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The Daily Agenda: Trusted messengers wanted
Are you ready for the Trump/Lake ballot? ... Who wants to tell Borrelli? ... And can't they just shave the propeller a little?
Arizona’s political press corps had two big events on the calendar yesterday: A tour of the Maricopa County Elections Office, where officials stressed, once again, that elections are secure, accurate and fraud-free — and a press conference with Kari Lake, who stressed, once again, that the election was rigged and stolen from her.
After Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson threw out Lake’s only remaining election claim Monday, Lake summoned the press corps to revive the traveling circus that was the centerpiece of her failed campaign. She continued to troll 12News’ Brahm Resnik by purposely mispronouncing his name (a favorite gimmick from the campaign trail) as her supporters hissed at the journalists Lake had invited1. She claimed that she and GOP secretary of state nominee turned Substacker Mark Finchem, who lost by 120,000 votes and stood behind her at the podium yesterday, won their elections. She generally accused the courts, elected officials and election workers of rigging democracy against her.
Lake argued that the courts “just ruled that our elections can run lawlessly” and announced a new new “ballot chasing” program to “push the envelope” of what’s legal, though it wasn’t exactly clear how.
“The courts have ruled that anything goes. Well, we can play by those same rules, OK? If anything goes, then anything goes,” Lake said.
The elections facility tour, meanwhile, was part of election officials’ attempt to reset the narrative before the 2024 presidential election and build up defenses against the very real possibility that two of the nation’s most fervent and charismatic election deniers, Lake and Donald Trump, are at the top of the ballot in Arizona. (Lake once again said she was still considering a run for U.S. Senate yesterday.)
But election officials don’t have to convince the Capitol press corps that the election wasn’t stolen. We’re aware. And we have informed our readers.
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer conceded that the tour was, to some degree, just preaching to the choir when it comes to widespread fraud. Still, he maintained that those who hold elections in contempt do watch and read local news. And he argued that anyone who has ever taken their tour has come away with increased confidence in the system.
“I firmly believe that if we had all 4.5 million citizens of Maricopa County, if we brought them all here and showed them that it’s a human process, it’s a professional process, it has layers of security … we would be in a better place if all 4.5 million people came through,” he said.
But the tour hasn’t convinced everyone. Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers, for example, walked through the facilities, and it hasn’t exactly changed her view on rigged elections.
Richer said the county is attempting to work with “trusted messengers” to counter the lies that his fellow Republican politicians and lawyers spread about elections, including turning to people who are trusted in Republican circles, like religious groups and firefighters.
And Richer believes they’re slowly making inroads. The office recently scheduled tours for a west Valley Republican club recently, and he hopes to bring in more Republican groups in an attempt to break the stranglehold that election deniers like Lake and Trump have on their party’s faithful.
The office has even invited Arizona Republican Party Chair Jeff DeWit to take the tour in hopes that he may be able to use his position to influence rank-and-file Republicans to see the light.
DeWit hasn’t taken them up on the offer. Instead, when Lake and her publicist Jordan Conradson recently spotted DeWit at a restaurant and “ripped (him) a new one” for not joining the Twitter mob claiming she would win her election lawsuit, DeWit caved, tweeting the kind of propaganda that Lake’s team demanded.
Until Republican Party leaders can join that cast of “trusted messengers” and condemn election deniers, nothing is going to change.
Arizona and the other Colorado River Lower Basin states have cut a deal to reduce their reliance on the river’s water and stave off the possibility of federal officials having to figure out the cuts for them.
Details of the agreement started leaking out last week, but officials in Arizona, California and Nevada announced Monday that they were all on board. The deal will only last until 2026, and that’s if the feds ultimately approve it.
Under the agreement, most of the cuts would come from water districts, farm operators, cities and Native American tribes, which would be compensated by about $1.2 billion in additional funding, The New York Times reports. The reductions in the three states will save about 13% of the water they’re allocated.
But Arizona will bear the brunt of those cuts, Brandon Loomis reports in the Republic. The state will give up about 21% of its total allocation from the river if the plan is ultimately approved.
In other water news, Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill aimed at bringing water to the Rio Verde Foothills area, saying she prefers a different bill that lawmakers haven’t sent her yet, Sasha Hupka writes in the Republic. Lawmakers are on vacation until June 12, when they may pick that bill back up.
That’s not how any of this works: Republican Sen. Sonny Borrelli sent a letter to county officials saying they couldn’t use electronic tabulation machines unless they met cyber security standards. Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed the bill that would have banned elections officials from using those machines, so Republican lawmakers passed a resolution (not a law) to that effect. Officials from all over Arizona were quick to respond with a collective “Ummm…what?”
