Arizona Solicitor General Issues Opinion on Arizona GOP Party Elections

Just issued today, a legal opinion by the Arizona Solicitor General office of the Arizona Attorney General, resolves a dispute regarding notification in Republican Party elections.

Solicitor General Dominic Draye

Solicitor General Dominic Draye

The opinion issued by Dominic Draye to incoming Speaker of the House JD Mesnard, settles the legal question of whether or not precinct committeemen were properly noticed regarding the upcoming Maricopa County Republican Party election and ultimately the election of State Committeemen in LD23 including an announced candidate for State Party Chairman.

In question was the definition of “by mail” as cited in ARS 16-824. The statute states:

16-824Meeting, organization and officers of county committee

  1. The county committee shall meet for the purpose of organizing no earlier than ten days after the last organizing meeting of the legislative districts which are part of the county, and in any event no later than the second Saturday in January of the year following a general election. The county committee shall elect from its membership a chairman, a first vice-chairman, a second vice-chairman, a secretary and a treasurer. The latter two offices may be filled by the same person. The chairman of the county committee shall be ex officio a member of the state committee.
  2. The chairman of the county committee shall give notice of the time and place of such meeting by mail to each precinct committeeman at least ten days prior to the date of such meeting.

Current Maricopa County Republican leadership has argued that “by mail” is vague enough to include email as a method of notification to precinct committeemen. Despite an outcry from district chairmen warning Bowyer of the statutory demands and his misunderstanding, he and Secretary Dan Schultz remained adamant they were correct in their interpretation of the law, referring to their bylaws and ignoring statute.

Chairman Tyler Bowyer cited recent changes to the Maricopa County GOP bylaws, where the inclusion of email was listed as a means to notice meetings, insisting the statutory definition was inclusive of email notification in that it didn’t exclude email.

In the opinion posted by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Solicitor General Draye clarifies and establishes the correct definition of “by mail” in the following statement:

While judicial authority interpreting the phrase “by mail” under Arizona law is limited, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona recently interpreted the word “mail” as used in Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 4.2(c).  Cachet Residential Builders, Inc. v. Gemini Ins. Co., 547 F. Supp. 2d 1028 (D. Ariz. 2007).  The court, relying on an established dictionary definition, held that mail is “defined as ‘letters, packets, etc. that are sent or delivered by means of the post office.’”  Id. at 1030 (citing Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language 864 (1989)).

This definition, which focuses on whether the item is “sent or delivered by means of the post office,” is consistent with how the term “mail” is used elsewhere under Arizona law.  For example, Rule 35(c)(1) of the Arizona Rules of Protective Order Procedure distinguishes between communications by mail and email.  Ariz. R. Protect. Ord. P. 35(c)(1) (“A limited jurisdiction court may allow contact by mail or e-mail to arrange parenting time . . . .”) (emphasis added).  Likewise, the Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure specify that “[a] party that serves documents on another party by mail in an expedited election appeal also must deliver the documents by electronic means, including email or facsimile, or as agreed to by the parties.”  Ariz. R. Civ. App. P. 10(h); see also Ariz. R. Civ. P. 5(c)(2)(C), (D) (distinguishing service by “mailing it” from service “by any other means, including electronic means”).  Further, in the Code of Judicial Administration, the term “notify” is defined to mean “written communication by mail, fax or email.”  Ariz. Code of Jud. Admin. § 6-211 (emphasis added).  The distinction between “mail” and “email” in the above rules would be superfluous if “mail” already encompassed email.  These authorities also show that, when delivery by email is permitted under Arizona law, Arizona authorities have expressly authorized it.

For purposes of the present question, our preliminary conclusion is that notice requirements elsewhere in Arizona law provide the best analogue to the requirement in A.R.S. § 16-824.  Those provisions illustrate that, where email notice is permitted, it is listed separately from “mail.”  This interpretation is also consistent with dictionary definitions and common usage as explained in Cachet Residential Builders.  For these reasons, notice by email appears insufficient to satisfy A.R.S. § 16-824. (emphasis added)

Tyler Bowyer

Tyler Bowyer

Given this official legal opinion, the Maricopa County Republican Party Bylaws are out of compliance with the law.  In that all GOP bylaws must be in compliance with both state law and the state party bylaws, any legislative district bylaws allowing email notification are also out of compliance with both Arizona Republican Party Bylaws and Arizona statute.

Today was the last day for elected precinct committeemen in Maricopa County to be properly noticed leaving the Maricopa County Republican Committee (MCRC) ill-prepared to make right the serious error as Chairman Bowyer called chairs over the past few days encouraging them to utilize email notices.

It has been reported that several LD chairmen received calls today from AZGOP Chair Robert Graham informing them that the state party was abiding by statute and mailing the call despite this statutory obligation falling on the county party. This to ensure all PC’s are eligible to vote in the upcoming MCRC elections with a proper notification.

Additionally, the opinion also affects upcoming party elections at the state party level.

Jim O'Connor

Jim O’Connor

In Legislative District 23, where notice of their election was provided by email, the election of state committeemen would be invalid because the meeting was conducted illegally. Chairman Robert Graham notified former Chairman Jim O’Connor, who was responsible for the illegal action, to the error and offered the ability for a “do over”. The newly (and also illegally) elected chair replied and vehemently declined the “do-over,” ignoring of the law and asserting the LD23 bylaws allowed for email. Chairman Graham met with representatives from LD23 and attorneys to no avail, with LD23 holding firm on their decision to use email and declining a legally called election.

