Arizona Political Leaders React to Trump Picks

President-Elect Trump has begun to name his government advisers and cabinets and Arizona politicians are weighing in on the future Trump Administration.

Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit and COO to the Trump campaign took to the airwaves to touting the credentials of President-Elect Trump’s cabinet choices including Senator Jeff Sessions, General Michael Flynn and Congressman Mike Pompeo. Here is video of Treasurer DeWit’s appearance on FoxNews. DeWit may also be chosen to serve in the Trump administration.

US Senator Jeff Flake tweeted, “@SenatorSessions is well like and well regarded, even by those who don’t always agree with him. I look forward to supporting his nomination” upon news that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will be nominated to President Trump’s Attorney General.

Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-3) joined the orchestrated Democrat opposition to Stephen Bannon by retweeting Rep David Cicilline’s push for a petition rescinding Bannon’s appointment as a senior adviser. Grijalva said, “Steve #Bannon made a career of conspiracy theories and hate speech online. He has no business serving in the White House, period.”

The most aggressive opposition to Trump’s picks have come from Rep Ruben Gallego who represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional District. Since Trump’s win, he has released a barrage of tweets following the typical Democrat talking points on hate, racism and tolerance. Gallego tweeted and retweeted:

“Appointing alt-right leader Steve Bannon undermines @RealDonaldTrump’s promise to ‘bind the wounds of division.’ #NoHateInWhiteHouse.”

“Hate in the form of white nationalism doesn’t belong anywhere near the White House. Steve Bannon’s appointment is appalling & disgraceful.”

“Hate & violence has no place in this country. I stand w/ the #trans community & will work for security&equality for all #TransAwarenessWeek”

Gallego also included a link to his speech on the floor of the US House:

On his Facebook page, Rep Gallego made the following statement regarding his role in playing opposition to Trump, even on common ground issues like infrastructure:

Given everything we know about Donald Trump – and everything we don’t know – I was alarmed by the words of senior leaders from both the progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic party regarding their openness to working with Donald Trump on infrastructure.

Under ordinary circumstances, a bipartisan infrastructure plan would be welcomed. But Donald Trump is not an ordinary politician.

Unfortunately, his infrastructure plan is really a privatization scheme, rife with graft and corruption, whose real purpose is to enrich the Trump family and his supporters. He is not reaching out. He is reaching his hand into America’s pockets, just as he has his whole career. And we must not let him do it.

And continuing his rant on Facebook, Gallego echoed his Twitter post with a link to the Democrat’s opposition letter:

Nobody with ties to White Nationalism should be allowed to work in the White House. Appointing alt-right leader Steve Bannon undermines Donald Trump’s promise to ‘bind the wounds of division.’ Today, I joinedCongressman David Cicilline and many of my House colleagues to demand that Trump rescind this appalling and disgraceful appointment.#NoHateInWhiteHouse

Former Governor Jan Brewer reposted an article on her Facebook page asserting that Trump’s picks for his immigration team, will be very tough:

Donald J. Trump has just appointed the head of his immigration team and it says a lot about how he plans to deal with illegal immigration…

The article, posted on Conservative Tribune, refers to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who was the architect of Arizona’s SB1070. Kobach is known as a staunch advocate for border security and stopping illegal immigration. He has been asked to serve on Trumps immigration team.

Like many Arizona political leaders, Senator John McCain, Governor Doug Ducey, and other members of the congressional delegation have shied away from making social media comments on Trump’s administration choices. Many will continue to watch as the transition team puts people in place and an agenda into motion.

President-Elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office on January 20, 2017.

Consultant Legislators: A conflict of interest?

In the most general of terms, a conflict of interest is “a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.”

In Arizona, there really are no rules governing legislative conflict of interest statutes.  Essentially, as long as at least 10 people benefit from a piece of legislation, there is no conflict of interest.  Should allegations of conflicts of interest arise, there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.  Arizona is one of only nine states without an independent organization to oversee ethics comp

ethicsIt is not uncommon for legislators to sponsor or vote on bills that affect their personal career industry.  When you have a “citizen legislature” it’s impossible to not vote on bills that relate to education, doctors, lawyers, real-estate agents, landlords, etc.  But what about political consultants?  Does that pass the “citizen legislature” smell test?

The Arizona Republic pointed out earlier this year that there are a number of lawmakers who run or work for consulting firms whose scope of work remains unclear.  The campaign disclosure forms do not require lawmakers to reveal their clients, making their potential conflicts of interest even murkier.  But, some of these contracts are no doubt related to campaigns and public policy objectives.

House Minority Leader and potential Democratic candidate for Governor Chad Campbell lists “public affairs consulting” for Inspired Connections on his financial disclosure form. The “About Us” page for Inspired Consulting does not list Campbell as a member of their staff and it is unclear what his role is with the firm.  Other state legislators who serve as “consultants” include Sen. Al Melvin, Sen. Steve Gallardo, and Rep. Ruben Gallego.  Melvin recently made news by announcing he’s exploring a run for governor.

