AG takes no bail law to U.S. Supreme Court

In this Oct. 5, 2015 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington. The court’s June 21 ruling allows states to enforce laws requiring many out-of-state businesses to collect taxes on sales made to local residents. PHOTO BY CAROLYN KASTER/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this Oct. 5, 2015 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington.  PHOTO BY CAROLYN KASTER/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The state Attorney General’s Office is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a voter-approved provision of the Arizona Constitution which allows accused rapists to be held without bail while awaiting trial.

In legal papers filed in Washington, Assistant Attorney General Rusty Crandell argued that the state’s high court – or at least a majority of the justices here – ignored legal precedent in concluding earlier this year that pretrial detention without bail is permissible only when there is a “legitimate and compelling” purpose and that restriction is narrowly focused. Justice Ann Scott Timmer, writing for the majority, said that means defendants are constitutionally entitled to be released pending trial when there is no showing they will be a danger to the community.

But Crandell said that the crime of rape is “a uniquely horrific act” and there is a “frightening and high risk” that sex offenders will reoffend.

He also said that the law — the one the Arizona justices overturned — has procedural safeguards. That includes requiring prosecutors to prove to a judge that “the proof is evident or the presumption great” that the defendant did, in fact, commit the crime.

And Crandell took a slap at the justices who voted to void the law.

He said that courts should invalidate statutes only when necessary to comply with the Constitution “while leaving in place as much of the legislature’s work as possible.”

“The Arizona Supreme Court has made a practice of doing the opposite,” Crandell told the nation’s high court.

Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ann Scott Timmer (Photo by Ellen O'Brien/Arizona Capitol Times)
Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ann Scott Timmer (Photo by Ellen O’Brien/Arizona Capitol Times)

Prior to 2002, it was presumed that people charged with a crime were entitled to bail. There were only a few exceptions, like those for which the death penalty could be imposed, offenses committed while someone already was out on bail, and felonies where the person charged poses a substantial danger to others and no conditions of release could assure safety.

The 2002 voter-approved state constitutional amendment added sex offenses to that list.

This case involves Guy Goodman who was charged with sexually assaulting a victim.

At a pretrial hearing a police officer testified that Goodwin, a guest in the victim’s home after a night of socializing, molested her while she was sleeping. The officer also said that Goodman, when confronted with DNA evidence, confirmed the sexual assault.

A Maricopa County court commissioner said while there was evidence Goodman committed the offense prosecutors failed to show he posed a “substantial danger to other persons in the community.” At least part of that was based on the fact there was no evidence he had committed similar crimes in the seven years between the incident and his arrest or threatened the victim.

Instead, the commissioner set bail at $70,000, requiring electronic monitoring of his movements, and imposed other conditions like not possessing any weapons.

The state Court of Appeals overturned that decision. But in a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said the 2002 no-bail constitutional provision could not stand.

Timmer, in writing the majority opinion, said one problem with the 2002 ballot measure is it did not provide any procedures to determine whether someone charged with rape would pose a danger if allowed out on bail.

Crandell, in his pleadings to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Timmer and her three colleagues were off base in making that a requirement for prosecutors to prove.

“This court has repeatedly recognized that the government’s regulatory interest in community safety can, in appropriate circumstances, outweigh an individual’s liberty interest,” he wrote. And Crandell took particular aim at the Arizona justices for saying prosecutors have to show there is a danger to the community.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to predict with confidence when or whether a particular sex offender will reoffend,” he said. And Crandell said in areas like these which are “fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties” courts should not rewrite laws but instead “afford legislatures the widest latitude.”

If nothing else, Crandell said, the Arizona Supreme Court should have limited its ruling to the Goodman case and not voided the voter-approved law entirely.

“Even assuming for the sake of argument that there exist actions constituting sexual assault that do not implicate a sufficient community interest to overcome an arrestee’s interest in obtaining bail, those few circumstances are no basis for invalidating a statute in toto,” he told the justices.

“The Constitution is not so blunt an instrument,” Crandell continued. “If anything, it calls for judicial restraint in invalidating the work of the legislative branch or, as here, the people acting through direct democracy.”

The court has not decided whether to hear the state’s appeal.

