Journalists’ Roundtable

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Join us as reporters bring us up to date on the latest news in the Journalists’ Roundtable.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon" Journalists' Roundtable. I'm Ted Simons. Joining us, Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Capitol Times, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media services and Bob Christie of the Associated Press. Why is so much campaign flooding the state Attorney General's race and why is the parent company of APS making some of those sizable contributions? What's going on, Jeremy?

Jeremy Duda: Pinnacle West gave $175,000 not directly to campaign committee but to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which has been spending off the charts the last month or so trying to defeat Felicia Rotellini and get Brnovich elected. They have an obvious interest in one issue that has come up in this race, they are fighting the EPA on rules and the Navajo generating station. Both candidates have opposed them vociferously, said they would be willing to sue. I guess they don't believe Rotellini will do it as well.

Howard Fischer: The Attorney General gets final say overrule changes. We know or suspect from the nondenial denial from APS they have also tried to influence the corporation commission race and they would like a commission that's friendlier to them. They would like changes in solar rules. They would like to deal with the legislature in terms of what the laws are in terms of taxability. Are they legally entitled to do that? Sure, but it's unusual. I have been covering politician for a long time. Usually utilities would stay out of it. We're not helping people by saying people who send you those $300 bills want this candidate.

Bob Christie: This APS wading into politics is new in Arizona. Citizens United decision three years ago by the Supreme Court made it legal for corporations to spend that money but APS has been on the sidelines. They have obviously made a corporate decision to engage. Whether that backfires or not --

Jeremy Duda: In this case at least their name is on this contribution. BRAGA has to file disclosure statements with the IRS. APS is suspected of putting millions more into dark groups, free enterprise clubs, save our future now, spending millions and millions in the governor's race, a number of races, Secretary of State's race in the primary. The nondenial denial. We don't discuss what kind of campaign activity we have. We do reserve the rights to get involved if it suits our interests.

Howard Fischer: You're also making an assumption that pinnacle west and APS knew that this was going to be can disclosed. You have to dig through ICE form 8860, not something we normally come across, to find this stuff. If APS wanted to be up front about it, if they want to spend $175,000 they could do their own independent expenditure. Instead they chose to bundle it --

Ted Simons: Why? We now know APS's parent company is doing this. Okay, so we know. Why not just go ahead, get your i.e., spend the money?

Howard Fischer: I think they didn't particularly want their contributions to be an issue. If we saw an i.e. from the pinnacle west Pack or something else, they have their own political action committee, we could clearly know and people would raise the question. Maybe they feel if it's part of $3.5 million it's attenuated and somehow doesn't count.

Ted Simons: It could it be also it may be seen as a detriment to that candidate them receiving money from the parent company of a regulated monopoly that sends you a bill every month.

Bob Christie: That's true, especially in the corporation commission race. They have not disclosed what they spent in that race. There's great suspicion they did, nondenial. But it could hurt the Republican team that won the primary were the ones that everyone believes were supported by APS. They are facing Democrats and there could be a backlash.

Howard Fischer: The funny thing is Jim Holway was one of the Democrats has made an issue of it on twitter but has not been able to gather steam. If I'm Jim I stand out front of APS office with a huge screw and say these are the people who are bringing you your bill. These are the people who want these people elected. Is this what you want?

Bob Christie: Just a few months ago we had the big solar fight that APS was trying to get the fee on to homeowners who rented or leased the solar panels and APS for the vociferously for that.

Jeremy Duda: 1.3 million one of these dark money groups that everyone suspects is funded by APS, save our future now, 1.3 million spending in attack ads against Sandra Kennedy. They are going after Kennedy hard. That's a lot more than you have this 175,000 in the A.G. race, compared to the rest of the spending it's a drop in the bucket.

Ted Simons: Why are they going after Kennedy?

Jeremy Duda: They may have decided she's the stronger of the two candidates. Probably things like that.

Bob Christie: Spending like this in races you say, okay, somebody is spending 10 million to keep Howie from being elected they probably think he has a good chance. There's a reason.

Howard Fischer: Two things. Sandra has time on the commission. She had been a commissioner until defeated. She has got name I.D. plus a nice name like Kennedy, you know, of course they are going to attack her. Jim Holway, that doesn't mean anything. It is a nonentity.

Ted Simons: Secretary of State Race, some money dropped there, correct?

