Calling Out Crazy and Dangerous

We’re being told that January 6, 2021 will be the next opportunity for President Trump to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s when both houses of Congress will convene to count and certify the results of the Electoral College.

Trump supporters are banking on Vice President Pence to hear the objections of members of the House and Senate before pushing for an alternative to the long-held historical practice of finalizing the vote and selecting the next President of the United States.

President Trump and his army of supporters are leaning heavily on Vice President Pence to thwart this process and re-elect Donald J. Trump as the next President. Social media is ablaze with speculation about what will happen and the consequences of Pence’s action.

We’re hearing that riots will break out across America as the left sets fire to anything their torches touch. This is not hard to believe since the left has a track record of hyper-emotional reaction and violence to events to which they object.

On my Twitter feed, I’ve been clear that I don’t expect anything to change with regard to our election results. (I’ve been working in elections for over 30 years.) Our system works pretty well, especially here in Arizona and frankly, Democrats were motivated to kick DJT out of the White House.

Some of my fellow Republicans – and I use that term questionably since many of them behave more like they’re in a cult – have said that if Pence doesn’t fall in line with his boss, their will be an uprising across America. In other words, they plan on unleashing a rebellion.

I don’t believe it.

When they claim they’ll start another civil war, I don’t think they have the conviction let alone fortitude to do so. Most of them would rather head down to the State Capitol and hold another rally in which they complain about the election while waving Gadsden flags and making speeches. These are the patriots on paper.

But there are others using anonymous online identities making threats of rebellion and all-out war to defend the Dear Leader. These are the dangerous and crazy ones and they need to be called out.

In this country, we have an institution called the Rule of Law and when you follow it and exhaust it, you need to respect it and its final outcome. It’s how we govern here in America.

This author in no way advocates for violence, let alone civil unrest or war. If you do not like the outcome of our elections, legal rulings or legislative process, you have other peaceful forms of protest available.

Connected Commerce Council President Calls New Google Lawsuit “Nuts”

Several State AGs filed a lawsuit against Google this week. The plaintiffs hope a judge will enjoin this suit with the one previously submitted by the Department of Justice in October.

The announcement of the lawsuit and its scope weren’t unexpected to the tech community but many are questioning its timing, saying that the potential harm to small businesses and consumers is too great, and it’s legal premise is flawed.

Connected Commerce Council (3C) President Jake Ward issued the statement below highlighting some of those concerns. The Connected Commerce Council is a small business advocacy group which is worried about the impacts of the litigation on small businesses.

“Small businesses are hurting, and instead of helping them, these Attorneys General are trying to force middlemen between small businesses and their customers. In every market, middlemen drive up costs, drive down value and drive small businesses further from their customers. Intervening on behalf of billion-dollar publicly-traded intermediaries insults small businesses and harms consumers. To do so now is nuts.

“Small businesses have asked policymakers for help during the pandemic, and have made it clear that they need stability, access to capital, and access to digital tools. No one has asked policymakers to prioritize the interests of intermediaries. Not consumers, not small businesses, and not their employees. It won’t go unnoticed that when small businesses needed help, their attention was elsewhere.”

And, Adam Cohen, director of economic policy at Google said the claims, “have been closely examined and rejected by regulators and courts around the world, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, competition authorities in Brazil, Canada and Taiwan, and courts in the United Kingdom and Germany, who all agreed that our changes are designed to improve your search results. It’s also well established that the most important driver for our search results is the specific query—not your personal data.”

The lawsuit against Google is expected to be one of the most expensive antitrust lawsuits in history.

Holding Big Insurance Accountable

By Steve Schooley

As a 71-year-old retired firefighter, access to affordable and effective medication is a big priority for me. As such, this past election season, I voted for candidates who I believe are capable of making some commonsense reforms to our health care system, and I expect them to deliver.

As the 2021 legislative session quickly approaches and we start to see a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, I want to see Arizona’s legislators lead on holding health insurance companies accountable. As a senior, I am sick and tired of paying more for coverage year over year and getting less and less coverage from my provider. It seems as if every time there is a new Congress we hear a lot of talk out of Washington about “holding big pharma accountable” but where is that same vigor when it comes to insurance companies?

At the end of the day, I don’t care whose fault high it is my costs are too high, all I care about is that my costs go down and I continue to have access to the best available medications. To me, it seems like the easiest fix is to make sure insurance actually works for patients like me when we need it most.

Senators Sinema and Kelly Should Support Liability Protections for Businesses

By. Dr. Ed Ackerley

While the presidential transition is taking up most news headlines, everyday Arizonans are struggling to make ends meet and keep their businesses afloat. While the positions being filled by the next administration are important, elected officials have a duty to their constituents to continue working to address the problems we are currently experiencing. 

