Journalists Roundtable

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Local reporters review the week’s top stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome To "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Casey Newton of the "Arizona Republic," Howard Fischer of "Capitol Media Services," Luigi Del Puerto of "The Arizona Capitol Times." A federal judge says it's unconstitutional for the state to give matching funds to publicly financed Candidates when their Privately financed opponents spend more. Howie, not necessarily a surprise here, but talk about the ramifications of this decision.

Howard Fischer: The ramifications are clearly immediate. You have a situation where if you want to run publicly, it is an option in state, you get a certain number of $5 donations to show you have support and they give you money. For the governor's race, about $7,700. You agree to live with that. What they have been doing since 1998 with matching funds is to say if you are privately funded spends more, we will give you a dollar for dollar match up to three times the original. It is supposed to be an equalizer. The judge said under the constitution, you are forcing, every time a privately funded folk spends a buck - you're forcing him to finance his opponent, and that violates this person's first amendment rights. He said it is unconstitutional. We have a race that has already started. That is the key here. You have Jan Brewer in a situation where she says she is running publicly, along with Dean Martin. Buzz Mills has already thrown $2.1 million of his own money into his race. They will have to live with that unless they change. Here is where it gets stranger for the governor and lawmakers. The law says you cannot gather money from lobbyists during the legislative term.

Luigi Del Puerto: During a regular session.

Howard Fischer: During a regular session. We know how long the regular sessions have been lasting, May, June, July. They have to file their paperwork in June. It means that if they were to decide to go and run with private funds, the large source of the money, the lobbyists is gone.

Ted Simons: Before we go further. We should mention a ten day stay to allow an appeal to the ninth circuit. The ninth circuit could do a variety of things from ignore, to injunction, to these sorts of things. The argument is not completely over yet. Anyone who depended on clean elections, this is not good news.

Luigi Del Puerto: This is not good news. They should be reassessing the situation right now. We have a couple of lawmakers who said we are going to run with clean elections money. They're going to have to reassess that situation. We have people like Amanda Aguirre, Rebecca Rios who says they would like to run with clean elections money. Without matching funds that makes it difficult for them as well. Lots of reassessing to do in the next couple of days.

Casey Newton: I was going to say it seems like in some legislative districts, the amount of money provided to lawmakers through clean elections may still be enough. I think they get something like $24,000 for a primary. In a smaller district that may be enough to get their name out there and win a campaign. The real shake up at the governor level, attorney general races, a lot more money at stake and it costs a lot more money to get your name out there.

Ted Simons: Talk about a real shake up, combine this with the United States Supreme Court basically opening the door for corporate and union money into federal races for now, but with the ruling, Howie, it sounds like clean elections in local races.

Howard Fischer: The elections director says our laws are patterned under the federal laws. You can't have corporate or union money try to influence candidate campaigns. They have been able to contribute to issue campaigns. Now they are free to wage their own independent expenditures. If the Pepsi-Cola Company for some reason wanted to say Terry Goddard is wonderful or Jan Brewer is not, they're free to do that. And what happens is now that you don't have the match, the matching money, matches not only what candidates gather for themselves, but any independent expenditures spent on behalf of the -- of the opponent or against the publicly-funded person. Now you have a double situation where there -- a single company can come in and totally bury an opponent, and there is no chance of catching up.

Ted Simons: We mentioned independent expenditures. You can't directly go into the campaign, but there are ways -- are you expecting to see unions, corporations going out on a bit of a limb, especially for a corporation, if you are trying to sell tennis shoes and the folks buying the tennis shoes don't like your political stance, that is not necessarily a good thing. Do you think we will see a lot of this?

Casey Newton: Absolutely. I think everything that I read and people I talk to say this is a change to American politics. Everybody is scratching their heads to see what the practical implications are. I think I read one quote today where a guy said a situation will be a company comes in, I have a million dollars, I can spend it for you or against you. Do you agree with my decision or not? That will be a game changer.

Howard Fischer: Where do they pick and choose their races? For Adidas, it might not be a big issue of whether Ed -- gets reelected. It will make a difference on the congressional races where they have issues like tax policy and everything else. I think the unions will more than likely get involved because a lot of things occur at the legislative levels. And for them they don't have shareholders to worry about, they don't have customers to worry about. They can laser in on the issues they want and districts that they want, and as much as Rebecca Friend says we're still being outspent, they can target three or four races with direct union money.