Jeremy Duda: Yes. The 60 plus association involved a few other races most notably 1.2 million or more in the governor's race, 300,000 in attack ads on Terry Goddard, which is ironic because much of the race has focused on the issue of dark money. Goddard has been campaigning on it, it's on his signs. Michele Reagan, the Republican opponent, traditionally has been very opposed to it, hasn't been talking about it as much lately. If she gets pushed over the top by this dark money --

Bob Christie: Koch Brothers, Republican group, fairly say that, why at this point in the race you come in with this big a buy.

Howard Fischer: That comes back to one of the polls looking like. The fact is Terry, household name, much more so than Michele Reagan. Certainly polling suggests he could walk away with it in a Republican state.

Ted Simons: Do you spend your money on a race you're likely to lose? It could should Reagan is gaining ground.

Howard Fischer: Look, this is one of those races that we talked about the margin of error. This is a race on the margin of error. To the extent that you do have a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats, independents outnumber all of them, this is a last gasp.

Ted Simons: We had the congressional district 9 debate such as it was. Kyrsten Sinema show, libertarian candidate show, the Republican a no show. Is she just avoiding folks like Diane Douglas in the superintendent of public obstruction race?

Jeremy Duda: This is bizarre. We're used to seeing frontrunners bailing out, trying to stay away. In this case you have the overwhelming frontrunner showing up and Rogers considered far behind not showing up. We saw in the primary debating skills are certainly not quite what Kyrsten's are. I'm not sure what apparently she thought she had more to lose than to gain by showing up even though she's significantly behind. Even the national Republican groups are not spending money to help her. People view this as a race that

Howard Fischer: What's really strange is the variety of excuses that were offered. We knew about it, we can't do it until October. We didn't know about it, we did know about it but just simply having you there instead of some panel of journalists was somehow unfair. I don't know what's going on in her campaign. Maybe this is an indication of how poorly run it is.

Ted Simons: Quickly, since we were kind of involved in the story I would like to think maybe one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. We were in contact with them almost on a weekly basis from September and to say you were not aware of this when debate time rolls around is not accurate.

Howard Fischer: You mean it's October already? How did that happen?

Ted Simons: May not be accurate here. We adopt like being part of the stories. So it was disconcerting to say the least.

Bob Christie: The update about -- don't forget tonight's debate on Tuesday. I saw Wendy Rogers' name missing I called up her folks and her press guy said, I don't know about any debate. Let me check. Which tells you that they didn't tell the press guy. That doesn't --

Ted Simons: With some sort of trouble finding -- Kyrsten Sinema was supposed to be the most vulnerable of all the congressional candidates in two years' time. What happened? Is she that much of a dynamo? Where are not the folks in that district going after her on the Republican side?

Jeremy Duda: There's a lot of prominent Republicans probably put up a good fight. None of them got in the race. The reason Wendy Rogers is the no nominee was it Caymans down to her -- these folks didn't want to get into the race. Starting last summer I think that perception of she will be in trouble every two years shifted. She's a fund-raising dynamo. She raced hard toward the center, put up the supermoderate image, big shift from where she was in the legislature back in the day. She looks strong.

Howard Fischer: She has also done good constituent services. She's here: These are ground games. You can do John Mccain and go on the Sunday morning talk shows and come back every six years. This is a ground game. She's been here, doing the constituents service, she's been doing the work, talking to folks. That makes a difference. For a district that didn't know what to think of her they know who they have.

Bob Christie: When this district was created a couple of years ago, had its first election 2012, no one now how it would shift. It was obviously a split district. It could go either way. We got the results and we said, okay, she won three, four points if memory serves me well. She has done nothing but solidify that. I think the Republicans looked at it and said, we're going to spend our money on CD1. This have spent millions to try to get Andy Tobin to defeat Kirkpatrick.

Jeremy Duda: They are breaking the bank in two of them.

Bob Christie: CD1, CD-2 are two and three in the nation for discretionary spending.

Ted Simons: Mitt Romney campaigning for Doug Ducey, was it yesterday?

Jeremy Duda: Last night.

Ted Simons: You were there.

Jeremy Duda: Yes. Maybe more than 1,000 people. A lot of folks who reminisce about what might have been had he won the election two years ago. Saying we don't want the same to happen to Doug Ducey.

Howard Fischer: This is typical of the way the Ducey campaign has been. He doesn't want to answer questions. Help doesn't even want Mitt Romney to answer questions. I would have gone had we actually had an opportunity to say, what is it you like about Doug Ducey? What do you like about Mitt? They are doing this 10,000 foot campaign. He figures he's ahead and if we can just cruise along without anybody asking us any questions we'll do just fine.

