The Daily Agenda: The Arizona ties to Jan. 6
We're always at the epicenter ... The U.S. Senate tries to maybe do something ... And a caption contest for you joke-tellers.
If you didn’t watch the January 6 committee’s first hearing last Thursday, you should.
Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney used her opening statements in the made-for-TV hearing to build the case that Trump and others knew their claims of election fraud were pure bullshit and should be prosecuted for promoting, planning and carrying out the Jan. 6 attacks.
And while it’s not clear if the committee’s findings will translate to criminal charges, Thursday’s hearing offered the most comprehensive accounting to date of the leadup to and execution of former President Donald Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election.
Of course, Arizona played a prominent role. Police and a documentary filmmaker noted that an Arizona contingent of Proud Boys, distinguishable by their matching orange armbands and paramilitary gear, led the mob’s vanguard and coordinated the efforts to break through the first security barriers at the Capitol. And committee leaders indicated they have a lot more to say about the Grand Canyon State.
As Republicans like U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko declare #BlameThePolice their main talking point, it’s also worth listening to Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards’ gut-wrenching testimony about the hours of hand-to-hand combat she endured trying to hold the line against the mob attacking Congress.
Today’s hearing, which starts at 7 a.m., will zero in on how Trump knew he had lost the election, yet continued to wage a “massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election from him.” Future hearings promise to be Arizona-centric as well, as members of the committee plan to dive into topics Trump’s attempts to pressure state lawmakers into thwarting the will of the people and stealing an election for him, and efforts to pass off slates of fake electors as legitimate.
Many Arizonans are deserving of the committee’s spotlight. While our “QAnon Shaman” has already pleaded guilty to felony charges, many other Arizona co-conspirators in the plot to overthrow the election have yet to face consequences for their actions.
Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs threw his subpoena from the committee in the trash last month. The committee wants to hear from him about his role in planning the riot, his efforts to persuade state lawmakers to overturn the election and his attempt to get Trump to pardon him before leaving office. To make matters worse for Biggs, Ali Alexander — a convicted felon who claimed he, Biggs and Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar came up with the idea of the Jan. 6 riot — is cooperating with the committee.
Other Arizona Republicans who the committee has subpoenaed include AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward and two underlings, Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem and congressional longshot Ron Watkins, who is probably Q of QAnon.
But we can think of at least a few others who deserve the committee’s consideration, including Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who hired Trump’s conspiratorial allies to conduct Arizona’s election audit, former (and likely future) Republican state lawmaker Anthony Kern, who breached the security barriers around the Capitol, Republican Rep. Jake Hoffman, who was among Arizona’s fake electors, U.S. Senate Republican candidate Jim Lamon, who also signed the fake documents, and many more.
Preemptive strike: The Tucson City Council directed the police department not to physically arrest anyone for violating state anti-abortion laws if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Instead, the department should present prosecutors with a potential case, and the prosecutor will make charges if warranted, the Arizona Daily Star’s Nicole Ludden reports.
Water for someone else’s cows: Amid a worsening water crisis, the state leases land to a Saudi company that grows alfalfa to send back to the Middle East to feed livestock in a “sweet deal” that drains groundwater in unregulated areas, the Republic’s Rob O’Dell and Ian James report. Lawmakers in both parties told the paper they want to see changes to state leasing practices, but State Land Commissioner Lisa Atkins wouldn’t sit for an interview.
azcentral @azcentralArizona provides sweet deal to Saudi farm to pump water from Phoenix's backup supply https://t.co/GsvEc77iws
Rent problems: Phoenix-area rent increases are slowing down a bit, but it’s still much more expensive to rent here than it was a year ago, the Republic’s Catherine Reagor reports. And to buy a house here, you need to make more money now than your wages probably increased in the past year, Axios’ Jessica Boehm writes. Meanwhile, a new 200-person shelter opened near the airport just in time for our first big heat wave.
A further degradation of borderland rights: A U.S. Supreme Court decision last week on Egbert v. Boule, stemming from a Washington State case, has implications for people living in the borderlands in Arizona and elsewhere, the Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller writes. The ruling means Border Patrol agents “are immune from federal lawsuits even when they violate Americans’ constitutional rights on their own private property.”
Gun laws coming soon?: A bipartisan crew of senators now have a framework on gun safety, a signal that there could be the 60 votes needed in the U.S. Senate to lead to federal action on that front, Politico reported Sunday. U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly were among the 10 Democrats of the 20 total senators involved so far. Sinema was one of four lead negotiators of the proposal. Across the country this past weekend, including at the Arizona Capitol, protestors turned out for March for Our Lives events demanding gun safety. And to hear directly from Arizona kids who deal with regular shooting drills and worry about getting killed at school, check out this story by Katya Mendoza in the Arizona Luminaria.