Luigi Del Puerto: There should be a caveat here though. Corporations obviously are going to be putting themselves at a risk if they waded into a political campaign and suddenly come out swinging at a candidate or in support of a certain candidate, they put themselves at risk because they might offend customers or certain people. It's true. It is a significant change, major change, but I think on the part of the companies, they might be -- I don't see them rushing in, if you will. Because they're -- like I said, obvious risks if they did that.

Casey Newton: Getting to Howie's point, I think he is right about the unions. Think of the education lobby in Arizona and how much is at stake with education funding. All of the laws that get passed every year that have to do with that. Unions have a free pass to go in there and flex their muscles to achieve their end.

Ted Simons: Major court case, we talked about it during the week, we talked about it here and probably will talk about it much more, something else, Terry Goddard has gone ahead, Luigi, he didn't announce, but the papers were filed -- why didn't he just announce it?

Luigi Del Puerto: Everyone knows that he is going to run for governor. Today he filed his campaign committee it's not an exploratory committee, if I am not mistaken, therefore he is running. If you look at the web site it said I am going to run for governor. Why is he not publicly or officially saying that he is running for governor? Well, one thing that comes to my mind is that there has been an obvious benefit to him staying out of the picture officially. His numbers are good. You know, polls show he is doing very well. By keeping out of the picture, if you will, officially, he is able to get benefits out of it. Why change it at this point?

Howard Fischer: Another factor at work, and that deals with the way the media works. I think that he believes he is going to get two bites at the apple. We will all run stories tomorrow, Terry Goddard declares for governor then in a couple of weeks he will have the balloons and the fanfare and the cheering, and it's going to be Terry Goddard formally announces for governor. He thinks he's going to get two bites of the apple. I'm sure that some reporters will do that but it's a scam. It's like what Luigi was talking about with the exploratory committee, I'm exploring, but I don't have to answer any questions because I'm not really running for governor. It is part of a game they all play.

Casey Newton: It is different than what we are used to seeing. The typical way you announce the candidacy, you file the paperwork and have the fanfare on the same day. That's when you do your six city, whistle-stop tour through the state. Goddard hasn't chosen to do that. Certainly left the press corps kind of scratching their heads, why, for what seems to be a relatively big announcement that he would dump it on us at 4:00 p.m. on a Friday.

Howard Fischer: I think I know the answer. This comes down to the game he was playing. He was critical, has been critical of Jan Brewer saying lack of leadership. We have all written that. When I asked him specifically back in November, what is your answer? Well, if I run for governor, I will decide. Well, do you support the one cent sales tax? If I run for governor, I will decide. Now you're running. Why won't you answer the question? His campaign aide said well, he is running, but he has not announced. He wants to drag this out as long as possible because I don't think he has an answer to the question of how he would solve the budget problem.

Luigi Del Puerto: The budget problem is so big that I don't think any kind of a plan -- any kind of a plan you put out will be a tax -- by putting out a proposal or by answering specific questions, you make yourself a little vulnerable. And so that might be a reason why he is doing what he is doing.

Ted Simons: Regardless of announcements, soft openings, grand openings, whatever the case may be, he is gone from the attorney general's office. He can't continue there. We have a guy from Tucson now announcing this week.

Casey Newton: That's right. Vince Rabideau, who spent eight years in the attorney general's office, and eight years before that working for the California attorney general has stepped up to enter a democratic field that includes the house minority leader, and a deputy attorney general. It will be interesting to see whether he can gain any traction. Of those three candidates, not one of them has enormous statewide name I.D., but I think the real question here actually doesn't have anything to do with democrats. It is which republicans will get into the race.

Howard Fischer: You talk about name I.D. being everything, how does a person like Dean Martin get arrested. At the risk of being flip, it is nice to have a name that sounds like a pasta. People remember things. Look at the three people --

Ted Simons: Are you saying that Rotellini is going to win?

Howard Fischer: I'm saying he -- saying probably going to win the nomination. Whether she wins the general - you know we've got Tom Horn in the race. Maybe Andy Thomas, although with his legal problems, it is hard to say. It is not bad having a name like that.

Ted Simons: What about a musical instrument, Tom Horn? If we are going to go down this avenue.

Howard Fischer: That may be how he got elected in the first place.

Luigi Del Puerto: There is that obvious advantage if you have a good name. Paul Newman for example, or Dean Martin, for example. That is an advantage.

Casey Newton: What is interesting is that it really does come down to these factors in a lot of ways. All of the candidates are saying the same thing, they're going to fight identity theft, they're going to protect consumers from fraud, fight illegal immigration. It will come down to things well will a woman play better than four men or what's the last name

Howard Fischer: And let me go a step beyond that. Public financing for that race is only like $130,000 range. Tell me what kind of statewide campaign you can do with that. These people will probably stick to public financing without the match because it looks bad as attorney general candidate to take money from outsiders. That is what it is going to come down to. A lot of name I.D. and I'm prettier than so and so.

