Journalists’ Roundtable

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Local Arizona journalists discuss the week’s top news stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight on the Journalists' Roundtable are Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix business journal, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media services and Dan Nowicki of the Arizona Republic of the testimony this week against Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office, most of it coming from the sheriff himself.

Mike Sunnucks: That's always the highlight, getting Arpaio on the stand for extended Perez. It's a very different sheriff sometimes than the one we see at press conferences and in the media, more subdued, not as energetic. A lot of things come out about how much control, how much decision making comes from him there was a disconnect between himself, Arpaio, and the rank and file officers. Sometimes all the sheriff's office trials and proceedings morph into a referendum on Arpaio himself. Maybe folks trying to embarrass the sheriff or proving he's not in charge or the person he says he is rather than maybe the merits of the case sometimes.

Howard Fischer: he said he's not in charge -- I'm being facetious but to hear Joe say it, yeah, I got some letters saying there are brown people who speak Spanish here. You ought to do a raid, he passes it on, but I wouldn't know anything about that. That becomes the problem. Is he directing the agency? If you're a deputy chief, a capital or lieutenant you get something from the sheriff saying take a look at this, is that direction from on high?

Mike Sunnucks: It's interesting because they are trying to prove racial profiling is systemic or policy at the sheriff's office. Take the sheriff, use a lot of testimony from him in his books, press releases, interviews, just juxtaposed against well, he's not in charge, he's the face of the office but not day-to-day. It works for and against itself at the same time sometimes.

Ted Simons: There was deflected responsibility. There was -- I'm not necessarily in charge of what happens out there. One of the top aides says what the sheriff says in public regarding immigration enforcement isn't necessarily what's going on.

Dan Nowicki: It contradicted him, in fact. This is something Sheriff Joe has been doing for years. When it suits his purposes to the guy in charge, he tries to be that. When it doesn't, you know, it's well, my chief aide, my chief deputies. I'm not involved in that.

Howars Fischer: There are other issues that came up during the trial, during the testimony. This whole issue of crime suppression sweeps. We're in there to help suppress crime. Wait a second. Did you ever call the local police department if it's truly crime suppression, not Hispanic suppression? No, I didn't do that. The judge is going to have to Wade through this. This isn't in front of a jury. This is a judge weighing the sheriff's credibility and the credibility of the people who were stopped and the credibility of the parallel evidence including the books and his video statements.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the books. We had a Charles Barklay moment where the sheriff basically said he was misquoted in his own autobiography.

Mike Sunnucks: Yeah, he said he has a ghostwriter co-author and he deflected some of those statements off to them. So this has happened in other testimony in other cases. I don't know how much the judge is going to look at interviews on CNN or fox news when there's a hyperbole there, when the sheriff is on -- I don't want to say rants but that's probably a good word.

Dan Nowicki: The show business of the office.

Ted Simons: We're going to talk about this later regarding congressional races and the Senate race but from what you're seeing are folks clamoring for the Arpaio endorsement or is this dying down?

Dan Nowicki: It's interesting. I think it's still helpful in Republican primaries people would like it. In the Senate race, for example, I don't think Jeff flake is expecting it. He certainly is not seeking it. But I think he's probably happy that Arpaio has not endorsed will Cardon either. Arpaio told me himself Cardon has called him several times asking for the endorsement.

Howard Fischer: Today max Wilson on the board of supervisors crowed, hey, I got the sheriff's endorsement. Is it worth something? There are people who no matter what the sheriff said, did -- anything. Will vote for the man and will follow his lead. When a guy has 7 million of his own money to spend on his own race or supporting colleagues, that's a lot of -- [speaking simultaneously]

Mike Sunnucks: I agree but his coat tails have diminished over the years. I think everything has gone on with Arpaio, just him constantly in the news I think it's diminished a little bit but somebody like Cardon, a pronounced underdog and needs that, that would be a boost for him.

Ted Simons: The trial does question whether or not the MCSO practices racial profiling. This is a six-day trial, 20 hours for each side. That's a lot of time.

Howard Fischer: That is. But the real key thing on, this I know we have talked about it on the show, the judge said, I don't care what happens historically. I don't care what happened four years ago or three years ago or necessarily last year. What is going on now? They are seeking injunctive relief. You are doing this and you will stop it. That's a heavy burden to prove.

