based on best practices from around the country, and he’s prone to arcane dissertations based on stacks of studies he has compiled as he delves into state and district problems. It’s not sexy stuff but it’s necessary to guide a legislative process too often led astray by raw politics and emotion.”


Senator Huppenthal played a key role in helping create school choice for parents. In 1995, as Senate Education Chairman, his legislation took the caps off charter schools. This legislation moved Arizona to first in the nation in school choice (ALEC rankings). In addition, Congressman Trent Franks named Senator Huppenthal one of three legislators most responsible for creating and expanding tuition tax credits in Arizona.


During Huppenthal’s legislative career he successfully developed and passed over 200 bills – the most of any legislator in Arizona history. A substantial number of those bills were education related. Huppenthal’s efforts resulted in the creation of the Career Ladder program for teachers, improved measures of academic progress, and higher graduation standards. Huppenthal also worked closely with the disabled community to improve opportunities for children with special challenges, including creating a model summer school for children with autism, increasing resources for the blind and deaf, expanding textbook formats to accommodate children with disabilities and reducing mandates on teachers.


Huppenthal has been a leader in adopting performance pay in education. After reviewing over 700 studies and creating new concepts in performance pay, Arizona’s career ladder program has become the only performance pay system in the country resulting in statistically verifiable academic gains. His legislation resulted in enabling Arizona to be the only state nationally where every teacher has a significant portion of pay dependent upon performance measures (Prop 301 classroom site fund).


In 2010, Senator Huppenthal sponsored and helped pass major education reform legislation. Known as the “Truth in Advertising” bill, SB 1286 improves accountability by requiring the Arizona Department of Education to rate the performance of schools with easily understood letter grades (A, B, C, D or F). The grades will be based upon overall performance and academic gains over time. The “Truth in Advertising” law is modeled after similar reforms in Florida which significantly improved academic achievement.



Paid for by John Huppenthal 2010



  1. Colin Powell says

    This is pure B.S. Huppy is a career politician seeking a new job.

  2. So, on SA earlier post three days ago from the Yellow Sheet here on June 15th we have “Democratic Diva” Donna Gratehouse apologizing.
    Or was that not the real Gratehouse, and has Rachel Maddow issued a retraction and correction?

  3. donna retracts on her blog.

    “madcow” however, has not.

  4. Seems that Democratic Diva has a journalistic obligation to make sure Maddow gets her facts straight before she shoots off her mouth on national TV.
    Credibility, credibility.

  5. The bottom line remains!

    What passes for public education here in Arizona, and the nation itself has to be rebuilt from the ground up!

    Huppenthal is aware of this and hence he’s a public enemy to the A.E.A. types who determine public school ideology!

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