The Daily Agenda: We have so many questions
All the best grifters are moving to New Mexico ... From Adios Arpaio to Adios Sinema ... It's a nonviolent army, he swears.
New details are trickling out as reporters, investigators and prosecutors continue their quest to piece together who was doing what, where and when in the weeks between the election and Jan. 6. And of course, there’s always an Arizona angle.
Politico yesterday shed some additional light on those never-enacted executive orders pushed by Michael Flynn and his crew of Arizona audit-funding cronies to have the military seize voting machines, including one fascinating Arizona detail: “Metadata on the document says it was created by a user named Christina Bobb.”
Yes, it seems like it’s that Christina Bobb. She’s also an ASU grad (go Sun Devils!).
Betsy Woodruff Swan @woodruffbetsNew: Metadata on the earliest known draft copy of the executive order to seize voting machines says the document's creator is Christina Bobb https://t.co/5DYsqZJpzu
Then there’s yesterday’s scoop from the Yellow Sheet Report, which dug up public records from attorney general/U.S. Senate candidate Mark Brnovich showing he was, in fact, at the White House on December 10 and 11, 2020, with a crew of Republican attorneys general who had backed a Texas lawsuit seeking to decertify the 2020 election.
(The Republic had previously noted that former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows attempted to contact Brnovich after the election through a member of Congress, but Brnovich’s office dodged questions about whether they actually spoke.)
The timing of Brnovich’s White House visit is important to note: Arizona’s fake electors sent their fake documents to Congress four days after that meeting.
Which raises all sorts of questions, like what exactly was Brnovich doing at the White House? What did he speak to the president about? Did the fake electors come up? Did Brnovich know that was coming? Is that why he’s not investigating fake electors while he’s chasing the Cyber Ninjas conspiracies down the drain? And, of course, how’s that audit investigation coming?
But as usual, Brnovich’s office isn’t talking.
Tim Steller @senyorreporterColumn: Arizona AG @generalbrnovich has politicized his office so much that he can't be trusted to make impartial legal decisions. With a politically fraught decision looming on prosecuting supposed "election fraud," that's untenable. He should resign. https://t.co/HJf42CeuNz
Steller focused on Brnovich’s most recent attempts to use “the power of the position he holds to establish himself as a super-Trump Republican” in the Senate race. That included his recent opinion that Gov. Doug Ducey can use war powers to send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, and his tweets in solidarity with Canadian truckers who have been illegally shutting down major U.S.-Canada crossings in defiance of that country’s vaccine mandates.
Of course, all that brings into question whether Brnovich can handle the pressure placed upon him from Trump and the GOP base to “put the nunchucks down and pick up the handcuffs and arrest people” for election fraud, as Kari Lake once put it, while trying to impartially investigate the claims in the state Senate’s audit of the 2020 election.
“If he doesn’t bring an indictment, some Republican voters and interests will punish him. If he does, any charges will appear to be political performance. It’s a no-win situation that neither he, nor we as Arizonans, should be in. The solution is for Brnovich to resign,” Steller wrote.
And speaking of the audit, it seems the grift continues. New Mexico’s conservative Otero County is paying $50,000 to audit, via door-to-door canvassing, its own election, which Trump won in a landslide.
“Dr. Shiva” Ayyadurai, who was also on contract in the Arizona audit and shared easily debunked findings, got the contract, which the actual state auditor is now investigating, the Daily Beast reports.
To keep track of all the Arizona angles (so many!) of political stories, sign up below to subscribe to our daily newsletter.
Government at the speed of government: If you’re a regular watcher of the Arizona Legislature, you probably noticed that the Request to Speak system is melting down more than usual this year. It’s a pain for people who want to track bills and register their support or opposition to them because RTS is a critical tool for public engagement in the legislative process. Legislative Council, the nonpartisan group that keeps the trains running at the Capitol, plans to repair the system sometime soon, possibly by the time you read today’s newsletter. Let’s hope! Fingers crossed that director Mike Braun gets to keep his job:
Jeremy Duda @jeremydudaIf you're one of the many people who have been frustrated with the constant technical difficulties in the RTS system this session, help may be on the way. The system will shut down after this morning's committees and the legislature will deploy a "reengineered" RTS system.
