AG Mark Brnovich Files Petition to Remove Commissioner Bitter Smith From Office

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Phoenix, AZ – Attorney General Mark Brnovich today filed a Petition for Special Action to remove Arizona Corporation Commissioner (“Commissioner”) Susan Bitter Smith from office. The Petition filed this morning in the Arizona Supreme Court is the result of an ongoing investigation regarding an alleged violation of a conflict of interest statute. The Attorney General’s Office alleges Bitter Smith is ineligible to hold office because of her conflict of interest as a registered lobbyist and executive for a trade association of cable companies regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission (“Commission”).

“Arizonans deserve fair and impartial regulators,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “We filed this case today to protect the integrity of the Commission and to restore the faith of Arizona voters in the electoral process. Arizona law clearly prohibits a Commissioner from receiving substantial compensation from companies regulated by the Commission.”

On September 2, 2015, the Attorney General’s Office (“AGO”) launched an investigation into Bitter Smith after receiving a formal complaint against her. The AGO investigation found Bitter Smith receives over $150,000 per year for her trade association work, on top of her $79,500 salary as a Commissioner.  Arizona State Statute 40-101 prohibits Commissioners from being employed by or holding an official relationship to companies regulated by the Commission. The law also prohibits Commissioners from having a financial interest in regulated companies. Section 40-101 promotes ethics in government and prevents conflicts of interest.

Bitter Smith is the executive director and designated lobbyist for the Southwest Cable Communications Association, a trade association for cable companies in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. She is also registered as a lobbyist for two affiliates of Cox Communications. The other members of the trade association regulated by the Commission are affiliates of Comcast, Suddenlink, and Time Warner.  Bitter Smith’s salary constitutes 40-percent of SWCCA’s budget. She works as a “CEO” over all of SWCCA’s operational aspects and as its designated and only lobbyist.

The Commission regulates many public utilities in Arizona, including local telephone providers. Because cable companies or their affiliates offer telephone service, often as part of a “bundle” with television and Internet, they are regulated by the Commission. Commissioners are representatives of the people, elected to office with specific constitutional and statutory duties. They must be free of conflicts both at the point of election and during tenure in office. Bitter Smith’s conflicts existed at the time of her election in 2012 and continue to exist today, therefore, she cannot remedy them and must be removed from office.

For a copy of the Petition for Special Action, CLICK HERE.

For a look at the exhibits attached to the Petition, CLICK HERE.

Democratic Party complaint against Mark Brnovich completely DISMISSED

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Elections Complaint Filed Against Mark Brnovich Completely Dismissed

Today, the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State completely dismissed the frivolous elections complaint filed by the Arizona Democratic Party against Mark Brnovich, Republican candidate for Attorney General.

The office found that there was insufficient evidence in the Democratic Party’s politically motivated claim, and that Mark Brnovich did not qualify as a lobbyist.

A copy of the Secretary of State’s response and Mark Brnovich’s original response can be viewed here.

New Election Complaint Filed Against Tom Horne in Arizona Attorney General Race

One would think that the highest law enforcement official in the State of Arizona would be well versed in the law. And given the number of complaints related to elections and campaigning against Tom Horne, one would think he would be paranoid about breaking the law – again.

Last Friday, former State Treasurer Dean Martin filed an election complaint against Attorney General Tom Horne over clear violations of the law regarding Horne’s campaign website and the use of taxpayer resources and the State Seal.

The complaint was filed with both the Secretary of State and Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

It is now one day before the Primary Election and the AG’s race is very close.

Given yet another apparent violation of the law by Tom Horne, I ask the readers of this blog to get out the vote for Mark Brnovich tomorrow.

A little historical perspective. In 1998, Tom McGovern and John Kaites battled it out in the Primary Election for the nomination for Arizona Attorney General. McGovern won but it cost him all his resources heading into the General Election. Who was his General Election opponent? Some little known US District Court Judge named Janet Napolitano. She didn’t have to spend any money going into her Primary Election and she beat Tom McGovern in the General Election by 50.4% to 47.5%. The rest is history because as we all know, she became Arizona’s Governor and ultimately, Obama’s DHS Cabinet Secretary.

Don’t let that happen again. Don’t be that voter. Don’t waste your vote on Tom Horne.

The election for Arizona Attorney General is critical.