D.C. pundit has it wrong, Arizona Republicans ready for 2020


The Washington, D.C., pundit class has focused its sights on one of the fastest growing counties in the nation with the prediction that its voters could thwart the President’s re-election and jeopardize the chances of Republicans holding onto the U.S. Senate. Stuart Rothenberg penned an “analysis” for Roll Call, claiming that the Republicans’ chances in November look grim because of Maricopa County. Let me be unequivocally clear for the D.C. punditocracy: Arizona is Trump country and our Republican activists will keep it that way.

Maricopa County is one of the fastest growing counties because of opportunity. Despite the setback caused by the Coronavirus crisis that is impacting the entire country’s economy, the long-term outlook for both Arizona and Maricopa County is bright. We have a pro-business and pro-job growth environment. We are also considered to have among the strongest pro-life and Second Amendment laws in the nation. Going back to Barry Goldwater, Arizonans are known for passionately supporting individual liberties and limited government. This culture of freedom, combined with the historic accomplishments of President Trump and Republican leadership in our state, makes Arizona attractive to virtually all Americans.

Kelli Ward (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Kelli Ward (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

In his piece, Rothenberg attempts to juxtapose data from the 2016 and 2018 electoral cycles to make dire predictions for Republicans in 2020 but neglects to point out on-the-ground realities. In 2016, Donald Trump was still a political newcomer and was mostly known for his luxury hotels, reality TV shows, and candid demeanor. Some Republicans and conservative independents were uncertain of how a President Trump would govern if elected.

Now they know and are convinced. They have seen a president who promotes and delivers on tax cuts; continues to appoint judges who interpret the Constitution instead of trying to rewrite it; firmly supports religious freedom and pro-life policies; cuts red tape that strangles business; and, when facing challenges from China and other foreign threats, always places America first. Most importantly, they see a president who has kept his promises.

This is compared to a Democratic Party that has prioritized endless investigations and an utterly failed attempted impeachment, embraces socialism and government-run healthcare, scolds Americans for their patriotism, divides our nation into the favored “special interest” groups of their intersectional identity politics, and incessantly proposes economy crushing regulations and spending.

With that said, Republicans in Arizona are still expecting a serious challenge. That’s why there are already 60 field staff strategically placed across Arizona working hard at training grassroots volunteers. In the past 10 months, Republicans have held more than 670 MAGA Meet Ups. We have also switched to an online format of campaigning in response to the stay at home order and, since March 13, have successfully organized 325 digital meet ups with Arizonans. In addition, this week, we passed the milestone of 1 million phone calls made to Arizona voters, fueled by the Republican grassroots activists who signed up and attended one of our nearly 1,000 Trump Victory Leadership Initiative trainings that have been held this cycle to date.

In 2020, unlike 2016, the Trump campaign is bolstered by a Republican Party that is united and has an established grassroots infrastructure. The reality on the ground – and this is something the Beltway class fails to understand – is that we are more ready than we have ever been before.

While Arizona Republicans do not take the challenge presented to us in a Maricopa County and across the state lightly, we certainly take Rothenberg’s predictions with a grain of salt. After all, in April of 2009 he forecasted the Republican’s chances of recapturing the U.S. House in 2010 as “zero” and as late as October of 2016, he placed Donald Trump’s chances of a victory as “non-existent,” ridiculously declaring that Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were never in play. With that sort of track record, perhaps we should be encouraged by his analysis.

Dr. Kelli Ward is a family physician, two-term Arizona state senator, and the chairwoman of the Republican Party or Arizona. On Twitter: @KelliWardAZ

D.C. statehood a racial, voting rights issue

Dear Editor:  

I was dismayed, but unfortunately not surprised, to see the Arizona House of Representatives pass HCR 2035 to register their opposition to D.C. statehood. This is, after all, the same legislature that is trying to pass statewide voter suppression laws, so attempting to deny equal voting rights seems to be the order of the day.  

Salma Diaz-Ortiz
Salma Diaz-Ortiz

The resolution itself fails to recognize that the federal bill in question, H.R. 51, follows the constitution carefully by leaving a federal district and making the parts of D.C. where people live and work a state on equal footing with the other 50. Thankfully, my own state representative, Athena Salman voted in opposition.   