Ted Simons: Speaking of political and ambition, and not how pretty Howie is. Luigi, a lot of folks leaving the legislature for bigger and what they hope better things.

Luigi Del Puerto: Congressman Shadegg's decision to retire -- musical chairs over there. The effect of that will extend over to the house. We have two state senators who have said that we want -- we are going to run for that seat. I would presume in the next few days, maybe before the month ends, they will both resign. What that creates is a vacancy in the Senate, and House members who are wanting to go over to the Senate, if you will. And so they're leaving, their resignation will trigger a replacement process. That is just one part of the equation. Another part is that we have John Peyton going to run for Congress as well in challenge to Gabby Giffords. He's chairman of judiciary. Waring is Chairman of finance. These are two major committees that would have to be filled if they resign. Burns will have some complications down the road trying to fill the two spots.

Ted Simons: Talk about the impact of folks, you know, you are talking about one vote separating a sales tax and a whole nine yards and leaving special sessions that went no where, etc., etc. People coming and going here like the barn door is open.

Casey Newton: Absolutely. If you thought that maybe working in the legislature wasn't that glamorous. Here is your evidence. A couple of seats come open and boom, everybody runs to the door. I think there will be real implications here for the state budget process. Arizona is in the midst of this historic crisis. All of the questions about how to resolve it. The governor put forward her plan. Republican leadership putting together their plan. Now you are going to have three, four, five new people coming in in the middle of the session trying to get up to speed and casting their votes.

Howard Fischer: It is a learning process. In the old days, the leadership came out with something and everyone saluted because we were adding new programs. How can that be bad? Now that we're cutting, it takes awhile for folks to understand, if we move this DES program over to that or the governor's talking about moving mental health, there are ripple effects. And you can't simply rely on leadership to tell you oh, this is the best way to go.

Ted Simons: History shows that those who do leave wind up doing better.

Luigi Del Puerto: Right, it is true. People who have resigned their legislative posts in order to run for Congress have fared better. One of our reporters did a story about that last year. He looked at the odds of winning. Lawmakers who ran for either the Senate or the U.S. House, I think only two of them who remained in office and campaigned for a congressional office won. The rest did not. I think the -- he was -- he ran for Congress, while remaining as Senate President, and he lost.

Howard Fischer: Well you have two problems. Number one, you are trapped here in the legislature into June and July. Given what is going on, there's almost nothing you can do to get positive press. You are faced with this bad decision or that bad decision, either of which your opponents are going to use against you. You are better to just get the heck out.

Ted Simons: Before they get the heck out. The budget -- what is the latest? Can everyone agree that the two-thirds vote is pretty much a nonstarter?

Casey Newton: I have not heard anyone call it a starter. Reporters pressed the governor's budget people on this and said what is the change in strategy going to be. Which is a question reporters have been asking for nine months. What is Governor Brewer going to do to get republican leaders to see things her way. A little tap dancing and moved on to the next question.

Luigi Del Puerto: It will be tough to get 20 votes in the Senate and 40 in the house. That would entail a bipartisan vote. That would entail asking people who were willing to vote for the sales tax referral last year, because it was a referral, and have said no we are never going to vote for a direct tax increase, that would entail persuading them to vote --

Howard Fischer: Democrats now who are willing to go along if you broaden the base. The Governor is proposing a little of that, that she is going to tax certain repair services, but they're looking at everything else. They tried the normal you don't pay for maid service, doggy day care, the poor middle class has to pay for school supplies and stuff. If you broaden the base you may pick up some dems. She wants this tax to start being collected on March 1st, which means by the middle of February you need an answer. I don't see it.

Ted Simons: Will you get any democrat anywhere under any circumstance going along with this sales tax increase if somewhere along the line tax cuts are going to be in the not so distant future or whatever? It seems that democrats are saying there is no reason for the sales tax increase if all we are going to do is backfill tax cuts in the future.

Hard Fischer: I think that is their concern. To the extent you can separate them out. Part of what happened during the regular session, made it a single package. That's why the democrats wouldn't vote for it. I think there are some democrats, they say, look, we have 6.3, $6.4 billion in revenue, $10 billion in spending, and we like these programs, but they need something else. They need the governor to put something else on the table for them.

Ted Simons: Do you think the democrats will if you separate this out, that some democrats may cross over and you will get that magic vote somewhere?

