The Daily Agenda: A one-way ticket to paradise
That is, if you consider D.C. a paradise ... A plea for better coverage of abortion ... And we see your records request and raise you one records request.
With zero fanfare and scant details, Gov. Doug Ducey started a new plan to send migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Washington, D.C. late last week.
Ducey’s latest gimmick wasn’t even his own: He copied a page from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border playbook. And by the time Ducey told the public the state was going to bus migrants out of town, the first bus had already made it to DC, the Republic’s Stacey Barchenger reports.
Asylum seekers can volunteer to board the buses bound for the nation’s capital, and, as Ducey noted in one paragraph of a press release about a different topic, the state will pay for the bus rides, meals, onboard staffing and support.
“We’re not about spectacles,” Ducey aide CJ Karamargin told the Republic. “We have a goal here, and that is to alleviate the burden on our communities and to work to get these people who are seeking asylum closer to where they want to be.”
But this policy isn’t about helping people get to family or friends in the U.S. It’s just dumping human beings on the streets of Washington D.C. to score political points.
How much the busing will cost is still unknown, though the state says it’s using its border security funds to finance it and will try to get reimbursed for the expenses by the feds. In Texas, Abbott is now crowdfunding donations to cover some bussing costs.
That first bus from Yuma included about 20 people from all over the world, Ducey’s spokesman told Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer. A second bus held 30 people.
The busing plan comes as immigration, and the impending end of Title 42, make nightly headlines in advance of the 2022 election. And it’s the latest immigration scheme from Ducey, who’s also the president of the chair of the Republican Governors Association. He recently created the “American Governors’ Border Strike Force,” made up of GOP states, most of which are not on the U.S.-Mexico border. The actual work of this group is unclear; it seems they mostly share immigration info with one another.
The border rhetoric often doesn’t match the reality on the ground: In one recent TV appearance, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels used incorrect and inflated statistics to claim most border-crossers coming into his county were released into the U.S., when in fact the opposite is true, the Republic’s Clara Migoya reports.
Some Republican lawmakers Ducey to do much more on the border. They want him to use his “war powers” defend the border with the National Guard or police, which Ducey has so far resisted. The Arizona National Guard is working at the border, but to support other agencies.
Ducey’s office said the state is overburdened with costs to manage the influx of migrants, so sending them to another locale — where Ducey’s frequent punching bag, President Joe Biden, lives — will help the state save money while making sure migrants’ needs are met.
If that’s the case, Ducey needs to show his work. If this is anything more than a cheap election year gimmick, release the details. Hold a press conference. Tell us the plan, in detail, and stand for questions. Better yet, let a journalist or two follow along on the bus, from start to finish — consider this our request to be those journalists on board.
Transparency is not a spectacle; it’s the bare minimum expected of a public official using state resources for a new, untested, highly political program.
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More of this, please: In this Sunday dive into the archives from the Republic’s Ray Stern, he shows how court cases against abortion providers were prosecuted pre-Roe and how women faced death or long-term complications when they received abortions in substandard settings. Once California made abortion legal there, Arizonans who could afford it traveled there for care. We learned more new information in this one story than in two weeks of “what will it mean” horse-race prognostications. Abortion is a politics story, of course, but it’s also a health story, a business story, a criminal justice story, an education story, a social services story, a religion story … the angles are limitless. Let’s not forget that this election cycle.
Three months and counting: Russia extended WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detention on drug charges over hashish until June 18, which could mean her case will go to trial soon. Russian state news sources claim the two countries are negotiating for Griner’s release, but U.S. officials told ESPN that could be a pressure tactic. In a court hearing last week, Griner was handcuffed and had her head down, according to the Associated Press.
The first censure didn’t do the job: An 18-year-old white supremacist espousing great replacement theory gunned down a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, this weekend, killing 10 people, most of them Black, and broadcast it online. In the aftermath, the worst example of Arizona, Sen. Wendy Rogers, suggested in an online post that the shooter was part of a false flag operation, saying “fed boy summer” started in Buffalo.
So, will he show up then?: As part of its investigation into the insurrection, Congress’ January 6 committee subpoenaed U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, who previously said he wouldn’t show up for questions when the committee simply asked nicely. Biggs was one of five House members issued subpoenas last week. In response to the subpoena, Biggs again called the investigation a “witch hunt” and said it was “pure political theater.”
Birds of a feather: Former Arizona lawmaker Noel Campbell, who was running for the Arizona Senate until he dropped out of the race earlier this month, allegedly ran over his wife with his car then left the scene a few days before he withdrew from the Senate race, the Republic’s Ray Stern reports. Campbell previously was accused of pushing and hitting his wife in 2020, which he was not charged for because his wife did not participate in an investigation of the domestic violence incident. Former lawmaker David Stringer, who resigned from the Arizona House amid an investigation into previous charges of child molestation, is Campbell’s lawyer.
