Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Daily Agenda: Rage Against Ducey's Machine

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2022 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge The Daily Agenda: Rage Against Ducey's Machine
Maricopa County Elections Department
Can you believe this Cyber Ninjas stuff is still going on?


About those splunk logs ... More bad news for Doug Logan … And Ducey’s first election integrity test.


Editor's note: The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter about Arizona government and politics run by Rachel Leingang and Hank Stephenson. You can find their archives and subscribe at arizonaagenda.com.

Another of Gov. Doug Ducey’s disciples is attempting to springboard from the Ninth Floor into their own elected office, highlighting both the reach and possibly the limitations of the machine the governor has built during his 12 years in statewide office. 

Anni Foster, the governor’s general counsel, became the second current Ducey employee seeking elected office in their own right this year when she joined the GOP primary race to replace Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. (That’s after Ducey’s budget director Matt Gress, who’s running for the Legislature from central Phoenix.)

Ducey’s support in the race will be pivotal. Foster’s access to his campaign infrastructure should put her ahead of the pack in the sprint to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot before April 4 — not to mention fundraise.



And Godbehere was leading the Republican race
 to gather signatures online to qualify for the ballot as of yesterday. (Though, it’s important to note, we don’t know who’s winning at gathering signatures the old-fashioned, paper way.) On the Democratic side, Julie Gunnigle, who ran for the post in 2020, gathered enough signatures in one day to make the ballot, and the field is all but cleared for her.


But “Team Ducey” isn’t exactly the strongest label to carry
in a Republican primary these days. For the America First wing of the GOP that views her as a proxy for the governor, Foster’s campaign will serve as a referendum against the governor who will not be on the ballot. 

MAGAs are flocking to Gina Godbehere, a former MCAO lawyer who now serves as the prosecutor in the city of Goodyear. But Godbehere isn’t the kind of far-right anti-election keyboard warrior that you’d expect from a candidate with Kari Lake’s endorsement. By all accounts, Godbehere is a thoughtful former prosecutor and longtime community advocate in the West Valley with a ton of support from moderate Republicans. 


Meanwhile Rachel Mitchell,
 a longtime sex-crimes prosecutor at MCAO who was among the five criminal division chiefs who called for Adel to resign (only to be told they should resign instead), also entered the Republican primary yesterday. She led the department briefly following Bill Montgomery’s resignation (and before Adel’s appointment) and is probably best remembered as the person Republicans hired to question Christine Blasey Ford about her sexual assault accusations against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing1. Mitchell has the backing of former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, though that’s not exactly a name that rings out like it once did. 

Still, the Ducey Employee Alumni Association is a vast network, and its members are all pulling for Foster. Whether the Ducey association alone is enough for her to win in a Republican primary will offer some insight into the status of his machine during his 12th and final year in office. We can’t imagine there’s a lot of goodwill towards Team Ducey at the county, after the governor ducked and dodged every opportunity to forcefully join the county supervisors and side with sanity in the Great Audit War. (With the new subpoena Republican Sen. Kelli Townsend recently fired at the county, that war may once again be heating up — and whoever gets the county attorney job will be leading the county into legal battle.)

And the supervisors may have some say in who becomes the next county attorney. They’ll have to appoint an interim leader, possibly from the list of Republican candidates, which would offer the chosen candidate an electoral boost as the “incumbent.” While Foster has served as general counsel to the governor and previously the Department of Public Safety, she’s never defended or prosecuted a criminal case or run an office, unlike the other two women, making her appointment that much less likely.

What if I told you there are no splunk logs?: The Arizona Senate’s months-long investigation into Maricopa County’s subpoenaed routers and splunk logs, which sought to answer questions of whether election machines were connected to the internet or if data was purged, ended exactly as expected yesterday. The “special master” the Senate hired to oversee the investigation, former Republican Congressman John Shadegg delivered his final report based on investigations from three separate IT firms that all agreed there were no splunk logs to track internet traffic, no routers connected to the internet and nothing purged or deleted from the system. The senators who hired him and fueled the internet-connection conspiracies either didn’t read the report or didn’t care what it said, as Capitol scribe Howie Fischer reports. With that investigation concluded, and every allegation debunked, the only ongoing investigation is at Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, and he has sequestered some of the devices that Shadegg’s teams wanted to review, the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzland Ronald J. Hansen note.

AZLeg never says die: The deadline for most legislative committees to hear bills is this Friday, meaning some proposals could be dead if they don’t get a hearing in the House or Senate by then. One such proposal would have increased the threshold ballot measures needed to become law, requiring 60% of voters to approve them, the Arizona Mirror’s Jeremy Duda reports. It was pulled from the Senate Government Committee’s agenda. But that doesn’t quite mean it’s dead-dead. 

About time: The U.S. Embassy was able to get access to Brittney Griner, finally. The WNBA star is facing charges for possessing hashish oil and has been detained in Russia since February, though details on her case and detention have been scarce. The State Department said Griner appeared to be in good condition. 

