The Daily Agenda: Election lawsuits have consequences
All the lawsuits fit to print … Today in Arizona dumpster fires … And that’s a wicked vintage tee.
Arizona court dockets are already getting packed with myriad election-related lawsuits that will shape the 2022 election by deciding three fundamental questions: who is allowed to vote, how people can vote and who they get to vote for.
And, because this is Arizona, the courts are still busy with fallout of the 2020 election.
Who is allowed to vote
The Democratic National Committee filed a notice of claim on Friday that sets the stage for a lawsuit against Arizona after Republican lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey enacted a new law that requires additional proof of citizenship to vote, Politico reports. There’s already another lawsuit in the works that Mi Familia Vota filed in federal court in March.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a down a similar law that also required proof of citizenship beyond what was outlined in the National Voter Registration Act, saying it would allow Arizona to reject voters who had satisfied the federal requirements to vote. So Arizona declared people who use that federal voter registration form, which only requires an attestation that they are citizens, “federal-only voters” because they haven’t satisfied Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement.
Lawmakers are hoping today’s more conservative court will uphold this latest attempt to require proof of citizenship from voters who register using the federal form or bar them from voting for president. At stake is the ability to vote for more than 30,000 Arizonans who registered using the federal form — and the question of a legislature’s authority over elections.
How you can vote
Meanwhile, the attorney general and secretary of state bicker in court over the fine print details of how people can vote.
After Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued Secretary of State Katie Hobbs for not enacting a new elections procedures manual (because it needs his signature and he has refused), a Yavapai County judge beat back his request to force her to make the changes he wants. It’s not clear why Brnovich wants to delete some provisions or why he’s asking her to add others, like new signature verification requirements and ballot drop box rules, the judge said.
The judge didn’t toss Brnovich’s lawsuit Friday, but chided the AG’s Office for not working with Hobbs on a compromise and sent Brnovich back to the drawing board to explain his objections, saying “no one can decipher” his rationale, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl reports.
Who you can vote for
Candidates spent last week trying to knock their competitors off the ballot.
The GOP primary to take on U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton in Congressional District 4 dropped down to a five-way primary after a judge removed Republican Alex Stoval from the ballot. And Democrats lost a contender in the primary to take on U.S. Rep. David Schweikert in CD1 (assuming he survives his own primary), after Ginger Torres was also knocked off the ballot. A half-dozen candidates for the Arizona Legislature suffered the same fate. Check out Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer’s running tally for the complete update.
But many other candidates narrowly dodged the legal ax. Sandra Dowling, a Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, remains on the ballot after surviving a challenge in their still-Republican CD91. And Democrat Aaron Lieberman’s far-fetched gubernatorial campaign for governor is still on track after he fended off a legal challenge to his candidacy.
Meanwhile Democrats are appealing their failed longshot lawsuit to kick the election-rejection trio of U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, Gosar and Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem off the ballot for their role in the Jan. 6 festivities. The Arizona Supreme Court is set to decide the case this week.
And because 2020 never ends
A Yuma County judge shot down a bid from Jan. 6 superstars Gosar and Finchem and former (and likely future) lawmaker Anthony Kern to sue former Arizona House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez for asking the FBI to investigate their roles in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
And Senate President Karen Fann is still pushing the myth of decertification through an imaginary lawsuit to people far enough removed from reality to believe that impossibility.
Rest in peace: Former Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel died this weekend at age 45 of “health complications,” her family announced. Her husband, David DeNitto, said the family is “utterly heartbroken by this unimaginable loss.” Adel was the first woman to hold the Maricopa County attorney position. She resigned in March after a string of problems in the office.
Man makes phone call: Arizona Attorney General’s Office funds intended to help consumers with fraud cases are instead diverted to lawsuits with no nexus to consumer fraud at a time when AG Mark Brnovich uses his office to file suit after suit against the federal government while running for U.S. Senate, AZFamily’s Morgan Loew reports. Elsewhere in the U.S. Senate race, former President Donald Trump called in to a Blake Masters campaign event, but didn’t make an endorsement for the race. And you can bet that this all will end up on the airwaves soon: To try to preserve the Senate seat for Democrats, national Dem groups set aside millions to aid U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly’s campaign.
Schools showdown: On the campaign trail, Kari Lake blamed administrative costs at schools for the teacher shortage, which the Arizona Mirror’s Jim Small pokes holes through. Republican candidates for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction faced off in a debate, then talked more policy with the Republic’s Yana Kunichoff. Kunichoff and Amy Qin also show how the state’s top-ranked schools don’t reflect Arizona’s students, instead skewing wealthier and whiter. And an elementary school in Chandler with a largely Latino student body works to address pandemic-related learning losses, the Republic’s Daniel Gonzalez reports.
New home, same as the old home: Skyler Morrison, a 13-year-old trans girl who testified at the Arizona Legislature against a new law that limits access to gender-affirming care for minors, told HuffPost that she and her family may have to leave Arizona, just as they left Texas when that state passed anti-trans legislation. She also said Arizona Rep. Walt Blackman gave her an “Arizona Department of Corrections medal inscribed with words like ‘integrity’ and ‘professionalism’” before ultimately voting in favor of the bill.