One of the biggest issues we are facing in the state is the economic devastation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Arizona’s current unemployment rate is hovering at around 8%, above the national average. And as temporary business closures are declining, we are seeing a tragic rise in permanent closures. According to the latest Yelp survey data, Arizona ranks 4th in the nation for permanent business closures.

While these statistics are obviously alarming, statistics cannot truly encompass the tragedy of small business owners who have spent years, or decades, building a successful business only to have it ripped out from underneath them in six months because of something totally outside of their control. 

This is why it is critical for our elected officials to do everything in their power to protect and support small businesses. One way Congress can help small businesses is by passing reasonable liability protections from unfounded COVID-related lawsuits in the upcoming coronavirus relief package. This policy is of particular importance for essential businesses that have remained open throughout the pandemic to continue providing critical goods and services to our communities.

Right now, businesses, particularly those that have stayed open, are at increased risk of being sued by patrons claiming they contracted the virus at a particular establishment. While the virus is so widespread that it would be difficult for a defendant to prove their case in court, the legal fees required to fight back against unwarranted lawsuits could put a small business out of business for good. Lawyers have already increased their advertising encouraging people to file coronavirus-related lawsuits, so we can expect to see even more than the 6,500 claims already filed.

And it’s not just small businesses that are in need of reasonable protections from unfair lawsuits. Without COVID Liability Protection, Arizona schools could also face possible COVID Lawsuits.

This important discussion happened on the state level earlier this year. A COVID-19 business-liability protection bill passed the Arizona House in April, but unfortunately did not pass the Senate before the legislative session ended. While it would be helpful to pass this bill on the state level, it would be much more effective to pass liability protections on the federal level, since many businesses operate in multiple states, and a patchwork of regulations increases the financial burden on already struggling businesses. 

Thankfully, there is still time for Congress to provide businesses with commonsense, liability protection from unfounded coronavirus-related lawsuits, while ensuring we can still hold bad actors accountable. Hopefully, our home state Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly will stand behind Arizona businesses by supporting reasonable liability protections in any coronavirus relief package that comes before the Senate.

Dr. Ed Ackerley is the President of the Tucson Business Owners group.

Despite the Economy, Google Customers are still breaking through

These days, Google has been an easy target for politicians. However, according to google’s customers, the company is providing them a great help in overcoming difficulties and keeping employees on the job. With a focus on working together, supporting growth and driving innovation, Google is committing additional resources to helping its partners adjust, and it is paying off. Google has invested heavily in its small business programs which help owners improve their ROI, expand their reach and become more competitive. As a result, companies around the country have been singing their praises. 

Below are just a few of the testimonials from Google customers…

“We were a pre-digital company when we began, but transitioned into a digital-first business. We use YouTube and Google Ads to speak directly with our customers and share our message – and Google Ads generates 11% of our web traffic and roughly 15% of our sales revenue. It’s an $11 return for every dollar spent, which is huge for a small business, and it has helped us to serve more than 55,000 customers. Our investment in technology, in particular Google tools, has been hugely helpful, and we also view it as a means to get people more active and involved in their communities.”

Jason McCarthy, CEO, GORUCK, Jacksonville Beach, FL

“At Slickdeals, our mission is to help shoppers win everywhere. Google has been instrumental in helping us generate strong revenue with high quality ads, allowing us to reinvest more earnings into our technology which has saved consumers over $6 billion. Google’s ability to offer different advertising products has allowed us to optimize and balance user-experience with revenue. Google has helped provide our business with diversified revenue streams which have been critical to our growth over the past several years.”

Eugene Faynberg, VP, Ad Operations, Slickdeals

“Google isn’t just our top monetization partner, they also help provide tools and information to help Mediavine and its 8000 independent publishers build a faster and better web experiences for users. We’re confident that in working with Google, Mediavine will be able to help content creators build sustainable businesses for years to come.”

Eric Hochberger, CEO, Mediavine

“We’ve been a Google Ads customer for 8+ years, and I am so grateful for the support that Google has given me in helping me with innovative strategies for my business. Given COVID, we pivoted our operations to focus more on e-commerce, and digital tools; specifically Google Ads, have played a massive role in that. With the help of a new ad strategy, we successfully brought in more customers. I am beyond thankful for how helpful Google has been in keeping my business alive and thriving, with business up 60% steadily in the last few months. With so many marketing options and tools at my disposal, it’s important to me that my dollars yield the greatest ROI which is why I continue to invest in Google tools.”

