The Daily Agenda: Kari and Abe go back to court
Lawsuits are just fundraisers with legal filings ... "One of the biggest scandals in Arizona history" ... And our new coworker is truly the worst.
It has been more than six months since the 2022 election ended, and yet we’re still talking about it — in large part because the incredibly slow legal process of nearly endless appeals is, well, incredibly slow and nearly endless.
Failed attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh was back in court yesterday attempting to overturn his 280-vote lossto Attorney General Kris Mayes last November. Failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, meanwhile, is heading to court today to try to overturn her 17,000-vote loss to Gov. Katie Hobbs.
Neither attempt is likely to happen, but the leisurely pace of the legal battles allows election deniers to feed their angry supporters a steady stream of misinformation as they promise that the big reveal is just around the corner.
Lake’s case started with 10 allegations. The Maricopa County Superior Court shot down all of them. The Court of Appeals agreed. The Arizona Supreme Court said the superior court provided a flawed legal rationale for one of those counts — the signature verification issue — and ordered the case sent back to the lower court to hear that single issue. Now her lawyers are trying to expand the scope of the trial.
To win, she’d have to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the county “conducted no signature verification or curing” and that the failure to do so changed the outcome of the case.
Hamadeh’s case also already had a hearing, and a Mohave County judge dismissed it. He filed a motion for a new trial in January, citing “new and compelling information” about the Pinal County election screw-up. Yesterday’s hearing was about whether to grant that new trial.
“I’m gonna make a ruling hopefully within the next couple weeks,” Judge Lee Jantzen said. “I put a date on here but I won’t mention it out loud.”
Even Mark Finchem’s attempt to overturn his 120,000-vote loss to Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is technically still alive, as he threatens to appeal.
To be clear, Lake, Hamadeh and even Finchem deserve their day(s) in court and the chance to appeal their losses. We just wish it would happen quicker.
We asked attorney Tom Ryan, who has been following the cases for Arizona’s Law Blog, how long the legal drama will last and if we’ll still be arguing about 2022 in 2025.
“You’re asking the question that everyone is asking today: How much longer can this go on?” Ryan said, noting none of the plaintiffs seem to be in any rush to finish the cases.
Ryan said that after Governor George Hunt successfully overturned the 1916 election, the state tightened up its rules on election contests. And those rules worked for about 100 years. But now it’s time for lawmakers and the courts to revisit the rules and deal with election deniers making bad-faith and often bizarre claims that don’t hold up to any scrutiny and are simply used for fundraising purposes, he argued.
Lake, Hamadeh and Finchem don’t want their legal battles to end. At this point, it’s not about winning the appeal. It’s about continuing the grift.
Governor Katie Hobbs and Attorney General Kris Mayes announced that the state’s health care program shelled out “hundreds of millions” of dollars to alleged criminal enterprises masquerading as health care providers that billed dead people for mental health and addiction services and practically kidnapped Native American people to use them for the fake treatment scheme.
Yesterday’s press conference was the result of a long investigation by the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the state. Mayes called it “one of the biggest scandals in Arizona history,” and said she thinks the criminal enterprise started in Nevada, then moved here after the Silver State cracked down, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes and Stacey Barchenger report. Both politicians are pointing fingers at their predecessors, saying they should have done more to stop it. Both former AG Mark Brnovich and a spokesman for former Gov. Doug Ducey said the investigation was underway long before Mayes or Hobbs took office, Capitol scribe Howie Fischer reports.
The problem has been long known among Native American tribes, and reporters across the Southwest have caught wind of the scam over recent months. Lawmakers on the Ad Hoc Committee for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples have been talking about the issue since last year. Democratic Sen. Theresa Hatathlie introduced legislation addressing the problem this year, though it never received a vote.
Back to the drawing board: Tempe voters rejected the city’s plans to create a new stadium and entertainment district for the Arizona Coyotes hockey team by 10 percentage points in Tuesday’s special election. And Tucson voters also shot down their special election proposition, Tucson Electric Power’s plans to raise prices to bury power lines and help pay for the city’s “climate action plan,” by about 10 points.
Blame Howie: Members of the Arizona Freedom Caucus held a press conference yesterday to brag about the tax rebate they pooled their money for in the budget. Group leader Sen. Jake Hoffman criticized his fellow Republicans for not using all of their allocation on the rebate, until Capitol scribe Howie Fischer noted that even Sen. Sonny Borrelli, standing behind Hoffman at the podium, spent part of his money on an infrastructure project in his district.