Ted Simons: Okay, but if you are ahead and you are at 10thousand feet the touch and go? Why not stay up there and cruise?

Bob Christie: That's probably true. He did this very successfully in the primary. Two weeks before the end of the primary, six-way slugfest, he disengaged. He has been casting himself as the frontrunner. Couple weeks before it was a fait accompli. This thing with Mitt Romney last night was dubbed a victory celebration. They are trying, falling through on their game plan. They are -- this is a very well run campaign.

Howard Fischer: This goes to the other thing that happened where Fred Duval had a press conference to once again say I'm for education and he's not. He ratcheted up the language somewhat but it's nothing we haven't heard before. Fred is out there trying to flail about. I don't think it helped that he used the opportunity of being endorsed by a teachers union to go ahead and say I'm pro education and he's not. Fred is -- he's punching at shadows in this thing because there's nobody there punching back. You have Doug out there just, oh, I'm --

Bob Christie: In this governor's race, Fred Duval set himself up from day one his issue was restoring education funding. He hoped to get big backing from business because that's a big business issue. They are not getting the type of graduates they need. Ducey successfully counter punched him, tried to take the wind out of his sails. He's finally today saying getting very aggressive with the education pitch.

Howard Fischer: How many days after early voting started did this occur? You know.

Jeremy Duda: If you went to the rally last night they didn't really talk about Duval that much. They spent more time talking about the rest of the Republican ticket. Romney, Ducey, everyone said make sure your tell your friends and neighbors to vote. We got a great ticket down the line. Like they are shifting their focus to let's worry about Brnovich, Reagan.

Bob Christie: They were collecting ballots last night.

Ted Simons: Is that legal?

Bob Christie: Apparently it is.

Howard Fischer: This is the most fascinating thing this week, this hidden camera. Security camera, somebody brought in some early ballots. Clearly democratic group. Oh, my God, there's massive fraud. Then when you talk to A.J., from the Maricopa County Republican party, we do it too but we're trustworthy. We can't trust them.

Bob Christie: It's harder for us to collect them because Republicans are a little more careful about who they give their ballot to. The conversation was quite intense.

Jeremy Duda: So silly to call it fraud. It's extremely well known people are allowed to do this. Giant legislative battle over this, people this law would have made this illegal. That was one of the main planks of the law. They repealed it, not have to deal with it, okay, now this is still legal.

Bob Christie: Both parties do this. They do it with shut-ins, with low propensity voters. The Democrats have more and stand to gain more, so it's an issue.

Ted Simons: Before we leave the governor's race, Duval clarifying or attempting to parental consent?

Howard Fischer: He let his mouth get ahead of his brain. There's been an issue going back, well, since Roe versus Wade, about parental consent. As a general feeling, if you're a minor, much the same way you can't get body parts pierced without parental consent you shouldn't have an abortion, which is a major procedure. Fred said, well, I'm for allowing girls as young as 14 to get an abortion without parental consent. What he failed to point out is that is the law in this state with judicial bypass. Essentially if you say, look, my parents will kill me or I'm the victim of incest, you go to the court, prove you're mature enough, a judge evaluates it and decides, yes or no. He never mentioned that tiny part, so obviously they are saying, look, he wants your 14-year-old to go get an abortion.

Ted Simons: Is that an example of a November is campaign? He knows what he's not talking about but is not expressing it in the way that helps his campaign.

Bob Christie: That was a clear mistake. It opened him up to attack. What voters is he going to lose? He's not going to lose any Republicans because they are already against him. He's probably not going to lose -- he's not going to gain any Democrats. It is a November is campaign mistake. He should have been briefed on that. Those questions should have been asked before.

Jeremy Duda: In a church of all places being interviewed by a pastor. 2-1 public opinion in favor of needing parental consent. He didn't need to go there. He could have deflected it. You don't even need to be abuse or rape or incest. You can tell the judge, she's mature enough to make this decision on her own. We'll let this go forward.

Bob Christie: Bottom line his clarification said of course I'm not in favor of changing the current consent law. The Republicans control the legislature. Even if elected he can't change the law.

Ted Simons: Abortion rights, are they going to be a factor? They are polar opposites now.

Howard Fischer: At one point abortion was much more of a high profile issue. I think the issue is that we have gone as far as we can short of overturning Roe versus Wade. You have to be a certain number of miles from a clinic, new clinic regulations as far as what equipment you have to have online. Nurse practitioners can no longer do Medicaid abortions. It has not been much of an issue because there's not much left. Gay rights is the higher issue particularly in the wake of --

Ted Simons: Let's go there then. There's already rumbling 1062.1 will have to be revisited because of gay marriage. What are you hearing?