D.C. statehood would give equal voting rights and representation to the 712,000 residents who live in our nation’s capital. Many are people of color, and have long been confined to second-class status without representation in Congress, despite the fact that this same Congress can override their local laws. Growing up undocumented for most of my life, I knew I was a minority within minorities. I knew I had to work harder than most to get a seat at the table. It took years of dedication and discipline to get where I am today, but once I got here, I quickly realized that I still was not being represented correctly and decisions were made on my behalf without my consent. My rights as a DACA recipient are extremely limited, and I know how hard it is to be part of our country but not fully included in it. This is why DC Statehood is personal.  

When our State Senate considers D.C. statehood, they should treat this issue as a necessary and substantive pro-democracy reform rather than giving it the cursory and partisan treatment that the House did. If this issue comes up in the U.S. Senate, I hope Sens.Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly will recognize D.C. statehood for the racial justice and voting rights issue that it is. 

 Salma Diaz-Ortiz 


D.C. statehood would advance criminal justice reform

Advocates for statehood for the District of Columbia rally near the Capitol prior to a House of Representatives hearing on creating a fifty-first state, in Washington, Monday, March 22, 2021. The activists were able to gather near the Capitol building after the outer perimeter security fencing was dismantled this weekend. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Advocates for statehood for the District of Columbia rally near the Capitol prior to a House of Representatives hearing on creating a fifty-first state, in Washington, Monday, March 22, 2021. The activists were able to gather near the Capitol building after the outer perimeter security fencing was dismantled this weekend. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

D.C. Statehood Would Advance Criminal Justice Reform for All 

700,000 people who live in our nation’s capital lack statehood. Their statelessness, perhaps surprisingly, holds back evidence-based criminal justice reforms across our country. I should know–I was a prosecutor in D.C. 

Valena Beety (Photo by Tavits Photography)
Valena Beety (Photo by Tavits Photography)

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on April 22 to reduce the size of our nation’s capital to the key federal buildings and the land surrounding them, making the rest of D.C., which would be known as Douglass Commonwealth, the 51st state. Even though D.C. residents pay more in taxes than 22 states, have a larger population than two, and serve in the military, they face taxation without representation, with no senators or members of congress. The bill would fix that. 

But D.C. statehood would also benefit the area where I have focused my career: evidence-based criminal justice reform. The purpose of our criminal legal system is to create and ensure safety. Creating safety includes seriously supporting re-entry for people returning from prison, and decreasing drug addiction by treating it as a health problem. D.C. statehood is part of accomplishing these reforms.  

Arizona’s federal prisons, particularly the U.S. Penitentiary Tucson, house people from D.C. who are convicted of felonies.  D.C., as a district, does not have its own prison system, and people convicted are sent to federal prisons around the country, including here in Arizona.  Research on reducing recidivism and improving reentry and public safety supports keeping people in prison connected to their families and community.  On the other hand, incarcerating people in Arizona, potentially unable to maintain ties with families and communities in D.C., undermines re-entry and safety.  Without statehood, D.C. can neither house its incarcerated citizens, nor promote the connections crucial to helping them succeed after they serve their sentences in prison.  

D.C. has also been at the forefront of reducing the harm of the war on drugs, including a highly effective needle exchange program to reduce H.I.V. in the 1990s and legalizing marijuana in 2014. Both times, Congress forbade D.C. from using its own local funds to continue operating these programs.  Congress does not have this same authority over states.  As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said nearly a century ago, “[i[t is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Yet because the citizens of D.C. do not have these rights, citizens of Arizona cannot learn from their successes or failures, in order to determine what is best for our own state.  Their experiences would have informed federal debates on criminal justice reform, but D.C. is excluded from Congress. That’s a setback for all Americans.  

When our senators, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, contemplate D.C. statehood this year, criminal justice reform may not be top of mind. But D.C.’s disenfranchisement continues a standard of democracy only for some. The Americans who live in D.C. deserve statehood, and their voices and experience would benefit all of us.  

Valena Beety is professor of law at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the deputy director of the Academy for Justice. She is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C. Her forthcoming book is Manifesting Justice 

Sinema, Kelly, uncommitted on D.C. statehood

The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thirty-three Democratic state senators and House members are calling on the state’s congressional delegation to support Washington, D.C., statehood, in advance of a June 22 U.S. Senate hearing on the topic. 