Ted Simons: Let's move on here. We had Secretary of State Ken Bennett on the program last night basically talking about why he's gone to the Supreme Court regarding this sales tax initiative, basically saying, Mike, we talked about this, Howie, everyone, he says that what was submitted to his office is not the same thing that was passed out on the petitions.

Mike Sunnucks: He's going to take that to the court and see if the high court sides with that technicality type argument. The letter of the law. The disk was not submitted. Form that has to be submitted. He's going to hope for a more rigid ruling from the Supreme Court. The folks on the other side are going to look at voter intent and what was the intent here and they weren't trying to mislead voters. They got a lot of signatures to get this on the ballot. It will be interesting to see how the court sides on that.

Howard Fischer: It does come down to technicalities. Title 19, the initiative referendum and recall law says you will pre-file a copy on a form provided by the Secretary of State. His paper, his form. The disk was not on a form provided by the Secretary of State. In fact as he said he did not even file the disk. We'll hang on to it but this is not the form. This isn't what we file or file stamp. Is it a distinction without a difference? Maybe in this case but I think the court is concerned about precedent. The moment you say, well, in this case we'll let this $350 million difference go because it was the intent of the voters then you've opened the door and rightly so to saying how different can what was pre-filed that is available on the Secretary of State's website for people to see be from what's actually circulated.

Mike Sunnucks: Good point but there's the other side. Are you going to let an elected official who is probably opposed to this to use technicalities to keep this off the ballot? They're going to argue that they thought they were in compliance. They weren't intentionally trying to mislead folks. It's a gray area.

Dan Nowicki: Howie can correct me if I'm wrong. He covers these cases all the time. Doesn't traditionally the courts tend to err on the side of letting voters decide as opposed to blocking something from the ballot?

Howard Fischer: The law is on initiatives. You have to have substantial compliance as opposed to referendum where you're trying to kill a law that's already enacted. What is substantial compliance? That's the issue.

Ted Simons: The lower court judge basically said you had the disk at your office. That was the text on the petitions. It was the same as what was on the disk yet you are deciding that disk is not proper because it's not on the paper. The lower court judge says I think he used the words capricious and arbitrary.

Howard Fischer: That's key. One saving grace for Annie Peterson and her group is they did file an exact copy albeit not on paper. Then they can say there was no bait and switch here. It's not like they only filed an incorrect paper and did something else.

Mike Sunnucks: You got these cases in Glendale where they kicked off the sales tax initiative out there with technicalities and how the courts rule on these cases will go forward about how much leeway people have, how much leeway elected officials, city clerks, the Secretary of State's office have to keep these things off.

Ted Simons: Bottom line, the group made a mistake. The question is in that mistake is the intent still there? Is the substance still there?

Dan Nowicki: Right. I'm just going based on the cases I have covered over the years. It seems to me that courts tend not to want to be the ones who keep something like this away from voters. The margins on the side of the papers are not big enough or -

Mike Sunnucks: I agree. I think the filing of that disk is the difference maker-

Ted Simons: Interesting. I think it's going to be very interesting to see how the Supreme Court rules on that. It could really go either way.

Howard Fischer: the important thing is it will set the precedence for everything else including Glendale and everything else. From now on we will see what the standards are.

Ted Simons: Arizona law banning abortion after 20 weeks along with other laws coming into effect next week sometime, however -

Howard Fischer: Maybe.

Ted Simons: -- in court there's a move to block that law. Talk about what the law says and Evers to get an injunction going here.

Howard Fishcer: Under current Arizona law as in most states apportion is considered illegal after viable. With certain exceptions, life of the mother, such. Currently medically speaking it's 22 to 24 weeks. This law says that at 20 weeks we are going to outlaw abortion except in the narrowest of circumstances. We're not only going to do it at 20 weeks but count the 20 weeks from the woman's last menstrual cycle which basically means you were pregnant maybe two weeks before you had sex. Leaving that particular Zen issue aside, the center for reproductive rights and the ACLU sued saying it's settled law. Roe versus Wade, states may regulate the abortion in terms of where it has to be done and everything else. But post viability you can ban it. Pre-viability you can't. It's settled law. Judge, this clearly is a pre-viability issue.

Mike Sunnucks: The folks on the other side are trying to push the puck to the other side, get it to 20 weeks, maybe get it challenged to Roe, and they have been doing these laws in different states. There's been 20-week laws passed in other states so this is an important test to see where abortion nationally is going and various state levels.