Landowner voting in 2022: If you’re a landowner who can vote in Salt River Project elections, you have until Friday to request your ballot in what is possibly the most antiquated voting system in Arizona. The number of votes for SRP elections is based on acreage owned, and it’s hard for outsiders to win these seats, the Republic’s Ryan Randazzo reports. John Huppenthal, former Superintendent of Public Instruction and current semi-regular commenter on our website, is running for a seat on the SRP board. 


His poor wife:
 Top ninja Doug Logan and his wife could be held personally liable for the public records that the company formerly known as Cyber Ninjas has refused to turn over, Randazzo reports. Logan has said he’s dissolving Cyber Ninjas as a company, so the Republic asked to add Logan and his wife as defendants in the ongoing records lawsuit. The $50,000 daily fine still hasn’t compelled the company to fork over the records, and the records battle has contributed to a schism between the “audit” company and its overseer, the Arizona Senate. 

We’re number 1 in something: Arizona became the first state to allow residents to add their driver’s license or state ID to Apple Wallet, which can then be used at TSA checkpoints at the Phoenix airport, Apple announced yesterday. People who add their ID to Wallet can tap their iPhone or Apple Watch to present ID. The concept is expected to spread to other states soon.

It’s bill roundup time:

  • A proposal would direct elections officials to post online voters’ names, addresses and type of ballot cast (in person or early). This is already public information, but it currently requires a records request. It would also require ballot images to be posted online.

  • Republic columnist Robert Robb is one voter who does not want Arizona to add a lieutenant governor to its cast of statewide elected officials.

  • Your kid might have to learn about communism and how it conflicts with democracy, and they might have to take a gun safety class in school, if these two proposals pass.

The opposite of Arizona: The Navajo Nation has been far more cautious than Arizona with its COVID-19 mitigation measures, and some small businesses have spent the better part of two years closed or in reduced capacities, the Republic’s Arlyssa Becentireports. Isabella Casillas Guzman, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration recently visited the Navajo Nation to talk about the ways the administration can help these business owners. 

Be careful out there: The death of two cyclists in Tucson who were hit by a driver shows the toll of pedestrian and cycling deaths in the area and across the country in the past few years, as traffic-related fatalities have increased, the Arizona Daily Star’s Tim Steller writes. Tucson is no cycling utopia, and projects to improve safety for pedestrians and bikes often meet opposition. 

When you don’t have a good answer, avoid the question entirely: The Republic’s Stacey Barchenger couldn’t get real answers from the supporters of the AZGOP anti-early voting lawsuit who have histories of voting early; instead, AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward didn’t respond and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake talked about a stolen election again.

Remember, you read it here first: We wrote about the lawmakers and party officials who recently decided they don’t like early voting, despite being early voters themselves. To get the news before you read it elsewhere, sign up for our newsletter. And if you’re already on the free list, throw us a few bucks so we can keep the scoop machine fed.

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The pandemic isn’t over, but insurance could be: About 500,000 Arizonans could lose their insurance if the COVID-19 public health emergency ends, as it is expected to within the next few months, the Republic’s Stephanie Innes notes. Because of the pandemic, the federal government didn’t allow states to boot people from its Medicaid rolls, but about a half-million of those enrolled now don’t meet requirements anymore. 

Where there’s smoke, there’s recycling fire: A fire at a recycling facility last year led El Mirage to suspend its recycling program, the Republic’s Wyatt Myskow writes. The City of Surprise suspended its recycling program a few years ago, but not because of fire; instead, it was because of cost.

We don’t claim her: As we’ve previously noted, Arizona’s perpetual embarrassment Wendy Rogers rakes in tons of campaign contributions, far more than her colleagues. And, Phoenix New Times’ Katya Schwenk reports, the majority of it comes from people outside Arizona, who contribute after she goes on far-right podcasts or gets endorsements.

Q and his followers line the Arizona ballot: You know how people say things like, your education is on the ballot, or your right to vote is on the ballot, referring to the choices you make on local officials or measures that either directly or indirectly affect your access to voting or education? Well, in Arizona, QAnon is on the ballot. And this time, we mean it literally: The guy widely believed to be Q himself, Ron Watkins, has gathered enough signatures to run for Congressional District 2. 

Rachel recommends Rachel: Rachel was on the radio talking to KJZZ’s Steve Goldstein about her reporting on the legacy of SB 1487, which we wrote about last week. If you haven’t had a chance to read the story, the radio piece is for you.

Republican lawmakers sent Gov. Doug Ducey an election bill that “likely presents a preemption issue… as well as a conflict with fairly recent U.S. Supreme Court case law,” according to the Legislature’s own constitutional attorneys.

House Bill 2492 would require proof of citizenship to vote. Voters who use the federal voter registration form, which does not require verification, but rather a sworn attestation that the voter is a citizen, would not be allowed to vote. But opponents argue the bill would go farther by requiring everyone who registered to vote before 2004 to prove citizenship or be purged from the voter rolls.

That “fairly recent” U.S. Supreme Court case that the Legislature’s lawyers cited was actually an Arizona case in which the court struck down a similar Arizona policy.

Counties, the American Civil Liberties Union, voting rights groups and others opposed the bill and told lawmakers it was nothing more than a voter purge in continuance of the lie that undocumented immigrants illegally voted and stole the election from Donald Trump

The bill now awaits Ducey’s signature or veto. 

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