Washington D.C. statehood is a politically divisive issue – Democrats see giving the federal district’s almost 700,000 residents, a majority of whom are non-white, full representation in their national government as a civil rights question, while Republicans see it as an unconstitutional power grab that will all but guarantee the addition of two more Democrats to the Senate. 

The D.C. statehood bill that passed the U.S. House in April split the state’s congressional delegation on the expected partisan lines, with all the Democrats voting for it and all the Republicans voting against it. And when a resolution opposing D.C. statehood came up in the Arizona House earlier this year, it passed 31-29 along the expected party lines. 

However, what remains in question is how Arizona’s two Democratic U.S. senators, both of whom have sought to cultivate reputations as moderates who sometimes buck their party, would vote on a D.C. statehood bill. When asked this week, both indicated they haven’t decided whether to vote “yes” or “no.” 

In a letter to the state’s federal delegation this week, the Arizona state lawmakers wrote: “No other democratic nation denies the right of self-government, including participation in its national legislature, to the residents of its capital. The residents of the District of Columbia lack full democracy, equality, and citizenship enjoyed by the residents of Arizona and all other states.” 

The letter says the United Nations Human Rights Committee has called on the U.S. to address D.C.’s “lack of political equality” and that the Organization of American States has declared the city’s disenfranchisement a violation of its charter agreement. Twenty-three state House Democrats and 10 senators signed the letter, including the House and Senate minority leaders. 

“Congress has repeatedly interfered with the District of Columbia’s limited self-government by enacting laws that impact expenditure of its locally raised tax revenue, including barring the use of locally raised revenue, which violates the fundamental principle that states and local governments are best suited to enact legislation that represents the will of their citizens,” they wrote. “Although the District of Columbia has passed consecutive balanced budgets since 1997, it still faces the possibility of being shut down yearly because of Congressional deliberations over the federal budget.” 

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. speaks during a luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore, Friday, May 17, 2019, in Phoenix. Arizona Senators Sinema and Martha McSally spoke to a crowd at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry event to give an update on action in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. speaks during a luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore, Friday, May 17, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Next week’s hearing before the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will start at 10 a.m. Eastern time and will feature testimony from several statehood supporters, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and former Connecticut senator and vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. The bill is being sponsored by Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., and has 45 co-sponsors, all Democrats. Arizona’s senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly are among the few members of their caucus who have not signed onto the bill, and neither Kelly nor Sinema, who is on the committee, has publicly committed to voting for or against D.C. statehood. 

“While no legislation on Washington, D.C. statehood is currently scheduled for a Senate vote, Kyrsten has said that the admission of new states to the union is one of the most important responsibilities granted to Congress — and that having all Americans’ voices heard in our federal government through elected representatives is fundamentally important to Arizonans, and to all American citizens,” Sinema spokeswoman Hannah Hurley said June 16. “Kyrsten believes that any change to the District’s status should be fairly considered by Congress, and she will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to honor and protect our nation’s capital. If legislation is brought to a vote, Kyrsten will — as always — vote based on what’s right for Arizona.” 

Kelly spokesman Jacob Peters pointed the Arizona Capitol Times to comments Kelly made to Politico in late April, when he indicated he hadn’t made a decision on the issue. 

“Like a lot of things like this, I want to see the details,” Kelly said. “This is pretty straightforward, but in general I feel that every American has a right to representation in the United States Congress. And there are a lot of folks that live here in D.C. There are a lot of options to do that … I think our democracy is best served when folks have representation in the United States Congress.” 

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., listens during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 11, 2021, to examine the reliability, resiliency, and affordability of electric service in the United States amid the changing energy mix and extreme weather events. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., listens during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 11, 2021.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A poll conducted in April by McLaughlin and Associates and commissioned by the conservative United States Justice Foundation showed 50% of Arizonans opposed to D.C. statehood and 42% in favor. Former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth, who is chairman of the Justice Foundation’s Advisory Committee, predicted in a newspaper column in May that supporting D.C. statehood could hurt Kelly politically and called on him to join Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., in opposing the elimination of the filibuster, which would likely need to be done to get a vote on D.C. statehood anyway. 

“If so, Mark Kelly could claim the mantle of John McCain, describing himself as a ‘principled pragmatist’ and making a midcourse correction common in spaceflight, and not unheard of in public office,” Hayworth wrote. “If not, the third astronaut-turned-senator could see his political mission grounded early.” 

