The Daily Agenda: Investigations abound, Arizona is the center of the political universe
We investigate whether investigators are investigating... and man, would that flowchart come in handy right now.
Former Arizona Republic reporter Craig Harris, now at USA Today, broke the news yesterday that the former deputy director of the Department of Revenue, who blew the whistle on a potential tax deal, has spoken to the FBI a few times about the issue.
The conversations Grant Nulle had with the bureau began in May, before Harris’ stories were published. But an agent contacted Nulle again after the stories to make sure he and his family were safe, he said. He has since moved out of state.
"They are investigating the whole situation, but I don't know what they have," Nulle told the paper.
But that’s all we know so far about the FBI’s potential probe into Gov. Doug Ducey’s affairs. And it got us thinking: What exactly is an FBI investigation? Do a couple of phone calls qualify? How do you know if you’re part of it or the subject of it?
Ducey’s office shot down the idea that he’s under investigation about the Ryan LLC issue. Spokesman C.J. Karamargin asked Harris to send any proof of an investigation, adding that, “until then, we don’t comment on rumors.” The office said it hadn’t been contacted by the FBI.
The FBI said it could neither confirm nor deny that any such investigation exists. The history of this “Glomar response” is fascinating and terribly frustrating; we recommend this Radiolab episode about how this bureaucratic non-response came to be.
When the FBI came knocking at former Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce’s door, it publicly confirmed it was investigating. That case, which ultimately ended in a mistrial, was dubbed the “Ghost Lobby” case.
Interestingly, when those charges were announced, Ducey urged caution, telling people not to rush to judgment.
Ghost Lobby stemmed from a larger investigation called “Operation High Grid,” which Google thinks should be called Operation Hagrid. What ultimately came of Operation High Grid/Hagrid? Nothing, at least at this point.
Like Trump would spend his own money: The former president may have been looking to donate to the audit, according to text messages released as part of American Oversight’s audit lawsuit that Arizona Capitol Times’ Dillon Rosenblatt and Kyra Haas dug up. Former state Treasurer and Trump campaign worker and appointee Jeff DeWit texted audit spokesman Randy Pullen to say Trump was asking if it was OK to donate to one of the dark money organizations funding the audit.
Our over/under is still looking good: Arizona Senate President Karen Fann still has no clue when that Cyber Ninjas report, originally promised in May, then promised again last week, will show up. You’re doing great, Karen!
You want life-saving information?: COVID-19 is spreading in schools, but parents and students often can’t see school-level dashboards and data that would help them understand what outbreaks may exist at their schools, according to the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting’s Maria Polletta and Shaena Montanari.
Unicorns and rainbows: Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told the Republic’s Yana Kunichoff she’d love to see universal masking in schools, but recognizes she has no power to make that happen, and the governor and legislature aren’t going to, either. It’s hard out there for a non-lawmaker.
Arizona Agenda has the same policy: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will vote today on a policy to give employees who are vaccinated before Halloween $100 and a day off, 12 News’ Brahm Resnik noted.
Get that financial aid: Arizona residents who attend the state’s three public universities and qualify for the Pell grant will soon have access to a new Arizona Promise scholarship, funded by $7.5 million from the legislature. Wait, the legislature wants more Arizonans to go to college?!
Don’t worry, no former lawmakers are on the list: The panel set up to select applicants to replace former state Sen. Tony Navarrete, who was arrested for child molestation, winnowed the list down to three yesterday. The smart money is on Rep. Raquel Terán, which means there will be a vacant seat in the House that needs filling.
We’re number … something: The U.S. State Department put Phoenix on a list of the 19 most welcoming communities for Afghan and Iraqi refugees — but don’t call us Number 1. It appears the list is simply alphabetized by state.
Moving goalposts: Back before Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine had full Food and Drug Administration approval, Ducey’s office said full authorization was a key difference between colleges’ ability to mandate the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, but not the COVID-19 vaccine. Now that there’s FDA approval, Ducey spokesman CJ Karamargin said Arizona colleges still can’t require them, KJZZ’s Katherine Davis-Young reports.
As much as we love tidbits that teach us how Arizona’s government operates, lobbyist Beth Lewallen loves them more. Everyone should follow Beth on Twitter, because our tidbits are nothing without her tidbits. (If you say the word “tidbits” too many times, it feels weird.)
She tweeted another great resource out yesterday: a rundown from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that shows how Arizona has spent the billions in federal COVID-19 relief funds we’ve received since the pandemic began.
It’s not an Arizona case, but we believe this school board meeting in Henrico County, Virginia, has national implications. Someone, presumably a student, used the call to the audience as a masterful impersonation of Bart Simpson calling Moe’s Tavern. The school board president called to the podium such esteemed members of the community as “Phil McKracken” “Ileen Dover” and “Wayne Kerr.” If you don’t want to watch the video, just say the names out loud. You’ll get it. God help us if the youth ever figure out the Arizona Legislature’s Request to Speak System.
Navajo and Apache County Democrats will meet virtually at 3 p.m. to talk about Geocoding, how to fight voter suppression and what’s happening in Arizona politics right now. Here’s the Zoom link.
Tom Horne will speak to Conservatives for a Constitutional Republic at 6 p.m. today at the Camp Verde Community Library, 130 Black Bridge Rd, Camp Verde. RSVP required. Email email@example.com.