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?

Senate President Andy Biggs Announces Bid for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District

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Senate President Andy Biggs Announces Bid for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District

Seeks to replace Rep. Matt Salmon, who will serve as campaign chairman

PHOENIX (February 25) – Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs today announced he will run for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District. Biggs, a 25-year Gilbert resident, made the announcement following U.S. Representative Matt Salmon’s announcement earlier today that he is retiring from the office.

“I never envisioned running for Congress, but Matt’s decision to return home leaves a void that must be filled by the kind of strong, conservative voice that the people of Arizona’s 5th District have come to expect and that they deserve,” President Biggs said. “As a state legislator, and as Senate President, I have consistently demonstrated my ability to be a conservative leader who can build the necessary coalitions to pass meaningful reforms. I am ready to take my proven 14-year record to Washington and be that strong conservative voice for the East Valley.”

“My decision to leave Congress and return home was one of the hardest of my career. But I couldn’t be more pleased that Andy has decided to run for my seat and continue the fight to return our nation to the values that made it great,” Rep. Salmon said. “Andy’s record as a public servant is impeccably conservative. As a state legislator, he’s proven himself to be a tireless advocate for lower taxes and less regulation. As Senate President, he has proven his commitment to advancing legislation that will make government smaller, more efficient and more accountable to the people.”

President Biggs campaign for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District will focus on the following principles:

  • Fighting day and night to restore limited government, fiscal responsibility and pro-growth economic policies to the nation’s capitol;
  • Protecting the nation’s porous borders and working to solve the illegal immigration crisis;
  • Pledging to be a passionate advocate for the heroes who made enormous sacrifices while serving our nation proudly, as well as the men and women who wear a uniform today and defend our homeland.

“I am excited and grateful to kick-off my campaign with Matt as my Chairman. As a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, he is a true champion for the conservative movement and has served his constituents with the highest esteem,” Biggs continued. “His leadership will be sorely missed, and I am honored to have his full support for my campaign.

“I look forward to meeting the voters of Arizona’s 5th Congressional district in the coming months, and continuing in Matt’s footsteps of fighting for conservative principles in Washington.”

“I’ve known Andy and his family for more than two decades, and his character is one of integrity and devotion,” Congressman Salmon concluded. “I am thrilled to chair his campaign and I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure he is successful in representing the wonderful people of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.”

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About Andy Biggs
Senator Andy Biggs is an Arizona native and has lived in Gilbert with his family for the past 25 years. He is married to Cindy and they have six children. He is a retired attorney and is licensed to practice in Arizona, Washington, and New Mexico. The Senator has a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies from BYU and a J.D. degree from the University of Arizona. He earned a M.A. in Political Science from ASU and has done additional graduate work there. Senator Biggs served Legislative District 22 in the State House of Representatives for eight years before being elected to the State Senate in November of 2010. Andy has earned the designation “Champion of the Taxpayer” from Americans for Prosperity for his cumulative service in the state legislature and has been honored numerous times by the Goldwater Institute as a “Friend of Liberty.”

 

View the original press release here.

WORLD’S GREATEST CAMPAIGN VIDEO

Jeff DeWit

“Go and Vote” Jeff DeWit for Arizona State Treasurer

GoAndVote

ARIZONA STATE TREASURER CANDIDATE JEFF DEWIT RESPONSE
TO AZGOP CHAIRMAN ROBERT GRAHAM ASKING CAMPAIGNS FOR POSITIVE MESSAGING

 

August 20, 2014 – Phoenix – Recently AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham issued a statement asking candidates for positive messaging that builds the Republican Party.

In response, Jeff DeWit, CEO/Investment Professional and Arizona State Treasurer candidate, has introduced his family friendly, upbeat, positive campaign video titled “Go and Vote” which can be found on Jeff DeWit’s YouTube Channel here – http://youtu.be/ToUE8zT8Tno – or through the News section on JeffDeWit.com.

“Too many negative messages are flooding the airwaves,” said DeWit.  “I hope this sets an example of a different way to encourage Arizonans to vote.  Our goal is that this will bring smiles and goodwill to Arizona voters, while showing that there is a better way to get our message out.”

