The Daily Agenda: The lies before the big one
If you all don't stop talking about pens ... An arms dealer for someone who smokes weed? ... And the sign wars never end.
As expected, gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake has been greasing the skids to cry fraud if she loses the Republican primary to her opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson.
That isn’t exactly breaking news, as she and her supporters have been laying the groundwork to undermine the Arizona Republican primary election for months. It started when the early campaign narrative — that Lake was “unstoppable” — began to fade away in the face of Robson’s relentless and unprecedented level of spending to slam Lake as a fake who supported Barack Obama, amnesty, drag queens, etc.
In the latest example, Lake told a group of supporters that she’s “already detecting some stealing going on” in her own election and threatened to “go supernova radioactive” about it. But she didn’t tell law enforcement. And, it goes without saying, she didn’t provide any evidence.
Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 @RonFilipkowskiKari Lake says Trump loves the fact that whatever topic he tries to bring up, she just wants to talk about his election being ‘stolen’: “We need to do that. We need to explain to people, because not everyone is as educated as we are. I have dug through all of the evidence.” https://t.co/mmzTL1Gxnn
But the plot to reject results that don’t go her way and claim fraud without evidence has been building for some time. Lake has steadfastly declared that she won’t accept voters declaring Robson the winner. (Robson, for her part, said she’ll support Lake in the general regardless.)
Last week, Lake’s allies in the Arizona Republican Party offered a $50,000 reward for any evidence of “vote buying,” which Lake has accused Robson of doing. (Still no winner!) Before that, AZGOP officials claimed someone stole ballots from mailboxes and destroyed them. Elections administrators said they haven’t heard any complaints from voters about that.
The latest election hogwash her supporters are trafficking is an old lie with a new twist: #SharpieGate has become #KnockoffFeltTippedPenGate. And yes, it’s just as easily debunkable as SharpieGate. There’s a reason election officials want you to use felt tipped pens when voting in person. That doesn’t matter to disinformation agents attempting to elect Lake.
Republican Party loyalists have been lied to about the 2020 election. Former President Donald Trump and his allies are still screaming, two years later, that they were robbed. Facts be damned. Courts be damned. His top advisers, election security officials and law enforcement agencies be damned. Though they haven’t been able to come up with a shred of evidence for a massive conspiracy to steal the 2020 election that withstands any scrutiny, they continue to lie to the American people. And it’s working.
Cry for democracy, but not for Robson. She’s trying to have her democracy and undermine it, too.
While positioning herself as the “common sense conservative,” Robson has continually flirted with the same kind of debunked 2020 election conspiracies Lake has. While she doesn’t outright declare the 2020 election a fraud, she has repeatedly refused to say whether she would have certified it or whether she accepts the result. And she has used her position as a candidate to cast vague doubt on the legitimacy of future elections.
“There are investigations that are ongoing,” she said just this week on CNN when asked if she would have certified the 2020 election. “We have the wrong guy in the White House … The 2020 election, at a minimum, was not fair.”
She cited polling showing three-quarters of Arizona Republicans believe the election was stolen — the product of the disinformation that Trump and Lake have been pushing for two years — and suggested that Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress are conspiring to steal the next election.
If Robson can’t stand up to the liars in her own party to defend all elections, she doesn’t deserve to win this one.
One step closer to home: The Biden administration wants to exchange a Russian arms dealer for two Americans detained in Russia, one of whom is WNBA star and Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, CNN reports. The other is Paul Whelan, who’s been detained in Russia since 2018. The potential deal comes as Griner’s trial continues over possession of marijuana, a charge she’s faced since February. In the trial, Griner’s attorneys have contended she accidentally packed the marijuana, which she uses medicinally, and that her rights weren’t communicated to her properly because of translation issues.
Corn dogs vs. caviar: The New York Times’ Jack Healy looks into how the economy, inflation and education levels have contributed to the splinter between establishment Republicans and the Trump wing of the party in Arizona’s statewide elections this year.
“We don’t want bow ties and caviar,” Janet Olson, a Lake supporter at the Prescott Valley Trump rally, told the Times. “We want corn dogs and funnel cakes. And Kari Lake.”
Meanwhile, in caviar-land: Instead of using her family’s private jet, Ducey-endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson flew with the governor on a state-owned plane after last week’s campaign event, the Arizona Mirror’s Jerod MacDonald-Evoy reports. She’ll have to pay the state back for the ride. The Robson crew all used the Robson private jet to get from Peoria to Marana, but used the state plane to return to Phoenix from Marana, which means Robson will need to also cover the cost of the state plane going to Marana and back. For context, you can’t legally use state resources, like a plane, for a campaign purpose. Why not use her own plane? Because former VP Mike Pence used it to fly to Reno. In an unlikely and hilarious turn, the Kari Lake campaign cited the Mirror’s reporting in a press release about this and tweeted comments attorney Tom Ryan made about it.
