The Daily Agenda: The potential governor sounds like the current governor
We're on a never-ending quest for government transparency ... No one is going to Gitmo because of a school board meeting ... And we love to brag when the clocks stay the same.
Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Katie Hobbs held her first press event of the campaign season Friday to roll out her “accountability” platform — which (except for the lack of tax cuts) you’d be forgiven for mistaking as a Republican platform from the Before Times.
The talking points:
“We will cut red tape.”
“We will eliminate wasteful spending.”
“We will make your government more transparent.”
“We will make your government more efficient.”
“We will embrace long-term planning, not short-term partisan point-scoring.”
The Arizona Mirror and Arizona Capitol Times both covered the event and noted Hobbs avoided criticizing critical race theory opponents directly, sidestepping a sinkhole that tripped up Virginia Democratic gubernatorial also-ran Terry McAuliffe. (Bonus points to Cap Times' Wayne Schutsky for working in a reference to the still-unsolved theft of the Capitol’s Carl Hayden bust.)
Ducey’s spokesman noted that the buzzwords look familiar (though they lack the cute hashtags that really made Ducey’s policies sing) and suggested that her “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Team Hobbs is surely bookmarking that quote for next year.
But we want to talk about that middle bullet point: government transparency.
It used to be a bipartisan ideal, but these days, when the GOP frontrunners talk about government transparency, they’re almost exclusively talking about greater access to election technology for their grifter friends to mine in support of the Big Lie.
Hobbs showed up with a few real, if vague, ideas that are long overdue1 like new conflict of interest laws, lobbying regulations and greater disclosure of election money and government spending.
We’re glad to see Hobbs’ focus on real problems in state government, but before we praise her platform on transparency, let’s take a look at her record there.
When Republicans lawmakers gutted our old campaign finance rules in favor of a laissez faire approach to regulating money in politics back in 2016, Hobbs voted against the bill, then used the new rules as effectively as anyone to campaign for the Secretary of State’s Office.
(We don’t fault her for playing by the rules of the game, but we do fault her for not using her bully pulpit in office to push for campaign finance transparency legislation afterwards.)
Once in office, she pledged to revamp her predecessor’s failed attempt at a new online campaign finance database for the money we can see in campaigns. It’s better, but barely.
And when Hobbs promises to “improve online access to comprehensive lobbyist filings,” it bears mentioning that those files are in the Secretary of State’s Office. Good news! She can do that right now!
All of that is to say, while we appreciate platitudes about transparency, words are hollow without action.
That escalated quickly: Attorney General Mark Brnovich declared on Fox News that “you’re gonna end up with mom and pop at Gitmo” as parents exercise their First Amendment rights on vaccines or critical race theory. When asked if that could really happen, he couldn’t bring himself to offer a simple “yes,” instead saying we live in times where we need to defend our freedom daily.
Get ready for Kyrsten: The $1.2 trillion Biden Infrastructure Bill passed the House — Arizona’s delegation predictably split on party lines — and is heading for the Senate. U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is praising it in a weird mashup video.
Remember when it was patriotic to kill Nazis?: CNN reports that GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake hangs out with Nazi sympathizers, which actually increases her appeal to AZGOP chair Kelli Ward’s husband, Michael. Meanwhile, Matt Salmon can’t figure out why he’s not gonna win the primary election.
It’s right there in the constitution: The Free Enterprise Club is arguing citizens can’t use a referendum (essentially a public vote on something the legislature does) to kill the tax cuts lawmakers implemented to negate the tax increase the Invest in Education initiative placed on high earners. But Capitol scribe Howie Fisher notes that a judge doesn’t seem to be buying the argument.
No fucks left to give: Republican state Senator and Secretary of State longshot Michelle Ugenti-Rita torched Senate President Karen Fann in a letter announcing she was stepping down from the all-powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. Ugenti-Rita already resigned her spot as chair of the Senate Government Committee after her former base ate her alive for not believing the Big Lie.
Now do vaccination deaths: New Arizona Senate Government Committee chair Kelly Townsend doesn’t think 700,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 is a big deal, considering it’s only 0.2% of the entire U.S. population. Besides election legislation, the Government Committee deals with bills like vaccine and mask mandates.