The bad Clean Elections: The group that made international headlines for staking out ballot drop boxes in war armor has to “publicly condemn intimidation” as part of a settlement from a lawsuit against them by the League of Women Voters of Arizona. Clean Elections USA2 already had a temporary restraining order issued in November that forced the group to stop showing up armed near drop boxes. The group’s lawyer, Republican state Rep. Alexander Kolodin, says “both sides” condemn the kind of “voter intimidation” that only his side did, the Washington Post reports.
Confirmations incoming?: Legislators will hold hearings on Hobbs’ nominees to lead state agencies, with the goal of clearing the backlog of roughly two-dozen nominees, Jeremy Duda reports for Axios Phoenix.
What could go wrong?: A group of Covid vaccine deniers will speak at hearings at the Legislature on Thursday and Friday to review the state’s response to the pandemic, Jerod MacDonald-Evoy reports in the Arizona Mirror.
“Extremist researchers on Twitter were quick to note that the various groups sponsoring the committee had begun promoting it by the acronym, NCSWIC, which is commonly used within the QAnon community to stand for ‘Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming.’ It most often refers to an unfounded belief that ‘Deep State’ collaborators will soon be arrested,” MacDonald-Evoy writes.
Back in reality: Senate President Warren Petersen gave kudos to Hobbs for her role in the state budget negotiations and looks ahead at what’s left this session in a wide-ranging interview with Bob Christie for Capitol Media Services.
“She was reasonable. And she would keep her word. Whenever she would say, ‘I agree to that,’ she did it,’’ Petersen told Christie.6
You don’t get called the “veto queen” by signing them: Hobbs vetoed more bills, bringing her total to a record 95 vetoes and climbing. She recently put the kibosh on bills that would have established fetal personhood and prohibited secretaries of state from overseeing elections in which they are running, among many others, the Mirror’s Gloria Rebecca Gomez writes.
How about some FBI agents?: At the request of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, the Arizona Board of Education approved spending $100 million for armed officers at more schools, Kirsten Dorman reports for KJZZ.
Let freedom ring: Pickleball noise attacks the very heart of our freedoms, a Flagstaff council member argued in a “verbal brawl” at a council meeting, the Arizona Daily Sun’s Adrian Skabelund reported. We get where he’s coming from, too much noise is a hassle. Kudos to Councilman Jim McCarthy for putting it in terms Ben Franklin could understand. Meanwhile, a billionaire pickleball enthusiast who founded Major League Pickleball, which we did not know was a thing, is turning a vacant big box store at Arizona Mills Mall into a bunch of pickleball courts. It’s called a “picklemall,” Axios Phoenix’s Jessica Boehm reports.
“The right to freedom is absolute up to the point it interferes with someone else’s freedom,” McCarthy said. “The issue today is the freedom to make noise versus the freedom from noise.”
Deadly jails: The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office is now reporting twice as many jail-related deaths. The reason for the jump? They started to include deaths that occurred shortly after release. When deaths that occur within 30 days of release from the Pima County jail, “excluding those that are unrelated to a person’s time spent in custody,” are included, the total for 2022 jumps from 12 to 24, John Washington reports for the Arizona Luminaria.
Racism is expensive: The cost of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 2013 racial profiling verdict is expected to reach $273 million next year, Jacques Billeaud reports for the Associated Press. Most of the costs are related to hiring employees to comply with the court order requiring the office to change.
Unlike Arpaio’s legacy of racial profiling, all taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill for the Arizona Agenda. It’s just the lucky few. Become one of them today!
Let’s not do this: Nearly 13,000 people in Phoenix would die if a blackout hit during a heat wave and lasted two days, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Nearly half the population of Phoenix would need emergency medical care for heat-related illnesses, the New York Times reported.
The helicopter that Arizona taxpayers bought the Department of Public Safety last year is juuuust a little bit too big to fit into the hanger that’s supposed to house it, Mary Jo Pitzl reports in the Republic. Now taxpayers have to shell out more money to widen the hanger door.
"We would never leave an $11 million helicopter outside in the elements," DPS spokesman Bart Graves told Pitzl in an email.
And just for good measure, we’re also chuckling at Russia’s new policy banning another 500 Americans from visiting, including Gov. Katie Hobbs, Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Republican U.S. Rep. Eli Crane. Crow is channeling his inner John McCain and having some fun with the ban.
Ross Trumble, who did press for Lake’s failed campaign, was no fan of ours. After the press conference, he ordered us to “get the fuck out” of the parking lot where the event was held before he called the cops.