The Daily Agenda: On mandates and candidates
Does nobody remember Tom Horne? ... Multiple Fernandez are called Fernandi ... Raise your hand if Brnovich has asked about your sex life.
Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Brnovich is taking yet another stab at stopping the federal government’s vaccine mandate, this time adding the City of Phoenix, which passed an employee vaccine mandate, to his lawsuit.
The key difference between Phoenix’s mandate and the mandates we’ve talked about in Tucson and Pima County is Phoenix is blaming the feds, saying it has several federal contracts so is required to comply with President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring vaccines for its employees. Tucson just argued there’s no law against city vaccine mandates.
Like the others, it applies to police and firefighters (who are less likely to be vaccinated) and allows for religious and medical exemptions. Phoenix is the first Arizona city of many that are expected to adopt similar requirements under the executive order.
Part of the federal mandate — the rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations (or testing) — was put on hold earlier this month after a federal appeals court declared it “staggeringly overbroad.” But so far, the courts have not stopped the executive orders covering federal employee or contractors.
Enter Brnovich, who filed a complaint earlier this year that argued the contractor and employee mandates were unconstitutional because they didn’t require illegal immigrants to get vaccinated. The judge, like the rest of us, essentially laughed at him, so he amended the complaint.
This time around, Brnovich added the Phoenix police and firefighters unions to the complaint, saying they’re worried about being fired, and named the City of Phoenix as a defendant after the city manage announced the new policy.
Meanwhile, Republican Phoenix City Council member Sal DiCiccio argued that just because the city has some federal contracts doesn’t mean it’s a federal contractor, and he called on his colleagues to hold an actual vote on the city mandate. He went on the radio to declare that the mandate is “targeting cops” and warn of a looming crime wave if cops have to be vaccinated.
Of course, these lawsuits and more are fodder for Brnovich’s U.S. Senate campaign. And we’ll be surprised if it’s not livestreamed on his new AGTV streaming service, which Dem AG candidate Kris Mayes called on the auditor general to investigate to see if it constitutes improper use of office resources for his campaign. (No bonus points for Mayes, since she didn’t work in an easy Tom Horne reference1.)
The fact that Brnovich is using his office as a campaign tool didn’t escape Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson, who is among Brnovich’s challengers in the U.S. Senate Republican primary. But instead of calling him out for misusing state funds, Olson mimicked Brnovich, using his office to urge the commission to fine regulated utilities that imposes a vaccine mandate. (He was joined by Commissioner Jim O’Connor, who believes vaccines turn people into “potted plants,” so clearly this is a thoughtful proposal.)
Kick us some bonus points of working in a Tom Horne reference — subscribe now for just $70 per year! We really are going to raise the price someday soonish, and if you subscribe today, you’ll be grandfathered in at the lower rate.
Another Ducey program not living up to its claims: Fewer than 100 families have received funds from Gov. Doug Ducey’s vouchers-for-coronavirus program, despite initial claims of high demand from parents who want to send their kids to private schools with lax COVID-19 measures. Some of the people who received money may exceed the income cap, while others are sending kids to online school, the Republic’s Stacey Barchenger reports. The program, and another one that incentivized schools without mask mandates, landed Ducey in trouble with the feds.
In case you needed another reason: The Audit Guys, a team of three real election analysts, can’t replicate the Cyber Ninjas’ hand count, the central part of the Arizona audit, the Republic’s Robert Anglen writes. The botched hand count resulted in unreliable, unfounded results being shared with the public, The Audit Guys said.
There’s a new Fernandez in town: After Democratic state Rep. Charlene Fernandez joined the Great Resignation and took a job with the Biden administration, the Yuma County Board of Supervisors yesterday selected her son to replace her. Brian Fernandez has worked for a host of Democratic campaigns and founded a political software company in Phoenix. His sister, Lisa Fernandez, is Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego’s chief of staff.
Conveniently, a strike during the busiest travel week: Workers at Phoenix Sky Harbor restaurants owned by HMSHost went on strike Monday over ongoing contract negotiations between the union and the company, the Republic’s Kaila White reports. Travelers could see longer restaurant lines and limited options for food as they go through the airport.
Worse than the current vulture: Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for gutting local newsrooms around the country in a way that’s even more egregious than a typical corporate overlord, is trying to buy Lee Enterprises, another newspaper chain that’s marginally better than Alden. Lee owns, at least in part, the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff.