Chris Lewis, Founder & CEO, Evergreen Applied Technologies , Evergreen, CO

Speaker Rusty Bowers Addresses Calls for the Legislature to Overturn 2020 Certified Election Results

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers today issued the following statement:

This week, Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, and others representing President Donald Trump came to Arizona with a breathtaking request:  that the Arizona Legislature overturn the certified results of last month’s election and deliver the state’s electoral college votes to President Trump.  The rule of law forbids us to do that.

Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Ellis made their case here at least twice—on Monday, at an unofficial public gathering hosted by a small group of legislators; and again on Tuesday, during a closed-door meeting at the State Capitol with Republican leaders from both chambers of the Legislature.  Both times, the Trump team made claims that the election was tainted by fraud but presented only theories, not proof.  U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr said on Tuesday that he, too, has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome of the election.”

Even if such evidence existed, the Arizona Legislature simply couldn’t do what is being asked.  Under our state’s constitution, the Legislature can act only when it is in session, and the Legislature could call itself into a special session only with the support of a bipartisan supermajority of its members.

That won’t materialize, but even if did, the Legislature couldn’t provide the recourse the President’s team seeks.  The U.S. Constitution authorizes each state to appoint presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.”  For decades, Arizona law has required that the voters elect the state’s electors on Election Day—this year, on November 3rd.  And under a law the Republican-led Legislature passed just three years ago, the state’s electors are required to cast their votes for the candidates who received the most votes in the official statewide election canvass.  Enacted after the 2016 presidential election, in which President Trump won the electoral college but not the popular vote, the law was aimed at ensuring that Arizona’s electors would remain faithful to the vote of the people.

So under current Arizona law, the presidential electors who were elected on November 3 must, after the canvass is completed, vote for the winners of the popular vote.  Nothing in the U.S. Constitution or the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court even suggests that the Arizona Legislature could retroactively appoint different electors who would cast their ballots for different candidates.  The Trump legal team has cited McPherson v. Blacker (1892), to claim that the legislature can “resume the power [to appoint electors] at any time.”  And it is true that the Arizona Legislature could alter the method of appointing electors prospectively.  But it cannot undo the election of electors whom the voters already voted for.  As the Supreme Court made clear in Bush v. Gore (2000), “[w]hen the state legislature vests the right to vote for President in its people, the right to vote as the legislature has prescribed is fundamental.”

No election is perfect, and if there were evidence of illegal votes or an improper count, then Arizona law provides a process to contest the election: a lawsuit under state law.  But the law does not authorize the Legislature to reverse the results of an election.

As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election.  I voted for President Trump and worked hard to reelect him.  But I cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome of a certified election.

I and my fellow legislators swore an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and the constitution and laws of the state of Arizona.  It would violate that oath, the basic principles of republican government, and the rule of law if we attempted to nullify the people’s vote based on unsupported theories of fraud.  Under the laws that we wrote and voted upon, Arizona voters choose who wins, and our system requires that their choice be respected.

Forty years ago next month, President Ronald Reagan reminded us that while the “orderly transfer of authority” is a “commonplace occurrence” for Americans, “[i]n the eyes of many in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.”  Now, Americans are being reminded once again never to take for granted what President Reagan correctly described as “the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic.”

Vaccines and Cures are hurt by price controls

By: Phil Green

I’ve been an airline pilot for over 20 years. The industry has had its share of challenges during my career, but I’ve never seen anything like today. The threat of COVID-19 has caused a severe reduction in business and tourist travel. This holiday season, fewer people will be boarding a plane to visit family or friends.

This is sad for my family personally and it’s also led to layoffs across my industry. The best way out is a COVID-19 vaccine.

That’s why I was thrilled about results recently announced by multiple biopharmaceutical companies. If vaccine progress continues at this rate, it seems likely that 2021 will be a far better year for families, communities, travel and tourism, and businesses of all types—and thank goodness for that.

The speed of this success is proof positive that America got it right with our free market system for pharmaceuticals. Our model supports maximum research and development so when an urgent need like COVID-19 arises, there are technologies and promising vaccine candidates at the ready.

Our elected officials must protect this system. Government price-setting and other interventions in the market have no place here. I only hope the leaders we elected this fall will stand firm against destructive prescription drug policies so that we can finally defeat COVID-19 and get back to work—at the airlines and in research facilities across the country striving cure other devastating diseases. 

Phil Green is a Mesa voter and a pilot for a major airline

COVID Relief Funds Need More Transparency and Oversight

By: Laura Oldaker

Fighting this pandemic has been extremely difficult. As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, I’ve seen the firsthand the damage done and know I will remember these days for the rest of my life as some of my most strenuous and stressful. Too many innocent Arizonans have suffered, lost their businesses or worse, lost their lives to this unyielding pandemic—so needless to say, I am ready for the days where we’ll be able to put this virus behind us.

