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AG Brnovich

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AG Brnovich appoints investigator to dig into why Sec of State Reagan screwed up last month's special election

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has appointed a special investigator to find out whether Secretary of State Michele Reagan broke any laws when she failed to properly send out publicity pamphlets to more than 400,000 voters in rural areas ahead of the May 17 special election for Prop 123.

The school-funding proposition, which passed by less than 20,000 votes statewide, asked voters to dig into the state land trust as part of a deal to provide $3.5 billion to Arizona schools over the next decade.

Reagan came under fire after she failed to ensure that voters in rural counties received publicity pamphlets. Reagan blamed IBM, which handled the mailing lists, but IBM officials told the media that Reagan's staff didn't clearly explain what they needed from the company. The situation was further muddled because the staffers who had handled those duties for the previous Secretary of State, Ken Bennett, had left the office after Reagan won election in 2014, according to an Arizona Capitol Times report.

In a May press conference, Brnovich excoriated Reagan's failure to deliver the pamphlets and was especially critical of her decision to not inform the public of the screw-up for several days after learning of it.

Last week, Brnovich let Reagan know in a letter that he had appointed former federal prosecutor Michael Morrissey to conduct an independent investigation into Reagan's failure to mail the publicity pamphlets.

Brnovich noted that while Reagan's office had delivered a lengthy report of its own regarding the blunder, that report "left some unanswered questions about how nearly 40 percent of the households for which the Secretary of State produced the mailing list received their pamphlets weeks after the statutory deadline and why appropriate election officials and the public were not immediately notified of the issue."

McSally: Still Evaluating Trump

Southern Arizona congresswoman says she still hasn't made up her mind about presumptive GOP nominee

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced last week that he was endorsing GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump after several months of sidestepping the question.

It wasn't exactly the best timing, given that Trump almost immediately created a new controversy by saying a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit against his failed Trump University was biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.

US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel unsealed hundreds of pages of documents that showed that Trump U appeared to be more of scam than an institute of higher learning.

For Trump, the issue was simple. As he explained to CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump has promised to build a wall on the U.S-Mexico border, so a judge of Mexican heritage can't be fair to him.

"Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage," Trump said. "I'm building a wall, OK? I'm building a wall."

Trump added that he expects to well with Hispanics voters in November.

Given that Ryan had finally come around to endorsing Trump, we checked in with Congresswoman Martha McSally, who has said that she needs more time to determine if she could support Trump.

McSally spokesman Patrick Ptak said McSally still hasn't made up her mind about whether Trump would get her endorsement.

A Note of Resignation

Pima County Supe Ally Miller's embattled press aide calls it quits.

Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller's embattled communications staffer, Timothy DesJarlais, quit his job on Friday, June 3. DesJarlais, 19, had been in the media spotlight ever since a strange news website, the Arizona Daily Herald, emerged in mid-May. The Herald was purportedly the work of editor Jim Falken, who does not exist, except as an alias that DesJarlias has used in online gaming and various odd projects, such as the development of a fantasy nation called the Independent Republic of Dido Place, named for the street on which DesJarlais lives with his parents.

Despite the links between DesJarlais and Jim Falken, DesJarlais has denied being behind the Arizona Daily Herald and initially pointed the finger at another Republican activist, John Dalton. After Miller leveled accusations at Dalton, however, Dalton told the press that he didn't know anything about the entire bizarre affair, but he would like someone to get to the bottom of it so he could take legal action against whoever was pretending to be him.

And then another sketchy email arrived in the email boxes of various members of the media and political activists, claiming to be from another John Dalton who took the blame for the entire affair—except no one seems to be able to locate this second John Dalton, which suggests that he also does not exist. Or at least that what is suggests to us—Miller and her allies say that that the emergence of a second John Dalton who exists only as someone who sends emails clears DesJarlais of all charges. Nonetheless, Miller has stood behind DesJarlais, suggesting the media should be ashamed of following the story and besmirching her staffer's good name. Miller and DesJarlais went as far as to file reports with the FBI alleging identity theft. If all this seems absurdly complicated—well, it is, so if you want the details, you should check out TW's recent cover story, "Stop the Presses" (May 26).

In the meantime, we're waiting to see if the FBI has any interest in investigating this nonsense. And Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson has asked County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to look into what's going on. Huckelberry has asked Sheriff Chris Nanos to check in with the FBI to find out if an investigation is underway. Huckelberry is holding off on any other action until the county is able to fulfill a massive public-records request from the Tucson Sentinel that might get to the bottom of whether DesJarlais was moonlighting as Jim Falken—and, more importantly, whether Miller had any knowledge of that project. Huckelberry said those records could "shed some light as to any county equipment being used on premises or owned by the county—computer systems or phones or anything else, or employees doing similar actions while being paid by the public."

We hear that Miller's office is now reviewing thousands of pages related to that record request, so it might be awhile before we get to the bottom of this. Stay tuned!

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on Dish, DirecTV and broadcast. You can hear the show on KXCI, 91.3 FM, at 5 p.m. Sundays or watch it online at zonapolitics.com. Guests on this week's encore episode include UA professor Kimberly Ogden, will talk about carbon sequestration and alternative energy; Tom Prezelksi, will discuss his book Californio Lancers: The 1st Battalion of Native Cavalry in the Far West, 1863-1866; and Megan Kimble, who will discuss, Unprocessed: My City Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food.

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