The Arizona House weighed in on the issue in March, voting along party lines to approve a resolution opposing D.C. statehood. Democrats said the current situation “disenfranchises many minority Americans, and that is fundamentally wrong, un-American and un-Arizonan,” as Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, put it. 

“D.C. statehood is a civil rights issue,” said House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen. “There are 700,000 mostly black and brown citizens in D.C. right now who do not have the ability to have their issues heard.” 

Republicans said making D.C. a state would be unconstitutional, and that the federal district was intended to be a place where the government could meet with no undue influence from any particular state. Some said that if D.C. residents want elected representation in the federal government, they can move, or suggested ceding parts of it back to Virginia or Maryland. 

“To say that people have been deprived of statehood, well yeah, that was the original intention of the federal city,” said Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley. 

The state Senate never took up the resolution. 

Statehood for D.C.

Dear Editor:  

“Taxation without representation.” It’s the idea that sparked our Revolutionary War and laid the foundation for the democracy that governs our country today. Arizona joined our Union, and I joined the U.S. Army, for the exact same reason: our country is strongest when its people have a say in the way they’re governed. 

During 14 years of service, I came to understand just what it is we servicemembers swear to serve and protect during our time in uniform. The idea of equal representation, no matter where one lives in this great country, certainly comes to mind. 

That’s why today, I understand that “taxation without representation” isn’t just a line for our history books, it’s the experience of 712,000 people living in the District of Columbia. In 2021, D.C. residents still don’t have representation in Congress, and their license plates are emblazoned with that famous slogan to show it. That’s why it’s far past time for Washington D.C. to become our country’s 51st state. 

Arizona’s senators have the power to extend voting rights, congressional representation, and statehood to the 712,000 residents of Washington D.C. this year. Just as veterans and servicemembers live here in Arizona, tens of thousands of us live in our nation’s capital — and they’re depending on you, Senator Sinema and Senator Kelly, to honor their service and do the right thing. For those veterans and the hundreds of thousands of regular people living in the District of Columbia, I strongly urge you to vote yes on S. 51 and support D.C. statehood, because our country — and Arizona — is stronger when we all have the representation we deserve. 

Signa Renee Oliver is a U.S. Army veteran from Chandler,

Steve Voeller: Key player for several Arizona congressmen

Steve Voeller (Photo by Ellen O'Brien/Arizona Capitol Times)
Steve Voeller (Photo by Ellen O’Brien/Arizona Capitol Times)

Steve Voeller, a political consultant with the Summit Consulting Group, has bounced back and forth between Washington, D.C. and Arizona for over two decades. Name a prominent Arizona congressman, and Voeller’s probably worked for him. After his most high-profile client, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, announced he won’t seek re-election in 2018, Voeller reflected on his time with Flake and his own experiences from working in the nation’s capital.

Cap Times Q&AYou’ve bounced around between D.C. and Arizona quite a bit. How did that get started?

I started in Arizona, with Jon Kyl in Arizona, did the campaign — he was a congressman at the time, he ran for Senate. He won in ’94, Matt Salmon won, John Shadegg, J.D. Hayworth, like the Republicans took over the House and the Senate. And I went to work in D.C. for my first real time in D.C. for Matt Salmon, freshman congressman at the time. Lived there for about a year and a few months when he asked if I wanted to come back to Arizona, work in the local office and run his re-election. So I did Salmon for six years total, most of it in Arizona, and then Flake in 2000.

Why’d you decide to come back?

I’m a native Arizonan. Grew up here. My wife is from Arizona. We went to high school together, went to ASU. When Flake won in 2000 and asked me to be his chief of staff, I agreed as long as I could be based here and commute. So in the House, I commuted maybe a week, every three — go to D.C. for that week, and then work out of the local (Arizona) office for a couple weeks, two or three weeks, then go back. In the Senate, I was a full-fledged commuter, Monday through Friday.

What keeps pulling you back to Arizona after these opportunities in Washington?