Jeff’s wife, Marina stated, “Anyone who knows Jeff knows that he is very serious about being Arizona’s next State Treasurer and understands the responsibilities of the office. But what many don’t know about him is his great sense of humor, love for his family, friends and the Great State of Arizona. We hope all who view this video will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

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About Jeff DeWit: Jeff is a successful CEO/Investment Professional with over 21 years of financial experience. For more information about Jeff DeWit or his campaign for State Treasurer, please visit www.JeffDeWit.com. You can also follow campaign updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JeffDeWitAZ or on Twitter at @JeffDeWitAZ.

Follow the Money…..

MIHSThe recent mental health contract awarded by the state to Maricopa County Integrated Health System or MIHS is raising eyebrows. MIHS, a government funded and owned entity, is on the cusp of receiving a 3-year contract that is potentially worth $3 billion dollars.

Any $3 billion dollar deal should be viewed as suspect by watchdog groups and taxpayers, but what makes this deal special is that MIHS is a government owned, property tax levying entity bidding against private providers.  In fact, MIHS currently collects nearly $60 million dollars in property taxes each year.  MIHS is even allowed to go into debt with revenue bonds that can be paid for through the district’s operating property tax levy without voter approval.

To secure the lucrative contract, MIHS teamed up with Aetna-owned Schaller Anderson, Medicaid provider Mercy Care Plan, Carondelet Health Network and Dignity Health.  Not surprisingly, private providers Magellan Health Services and UnitedHealthcare (both of whom bid on the same contract) have filed formal protests against MIHS and MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless.

MagellanWhy would the state award the largest contract its ever offered to another government entity in what appears to be a clear violation of the Arizona Constitution’s “gift clause?”  When you pull the thread and follow the money trail, it’s hard to not suspect corruption, cronyism, and a healthy dose of conspiracy.

MIHS was created by Proposition 414 in 2003 after voters approved the measure in a special election by a margin of 58% to 42%.  At the time, AZ Republic columnist Robert Robb called the establishment of a property-tax-supported hospital district “unnecessary and unwise.”  Robb even warned voters that “…special tax districts, focused on only a single service with independently elected boards, are bad fiscal policy.  Hard choices are good for taxpayers and make for more efficient government.”

Robb even called the publicity pamphlet and ballot question used to promote the measure “the most blatant case of government propagandizing I’ve seen in over a quarter century of Arizona elections.”  Bold statement for a columnist who typically calls it as he sees it.

The lobbying firm responsible for the passage of the ballot referral legislation at the Capitol also ran the ballot campaign.  Phoenix-based HighGround public affairs is run by consultant Chuck Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign advisor and a man who has been referred to as Arizona’s “shadow governor.”   According to their website:

“Our team was the principal public affairs and lobbying team for the legislation that authorized the creation of the new Maricopa County Hospital District on behalf of Maricopa County.  Following the successful passage of the legislation, HighGround was retained as the principal campaign consultant for the Yes on 414 Committee.”

Fast forward to 2008.  HighGround is once again rewarded for their work and is retained by MIHS with their first lobbying contract.  Today, HighGround works hand-in-hand with Betsey Bayless who was hired as MIHS’ CEO in September 2005.

BaylessIn February 2013, Bayless was given a 33% pay raise, an extra $125,000 per year, bringing her annual taxpayer-funded salary to a whopping $500,000.  This despite a poor rating issued by a national accrediting group, the Joint Commission, which found widespread record-keeping problems and other flaws that posed risks to patients’ safety.  This even despite the fact that Bayless has already announced she’s leaving her position at the end of 2013.  Two of MIHS’ board members even voted against the pay raise, saying they opposed raising the pay of a CEO who is leaving in less than a year and working for a public hospital.

“It really rubs me the wrong way that we’re spending this type of money,” board member Elbert Bicknell said. “Don’t get me wrong. Betsey is a smart … woman, and she’s done a hell of a job from 2005 to now. But a ($125,000) raise in a year when we give our janitors maybe a 1 percent raise or lay off people? It just doesn’t make sense.”  Dissenting board member Sue Gerard commented: “I think having that kind of salary is totally inappropriate.”

Could the pay raise have anything to do with the fact that it was widely speculated that MIHS was going to be awarded the enormous mental health contract?  Was this Betsey’s “swan song” on her way out the door?  Possibly.