Though local and federal governments have stepped up to help reinforce efforts like ours, and support our community throughout this crisis, there is much more to be done, particularly regarding relief funding. Specifically, the reauthorization of the Paycheck Protection Program could be worth as much as $257 billion and would help bolster local businesses throughout the country, many of which are in health care or directly involved in COVID-19 relief efforts. In making the important decisions as to how to delineate these funds, Congress must also implement measures to protect from fraud, waste, and crony capitalism—issues that plagued early relief efforts.

Increased oversight, transparency, and tracking are critical to prevent these PPP funds from falling into the wrong hands or being wasted. In doing so, the federal government can better ensure that our pandemic relief funds—our taxpayer dollars—are getting where they are needed the most, starting with our frontline workers.

Pelosi’s HR3 is a disaster for Seniors

By Marsha Volkema

As a Medicare beneficiary, I do not support Nancy Pelosi’s H.R.3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act and neither should any of our Senators or Representatives.

H.R. 3 is a partisan solution rammed through by the House Democrats without bipartisan input.  It imposes international price controls that will have devastating effects on future cures and medications.  I have been on Medicare for _ years and while some of those years were better than others, there is always room to improve the program. 

We do need lower drug prices in America, and I want to support a plan that does that, but I cannot support a plan that does more harm than good. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office preliminary analysis indicates that H.R.3 would reduce the number of new medicines coming to market, drastically decrease research and development budgets and impact as much as one-third of drugs currently in the development process. We need our representatives to work together and support a better solution than Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 3.  

Fortunately, there is a better solution.  Senator Crapo has introduced the Lower Costs, More Cures Act.  It is a bi-partisan proposal that lowers the cost of drug prices while also promoting new drug development. It reduces the middlemen who drive up drug prices and ensures that saving flow into the pockets of Seniors.  Unlike Nancy Pelosi’s H.R. 3, the Crapo legislation incorporates bipartisan ideas that are fair to everyone. Senator Crapo’s Lower Costs, More Cures Act is better for seniors and all Americans and we all need to encourage our Senators to support it.


Marsha Volkema is a voter from Congressional District 8

Hold Congress Accountable on COVID-19 Spending

By Lea Márquez Peterson

You and I may have voted for different people in this election, but I bet we’re both hoping for the same outcome—good government led by responsible, trustworthy lawmakers, whatever their politics.

Character counts with voters because we recognize that government can be a breeding ground for fraud, corruption, and abuse of taxpayer funds, especially when powerful interests are involved. When nearly $3 trillion is up for grabs, the potential for waste and misuse is astronomical—but that’s exactly the situation we’re in with COVID-19. 

The U.S has allocated at least $2.9 trillion to save small businesses, help families, and keep the economy going through this pandemic, not to mention treating and finding a cure for the disease. Of that amount, however, some $1.4 trillion has been spent without any accounting to the American people of where, and to whom, it went.

We do know some things. For example, we learned that large corporations like Shake Shack[1] worth $2 billion also received PPP loans meant for struggling small businesses[2].

Small businesses are far less likely to receive low-interest, forgivable loans to help them survive and pay employees. Especially minority-owned ones. While PPP loans worth millions were handed out to companies that didn’t truly need them, only 12 percent of Hispanic and Black applicants in the US got loans they requested, even though over half asked for $20,000 or less.[3] And, in Arizona, where 27.2 billion was spent, only 4.1% went to Black applicants and 31.1% to Hispanic business owners[4].

Other things we know about COVID-19 spending have been compiled by the Project on Government Oversight in a readily searchable format online. Arizonans can use this tool to discover who benefitted from a vast array of pandemic-related government programs.

To be fair, some initial hiccups with COVID-19 relief were understandable. Lawmakers had to rush into action when coronavirus emerged and they lacked the luxury of time to craft the best legislation possible. However, continued obstruction of meaningful oversight and failure to patch trouble spots cannot be excused so easily.

This is not just water under the bridge, either. A still raging pandemic and faltering economic rebound make trillions more in COVID-19 stimulus extremely likely. There is also movement afoot to repurpose $130 billion left in the fraud- and abuse-laden PPP. 

We should not allow Congress to commit such enormous sums without straightforward answers about all coronavirus spending to date. We must also demand stringent safeguards to ensure additional funds are managed more responsibly so that meaningful assistance can reach small businesses and families in need.

Lea Márquez Peterson is the former President of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and a Commissioner on the Arizona Corporation Commission. 


[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/which-companies-are-returning-their-ppp-loan-here-s-list-n1194566

[2] https://www.12news.com/article/money/ppp-loans-released/75-cf905bec-53ee-4f13-a306-f157856d3ef4

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/paycheck-protection-program-black-hispanic-business-owners-shut-out-survey/

[4] https://beta.covidtracker.pogo.org/