Great place to work (Washingon), just not the place I wanted to raise my family. I have three kids, and just wasn’t that interested in that kind of lifestyle. I enjoy the work a lot. It’s the greatest job I probably will ever have, being a chief of staff in both the House and the Senate. It’s just not the lifestyle I wanted. So I really had the best of both worlds: remain in Arizona, be an Arizonan, be home on the weekends in Arizona, coach Little League, coach flag football, but still then go to work and work. It was really the best of both worlds.

What made the work in D.C. so rewarding for you?

If you like politics and you like public policy, it’s the place to work. Anyone who gets a chance to do it if they’re interested should do it. I started off on a campaign, but I gradually became more and more interested in the policy side of it. I started the (Arizona) Free Enterprise Club, which is almost largely, almost entirely policy driven. And being able to work, the quality of people who I worked for — Kyl, Salmon, Flake — and to be in that element in the nation’s capital, was really just a rewarding experience.

What was your first reaction when Flake announced he won’t run again in 2018?

It’s tough. If there’s anybody who deserves to be in the Senate, in my view, it’s a guy like Jeff Flake, who I believe is there for the right reasons. Very thoughtful, very policy oriented, ran for the right reasons, served for the right reasons. But I also am part of his life not just as a friend, but as a political adviser. The decision at the very end of course was very difficult for him and sad for a lot of us, but it also was — you could see sort of this, not the fact that he might say he’s not going to do it, but you could see the challenges coming for a while. Of course, it’s like anything else. At the moment it happens, it’s tough.

Flake’s talked a lot about how much he loves the work, but hates the way conversations in D.C. are happening. Can you elaborate on that?

Nothing I have is more insightful than what he’s written about and spoken about very loudly and forcefully. Jeff is a policy-first member. For example, he didn’t agree with President Obama on much policy-wise. But I think what really started to tip the scales with respect to the president was that no one was saying anything about kind of the behavior that really ruffled Jeff’s feathers the wrong way, and that somebody needed to stand up and say something. Somebody needed to not be afraid politically to stand up and say something. Because he’s not just the leader of the country he’s the leader of the party, too. And Senator Flake felt that it really reflected poorly on the party. And if no one’s going to say anything, it also reflected poorly on the folks who were in a position to say something about it.

Is that something that’s unique to the past few years?

I think I saw it a lot during my time. Everyone talks about negative campaigning and all the mud-slinging and whatever — that’s been going on forever, and everyone’s used to that and it’s kind of baked in the cake. It’s just part of the deal. But it’s certainly been heightened during the last presidential campaign. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like it: the nominee of one of the two major parties in that mode almost all the time. Jeff talked about, we all talked about a pivot that was coming, a pivot towards something that’s more normal presidential discourse, and it hadn’t happened yet. So that’s I think the most striking thing to not just me, but to anyone who’s been involved in politics for a while.

Have you seen a similar change in dialogue happening in Arizona?

No. There’s lawmakers here and there who are more comfortable with colorful discourse than others, but that’s been going on for a long time as well. I think a lot of the behavior that we all know exists usually happens behind closed doors. You hear about people who might talk like a sailor or whatever, but it’s usually not so public. This is almost every day, whether it’s Twitter or a press conference, so I think it’s just more public than it used to be.

What’s next now that you don’t have a U.S. Senate race to work on?

Still affiliated with Flake, and we’ve talked about — you know, he’s still going to be a senator for the next 14 months, and what does he want to do after that, we’ll be a part of that one way or another. The firm at Summitt, we have clients, everything from lobbying clients so you’ll see us at the Capitol, to campaigns we may be involved in, to candidate campaigns and issue campaigns, and just general government affairs work.

Treason, Trump, Obamacare at issue in Sinema, McSally debate

Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema face off Oct. 15, 2018, in their only debate for U.S. Senate (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema face off Oct. 15, 2018, in their only debate for U.S. Senate (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)

Hoping to remind voters of her foe’s history, Republican senatorial contender Martha McSally said Monday that Kyrsten Sinema, her Democratic foe, is guilty of supporting “treason.”

Near the end of the hour-long debate on KAET, McSally brought up a radio interview Sinema did in 2003 during her anti-war days. Asked if it was OK to fight for the Taliban, she said “fine, I don’t care if you want to go do that.”

Much of the campaign against Sinema has been focused on who she was more than a decade ago, including her opposition to war in the Middle East. McSally hopes to convince voters that Sinema, who since being elected to Congress in 2012, is not the moderate that she proclaims.