Everyone’s blaming everyone else: A notice of claim filed by three former assistant police chiefs in Phoenix who were demoted alleges that Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams lied when she said she wasn’t aware of plans to charge protesters as a street gang, ABC15’s Dave Biscobing reports. It’s one of many lawsuits stemming from the fallout of the gang charges and Biscobing’s reporting on them.
Were we ever, though?: Arizona isn’t doing full-on contract tracing of all COVID-19 positives these days because cases are so high and the public’s response to efforts to reach out have declined, KJZZ’s Katherine Davis-Young reports. Instead, tracing focuses on schoolchildren and people over age 80 because contact tracing in those populations has a higher impact.
Back at it again with a bill roundup:
Teachers say a bill requiring them to put curriculum online and institute parental reviews for certain materials will make their work harder and increase scrutiny.
Arizona Sen. Tyler Pace helped stop a bill in committee yesterday that would have banned gender-affirming health care.
For a roundup within this roundup, here’s a rundown of the environmental bills moving through the Legislature.
The bill that would’ve required a “harmful content” filter on devices died in committee yesterday (story complete with wretched stock image).
A voucher expansion bill is trucking along on party lines.
What’s his is yours: Mohave County Supervisor and former best-mustache-in-the-Legislature Ron Gould took his allotment of federal pandemic relief funds and doled them back out to the public in the form of $165 checks, the Associated Press reports. If you’re one of Gould’s constituents, you’ll be getting an application in the mail to apply for the check.
One way to clear a backlog: To manage lengthy waits for work permits, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will extend the length of time that six types of permits last in order to reduce the number of applications and wait times, the Republic’s Rafael Carranza reports.
Speed racers no more: Phoenix Police say they’re seeing less street racing in town these days, and their officers spend less time on the problem since they formed a street racing task force and the city passed an ordinance to seize cars used in such racing last year, KJZZ’s Christina Estes reports.
Like finding water in the desert: Part of a massive development 20 years in the making is being built now on state trust land called the Superstition Vistas, but finding enough water to serve the full development, which could be as large as 900,000 people, makes the project and its expansion more difficult, the Republic’s Joshua Bowling reports.
Redo it: Critics of a natural gas plant expansion in Coolidge want the Salt River Project to start over with its proposal. A state committee called the Arizona Power Plant and Line Siting Committee should reject the utility’s plans, Ryan Bentz argues in an op-ed for the Republic.
Still two years away: One group is already raring to go for the eventual 2024 Democratic primary against U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Voto Latino started an “¡Adiós Sinema!” campaign to try to raise money for a Sinema opponent in the 2024 cycle, the Republic’s Javier Arce reports. The group says Sinema’s actions have had a negative effect on the Latino community.
Smoke safely: If you’re curious about what the weed you smoke is tested for before you consume it, the Arizona Daily Star’s Edward Celaya walks you through the state requirements for testing on potency and safety.
House Bill 2224, which would make it a crime to declaw a cat, passed the House Government Committee and is heading to the House floor for a vote.
Animal veterinarians explained to the committee how declawing involves more than just cutting a cat’s nails: You have to amputate a piece of their fingers, and it can really mess them up.
Capitol Media Services’ Howie Fischer has all the “gruesome” details, but the highlight is probably Republican Rep. Frank Carroll’s astute declaration that “cats are not citizens.”
QAnon dude Ron Watkins plays cowboy in a new video about his campaign for Congressional District 2, and if you’ve been an Agenda reader for more than five minutes, you know this is something we love/hate.
In a cowboy hat, wearing jeans and a suit jacket, standing in front of a barbed wire fence, Watkins does his best “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” impression. He implores supporters to sign up as volunteers with the “CMZ Army,” presumably a reference to CodeMonkeyZ, Watkins’ handle on several platforms.
He helpfully notes in the video that his “army” is nonviolent and made up of grassroots volunteers. The website he directs people to, cmz.army, goes even further to clarify his army is not an army: “CMZ ARMY is not associated with, or sponsored by, any national or international government agency or branch of the armed forces in any nation.”