Vote for Mark Brnovich tomorrow.

Here’s the official complaint:
TomHorneComplaint1TomHorneComplaint2TomHorneComplaint3
Here’s a link to the PDF file.

 

 

Poll: Who Will You Vote For As Arizona Attorney General?

Attorney General Scott Pruitt In Town to Support Mark Brnovich

Attorney General Scott Pruitt Coming to Town to Support Republican Candidate Mark Brnovich

What: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a leading national conservative voice and the current chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, is coming to town to support the campaign of Mark Brnovich, Republican candidate for Attorney General. Other leading conservative elected officials will join Pruitt and Brnovich at the conference, including Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

When: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 11:30 am
Where: Arizona House of Representatives, House Lawn (1700 West Washington, Phoenix)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt currently serves as the chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). In 2012, Pruitt became the first Attorney General to sue the DHS on the same grounds as the plaintiffs in the recently decided Halbig case. The National Review Online referred to the Halbig case as “Obamacare’s Biggest Legal Threat.” Pruitt will join Mark Brnovich and other leading conservative Arizona elected officials on the House lawn to discuss why he is supporting Mark Brnovich for Attorney General over Mark’s primary opponent, Tom Horne.

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.

Mayor Jack Hakim and Mayor Harvey Skoog Endorse Mark Brnovich

 

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Mayor Jack Hakim and Mayor Harvey Skoog Endorse Mark Brnovich

 

Today, Bullhead City Mayor Jack Hakim and Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog endorsed Mark Brnovich for Attorney General.

Mayor Jack Hakim remarked:

“Having a sit down with Mark Brnovich and posing a number of questions to him, I found candidate Mark Brnovich to cut through the chase and respond without hesitation. I believe that Mark has the values, credentials and experience needed as Arizona’s next Attorney General.”

Mayor Harvey Skoog commented:

“After much consideration concerning the office of the Arizona Attorney General, I have decided to give my full support to candidate Mark Brnovich. This is a time of growth, fiscal challenges, and diverse political issues. He offers the knowledge, work ethic, and dedication that brings him to the forefront of handling and overseeing the State of Arizona’s legal concerns.”

“The next Attorney General must represent all of Arizona. From Bullhead City to Sierra Vista, and Yuma to Prescott Valley,” said Brnovich. “I pledge to all of our Arizona communities that when I am Attorney General I will personally engage with them to address the issues they face.” Brnovich added, “The Attorney General should fight for all of Arizona, not just Maricopa County.” 

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To learn more about Mark’s campaign, please visit www.Mark4AZ.com

Former Legislator Amanda Reeve Endorses Mark Brnovich for Attorney General

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Former Legislator Amanda Reeve Endorses Mark Brnovich for Attorney General

Today, Republican candidate for attorney general Mark Brnovich received the endorsement of former State Representative Amanda Reeve. Reeve remarked:

“Integrity in character, intelligence in reasoning, passion in morality, fairness in representation, and value in actions…these are the characteristics of a great Attorney General.  As its chief legal officer, Arizona needs these qualities in its Attorney General to fight for the rights of its citizens, protect the state and businesses from overzealous federal agencies; and provide guidance to the legislature and state agencies in the drafting and implementation of constitutional laws and sound rules. Mark Brnovich is this Attorney General and it is my great honor to endorse his candidacy.”

During her tenure in the Arizona House of Representatives, Reeve served as Chair of the House Environment Committee, and as member of the Energy & Natural Resources, Higher Education & Innovative Reform, Military Affairs & Public Safety, and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees. She is well-versed in Environmental and Natural Resources litigation and regulatory matters, as well as a vast array of other complex litigation and policy issues.

Mark remarked, “I am grateful for Amanda’s support. She is a well-respected policymaker – from her time spent as a State Representative to her current position where she researches, drafts, and advocates for issues important in the lives of Arizonans, including the environmental issues we face. I am encouraged by the diverse group of individuals supporting my campaign.”

Former Representative Amanda Reeve joins a quickly growing list of support, including that of former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, U.S. Representative Trent Franks, former State Senators Linda Gray, Barbara Leff, Dean Martin, and Kathleen Dunbar, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Representatives Debbie Lesko, Paul Boyer, T.J. Shope, Brenda Barton, John Allen, Nancy Barto, Karen Fann and Warren Petersen, Mayor Tom Shope, Len Munsil, former Congressman David McIntosh, and more than 120 grassroots leaders throughout Arizona in endorsing Mark Brnovich for Arizona Attorney General.