An uncomfortable day at the water cooler: The president of the Maricopa County Law Enforcement Association, which represents some employees at the county sheriff’s office, is suing his employer, saying his public comments about COVID-19 led to retaliation in the workplace, the Arizona Capitol Times’ Kyra Haas reports.
That election is a loooong way off: A new poll from OH Predictive Insights shows Arizona Democrats would rather vote for basically anyone other than U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a hypothetical 2024 primary election. The poll threw out a few hypothetical primary contenders, all of whom bested Sinema in the poll: U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton, and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.
It’s good work if you can get it: Sinema and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, the two Democratic senators at the center of the debate over the Biden administration’s social policy plans, have brought in big money over the past few months, including from donors who they normally don’t get money from and from parties with intense interest in the Build Back Better legislation, the New York Times’ Kenneth P. Vogel and Kate Kelly report.
We’ll raise you one school board candidate: To counter efforts to install Republican candidates on school boards, the Maricopa County Democratic Party launched a new program to recruit and train potential school and college board candidates who align with their party instead.
Ask two lawyers and get two different legal opinions: The Arizona Corporation Commission isn’t deterred by a legal opinion from Arizona legislative attorneys that concluded its ethics policy wasn’t legal, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda reports.
The bar should be higher: Republic columnist EJ Montini spoke to Art Hamilton, the Black former Democratic leader of the Arizona House of Representatives, who has been slamming Secretary of State and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs’ handling of the discrimination lawsuit from former staffer Talonya Adams.
“I find it disturbing that there is this notion among Democrats that they have an obligation to vote for her (Hobbs) because the bogeyman on the other side is worse. I don’t accept that. You cannot decide that the best way to get someone elected is to emulate the worst characteristics of your opponent,” Hamilton told Montini.
Joining the Great Resignation is good for your health: Steve Irvin, a 20-year veteran of TV news in the Valley, announced he’s retiring from ABC15 after learning he came “dangerously close to a heart attack” last year and realizing “this can be a very stressful job.” He said he’s scaling back his schedule until he leaves sometime next year.
Despite our snarkiness, we love Arizona, too: The Republic compiled a list of reasons to be grateful for our state during this Thanksgiving week.
Most state lawmakers around the country don’t make much money for their work in public service, which affects the makeup of legislatures and how they represent the public, The 19th’s Barbara Rodriguez reports, based on a new analysis on the issue from the New American Leaders.
Their jobs are increasingly demanding and year-round, in some instances, causing disruption to their day jobs and leading to conflicts of interest. And in Arizona, state lawmakers make $24,000 per year (something voters have repeatedly refused to increase, as Rodriguez and the New American Leaders report both note).
You can see how our legislative salaries and other compensation, like per diem rates, compare to other states using this report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona lawmakers earn less than the average base salary of $39,000 among states that pay lawmakers, according to The 19th’s reporting.
“Have you had an STD?” is not a question you’d expect the attorney general to ask a reporter at a press conference about COVID-19 vaccine mandates. But when AZFamily political editor Dennis Welch asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has been on an endless crusade against vaccine mandates, if he is vaccinated during a press conference yesterday, Brnovich flipped the script, asking if Welch has ever had an STD. “No I mean seriously, if we’re going to start talking about people’s personal health information…” he said.
For what it’s worth, COVID-19 spreads through the air, while sexually transmitted diseases … don’t.
An Arizona Senate ad hoc committee will discuss the formation of a Southern Arizona regional sports and tourism authority at its first meeting today at 9:30 a.m. in Senate Room 109. It’ll also be streamed online.
U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. with Honest Arizona at Melrose Pharmacy 706 W. Montecito Ave, Phoenix, to discuss prescription drug provisions of the Build Back Better Act. RSVP at email@example.com.
Arizona List will hold a virtual training on campaign finance for candidates at 6 p.m. tonight.
That Horne/Brnovich piece had some great throwback quotes:
"Tom could run into a building and save three babies from dying and if one baby got a scratch, that's what people are going to jump on." - Stephanie Grisham, Horne spokeswoman turned White House spokeswoman turned Mar-a-Lago persona non grata
"We're in an election year, with a primary just around the corner, and now he finds time to record a radio and TV ad? Come on." - Ryan Anderson, the longtime AG Office spokesman who was Brnovich’s campaign manager during the GOP primary campaign against Horne