Another vacancy to fill: Charlene Fernandez, the top Democrat in the Arizona House, quit the legislature for a job with the Biden Administration. The Yuma lawmaker is the new Arizona rural development director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Lifting boxes is the new flipping burgers: Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer looked into the latest Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity report showing where the new jobs will be over the next decade, and for once it’s not flipping burgers.
Vax requirements mean more vax: Employer vaccine requirements are one of the biggest drivers of new vaccinations, KJZZ’s Katherine Davis-Young reports.
Calling in the National Guard: The Arizona National Guard is in jails now, the Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins reports, though so far it’s just a handful of medics to help with vaccinations, not the 135 troops the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office previously requested before rescinding the request and then saying they may resubmit the request.
Unstable and unaffordable: An infusion of $1.2 billion in federal funds kept Arizona’s hobbled child care providers in business through the pandemic, but the system is still in bad shape after decades of underfunding and neglect, Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting’s Maria Polletta reported.
#Priorities: The Republic’s Joshua Bowling has a fun piece about the ongoing heated debate over Gilbert’s new logo. If this lede doesn’t get you to click, we don’t know what will: “It has been dissected in public meetings. It factored into a months-long ethics probe. And if you squint, it looks like the letter G.”
Politicians don’t just wear whatever’s clean: New York Times opinion writer Tressie McMillan Cottom, who warned us she was going to write about Sinema’s style choices, wrote about Sinema’s style choices, which she noted were full of “bright colors, tight fit and playfulness,” not a look most politicians court. But Sinema can dress that way in part because of her race, and does so in part because of her sexuality, McMillan Cottom writes.
“(U)nruliness is a reputation that Sinema can afford to cultivate. It was seen, especially early in her career, as positive: a mark of her independence, not a sign of her lack of respect. … Sinema is one of the few out bisexual members of Congress, and her style plays into the ideas that sexual minorities are inherently nonconformist.”
“This could actually work” is our new tagline: Republic media columnist and Meghan McCain aficionado Bill Goodykoontz wrote a column about the Arizona Agenda — subscriptions skyrocketed Sunday morning, showing, once again, that legacy media has a much better reach than us.
If you missed out on being part of the wave of paid subscriptions yesterday, now’s your chance. We’re gonna jack up the price to $8 in the near future, so get grandfathered in at our lower rate.
COVID-19 modeler Joe Gerald penned a blog post saying that Delta is on a sharp upswing in Arizona, likely because of fall break for schools, sport events, a cold front and other factors like waning vaccine and acquired immunity. But he writes that, really, we are the factor.
“Ultimately, these triggers don’t matter as much as our poor individual and collective efforts to do the hard work necessary to adapt to pandemic living.”
For more depressing COVID-19 news, we suggest reading the Arizona Public Health Association’s latest report on how poorly Arizona is doing at handling the pandemic.
One of the takeaways: “Arizona is the ONLY state in the US where COVID-19 is the leading cause of death.”
We hope everyone enjoyed Arizona Superiority Day yesterday as the rest of the country had to change their clocks, and we didn’t.
And it seems like some non-Arizonans are now seeing the light. A host of bipartisan members of Congress want to pass the “Sunshine Protection Act” to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. Their proposal isn’t the same as how Arizona does it — we just never change our clocks — but still. We’re onto something here.
Talonya Adams, the former Arizona Senate Staffer who sued the Senate for racial discrimination, is starting a three-day trial at 8:30 a.m. to decide compensatory damages.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman will speak to a virtual Democrats of Greater Tucson at noon. Register here.
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Steve Gaynor will speak to the Pinal County chapter of the Arizona Republican Assembly at 6:30 at 408 N Sacaton, Casa Grande.
Not convinced Arizona desperately needs a sea change in the way it handles government transparency and accountability?
Read this classic explainer from Jeremy Duda to get a sense of just what a sham the current conflict of interest laws are, or look at the junkets lawmakers attend, or try to figure out how much they’re worth by looking at their spotty, vague financial disclosure statements.
Or try to find out which lobbyists are buying dinners for lawmakers, then figure out which bills they’re pushing. (We did it in a series of stories in 2013, but it took months and some very savvy data work.)