Former LD15 State Senator David Lujan (and good friend of Kyrsten Sinema) directed an independent expenditure effort against Republicans during the 2012 election cycle.  “Building Arizona’s Future” spent over $700,000 in the last cycle defeating Republicans, funded in large part by national Democratic money from D.C. that Sinema helped direct into Lujan’s committee coffers.  Lujan is now running for Phoenix City Council District 4.

This isn’t the first foray in the consulting arena for Campbell or Lujan.  In 2007 Campbell and Lujan formed a political consulting firm with then Democratic legislator and colleague Kyrsten Sinema.  It is unclear what Forza Consulting did or whom they represented, but according to records with the Corporation Commission the LLC still remains “open.”

Democratic Representative and rising star of the Left Ruben Gallego currently has the most prolific consulting background.  Before being elected to office in 2010, Gallego previously spent time with Valley PR firm Reister, and also served as Chief of Staff for Democratic Phoenix City Councilmember Michael Nowakowski.  He was also the Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party.  Gallego’s wife, Kate Gallego, is running for Phoenix City Council in District 8 to replace term-limited Councilmember Michael Johnson.

Ruben Gallego is listed as the Director of Latino and New Media operations for Strategies360’s Arizona office.  Gallego works with Director of Arizona Operations Robbie Sherwood, a former reporter for the Arizona Republic and former Congressman Harry Mitchell’s Chief of Staff.

10-veterans-videoDuring the 2012 election cycle, Strategies360 was paid by the Yes on Prop 204 committee (“Quality Education & Jobs”) to handle communications on behalf of the union-funded campaign.  Prop 204 proposed the single-largest permanent sales tax increase in Arizona’s history and was viewed by many as a “special interest giveaway.”  Voters defeated the proposition nearly 2-to-1

Strategies360 was also paid at least $10,000 during the 2012 election cycle to handle “earned media outreach & strategic communications” for the Arizona Accountability Project (AAP).  The AAP was one of the chief committees used to funnel liberal money into the last election cycle to defeat Republican candidates.  AAP spent almost $600,000 last election cycle targeting Republicans including efforts against Jerry Lewis, Joe Ortiz, Frank Antenori, and John McComish.  They also did work in support of Democrat Tom Chabin.

Strategies360 was involved in the 2012 election to defeat Sheriff Joe Arpaio and is currently involved in the present effort to recall Arapaio.  Recently, Gallego appeared at a “Respect Arizona” rally (the group organizing the recall).  Also present at that event was Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

During 2012, Gallego even helped lead the efforts of the group opposing Arpaio, Citizens for Professional Law Enforcement PAC.  Arpaio’s campaign manager at the time, Chad Willems, questioned the financial motivations of Gallego and others:

“This is just another group out there of people lining their pockets,” Willems told HuffPost. “It seems like a full-time employment group for these guys.”

Gallego’s reach into the far-Left elements of the Democratic Party are deep.  He even served as the professional consultant for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona during the 2012 cycle, orchestrating their attacks against pro-life Republicans.  His firm was paid nearly $5,000 in consulting fees, and they were paid more than $20,000 to handle the mail program attacking several Republican lawmakers and candidates.

Let me be clear: there’s nothing illegal about what Gallego or his firm is doing.  Consultants on both sides of the political spectrum are involved in these sorts of efforts every cycle.  Some would argue this is no different than the efforts of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and their Victory Funds last cycle.  That’s a fair comparison, but unlike Gallego (and possibly other legislators), the President and the Speaker were not financially compensated for their involvement.

Current Arizona statute provides for a one-year ban on former legislators serving as lobbyists after they leave the legislature.  Specifically, ARS 38-504(a)(b) state that for one year, a former public officer, including legislator, shall not represent another person for compensation before the legislature concerning any matter with which the legislator was directly concerned and personally participated.For two years after he or she leaves office, no public officer, including legislator, may disclose or use for personal profit information designated as confidential.  Further, section c states:

A public officer or employee shall not use or attempt to use the officer’s or employee’s official position to secure any valuable thing or valuable benefit for the officer or employee that would not ordinarily accrue to the officer or employee in the performance of the officer’s or employee’s official duties if the thing or benefit is of such character as to manifest a substantial and improper influence on the officer or employee with respect to the officer’s or employee’s duties.

When legislators like Gallego are using their positions of influence to help direct thousands of dollars in independent expenditure efforts designed to defeat their colleagues and change the partisan make-up of their chamber, while simultaneously making money off of these efforts, how is that not a conflict of interest?

Rev. Jarrett Maupin, Black Leaders Outraged Over Phoenix Councilman’s Endorsement

REV. JARRETT MAUPIN AND BLACK LEADERS OUTRAGED OVER PHOENIX CITY COUNCILMAN MICHAEL NOWAKOWSKI’S “BETRAYAL” OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN VOTERS. MAUPIN, WHO CAMPAIGNED WITH NOWAKOWSKI FOR HIS FIRST ELECTION IN THE CITY’S BLACK CHURCHES, NOW SAYS, “NOWAKOWSKI HAS GONE AGAINST HIS PROMISES TO SUPPORT BLACK LEADERSHIP AND PROMOTE DIVERSITY ON THE CITY COUNCIL BY ENDORSING A WHITE SHAM-CANDIDATE IN BROWN-FACE FOR DISTRICT 8. KATE WIDLAND-GALLEGO IS A WHITE POLITICAL PATSY, AN INTERLOPING POLITICAL PUPPET WITH NO CONNECTION TO THE AREA OR THE PEOPLE WHATSOEVER.” MAUPIN SAYS NOWAKOWSKI IS, “PRACTICING THE POLITICS OF RACIAL EXPLOITATION AND IS BEING INEXPLICABLY COMPELLED TO ATTEMPT A POLITICAL LYNCHING OF PHOENIX’S BLACK COMMUNITY AT THE URGING OF REP. RUBEN GALLEGO.” 