After the debate, Sinema brushed aside the questions of what she said years ago.

“Martha’s chosen to run a campaign that’s based on smears and attacks and that’s her choice,” she said. And what happened in the past, Sinema said, is history.

“Over time I think it makes sense for individuals who are willing to learn and to grow,” she said.

But Sinema wasn’t the only one on the defensive as the pair, in a virtual dead heat to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Flake, each sought to score points with the perhaps 10 percent of Arizonans who say they are undecided.

Sinema accused McSally of being an “apologist” for anything that the GOP – and Donald Trump in particular – want. And McSally was defensive about questions about her views on President Trump and her open support of him this year, versus her refusal to endorse him two years ago.

“Nothing’s changed,” she said.

McSally, first elected to represent Congressional District 2 in Southern Arizona in 2014, said she was focused on representing her district.

“But he’s in office,” she said. And that, McSally said, means she needs to work with him, as she said she did to preserve the A-10 attack aircraft that the Obama administration had tried to scrap.

She was a little less straightforward when asked if she was proud of Trump.

“I am proud to be working with him to provide more opportunities and to make sure we keep our country safe,” McSally said.

And she made it clear that she backs much of what the president has done.

“He’s a disrupter,” McSally said of Trump. “He went to D.C. to shake things up and he’s doing that.”

It is that attitude, she said, that has led to him make major strides like trying to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula and updating old trade policies.

But Sinema said the flip side has been a trade war.

“That is devastating for Arizona’s businesses and for our agricultural community,” she said.

And the effects, Sinema said, trickle down to everyone else. She cited the increase on tariffs on aluminum, something that will make cans more expensive.

“That’s something we all can agree on: Beer should not be more expensive,” she said.

McSally defended her votes to scrap the Affordable Care Act even as she conceded that the law she voted to repeal has made insurance available to some who did not have it before.

“We cannot go back to where we were before,” she said. But McSally said the program, known as Obamacare, just does not work as constructed and is financially unaffordable.

That, however, still leaves the hot-button question of what would happen to those now enrolled.

While the program has proven controversial, there is widespread support for a key provision: a requirement for insurance companies to provide coverage irrespective of preexisting medical conditions. Sinema charged that the GOP efforts to repeal the law would have once again left those people without insurance.

McSally said that while she wanted to scrap the Affordable Care Act she supports such a requirement. The problem, she said, is that “Obamacare was the wrong approach.”

Sinema, however, said the alternatives offered by McSally and Republicans would return the country “to the time when people couldn’t afford health insurance.”

“The solutions Martha has voted for actually make the system worse and hurt Arizonans,” Sinema said.

The issue of abortion underlined one of the stark differences between the candidates.

Sinema said that issue should be strictly between a woman and her doctor. McSally defined herself as “pro-life.”

But McSally sidestepped the question of whether she wants the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the right of women to terminate a pregnancy.

“I would support appointing justices that are looking independently at the Constitution and the laws that we make,” McSally said.

McSally also gave a full-throated endorsement to the decision of President Trump to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the Senate vote to confirm him.

“He is highly qualified and he has shown I think what we need to be looking at in judges and justices, which is that they’re not going to be activist but they’re actually going to interpret the Constitution and the laws that we make in Congress,” she said.

Sinema was less direct in her answer, calling the confirmation hearings “a circus” in which both political parties participated. And she questioned both his demeanor and whether he lied during the hearings, ultimately saying she would have voted against confirmation.

McSally, whose congressional district includes a large stretch of the international border, said Sinema, whose district covers parts of Phoenix and Tempe, does not understand the issue of security. McSally said this is not just about illegal immigration but also drug and human smuggling.

Sinema said she did support a $1.5 billion border security appropriation which included money for Trump’s border wall

“I’m fine with a physical barrier being part of a total solution she said. But Sinema said it also requires more than “an 18th century solution to a 21st century problem.”

The questions McSally raised about Sinema’s fitness were not limited to her anti-war activities.

She pointed out that Sinema had accepted $53,000 in donations from the owners of Backpage.com, a now-defunct web site that prosecutors say was a front for prostitution. Sinema eventually donated the money to charity.