Casey Newton: Democrats have been steadfast in their opposition to these tax increases. They have not wavered at all. There may be a couple they could pick up. During the past sessions in the last year, certain democrats have gone up to the governor's office and there has been a let' make a deal moment. But the deal hasn't happened. Now there is less money to make the deal.

Howard Fischer: One other factor at work, what we were talking about earlier, democrats have no desire to watch Jan Brewer succeed. They have no desire to watch her succeed. They figure either way it is good for Terry. Whether Brewer is the nominee, or Dean Martin, they figure she fails, it helps Terry.

Luigi Del Puerto: Obviously no political gain for them to vote for the sales tax referral or even vote for a budget.

Ted Simons: And what the republicans will say, democrats are not going to do anything that might hurt them within their base as well. Nothing seems to have changed all that much, has it?

Casey Newton: No, indeed.

Ted Simons: Senate panel okays illegal immigration -- Luigi, this is Russell Pearce's baby.

Luigi Del Puerto: This is Russell Pearce's bill that he has tried bits and pieces of this before. None of them passed last year. I would consider them significant changes. The one change that I have seen in there would require police officers, for example, during what the bill said legitimate contact to inquire about a person's residency or legal status. And I think there are questions about the costs of that, the training to do that, and that came up in committee this week when that bill was heard.

Ted Simons: Invitation to lawsuits as well another concern there.

Howard Fischer: That is particularly -- particularly key point is that there is language in there that says if anybody believes that a city has or a county or somebody has a policy, what he calls sanctuary policies, don't ask, don't tell, then you can sue them. In Russell's defense, that language already exists in what voters approved years ago in prop 200, and what was approved over the summer, we haven't seen lawsuits, but it does cause a lot of heartburn knowing that anybody with $200 can file a lawsuit.

Luigi Del Puerto: They did make one change in committee during the hearing. They took out the provision that would give the county attorney power when they are investigating an employer over alleged employee sanctions violations, they stripped that off of that.

Ted Simons: Not coming back --

Luigi Del Puerto: Russell Pearce said he will introduce it as a separate measure.

Ted Simons: Anti-photo radar -- everyone sponsoring something down there?

Luigi Del Puerto: At least six, I think bills that are targeting photo enforcement. And I -- you know, last year they tried this one. They didn't have the votes for this one. But, you know, on the one hand, the governor's office is basically saying we're not going to renew the contract. We're proposing to ask voters in November whether they want to have this continued or not. So, on the one hand, the governor's office strongly against it. The governor herself has said she doesn't care for it. We have lawmakers who were trying again to get rid of this system.

Ted Simons: The idea that last year didn't work -- times are different this year. It seems like there are -- some of these bills -- one said any state statute, forget it, get rid of it. DPS officer has to personally deliver at the time of the -- come on.

Casey Newton: Yeah, this is kill photo radar by any means necessary. I would say in one year if it is still up and running, I would be surprised.

Howard Fischer: There are a few bills to fix it having to do with issues of delivery, issues of where the speed limit sign should be. There are folks while they may not like it, they recognize that the revenues have not been the $90 million that Janet Napolitano promised us, $37 million is nothing to sneeze at when you are this far in the hole. That's the really fascinating thing about the governor's budget proposal. She says we have to cut here. We have to cut there. I am going to give up this money unless voters say -- that seems shameless political hucksterism.

Luigi Del Puerto: In addition to that, lawmakers who believe that photo enforcement have benefits, they have looked at statistics. They think that collisions and fatalities have gone down. They see an obvious benefit to having the system in place. So, whether we will see photo enforcement go away this year, I --

Ted Simons: I just wonder about this. Anyone who has driven the freeway, whether you are for photo radar or you think it is big brother and the whole nine yards, one thing for sure, the crazy go nuts driving has definitely decreased - Are you going to tell me that the freeways are wilder now than they were before photo radar?

Not where the cameras are. Drive south Interstate 17, coming down Glendale, doing 75, they approach Bethany Home and the big yellow sign and they hit the brakes. And then they speed up and then they hit the brakes again. I don't know if that promotes safety.

Ted Simons: You see that more than you do steady driving on I-10.

Howard Fischer: Yes.

Ted Simons: You see that more than steady driving --

Casey Newton: No, I think when you look at the statistics, credible statistics that show improvement. I think what Howie says is true, yes, people brake around photo radar. But overall the 51 which I drive the most, slower since the cameras went up.

Ted Simons: We will stop it right there. Thank you for joining us tonight.

Casey Newton:Arizona Republic;Howard Fischer:Capitol Media Services;Luigi De Puerto:The Arizona Capitol Times;

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