Who’s mad at who: GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Jim Lamon ran an ad calling his primary opponent Blake Masters a “puppet,” complete with an actual puppet talking at a podium. Masters said the ad was evidence that his campaign has more momentum and that Lamon is “lame.” Elsewhere in the U.S. Senate race, national Republicans are running Spanish-language ads attacking U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly. Meanwhile, in the Arizona gubernatorial race, a new political action committee bought lots of airtime to attack GOP candidate Karrin Taylor Robson. And the family of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain is upset that Kari Lake, once considered a friend, is now attacking McCain on the campaign trail.
An improvement: After years of slow processes, the Phoenix Police Department is now reporting officers to the Brady list for misconduct problems faster, ABC15’s Dave Biscobing reports. The department now is sending files to prosecutors in less than a month compared to many months or even years in the past.
Identity theft is not a joke: The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office let the wrong person out of jail after someone “assumed another incarcerated man’s identity,” the Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins and Chelsea Curtis report.
If at first you don’t succeed: The Salt River Project wants the Arizona Corporation Commission to reconsider its rejected plan to expand a natural gas plant near the community of Randolph, the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo reports. The company says it needs the plant expansion in order to meet the electricity demands of its customers.
The ballot boxes are for ballots: Arizona Rep. and secretary of state candidate Shawnna Bolick publicly wondered aloud why an “unmanned” ballot box was placed in Yavapai County’s Skull Valley that was just for ballots instead of all mail. 12News journalist Joe Dana helpfully answered her question by asking the county recorder, Leslie Hoffman, who explained that these ballot boxes save money, time and a middleman. Yavapai County mail gets routed to Phoenix and back, while bipartisan election workers can just pick up the ballots from the box instead of using the mail process.
Elsewhere in electionland: The Arizona Republican Party wants to be part of the lawsuit against the state’s new voting proof-of-citizenship law, saying the political party could more vigorously defend the state than the state could. And conservative columnist Robert Robb took aim at Attorney General Mark Brnovich over his election letter, saying it was “hard to measure the full depth of irresponsibility” for Brnovich to release a “political document” while an investigation is ongoing.
Pork is back: About $120 million in congressional earmarks is heading to Arizona projects, including nearly $30 million for a swimming complex at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona Luminaria’s Becky Pallack reports. The full list of earmarks includes everything from animal shelters to water projects to housing programs.
New lawsuit, same as the old lawsuit: The City of Phoenix faces another lawsuit from the Goldwater Institute over its use of tax breaks to entice a real estate developer that’s building a high-rise near Roosevelt Row, the Phoenix New Times’ Elias Weiss reports. The lawsuit attacks the use of Government Property Lease Excise Taxes in an echo of a successful Goldwater lawsuit over GPLETs that the libertarian think tank won in 2020.
There’s got to be a better way: One of Pima County’s constables, Deborah Martinez-Garibay, is accused of faking signatures on her petitions to get on the ballot, which the constable denied, though that was just one allegation of many made against the newly appointed constable, the Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller and Nicole Ludden write. We’ll again make the same point we made last year: Why are constables elected in the first place?
A fitting farewell: To celebrate/mourn/commemorate the closing of the Tempe Circle K that appeared in the iconic “Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure,” this week Harkins is showing the movie in the gas station parking lot where strange things were afoot.
New supermassive black hole photo just dropped: And the University of Arizona’s researchers played a big role in getting the photo, the Republic’s Alison Steinbach reports.
Arizona Rep. John Kavanagh is fighting discrimination — against dogs and flags.
House Bill 2010 makes it so homeowners associations and condo associations can’t restrict homeowners from displaying first responder flags. It specifies which flags fall under the banner, including flags to support police, fire and paramedics. He cited a constituent who lives in an HOA who wanted to fly a first responder flag, but couldn’t because of HOA rules.
The bill passed the House. It’s on today’s floor calendar for a Senate third read.
House Bill 2323 would prohibit homeowners insurance companies from considering the breed of a dog when setting insurance policies. A dog’s breed couldn’t play into determining liability or risk for these insurance policies.
Insurance companies opposed the bill, while animal welfare organizations supported it. Other states have passed laws similar to this as a way to prevent discrimination against dog breeds cast as aggressive; animal welfare groups note that housing policies are one of the main reasons animals are given up.
The bill passed the House and Senate and awaits a concurring vote on its changes in the House, which is set for today.
In response to criticism from Attorney General Mark Brnovich that Maricopa County wasn’t responding to records requests from his office fast enough, Maricopa County filed a records request to analyze how quickly Brnovich’s office responds to records requests from others.
Finally, the slow speed of public records requests gets its day in the sun! We think everyone could be fulfilling them faster, though we for sure think Brnovich’s office needs to speed up our requests if he’s going to throw stones.