We’ll never be able to afford caviar as local journalists. But you can help us snag some corn dogs by becoming a paid subscriber.
Lawyers ain’t cheap: Taxpayers will have to pay for some of the legal bills that funded the court dismantling of Prop. 208, the tax-the-rich ballot measure voters approved to fund education, Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer reports. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah said the pro-Prop. 208 campaign won’t have to pay the bill, but the state won’t have to pay the entire multi-firm legal bill, either, just part of it.
“This particular judge is kind of a free spirit,’’ House Speaker Rusty Bowers told Fischer. “It’s kind of a poke in the eye at us.’’
Just ask the Cyber Ninjas: The Arizona Supreme Court won’t help out the Cyber Ninjas, the now-former company behind the Arizona audit that still is accruing daily $50,000 fines in a lengthy public records battle, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl reports. The high court wouldn’t review the daily fine, the fact that the records are public or a request from the Republic to get their attorneys’ fees covered.
More lawyers: The hosts of daytime TV talk show “The View” apologized to Arizona-based Turning Point USA for saying that a Florida event by the organization included neo-Nazis. After the right-wing group sent a cease-and-desist letter, the hosts clarified that the neo-Nazis were outside the event. But Turning Point wants Whoopi Goldberg, specifically, to apologize, instead of cohost Sara Haines, Fox News reports.
Lawyers again: In other cease-and-desist news, Democratic secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes sent one to Arizonans for a Just Democracy, an outside group that’s running an ad supporting Fontes’ primary challenger, Reginald Bolding. The ad claims Fontes owes thousands in back taxes, which he did until he very recently paid them off.
Probably won’t help Rusty with the base: Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, himself censured by the Arizona Republican Party, defends Rusty Bowers, who was censured after appearing before the Jan. 6 committee. In an op-ed for the Deseret News, Flake says the AZGOP “may be one of the more censure-happy state parties out there,” noting the other conservatives the party has censured in recent years.
Important race to watch: Whoever wins the election for Maricopa County Attorney will face an uphill battle to restore trust in the position and build an office after a tumultuous few years, KJZZ’s Matthew Casey reports. Interim county attorney Rachel Mitchell will face off against GOP challenger Gina Godbehere in a primary, with the winner running against Democratic contender Julie Gunnigle in November.
Four days til rent is due: Arizona has one of the highest percentages of homes purchased by investors, with nearly one-third of houses bought by investors, which contributes to the growing cost of rent in the state, Stateline reports.
So you know what you’re swimming with: Another dead body was found in Lake Mead, marking the third time a body was found since May as water levels in the lake dwindle amid the West’s increasing water crisis.
Move over, COVID-19: Monkeypox cases climbed to 24 confirmed and 14 probable cases in Maricopa County, KJZZ’s Kathy Ritchie reports.
Democrats are piling up in the new Legislative District 24, which spans the West Valley from about 51st Ave to 83rd Ave, from McDowell Road up to Peoria Ave.
Democratic Rep. Cesar Chavez, a member of the Democratic caucus’ moderate, business-backed wing, is attempting to move up to the Senate in the new district. But he faces a challenge from Anna Hernandez, a progressive political newcomer who works in the banking industry and for a liberal philanthropy group. She has criticized him for, among other things, being consistently late in filing his campaign finance statements. He filed his April campaign finance report in July, racking up a few thousand dollars in fines, and still hasn’t filed his most recent required report.
Hernandez has teamed up with progressive House candidates Analise Ortiz, a former reporter and ACLU campaign strategist, and Anna Abeytia, a teacher. The team, which calls themselves “Las Annas” has the backing of progressive organizations like LUCHA, Planned Parenthood and Arizona List and more in their quest to sweep the district.
Meanwhile, three other Democrats are also seeking the district’s two house seats, including former lawmaker Lydia Hernandez, who hails from the moderate wing of the party and was among only a handful of pro-life Democrats during her time at the Capitol. Pedro Lopez is a former employee for Latino environmental group Chispa who serves on the Cartwright Elementary School Board alongside Hernandez. And Hector Jaramillo, a Glendale Elementary School District Board member and behavior therapist for kids with autism, is a progressive candidate who’s not running with the slate of Annas.
The winners of the primary will be seated in the Legislature, as they face no Republican opponents in this Dem-heavy district.
We can’t stop talking about political signs, apparently. You’re all giving us so much material.
Take this sign that Karrin Taylor Robson claims is in Pima County: A photo of Kari Lake covers Donald Trump’s face, putting two Kari Lakes on one sign. Who knows who actually did this, but we’re fans.
Or this sign from GOP secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem, whose signs predictably promote “election integrity,” but also, bizarrely, “more American energy,” which is not traditionally in the purview of a secretary of state. (Among his side gigs, like not-lawyering, the state representative is a vice president for an Idaho-based energy company that claims to have made some world-changing breakthroughs in electric tech.)