Howard Fischer: That's become an issue. Is this a challenge to Roe versus Wade? The Supreme Court has made noises whether it's still good law. It was decided on the idea why there's no right to privacy specifically is that still good law? That will be an interesting case.

Mike Sunnucks: They're trying to move the puck on viability.

Ted Simons: Very much so. County attorney bill Montgomery says the viability standard needs to be addressed again.

Howard Fischer: He said, we talked about it earlier this week, that he believes that courts should defer to the will of the policy makers. The legislators that we all cover. If the legislators decide there should be no abortion from the moment of conception the courts should defer to that. That's going to be a hard sell.

Ted Simons: We have a new poll out showing Jeff flake with a big lead over will Cardon. No real surprise there. Talk to us about the poll, who did the poll and the whole dynamic of attack ads which every time you watch TV you're seeing something going on.

Dan Nowicki: This is the first poll since May that's been released publicly, which is helpful to folks covering the race because we have been having to rely on what the two campaigns have been telling us their internal numbers are. Will Cardon has been saying it's a very tight race, narrow race. That he's closed the gap. Words it that effect. The flake people have been telling me, well, especially after the story broke about the illegal immigration hiring at the subway shops which flake has been running ads on. That's kind of stopped Cardon's momentum. They have a poll they said showed 30 point lead or so. They don't think that's necessarily holding because Cardon has been blistering flake around the clock with his ads. The poll that came out this week is funded by a superPack that supports flake, so Cardon instantly dismissed the credibility of the poll. But it's a legitimate GOP firm in Colorado showing flake with a 22-point lead.

Howard Fischer: One of the interesting things I found in the poll was that Cardon had certainly improved his name I.D. Here's a guy that came out of nowhere. Who remembers Cardon oil? But his negatives are so high and some of that came out of the issue I think of the subway shops, some of it was also the 527 group running ads against him for having supported -- [audio not understandable] It's that sort of stuff that can make a real difference.

Ted Simons: Subway shops, lets clarify here. Subway shops owned, managed?

Dan Nowicki: Partially owned by Cardon. And his family own a piece of these subway franchise shops. A few years ago ICE investigated them. They were actually not fined for hiring illegal aliens, but the report from ICE shows ICE has determined that -- 60% or so of the employees -

Mike Sunnucks: Cardon has a challenge because he doesn't want ads running. He has everything in Phoenix, most Republicans are here. It's not like Florida or Ohio or Pennsylvania where you can try to move folks. I thought his immigration ads against flake were effective ads talking about his support for guest worker program. He's been going back on the term limits pledge. I don't think people are identifying with Cardon yet. He's talked about his business experience in some new ads but they are focused on who is more conservative. Even though flake kind of was off the reservation on immigration, everything else he's with the conservative, the base on. Spending, social issues.

Howard Fischer: That business experience, that comes back to exactly what Dan was talking about. On one hand when the whole story broke about the subway shops, I'm really not involved in the day-to-day. I'm not doing that. But then, hey, look, I have hired and put all these people to work. It's like Mitt Romney. I'm involved with Bain, I'm not involved with Bain. I was on the board but didn't know what was going on.

Ted Simons: There's still blow-back from Senators Mccain and Kyl trying to get Cardon to knock it off because they see this as just helping Carmona and the democrats.

Dan Nowicki: Senator Kyl remembers 1996, the brutal race between the two sitting Congressmen. Stagger limped across the finish line in sorry shape to face Dennis Deconcini in the election.

Mike Sunnucks: Even if he got baggage, selections statewide and nationally is about the economy. Flake is an elected official. He was at the Goldwater Institute. How many jobs has he created?

Ted Simons: The story regarding the congressional race between Schweiker and Quayle, a donor supporting -

Dan Nowicki: What happened was that's superpac called national horizon running an ad against Ben Quayle that came in on the side of David Schweiker. They are also involved in the Matt Salmon and Kirk Adam race. To make a long story short as I can, vice president Dan Quayle apparently contacted one of the major donors of this pac who is a long time friend, former White House council to George H.W. bush, and he and Quayle go way back, Quayle is like my understanding, what are you doing? You're funding a superpac. This guy is I guess a max donor to Quayle. I think he's even held a fund-raiser for him at one point. The Quayle campaign said he was unaware this superpac he was donating to was actually using is resources to attack Ben Quayle in a different state.