Goodbye to all that: The Arizona Coyotes played their last hockey game at the Gila River Arena in Glendale after 19 years of a tense relationship with the city. The team will move to Tempe after both the Coyotes and Glendale say staying in the town no longer makes financial sense, the Republic’s Carrie Watters writes in a retrospective of the team and its landlord.
We need to stop us: Tracey Kay McKee, a Scottsdale woman who pleaded guilty to trying to cast a ballot in her dead mother’s name (almost certainly for former President Donald Trump), won’t go to jail, instead getting two years of probation. She “railed about the need to prosecute voter fraud,” the Associated Press reports.
It’s that time of the year/decade/century/millenium: It’s very hot and too many people live here, so we might have to contend with semi-regular power blackouts in the coming years, the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo reports. Oh, and the giant nuclear power plant in the desert, the Palo Verde Generating Station, needs to find another water source because its previous plan was scrapped and its water prices will increase in the next couple years, Randazzo reports. You can now see the water intake valve at Lake Mead because the water level is so low. And families in the Flagstaff area faced the all-too-common dilemma of whether to flee or stay to fight a wildfire threatening their homes, the AP’s Felicia Fonseca reports.
Heavy sigh: The real estate market in the Phoenix area is still on a tear, with the median home price at a record high and climbing, the Republic’s Catherine Reagor reports. In Pima County, veterans are getting priced out of their rentals and can’t find other places they can afford, the Arizona Daily Star’s Patty Machelor reports. And in Chandler, but certainly not just in Chandler, residents can’t find landlords who will accept Section 8 housing vouchers because they can rent out apartments for more money without them, the Chandler Arizonan’s Ken Sain reports.
Could be the first execution since 2014’s botched execution: The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency shot down a clemency request from death-row inmate Clarence Dixon, who the state is trying to execute for his conviction of murdering a Tempe college student. Dixon’s attorneys have argued he is not mentally competent to face execution.
Free* college: To attract more students, Northern Arizona University will cover tuition costs for any Arizona student whose family brings in less than $65,000, the Republic’s Alison Steinbach reports. The move comes after several years of enrollment declines at the Flagstaff college, but isn’t using any new funds for the newly announced program.
We still have to pay our student loans back unless someone who runs the country decides otherwise. Help us keep our bank accounts in the black by becoming a paid subscriber for $8 per month!
A February settlement no one heard about: Former Santa Cruz County Sheriff Antonio “Tony” Estrada and former Capt. Ruben Fuentes paid $10,000 to settle a $600,000 lawsuit over overtime practices that the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said were a misuse of funds, the Nogales International’s Angela Gervasi reports. The suit claimed Estrada’s office had instructed employees to claim an hour of overtime if they worked outside their scope during their daily duties. The county’s insurance also was supposed to pay out $20,000 to settle the claims.
We are all dumpster fires: Wealthy man Steve Gaynor dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination for Arizona governor last week, concluding that his “chance of winning was low enough to be unrealistic.” That leaves Kari Lake, Karrin Taylor Robson and Matt Salmon duking it out for the top Republican spot, alongside longshot candidates Scott Neely and Paola Tulliani Zen. On the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful side, Aaron Lieberman put out a TV spot that unfortunately placed his logo on a flaming dumpster.
How long can this go on? Asking for newsletter writers who need a vacation: As the budget impasse at the Arizona Legislature continues, the House won’t be meeting for floor sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the next couple weeks.
Rachel is ordained, if you ever need an in-flight wedding: A couple whose flights kept getting canceled by weather got married on an airplane over Arizona after they missed their Vegas chapel time, the Republic’s Ed Masley reports.
Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed a handful of the bills we’ve featured in this section.
House Bill 2034, from Republican Rep. Michelle Udall, allows career technical education districts to confer associate’s degrees as long as they meet a set of conditions.
HB2119, sponsored by GOP Rep. Steve Kaiser, improves the civil rights restoration notification process for felonies and allows for automatic firearm rights restoration in some circumstances.
Kaiser’s HB2161 expands parent’s rights in education and allows parents to access any records related to their kids, allowing parents to bring lawsuits if they feel these rights are infringed.
HB2439 from Republican Rep. Beverly Pingerelli allows parents to see a list of all the books their kids check out from school libraries and sets up a public review process for new library books.
Republican Rep. Tim Dunn’s HB2398 creates a dude ranch heritage trail program.
Spotted in a Mesa thrift store called Deseret Industries: A t-shirt supporting audit denizen and legislative hopeful Ken Bennett’s run for Arizona governor, possibly from 2014, though it could also be from 2018, when he challenged Gov. Doug Ducey on a MAGA platform. Is this considered a vintage tee yet?
Former lawmaker turned lobbyist Jack Harper filed as a write-in candidate in the district.