But where this story gets really tangled is when one considers the ramifications of the state adopting Governor Brewer’s Medicaid expansion proposal.  Again, the value of the contract could increase an additional $1 billion dollars if the state accepts federal Medicaid dollars.  Who is running the campaign in Arizona for Medicaid expansion?

If you guessed Chuck Coughlin and HighGround, you’re correct.  Serving as Coughlin’s wingman is Peter Burns, a former Brewer budget advisor.  Perhaps that explains the governor’s complete flip-flop on this issue from less than a year ago.  The Wall Street Journal went as far as to describe the governor’s flip-flop as a “political 540°” and “a case study in the political pressure and fiscal gimmicks designed to get states to succumb.”

The New York Times sums up the magnitude of political forces and financial incentives behind this coordinated effort:

Recently, 40 lobbyists, representing at least 110 groups pushing for the expansion, among them hospitals, health care associations and business organizations, huddled in the executive wing of the State Capitol to update the governor’s advisers on their progress and hone strategies.

The Wall Street Journal goes further, discussing how “Ms. Brewer was nonetheless besieged by health-industry lobbying, especially from hospitals that want more government money and the insurers that administer Medicaid.”

There is something wrong with the State of Arizona climbing into bed with private business to give away billions of dollars in public funds.  When those decisions are tied to the largest health contract the state has ever awarded and possibly the biggest expansion of federal government our state has ever seen, tax-paying citizens are owed an explanation and deserve transparency.

Aside from the arguments of whether accepting federal Medicaid dollars related to the full implementation of Obamacare is good or bad policy, the one thing that is clear is that the consultants, lobbyists, and hospital administrators pushing the plan stand to make millions of dollars in profits.

Money makes people do strange things, indeed.

It’s the Morning After the First Debate, and I’m Giddy

Wow!  I’m giddy.  I was surprised and thrilled by Gov. Romney’s performance in last night’s debate (Oct. 3).  I watched the debate with 7 other Conservatives, time-delayed by a Tivo box so that we could halt the action and toss in our own comments.

Several of us were apprehensive at the outset, but by the end of the debate we had worked ourselves into a frenzy of excitement, shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” as he pounded home those key points that free-market, limited-government, fiscal-responsibility Conservatives have been trumpeting for years.

Now I have to confess.  I had no idea that Gov. Romney had this in him.  Sure, he’d had some brief flashes on the campaign trail, and his style turned for the better after naming Paul Ryan as his VP.  But like many Conservatives, I feared the Governor was just the next-in-line Establishment Republican candidate — doomed to be another gracious loser.

I’m still absorbing what I saw & heard, and I’ll have to go through the whole debate again, but I do remember Romney’s first home run of the evening (for me) when he pointed out the immorality of the debt we are piling on the backs of our children.  As I’ve written in the past (herehere, and here for example), we are effectively selling them into a modern-day version of debt bondage.  At last we have a candidate who leads with that point against all those “compassionate” Democrats, the people who supposedly “care”.

As for Obama’s own performance, a repeated interjection among my friends was “He’s flailing, he’s flailing!”.  Time and again he reached back for his standard campaign talking points, sometimes well off-topic, and he was visibly shell-shocked when Romney put them down emphatically, with compelling refutation points, nicely bulleted and driven home like nails in a coffin (puns intended).

If you can watch the debate again, keep an eye on Obama’s upper jaw near his left ear as he stares down at his podium.  One of our friends spotted it first.  You’ll see a light spot come and go as he visibly clenches and unclenches his teeth. This man is used to adulation and acquiescence, not reasoned confrontation.  Bound up in his Leftist ideology and surrounded 24/7 by sycophants and a fawning, collaborative media, he was totally unprepared to defend his indefensible record. He spent much of the evening staring down at that podium as if being scolded by his school master.

Obama will be better prepared at the next debate, and Romney will have to guard against over-confidence.  But I’m no longer worried.  Obama’s hand is incredibly weak — almost everywhere, he’s holding a pair of deuces against Romney’s full house.  And Romney’s better at the game — much better.

Of course, the election ain’t over ’til it’s over, and the Obama machine, the Great American Left, and the Democrat Media Complex won’t go gently into the night.  But we have ourselves a candidate in Mitt Romney, and I have a new-found confidence that he and his staff might just run this campaign right across the finish line going away, and leading by several lengths.

Then, the long hard path to recovery begins.

[This article cross-posted from WesternFreePress.com]