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The Daily Agenda: Sinema gets confronted everywhere she goes
We'd really like to write about something else now ... Everyone thinks they're a lawyer ... And the Stephanie Grisham redemption tour continues.
We’re again experiencing what we’ve dubbed “the audit problem”: We don’t want to keep talking about a particular subject every day, but it keeps being the big news.
So today, we’re talking about U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema again. And that’s because the Biden spending plan is still logjammed, and the activists who want to see it passed are still pissed. After the weekend bathroom confrontation, Democratic activists found her on an airplane and then at the D.C. airport to let her know what they think about her blocking Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
In one video, a DACA recipient comes up to Sinema on a plane and asks her to commit to the spending plan, saying a pathway to citizenship was critical for her and her family. Sinema didn’t respond to the request for a commitment and barely acknowledged the woman’s words.
Once she arrived in D.C., another group of protesters met her, asking about the spending plan and her vote.
And while new protests cropped up, the debate over the bathroom video continued. Yesterday morning, the senior senator put out a statement about a confrontation with activists in an Arizona State University bathroom after she taught a class there. She called the event disruptive and said it was “not legitimate protest.” Her students’ safety was breached, she said.
“My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized. This is wholly inappropriate,” her statement said.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly agreed, saying the actions were “completely inappropriate.” But President Joe Biden, asked if the tactics crossed any lines, said the tactics weren’t appropriate, but they happen to everybody in politics who doesn’t have Secret Service protection. “It’s part of the process,” he said.
LUCHA, whose members were the ones confronting Sinema in the bathroom, defended its actions, saying Sinema has refused to engage about the Biden spending plan. Other activists who have tried to meet with Sinema said they haven’t been able to get meetings or phone calls, and people who have protested at her office in Phoenix have been arrested multiple times.
As an aside, we’ve gotten a handful of mailers the past few weeks from Center Forward, a moderate political action committee, praising Sinema for her independence and bipartisanship.
Her approval numbers are tanking among Dems, but in case anyone forgot, Sinema isn’t up for reelection until 2024. And she’s already headlining the opinion pages in the New York Times, which scathingly called her out for lacking clear principles.
“So I think it’s entirely possible that Sinema’s motives are sincere, because she’s come to believe in bipartisanship for its own sake, divorced from any underlying policy goals,” opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote.
One part of Sinema’s statement caught our eye: She called out the protesters for “deceptively entering a locked, secure building” at the university. ASU is a public university, and buildings generally were accessible pre-pandemic.
Not so anymore. The classroom, located in the University Center in downtown Phoenix, can now only be accessed by students and staff with a key card, according to ASU Police Information Officer Adam Wolfe.
The incident is “actively being investigated,” Wolfe said, so he couldn’t comment on whether there could be charges related to it for those who entered the building.
But in general, he said, people in ASU facilities who aren’t authorized can be “trespassed from campus.” Trespassing charges have varying levels of severity and outcomes, ranging from a warning to arrest, he said.
And in other “is this illegal?” takes, Twitter keeps discussing whether filming someone in a bathroom is against Arizona law, pointing to a statute aimed at surreptitious recordings. Surreptitious means secret, basically. The statute specifically states that it’s unlawful to take photos, videos, recordings or “secretly view” someone in places where there’s an expectation of privacy, like bathrooms.
However, the statute includes specific language about bathrooms: The person being recorded would need to be “urinating, defecating, dressing, undressing, nude or involved in sexual intercourse or sexual contact,” none of which is happening in the videos posted by activists.
Today in no shit news: The COVID-19 vaccine saved lives. A new U.S. Department of Health Services study tried to quantify how many. The study estimates it saved the lives of up to 1,000 Arizona seniors, and stopped 265,000 COVID-19 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations and 39,000 total Arizona deaths, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach reported.
Today in no shit news part 2: Being busy is good for business. Hospitals’ profits were up 35 percent through the pandemic, according to a report from Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Innes reports.
Today in no shit news part 3: Vaccinating kids would dramatically change the conversation about COVID-19 in schools. The Pfizer vaccine is expected to be approved for children as young as five soon, the Republic’s Yana Kunichoff reports.
It’ll be as big as the audit: The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is finally starting to draw real maps, and the rough draft includes big changes from the current maps, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda reports. Cue the complaints that IRC chair Erika Neuberg is biased, the Republic’s Ray Stern notes.
She’s not a real reporter, that’s not a real news station: Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani claimed in a deposition that he had veto power over OAN personality Christina Bobb’s audit coverage, The Daily Beast reported.
Maybe next week: Business Insider reports that U.S. Senate candidate and Peter Thiel’s Manchurian candidate Blake Masters is more than seven weeks late filing his financial disclosure documents that would shed light on exactly how beholden to Thiel he is. He’s been telling Business Insider’s Kimberly Leonard he’ll file it any day now for a few weeks.
We missed this one: After dropping out of the Democratic primary for Congressional District 2, state Rep. Randy Friese announced he’s also resigning his legislative seat next month. And his seatmate, Pamela Powers Hannley, isn’t seeking re-election. The Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller has the deets.
For $50,000, get launched into space: World View, the Tucson-based space balloon company that Mark Kelly started (and has since left) is planning to send tourists into the stratosphere by 2024 for the low price of just just $50,000, the Daily Star’s Dave Wichner reports.
We’d love to be launched into space. Click the “founding member” subscription option and punch in $50,000 and we will literally spend it on a space ticket. Or just sign up for $7 per month.
We noted two particularly bad audits of state agencies by the Auditor General yesterday, but there are more. (Because the word has become functionally meaningless, in this instance, we’re talking about seasoned state auditors who study an agency or a particular issue, compare it to legal requirements and note any potential discrepancies in law or best practices.) The list of audits in the past few months shows several agencies that just kind of aren’t following state laws that pertain to them, with varying degrees of potential harm to the public because of it. Fun!
Arizona legend turned White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is on her image rehab/book tour. She told Good Morning America yesterday that she’s really sorry she enabled former President Donald Trump and working for him was a huge mistake. It was quite the mea culpa from one of his staunchest and longest-serving defenders. “Many of us, myself included, got into that White House and got heady with power and we didn’t think about serving the country anymore — it was about surviving in there. And he loved it — he loved the chaos,” she said. Among the not-exactly-groundbreaking revelations: Trump is easily distracted by pretty (Russian agent) women and Melania Trump (who Secret Service dubbed Rapunzel) wasn’t mad or shocked about Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit.
APS wants to raise your rates again, and the Arizona Corporation Commission seems poised to let them. Today is day two of a three-day rate hearing, which you can tune into here.
LD17 Democrats’ monthly meeting at 6:30 tonight will include a presentation from the Democratic National Committee’s Mark Robert Gordon and others. Watch here.