Phoenix, AZ – Local Civil Rights Leader, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin is challenging Councilman Michael Nowakowski to, “Do the right thing and withdraw his endorsement of Kate Widland-Gallego.” Maupin worked to elect Michael in 2007 to the council for his first term by organizing Black churches to turn out voters at the polls. Sunday after Sunday, throughout South Phoenix, Maupin says he and Michael were “joined at the hip” working the pews in an effort to elect a Latino to the council. There was no Latino serving at the time. Now, with the city’s only Black-held council seat up for grabs, the Reverend doesn’t understand how Nowakowksi could, “Attempt to politically lynch Phoenix’s Black Community by bending to the will of Rep. Ruben Gallego,” who is running his wife, Kate Widland-Gallego, a White political interloper, over against the Black candidate in the race for the city’s 8th council district seat. Michael had traveled extensively- speaking, praying, and asking for votes – in the city’s black churches, at Maupin’s invitation and direction. “He campaigned in our houses of worship on a unity platform. He would read a favorite prayer of Cesar Chavez, quote Dr. King, and now he has thrown all of those promises he made, promises made in God’s House, under the bus. He has turned Si Se Puede and We Shall Overcome into Si Yo Puedo and Me, Myself, and I,” said Maupin. The activist also says the councilman is “For some godforsaken reason, and at Ruben Gallego’s command, trying to ignite racial political fires by backing a White candidate with a Hispanic last-name to confuse voters.” Kate Widland-Gallego, who is not Latina, is also not openly campaigning as White. “Ruben must have convinced Michael that Latinos and Blacks who vote in South Phoenix are stupid. We know what a wolf in sheep’s clothing looks like. Why doesn’t Widland-Gallego run on who she is: a power-hungry, White, SRP booster who never lived in South Phoenix and has no relationship with the district’s minority voters? Can’t she be real about who she is? If she won’t tell her story, I know a preacher who will.” said Maupin.

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Calls for Arpaio Resignation Pure Political Opportunism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2011
CONTACT: Chad Willems

PHOENIX, AZ – The Re-Elect Joe Arpaio 2012 campaign committee released the following statement today:

“Elected Democrat officials in Arizona are breathlessly calling for the immediate resignation of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio based on a four-year-old story involving sex crime investigations, which were reviewed and investigated by his office four years ago. These Arpaio detractors are also breathless in their insistence that none of this has to do with politics or partisanship.

The actions and words of Ruben Gallego, Randy Parraz, Steve Gallardo, Kyrsten Sinema, Congress members Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva, and other elected Democrats, reek of political opportunism and partisanship. After all, these are the same Democrats that have been opposed to the Sheriff’s enforcement of illegal immigration laws for years.

The fact of the matter is this: the mishandling of these cases was brought to the Sheriff’s attention in 2007. Arpaio immediately ordered the cases re-opened and investigated. They have been brought to a conclusion. Further, the Sheriff is hiring an expert in the area of sex crimes investigations to train staff for future cases and will offer that service to other law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, the City of Phoenix has nearly 2,500 cases involving sex crimes and molestation currently under review. Many of these were never pursued or were mishandled. These cases surfaced only months ago, yet there is a deafening silence from these elected officials in calling for elected Mayor Phil Gordon, a Democrat ally, to immediately resign.

Why would they remain silent about Phil Gordon? Mayor Gordon was responsible for going to Washington several times to request that the Justice Department investigate Arpaio’s enforcement of state and federal immigration laws.

Arpaio has stated he will not criticize Valley law enforcement agencies that currently have the same problem his office experienced four years ago. However, for these elected officials and other activists to use these investigations, which have received extensive coverage media coverage through the years, as a pure political tool is disgusting.

Many of these Democrat politicians calling for Arpaio’s resignation are the same ones that have called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate his office. But they have curiously remained silent on any calls for resignation from (Democrat) Attorney General Eric Holder and his role in the “Fast and Furious” scandal that resulted in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

The political left in this state feels emboldened by their recent success in removing Senator Russell Pearce from office. The leader of that effort, Randy Parraz, has publicly stated that his next target is Arpaio.

Tomorrow this group will attend and surely disrupt the Maricopa County Board of Supervisor’s meeting in a futile attempt to have Arpaio removed from office.

The transparent political stunt to resurrect a four-year-old story after steps have been taken to resolve the issue is shameful, desperate and again, disgusting.

The voters in Maricopa County will see this for what it is and reject this partisan witch hunt.”

Next month, Arpaio will announce plans for his political future.

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