Ted Simons: Doesn't this once again for critics, just talking about the critics of Ben Quayle, the criticism has always been father intervening, mother intervening. Family friends intervening.

Howard Fischer:Ddaddy's voice?

Ted Simons: That's what the critics are looking at. Does that help him?

Howard Fischer: Well -- it's hard to say. This is such a strange race with the two incumbents running against each other in the first place, different polls about who is ahead, who is not. But when you have to have daddy calling on your behalf and it becomes public, thank you, Dan, for doing that, it doesn't help. It does not help.

Ted Simons: What are you saying?

Mike Sunnucks: I agree. I think this race is about whether those folks in that district want to elect Quayle to defeat Schweiker. No one knows who Schweikert is. He's a young looking guy. He's a freshman Congressman. He looks young. So a story like this can create a narrative that fits into that.

Dan Nowicki: The narrative goes back at least two years when Quayle first ran for Congress that he was just using his father's ROLODEX, tapping his father's friends for money.

Ted Simons: What do you see as far as polling for this race?

Dan Nowicki: Well, that's a contentious issue. If you believe the Schweikert camp they are up 12, 13, 14, 15 points, somewhere in there. Whereas the Quayle camp insists those polls are fictitious and it's much closer race.

Mike Sunnucks: I think it's a closer race. I still think Quayle has a lot of advantages. Just that name I.D. helped him last tight. He's run the Obama ads which the base loves, and I think he's still got a pretty good chance of winning that.

Ted Simons: Howie, Russell Pearce has apologized for comments after the Colorado shootings, massacre up there. What did he say initially after the shootings and did he really apologize or was one of those I'm sorry if sore of things?

Howard Fischer: A little bit of both. This is an example where you explain to people sometimes if you want to say something, count to 10. Russell heard that somebody in the family knew was at the theater and turned out had died. Russell can be a very emotional person. You've had him on the show. You know that. So he sent out a notice saying where are the people from flight 93, the flight during 9/11, the folks who said, let's roll, let's take him out. The problem with that is that there were indices of heroism there. He didn't know the circumstances. And Russell was trying to make the point that he's always made on gun laws that we need more people with more guns and that will keep everybody happy. We have these no defense zones. A lot of people took offense. It's a raw issue. You hurt that many people you don't know what you're talking about so after a couple of days of simmering, longer than it should have, he said, well, I'm sorry, here's the circumstances, here's what I felt and I'm sorry if people were offended. Russell, that's as close to an apology as it comes. Hi still believes there are no defense zones, he still believes had there been more people armed maybe someone would have taken out this guy.

Mike Sunnucks: When you look at reactions from both sides of the aisle, presidential candidates, very different from that. I think a lot of people learned from the Giffords Loughner thing, you saw the sheriff, and immediate reaction from the left to blame the tea party. You didn't see that this time. People were more sensitive with the rare exception of pierce.

Ted Simons: What does it do for the race, for Worsley?

Mike Sunnucks: Again, it's a narrative on Russell. More moderate Republicans, conservatives, that don't want immigration and these wedge issues and bitter stuff going on. They like to focus on the economy. He's the pick of the mainstream in the east valley and this fits in the narrative that Russell is kind of out there.

Ted Simons: We talked about abortion, gun control handgun violence. Are those things being talked about in the congressional or Senate race or is it still the economy?

Dan Nowicki: The economy is the number one issue by far. Jobs. That's --

Howard Fischer: And it's a perfect issue because once a month we get unemployment stats. Twice a month. Once nationally, two weeks later state unemployment numbers. We just got the quarterly gross domestic product figures which were lackadaisical. This is a perfect situation for the Republicans. Here's another set of figures. And with enough people still out of work with unemployment in Arizona north of 8%, with worse problems elsewhere, this is a perfect situation for Republicans to say, clearly whatever the president is doing, no matter what you think of Mitt, Mitt still has to get people behind him, it's more of an anti-obama. That he doesn't get it.

Mike Sunnucks: The challenge is because when you are running as a Republican you're trying to out-conservative them. You don't really see them outline too much on the economy in these ads. This guy is a liberal and I'm not so vote for me. They need to define themselves, but the national election Atlantis for Romney. It's going to come down to whether we like one guy better, Obama, but maybe this guy is better at running the ship.

Dan Nowicki: I think jobs and the economy are what people are thinking about. Voters. Regardless of what the legislature is doing I don't think too many people are worrying about the viability issue in abortions.

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