And McSally also lashed out at Sinema for her days as a legislator when she worked to alter a bill about penalties for men who had sex with underage girls to put in a requirement that the “john” actually knew the girl was not of legal age.

“I’m not making this stuff up,” McSally said.

Two Republicans announce run for Franks’ seat

The East Front of the U.S. Capitol at dusk. It’s quiet now, but will be a lot livelier when Congress returns from its August recess on Sept. 8 and begins to tackle a long list of back-up legislation. (Photo courtesy Architect of the Capitol)
The East Front of the U.S. Capitol at dusk. (Photo courtesy Architect of the Capitol)

The race to fill the congressional seat once held by Trent Franks is taking shape just days after his resignation, and a crowded Republican primary seems inevitable.

Bob Stump, a Republican who has served at the state Legislature and on the Arizona Corporation Commission, was the first to announce on Friday. And on Monday, Sen. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, said he’s in, followed by an announcement via Twitter from former state lawmaker Phil Lovas that he had resigned from the United States Small Business Administration.

Lovas left the state House in April to serve as the Region IX advocate for the Trump administration’s Office of Advocacy. He was an early supporter of President Trump and was widely expected to take a job with the administration after serving as campaign chair in Arizona.

After this story was first published, Lovas officially announced his candidacy for the seat Wednesday, emphasizing his ties to the president.

Steve Montenegro
Steve Montenegro

Gov. Doug Ducey announced today the primary election for the Congressional District 8 seat will be Feb. 27 and the general election on April 24. The candidates have until Jan. 10 to file paperwork to officially enter the race.

The Arizona attorney general’s office is also reviewing whether the state’s resign-to-run law means sitting lawmakers must step down if they decide to run for former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks’ seat.

Office spokesman Ryan Anderson says attorneys are looking at state law, the state Constitution and previous cases to see if the Jan. 10 filing deadline for the Franks special election triggers the law. Resign-to-run bars sitting officeholders from running unless they are in their last year of office.

The filing deadline comes more than a year before lawmakers’ current terms officially expire next January. Election lawyer Tim La Sota says it’s clear the law requires resignation.


Though there has already been speculation about a Trump endorsement in the works for Lovas, Montenegro boasted about support from Franks. Speaking on Facebook Live, Montenegro said Franks personally asked him to run for his seat.

Phil Lovas
Phil Lovas

Franks announced on Dec. 7 his resignation would take effect Jan. 31 because two female staffers complained that he had discussed surrogacy with them.

Franks amended his resignation Dec. 8 to be effective immediately. That came on the tails of reports that he had offered an aide $5 million to be a surrogate for his child and left the two staffers concerned that he was suggesting impregnating them through sexual intercourse.

Montenegro said he was shocked by the news of Franks’ resignation.

“Washington D.C. doesn’t want good men, doesn’t want conservatives there,” he said during his announcement. “What Washington D.C. wants is congressmen and congresswomen that will go there and do what’s in the best interest of Washington, of big interests.”

Bob Stump
Bob Stump

Republican campaign consultant Constantin Querard said Montenegro plans to resign by Friday because he wants to ensure Legislative District 13 has a new senator in place before the start of session on Jan. 8.

Montenegro had been gearing up for a primary battle against Secretary of State Michele Reagan for her seat.

Other Republicans have expressed interest in the congressional seat, including Sen. Debbie Lesko of Peoria, Sen. Kimberly Yee of Phoenix.

Lesko told the Arizona Capitol Times that she’s “likely to run” for the seat and has considered it for a long time.

“I always thought that Trent would move on to the Senate, so I’ve kind of contemplated running before,” she said. “I would never have run against him.”

She was reached while attending the American Legislative Exchange Council conference in Nashville, however, and said it was still too early to say what her ultimate decision may be.

Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman is also among suspected contenders, but he told the Arizona Capitol Times he had not made a firm decision as of Monday.

Hickman said he was leaning toward not running at first but has received enough supportive calls to get him to consider it. Still, he was not prepared for Franks to step down, and while others are “scurrying” to decide on their political ambitions, he said his children are what give him pause now.

“My ambition is to be the best father I can be to a 12-, a 10- and a 7-year-old,” he said, adding, “Nothing replaces these years, so I’m conflicted.”

He, too, will be making an announcement this week.

Jeremy Duda and The Associated Press contributed to this report.