“Your goal here is to divide Republicans,” Hoffman told Fischer. “Your goal here is to create some type of hit piece and some angle that you can exploit.”
We really don’t need this many motels: Tempe and Maricopa County are transforming an old motel into transitional housing with 60 units capable of housing up to 120 people. It’ll cost about $10 million, and officials haven’t announced the location of the motel yet.
In this economy?: Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher wants to increase taxes while the county already has more cash than expected, but it might not be a bad idea, the Tucson Sentinel’s Blake Morlock writes. And Mesa Public Schools will ask voters in November to approve a $500 million bond, the East Valley Tribune’s Scott Shumaker writes. On the other side of the Valley, Peoria Unified School District wants to ask voters to approve a $250 million bonding package, the Daily Independent’s Philip Haldiman reports.
Faster but slower: Phoenix officials are considering changing speed limits in 12 different areas, and a city council subcommittee could vote on a proposal today. The Republic’s Taylor Seely has the list of streets you can speed up or slow down on.
Poison water isn’t as refreshing: Arizona doesn’t just need more water, it needs more high-quality water, KJZZ’s Ron Dungan notes, but pollutants creeping into the water supply ruin what little groundwater the state has left, or at least, make it much more expensive to turn into usable water.
“It’s always cheaper to prevent pollution than to try to clean it up,” Sandy Bahr, president of the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, told Dungan.
Who hasn’t added a doctorate to their resume?: The University of Arizona’s vice provost claimed in her bio on the university’s website and her LinkedIn page to have a doctorate in educational leadership. But after Arizona Daily Star reporter Kathryn Palmer made a few calls, Kendal Washington White, the vice provost for campus life and dean of students, admitted that she never actually completed that degree and removed the padding from her resume.
Letdowns are hard: The “steady and responsible” Republican U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani “lost his way” when he stood with his fellow Republicans in holding the debt ceiling hostage, Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller writes. Steller notes that the spending cuts Republicans want now were never a condition of lifting the ceiling under President Donald Trump.
It’s like 2010 never ended: Right-wing vigilantes and white nationalist including Ethan Schmidt-Crockett, who is banned from the Arizona House and Senate, are patrolling the border harassing migrants post-Title 42, and both the Intercept and the Republic have narrative stories about the drama.
“We were looking for people to help but the only thing we found was the vigilantes again,” Dora Rodriguez, director of a migrant aid organization, told the Republic’s José Ignacio Castañeda Perez.
Beating a dead policy: Title 42 may be over, but the legal battle continues with Arizona at its center, Arizona’s Law Blog writes, following the case of a former deputy AG under Mark Brnovich who has since moved to the Louisiana AG’s Office and wants to continue arguing the case from there. The U.S. Department of Justice wants the case tossed since Title 42 isn’t being used.
More sports news: Phoenix is about to become home to a professional women’s soccer team as the new USL Super League plans to start in eight markets, including Phoenix, 12News’ John Tanet reports. The Phoenix team doesn’t yet have a name.
Pleaded down: A San Luis city council member accused of ballot harvesting pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge and had another dismissed, the Yuma Sun reports. Gloria Lopez Torres, who was reelected in 2020, was among two women who were originally charged with two felonies each for delivering ballots in the small rural community in the 2020 primary election. A third woman, former San Luis Mayor Guillermina Fuentes, spent a month in jail for her role in the scheme.
If you needed further proof that the newsletter business is a scam, former lawmaker and failed secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem started a Substack.
We suppose that makes us coworkers?
Please help ensure the Agenda is more successful than Finchem’s newsletter. And if that pitch doesn’t get you, we don’t know what will.
It was a 511-vote loss until a recount narrowed the margin.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, of course we subscribed (for free — it’s gonna have to be really good to get our $5 per month). The first post, which claimed that printer jams in Kentucky's primary election today must somehow be related to Maricopa County’s 2022 election because “there are no coincidences,” was mercifully short.
Thank you for reporting on Mr. Finchem's newsletter so I can comment here without having to go there - and as for there being no coincidences, I note that the printer problems in Kentucky happened on the 16th; 16 is 4 squared; a square is a shape; I am in decent shape, and I am a Democrat. Which obviously means that the Democrats caused the printer jams, since there are no coincidences. Of course, about printer jams, jam is a food, and ...
Tempe talks a good story about helping the homeless but when it came to a homeless hockey team, they said no. Telling the residents this would result it hockey players roaming around Tempe pushing grocery carts and the end of civilization as they knew it didn't change the vote. If you see these homeless hockey players, call the Tempe HOPE team.