Eating their own: GOP congressional candidate and probable “Q” Ron Watkins filed an ethics complaint against Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers for, among other things, telling the “groyper army” to “please hit Ron Watkins” in a Telegram post in February, the Arizona Daily Independent’s Terri Jo Neff reports. “As an Asian-American, I am now concerned about my safety, as I believe that someone in this group would interpret this posting to mean a ‘hit’ on my life,” Watkins wrote in the complaint. He cites five other examples of Rogers’ behavior to show a pattern of misdeeds. If you thought, like we did, that these two would probably be allies instead of foes, keep in mind that Rogers endorsed one of Watkins’ opponents, Eli Crane, in the CD2 race this week.
Longread recommendation: Chad McKinley, once a prominent advocate in Tucson’s Down syndrome community, has become more reclusive and withdrawn in recent years as he ages and needs more medical care, Sam Burdette and Amy Silverman write for the Arizona Daily Star. They document how McKinley has received spotty care from state contractors, and how his sister is fighting to get more help for him.
We love public records: Ginni Thomas, the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sent emails to 29 Arizona state lawmakers asking them to create fake electors, the Washington Post reports in a follow-up story. As we previously noted, Thomas sent emails using a form email program to House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Arizona Rep. Shawnna Bolick.
We love public records, part 2: Records finally released to the public related to the Arizona audit show that Lyle Rapacki, a “right-wing activist and YouTube host” who is also an expert on Satan, was given the position of vetting volunteers and thought there would be volunteers who were “moles” trying to infiltrate the process, the Republic’s Robert Anglen reports.
News about voting: Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone told KTAR that his office is prepared to handle voting disruptions and will show “zero tolerance” for those who try to interfere with voting. In court, Maricopa County tries to get a lawsuit from Kari Lake and Mark Finchem over voting machines tossed out. A different lawsuit over the state’s Elections Procedures Manual should get a ruling this week. And for a historical perspective on how Republicans’ attitudes about no-excuse early voting changed (and interviews with both Jan Brewer and Helen Purcell), check out this Votebeat story from Jen Fifield.
Trying to have it both ways: GOP gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson told AZFamily’s Dennis Welch that she doesn’t believe the 2020 election was “fair,” akin to comments she’s made previously that the media was biased against Trump, Big Tech suppressed conservatives and states changing voting laws.
azfamily 3TV CBS 5 @azfamilyGOP gubernatorial hopeful Karrin Taylor Robson says 2020 election wasn’t fair: https://t.co/8CgREnmT2f https://t.co/lWJOXGLPDC
Still here: Mario Montoya, an Arizona Dreamer, says he and his peers feel forgotten by politicians in Congress, who have failed to find a pathway to citizenship for people like him who were brought to the U.S. as children. He points to the forthcoming ballot measure that could grant undocumented Arizonans access to in-state tuition and state scholarships as one way to help Dreamers locally.
We’ll take a $20K pay bump, too: Phoenix wants its police to be the highest-paid officers in the state by increasing starting salaries by about $20,000. The city says this will help them recruit more officers amid a staffing shortage. The city council is set to vote on the new pay scale this week.
Big rigs wig out: The state plans to make semis use just the right lane on a stretch of highway between Casa Grande and Phoenix to try to prevent crashes, but trucking organizations aren’t happy with the plan and say they weren’t consulted on it, Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer reports.
Best buds: Former Vice President Mike Pence will be in Arizona today to talk about the border alongside Gov. Doug Ducey, his friend and political ally, at an Arizona Commerce Authority event that’s closed to the general public. They’ll also visit the border.
Among the last-minute strike-everything bills floating around the Capitol is Republican Sen. David Gowan’s attempt to create an “office of the architect of the Capitol” to help develop a master plan for the Arizona Capitol complex.
Gowan, who did a lot of his own remodeling of the Capitol during his stint as House speaker, sponsored the amendment to Senate Bill 1178 legislation saying the Capitol needs a grand vision for its future.
Unfortunately, after not taking up Arizonan Frank Lloyd Wright on his design for the state Capitol, Arizona leaned into “neo-Stalinist period” of architecture and created a hodgepodge mess of ugly beige block buildings, longtime lobbyist Barry Aarons told lawmakers in a hearing.
“Quite frankly, I’ll be very honest with you: It is embarrassing to bring people here to see our state Capitol,” Aarons said, urging lawmakers to invest in beautifying the Capitol complex.
Hopefully that renovation will include a memorial to slain journalist Don Bolles.
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