The Daily Agenda: Chucri takes down Chucri
Send all future leaked recordings to us instead ... The John Birch Society is still a thing ... and Ward has some advice.
Republican Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri abruptly resigned last night after old recordings surfaced of him claiming election fraud to a far-right election-denying group, suggesting his fellow supervisors didn’t really win their elections and saying the county’s audits were “bullshit.”
Disinformation website Gateway Pundit got the recordings (allegedly, we’ve only seen the transcripts they posted) from We the People Alliance, the group that tried and failed to recall four of the supervisors (including Chucri) and Gov. Doug Ducey.
“I think it was done through dead people voting. I think it was multifaceted. … Ballot harvesting, ballot harvesting!” he said.
“I should have listened to Andy Biggs, and I think even (Mark) Brnovich said you could (audit) 30% (of the ballots).”
“You know what I think it was, in hindsight. (Bill) Gates got scared because he barely won. And Jack (Sellers) got scared because he only won by 200 votes, and then there was an audit and a recount, which was pretty bullshit, by the way. What would happen in those two races? And that is way too self-serving.”
Of course, none of his statements show any evidence of fraud — but merely that Chucri believed, or at least purported to believe, the sustained disinformation campaign that the election was fraudulent. In his resignation letter, Chucri reiterated there was no fraud or cover-up and apologized to his colleagues. (He also apologized to former Democratic Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, who he called a “scumbag.” Always classy, Fontes told the Arizona Mirror that he doesn’t accept the apology and Chucri can “go to hell.”)
But that was lost on the misinformation website that got the recordings, which isn’t surprising given that it started the conspiracy that the fire that killed 165,000 chickens at Hickman’s Farms was Supervisor Clint Hickman’s way of burning fake ballots.
The news shocked politicos, partly because his leaked comments were in line with what a huge chunk of the Republican Party wants to hear. The comments were bad, but he could have weathered the storm, several said.
But Chucri has taken the exact opposite stance publicly — and his comments not only demolished his ability to work with his fellow supervisors, but also undermined all that the supervisors have been saying since March about the election being fine and their own audits being good enough to prove that.
Still, his job was probably safe until his re-election in 2024. At least his elected job. Chucri is head of the Arizona Restaurant Association and works on the side for General Motors, neither of which could have been pleased by last night’s news.
The timing of the leaked tapes is also noteworthy. The audit is set to release its first round of “findings” this Friday, and now auditors have a political scapegoat to point to during the hearings. We expect to hear a lot of, “Chucri knew there was fraud but he was silenced!”
The resignation means the board will have to make one more political appointment in this turbulent resignation season. His resignation will be effective Nov. 5.
We have investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong: Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher and Mayor Kate Gallego say they haven’t found any evidence of the police inappropriately throwing away homeless people’s items during cleanups, an issue the U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating. People whose stuff has been thrown away, and service groups that work with the homeless population, say there’s plenty of evidence, the Republic’s Jessica Boehm reports. Zuercher also claims it’s not clear whether the DOJ is investigating this issue despite the DOJ explicitly saying it is investigating this issue, which is some "it depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is” logic.
We have investigated ourselves and found nothing wrong, part 2: The NewsGuild is investigating Gannett, which owns the Arizona Republic, for unpaid overtime practices, the union said yesterday. The investigation began after Republic reporter Rebekah Sanders tweeted about unpaid overtime, and investigative editor Michael Braga responded saying businesses exploit young people and expect work on nights and weekends to get ahead. The guild asked Gannett to do its own investigation as well. A corporate spokesperson told CNN Business that the NewsGuild put out “misinformation” and that the company investigates any complaints about unpaid overtime. That statement was followed by one of the company’s employees, Republic reporter Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, saying managers would “berate” her for seeking pay for overtime, so she stopped asking.
We have been working crazy hours to get this two-person newsletter out. Help us pay ourselves overtime so our union doesn’t investigate. A subscription is only $7 per month.
Grab a maroon-and-gold shovel: They’re already starting construction at the site of the new Omni Hotel in Tempe despite Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit claiming the tax treatment that brought the hotel to town is illegal and must be undone. Brnovich hasn’t been successful in court so far, though the Arizona Supreme Court will hear the case. The company behind the hotel is undeterred, the Republic’s Paulina Pineda reports.
It’s enough for half a T-bone steak at Durant’s: If you paid for car registration in June, keep an eye on your mailbox: You might have a $32 check from the Arizona Department of Transportation, courtesy of Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, reports the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo. Ugenti-Rita worked to repeal a fee charged during registration that paid for public safety. It was repealed in 2019 and set to expire after fiscal year 2021, which ended in June. But people who registered in June still paid the higher rate, and they’re getting their money back now.
It wasn’t a coup until Jan. 6: Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates thinks it’s unfair to say new audit special master John Shadegg was at an early “Stop the Steal” rally just because he stood alongside notable conspiracy peddlers U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar and AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward while a crowd screamed “Stop the Steal.” “If he was at events months later after this had worked through the courts, I would see this differently,” he told KJZZ’s The Show.
On a sad note: Republican Rep. Frank Pratt died. There are a number of glowing obits about the rancher, pool builder and lawmaker from Casa Grande, so we’ll just add that while nobody speaks ill of the dead, we never heard a single person speak ill of Pratt while he was living. And in the vengeful and mean-spirited world of Arizona politics, that says a lot.
As reporters and professional navel-gazers, we’re utterly fascinated by Kari Lake’s transformation from TV news person to would-be politician. After 25 years in the business, Lake is captivating on camera and knows how to spin a story with the best of them — good qualities for a politician. There’s a not-unreasonable chance our next governor is a press-hating former reporter who used her career on TV to launch a political campaign disguised as a crusade against the media. Exciting times! KJZZ’s The Show yesterday had a fascinating (to journalists) conversation with Columbia Journalism Review reporter Jon Allsop about his recent deep dive on reporters who have run for office in the U.S. and abroad. It’s worth a read, even though it didn’t mention Lake.
Local shifty-eyed agitator and failed U.S. Senate candidate Daniel McCarthy interrupted a recent meeting of the John Birch Society (yes, the John Birch Society) with a rant about how the Republican Party has been infiltrated by communists. He cornered Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Gaynor to pledge to sign a bill to ban counting ballots with machines and do it by hand instead (which would mean every election cycle would last as long as 2020). Meanwhile, Republican Rep. John Fillmore claimed legislative leaders want to nullify the election and are working on creating a “nullification committee.” The 18-minute video is pure torture, but we watched the whole damn thing.
A federal court will hear oral Arguments in the lawsuit challenging Arizona’s anti-abortion law SB1457 at 2 p.m. The public can listen in by calling 877-336-4436, and entering passcode 8970228#.
Honest Arizona and Children's Action Alliance will hold a press conference with Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Sen. Raquel Terán to unveil a new report on the impact of the expanded Child Tax Credit at the Children's Museum of Phoenix at 10:00 a.m.