Unfortunately, a better understanding of the law would have benefited the PC’s in LD23.  The warning from Graham outlined the problem that would result from the ill-advised and illegally held meeting; that those elected as state committeemen would potentially not be seated or run for a party position as the election was not valid. Specifically, candidate Jim O’Connor, who made the decision to use the illegal method of notification, could be disqualified as a candidate for State Party Chairman.

Robert Graham

Robert Graham

The Solicitor General’s opinion affirms AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham’s assertion was correct, that districts such as LD23 that improperly noticed their precinct committeemen by email, were in violation of party bylaws and state statute all along.

With the State Republican Party Meeting and Election rapidly approaching, there is not enough time now for a “do-over” election leaving LD23’s illegally elected state committeemen potentially ineligible to vote. The legal remedy is for Chairman Graham to disregard the illegally called meeting results, seat an appointed contingent of committeemen from LD23, and hold the State Meeting according to statute and bylaw.

Party activists and officials must be aware of these important bylaws and statutes especially when they conduct the process of elections and seek higher leadership. Pushing a personal agenda by skirting the rules or making them up as you go is the not the upholding manner in which GOP leaders should conduct themselves.

 

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.

SOS Michele Reagan Refers AZGOP Complaint to AG Mark Brnovich

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan has pushed forward a complaint to the Attorney General Mark Brnovich regarding a complaint filed by the Arizona Republican Party related to a political committee headed by former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson. The complaint alleges that Johnson’s political committee, “Open Nonpartisan Elections” or ONE, violated reporting requirements when it failed to report a $10,000 political contribution from Jeff Covill.

Secretary Reagan also did not find reasonable cause regarding other political contributions and expenditures received and made by a parallel 501(c)4 organization registered under the same name. That complaint alleged that the non-profit organization was involved in electioneering when it received a $100,000 donation from Open Primaries and hired the Phoenix-based political firm HighGround. Donations and expenditures $10,000 or greater are required to be reported within 24 hours of receipt.

The matter now proceeds to the Attorney General’s Office where it will be litigated.

To read Secretary of State Michele Reagan’s letter of reasonable cause, click here.

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

Brnovich

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.

IT’S OFFICIAL! ‘Recall Douglas’ Is Run By Inept Morons

BLOCKAccording to the Arizona Daily Independent, Attorney General Mark Brnovich gave a Mutumbo-esque ‘DENIED’ to political amateurs Max Goshert and ‘Founder’ Anthony Espinoza’s complaint that Diane Douglas’s Chief of Staff Michael Bradley was campaigning on official time and “violating their civil liberties” (what?).  In what seems to be a trend for TeamRecall, they seem to be spending their time and ‘Dark Money’ funds on futile efforts while making a mockery of their own movement.

One move by the Recall camp that highlights their ineptitude is this screenshot of their Facebook page which states they accidentally gave out the incorrect address for their signature gathering campaign.  THEY SCREWED UP ON THEIR ADDRESS PEOPLE.

 

recall

In other Recall related news, Recall Douglas has been busy deleting posts going back to 2014 on their Facebook page as well as deleting their Twitter account soon after allegations that Recall Douglas’s founder Anthony Espinoza was posting disparaging comments about Christians, Tea Party members, and mocking people of faith as well as posting nude selfies on his social media sites.

The only reason this recall effort continues to ‘have legs’ in the local news cycle is that local media hacks like Yvonne Wing-nut Sanchez, Brahm Resnik, and Laurie Roberts are pushing this effort as hard as they can.

Unlike the local media, ArizonaInformer will report the facts and update our dear readers on the walking, talking punchline that is Recall Douglas.

Democratic Party complaint against Mark Brnovich completely DISMISSED

Brnovich

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.

Mark Brnovich is Small Business’ Choice for Top Cop

Eighty-nine percent polled favor ex-gaming chief over former top banking regulator

PHOENIX, Ariz., Sept. 10, 2014 – Appreciating that the state’s attorney general is our last line of defense against the overreach of an aggressive federal government, Arizona’s leading small-business association today announced its endorsement of Mark Brnovich for Arizona’s next attorney general.

“Arizona’s job creators trust Mark Brnovich to enforce the law and protect our communities,” said Farrell Quinlan, Arizona state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “Arizona’s entrepreneurs are confident Mark Brnovich will foster a safe and secure environment and ensure a level playing field so our small businesses can thrive.”

This poll of 379 Arizona small-business owners was conducted by NFIB between August 28 and September 4, 2014.

This poll of 379 Arizona small-business owners was conducted by NFIB/Arizona between August 28 and September 4, 2014.

The Brnovich endorsement is the 7,000-Arizona-member-strong, small-business advocacy group’s first endorsement in the attorney general’s race in more than a decade. The decision to endorse was largely driven by the results of a survey of small-business owners that revealed a decisive favorite. In that survey, former federal prosecutor and ex-Gaming Department chief Mark Brnovich received 89 percent support to former top state banking regulator Felecia Rotellini’s 11 percent in the poll of 379 Arizona small-business owners conducted by NFIB August 28 to September 4, 2014.

“As Arizona’s next attorney general, Mark Brnovich will provide solid legal advice to state regulatory agencies in order to prevent overreach, regulatory bullying of small-business owners and to ensure state agencies aren’t acting on bad or inaccurate legal advice,” Quinlan said.

The formal endorsement of Mark Brnovich was made by the NFIB/Arizona Save America’s Free Enterprise (SAFE) Trust, the political action committee of NFIB members in Arizona.

2014_0910_NFIBAZ_Brnovich_05

Republican Attorney General nominee Mark Brnovich discusses small business issues today at the NFIB/Arizona Small Business Forum in Phoenix. Earlier in the day NFIB/Arizona announced its endorsement of Brnovich and reported that 89% of small business owners polled supported the election of the former federal prosecutor.

For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.

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.