For more information, please visit www.Mark4AZ.com

 

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Representative Warren Petersen Endorses Mark Brnovich for Attorney General

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Representative Warren Petersen Endorses Mark Brnovich for Attorney General

Today, Mark Brnovich, candidate for Republican attorney general, announced that he has received the endorsement of State Representative Warren Petersen. Petersen represents Arizona House District 12 in the East Valley.

“We need a constitutional conservative who understands the importance of states rights in the Attorney General’s office,” said Representative Petersen. “Mark Brnovich is the candidate to answer this call and has the experience to take on the tough issues. Local leaders need a voice who will stand up for them and Mark is the candidate to do just that. I’m proud to support Mark Brnovich for Attorney General.”

Representative Petersen joins other Republican legislators including Senator Nancy Barto, Representative Paul Boyer, Representative Debbie Lesko, Representative T.J. Shope, Representative John Allen, Representative Brenda Barton, and Representative Karen Fann in endorsing Mark Brnovich. Former legislators Dean Martin, Linda Gray, Kathleen Dunbar, Amanda Reeve and Barbara Leff have also endorsed Mark over his Republican primary opponent.

Mark Brnovich remarked:

“I want to thank Representative Petersen for endorsing me in the Republican primary. He and other legislators have demonstrated a great deal of courage by endorsing a challenger who is taking on an incumbent. My pledge to Warren and to the rest of the legislature – from both sides of the aisle – is to not embarrass them or selfishly pursue my own political self-interests.”

 

ABOUT MARK BRNOVICH

Raised in Arizona, Mark Brnovich is a graduate of Arizona State University. After law school, Mark prosecuted felonies in the Gang/Repeat Offender Bureau of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and worked as an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona and as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. Mark also served his country as the Command Staff Judge Advocate for the 153rd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arizona Army National Guard for eight years. Mark met his wife Susan while both were working as prosecutors. They live in Phoenix with their two daughters.

For more information, please visit www.Mark4AZ.com


Arizona Legislators Ask Tom Horne to Bow Out of Attorney General Race

Thursday, nine Arizona legislators sent a letter to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to exit the Republican Primary and race for AG. Spearheaded by State Representative Paul Boyer, the letter expressed grave concern over Horne’s ability to lead and serve the public has been severely compromised by a number of legal, ethical and personal problems.

Eight of Boyer’s legislative peers also signed the letter affirming that “integrity matters in our elected officials and our elections.”

Boyer, who also authored the letter wrote:

Dear General Horne:

We write to express our grave concerns over the recent allegations leveled at you, your official staff, and your campaign.

We acknowledge the investigations into wrongdoing are not complete, but that in no way lessens the dark cloud of impropriety that hangs over you and your administration.

We trust that the authorities conducting these investigations will enforce the law to the best of their abilities. We also acknowledge this process will take time and that you have a right to your day in court. Your ability to lead and serve the public, however, has already been severely compromised.

We, the undersigned, have a responsibility to act in the best interest of our state and our party. We are convinced that if you continue in your campaign for re-election, both of these interests will be damaged.

For this reason, we take the difficult step of formally requesting that you withdraw from the race for Attorney General.

Integrity matters in our elected officials and our elections. We expect more from our Attorney General, the individual who is tasked with directing the Department of Law. Arizonans have a right to expect more out of the highest-ranking legal officer of the state.

Please do what is right for Arizona and for the Republican Party.

Sincerely,

Paul Boyer
Rick Gray
Warren Petersen
Nancy Barto
JD Mesnard
Karen Fann
Steve Yarbrough
TJ Shope
Kelli Ward

 

Here is a copy of the letter:

HorneLetter

 

Tom Horne Letter

The letter follows other high profile requests by members of the congressional delegation asking Horne to withdraw from the race. Last week, Congressman Matt Salmon called Horne and personally asked him to exit. The following day Senator Jeff Flake stated publicly that Horne should exit. Senator John McCain also stopped short from saying Horne should get out but did note that the AG should recognize his political situation and.

Over a week ago, this blog asked the Attorney General to drop out of the race.