Howard Fischer: We already knew something was coming back. There was no question when it was vetoed last time that the proponents long before gay marriage was even an issue said, we need some protections for individuals. You shouldn't have to photograph a wedding, a gay wedding if it's against your religion, to bake a cake. What the gay marriage decision did, Horne deciding not to appeal it, it created a real issue here. We had an issue where a clerk said I'm against giving permits, licenses to gay couples. They reassigned the person, which is what you do. Now you have an issue, well, should a bakery be able to say I'm not baking gay wedding cakes?

Bob Christie: Kathy Harrod, last Friday when judge Sedwick overturned Arizona's ban she sent out a press release saying we're going to redouble our efforts to protect religious rights. You know it's coming back. The legislature knows it's coming back. I talked to one Republican this week who really didn't want to engage but said how many times do we have to touch the hot stove?

Ted Simons: May be coming back to the legislature. Does the legislature want it to come back?

Jeremy Duda: A lot of them I don't think so. A lot of people who voted for this this past year, so many of them immediately back tracked, said, Governor Brewer, please veto this. We don't want it any more. Those people are not going to vote for this again. Even if the next governor is Doug Ducey, a big ally of Kathy, also a big Al line-item veto chamber of commerce, the same people that said, oh, God, we're going to lose the super bowl. Please get rid of this thing. That will be an interesting tug of war.

Bob Christie: We'll see what bill proposal gets dropped. It had better be as narrow as you can write a bill that says if you're providing wedding services, period, and you have a religious objection to gay marriage, then you don't have to do it, but if they write it anywhere near as broad as last year where anyone could object to anything --

Howard Fischer: The fact is that the bill that Steve Yarborough had last year was narrower than one vetoed the prior year over technical reasons they said the governor said send me the budget. Steve Yarborough to his credit has tried. He talks about sincerely held presumptions there. I think you can craft it better. Doug Ducey, you and I both had this conversation with him, what about 1062, well, I would have vetoed it. What if it comes back I would have vetoed it.

Bob Christie: Some other version of 1062, would you sign that? He won't answer that question.

Ted Simons: How is the legislature going to handle conscience based objections? they have to do something. You know they are.

Jeremy Duda: In some cases like with the County clerk these probably won't really have to because they already can make objections. Clergy make those objections. They have to do something that is different from what was in 1062. If you bring the exact same bill back -- God head they put the same number on it.

Howard Fischer: We have laws in the state that say doctors don't need to perform abortions. We have laws that say if you're a pharmacist you do not need to dispense birth control pills. Which is fine if you happen to be living in Phoenix, you can go up the street. The issue is what if you're the only pharmacy in Winslow or something like that. There's precedent. There are laws that could serve as models.

Ted Simons: Or if I'm the pharmacy owner and I find out you're saying for to half the people that come to the window, I decide to fire you, another legal situation.

Howard Fischer: These are all sorts of employment situations in terms of that. Then you have to decide can this only be closely held corporations, hobby lobbies of the world that are individually owned or are we talking about a corporation which is publicly held? Are their rights different? Citizens United said corporations are people.

Jeremy Duda: Get to the wedding cake or photographer example, all emanated from a case in New Mexico where I believe the photographer was sued. They have a different law in New Mexico. We don't have that in Arizona. Already if you talk to the opponents of 1062 they will say that undercuts the --

Howard Fischer: Except everything changed with the judge's decision. Once you define marriage in this stays at any two people, can you decide the only marriages -- whether or not we change the laws, are the only marriages that count here? I'll give you a perfect example. We have law on the books that says married couples, man and woman, get preference in adoption. Does that automatically mean any married couple gets preference or do we change the laws? Everything changed with the decision.

Ted Simons: We had Dan Barr talking about those things.

Bob Christie: One thing you said is are women's rights an issue in this race. Abortion maybe not. I think Democrats get out the vote, more concerned about access to birth control and those things. I saw support women's health, vote Democrat driving down the street to the studio tonight.

Ted Simons: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us. Monday Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton stops by to discuss a variety of city issues and a new report ranks Arizona the Southwest's leader in energy efficiency. That's Monday on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

Jeremy Duda:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times; Howard Fischer:Journalist, Capitol Media Services; Bob Christie:Journalist, Associated Press;

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