Journalists’ Roundtable

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Ted Simons: Coming up next on Arizona's Roundtable. We'll look at the president's executive action on immigration and what it means for Arizona. And attorney general Tom Horne settles with Clean Elections on a campaign violations case. The Journalists' Roundtable is next on "Arizona Horizon."

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable. I'm Ted Simons. Joining us tonight, Alia Rau of The "Arizona Republic." Jeremy Duda from the "Arizona Capitol Times." And Bob Christie of the Associated Press.

Ted Simons: President Obama announces his executive order on immigration. Executive order, executive action, whatever it was, he did it. What did he do?

Alia Rau: Executive action and basically what he did was primarily two-fold. He expanded giving status to more people, older people who have not been as long in the United States. From what I understand it's an extra million people. And then the much bigger population, about 4 million people, is parents who have children who were born here in the U.S. So they came here, had a child here and this protects them from being sent back to Mexico.

Ted Simons: Basically deferred deportation, DACA. The DACA, dreamers, if you will, they are still there. They are still OK and now this basically expands who is protected for a year.

Alia Rau: Another three years. They will have to go through background checks and there's various requirements but this extends this population for another three years.

Jeremy Duda: It's interesting. It's kind of a limbo, if you will. Because they are not on a path to citizenship or any sort of legal, permanent status. They are, you know, as the name implies, deferred. The possibility of deportation is deferred for three years or for, maybe for two years. Get social security numbers, work permits, not allowed to get stuff like government benefits which is a pretty big thing. Not driver's licenses in Arizona, according to the current Governor and the Governor-elect.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, Doug Ducey came out relatively quickly and said no driver's licenses.

Bob Christie: When Obama extended the, what some call amnesty to the young folks who have been here, the DACA, Governor Brewer signed an executive order that basically said even if a work permit that's issued under this program does not, for Arizona's purposes, give you the right to get a driver's license or in-state tuition or other state benefit that a Federal work permit would normally give you. Ducey said, and I checked it's not just the driver's license, it's the whole bit. He says he's back. He backs what the Governor does. He is going to continue that executive order.

Ted Simons: Real quickly again, you have to be a parent of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent residents, which means if you are the parent of a dreamer, originally affected by the deferred action for childhood arrivals, you are out of luck.

Alia Rau: Yes. This does not apply to the DACA kids.

Ted Simons: I would imagine there are a lot of folks unhappy about that.

Alia Rau: There's a lot of frustration. I think there's obviously hope that this is one step and maybe we will see additional steps. But you know there was some heart breaking and excitement last night.

Bob Christie: I talked to a young man today, 24 years old. He was brought here when he was nine. His parents came over. They have been here 19 years. And him and his brothers, his siblings are covered under DACA but his parents who have been here 20 years or almost 20 years, are not covered because the mother didn't have another baby when she came to the U.S. So there's this weird definition of --

Ted Simons: I was going to say it starts getting pretty convoluted.

Jeremy Duda: It gets pretty complicated. And especially because it's a temporary thing, our paper, CEO of the Phoenix courier, Chamber of Commerce made an interesting point of the temporary nature of this. These people will have work permits, be allowed to work in the United States. But if you hire one of these guys, one of these people, you don't know how long, if they are going to be permanently legal. In three years, are you going to have to fire them, in two years are you going to have to fire them? That leaves a lot of questions. And there were a lot of people who were very happy about this and a lot of people who were very unhappy but even some of the folks who supported this, there's still some things they are not so happy about. Like the lack of temporary legal status for parents of DACA recipients, the temporary nature. And of course the Republicans are unhappiest of all. Everyone says executive fiat, overreach by the president, he should have worked with Congress. Of course, the House of Representatives hasn't been so obliging but there's something for everyone to pick at here.

Bob Christie: The interesting part is, yeah, that the strategy is, it's very difficult to take these things away. Even though it's only three years, even if there's a Republican president, does the Congress and the president sign a law that says, these people who have been given deferred action and assimilated to society and become legal, we are going to take that away from them now. It's much harder to take it away that's part of the President's thought on this. Is that it's much harder to take something away once it's been granted.

Jeremy Duda: I think making it for three years was definitely part of that strategy. In case it's a Republican who succeeds him, kind of says, forcing them to make a decision, forcing them to be the bad guy, if you will, and take this away from them.

Bob Christie: It's only 4.5, 5 million out of 11 million undocumented migrants in the U.S.

Ted Simons: That brings up the next question. What happens to the other six, 7 million that are out there that may not qualify? And again, the president seemed to, think the felons not family, that sort of thing. Did that resonate? Did that make sense to people?

Alia Rau: I think so. I think while you are not including the entire group of individuals who make, may be up here illegally but working, kind of non-criminals, he also said that he was going to be focusing on deportation and border security efforts on the criminals. So we may see an additional shift of -- a lot less attention being paid even to these people who don't directly qualify for the new program.

Ted Simons: And apparently, again, you have to have come here at pre-2010, which means if you came here within the last couple of years, you don't qualify. And it sounds like the border patrol is going to be if anything stepped up down there to continue security.
Alia Rau: That's, he was very clear in his speech that this doesn't apply if you came here this week or if you come here tomorrow. That was something I heard from a lot of Arizona Republicans. Even though he said that, is that a green light at the border? Two years from now he could do it again and increase the years to 2014. Why not kind of give it a try? That's a big concern.

Bob Christie: That's absolutely the concern. The concern, if you look back to the 1986 immigration reform bill that gave amnesty to 3.5 million illegal immigrants, it had three legs. It was designed to legalize those folks who were here who were working to round up and ship out. It was designed to secure the border. And it was designed to put in workplace enforcement, employer sanctions so that the draw for folks to come here and get jobs was taken away. Well, the other two legs never happened. We never secured the border and never did the employer sanctions so people kept coming and we end up with 11.5 million now.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, does Congress and Arizona's Congressional -- we can now go to the impact as far as reaction is concerned. I think it's relatively clear what the reaction on the Republican delegation is. But what are they going to do about it?

Jeremy Duda: That remains to be seen. John Boehner and other Congressional Republicans are talking about taking action but we don't know what that would be. It could be a lawsuit. Not sure. Not exactly sure how that would work but it could be obviously if there's threats of another Federal shut down over this. Those have been looming for weeks at this point. There's possibility of just defunding the agencies that enforce this stuff. I am sure there's been a lot of people kicking around a lot of options over there on the Beltway but they are going to have to settle on a course of action. And it might be, this being Congress, it might be kind of difficult to get everyone to agree on one course of action.

Bob Christie: The national Republicans are still stung by the last government shutdown so that for the moderates in Congress, is off the table. You will hear it. You will hear it from rabble rousers as John McCain would call them. That they want to do it. But they won't be able to get that done. So a lot of what Obama did took off the plate from the Republicans some of the actions that they could take because what are they going to do? What are they going to do?

Ted Simons: As far as response from Governor-elect Ducey, we have a note of exacerbation of the problem on the President's part that makes bipartisan efforts nearly impossible. Is that just rhetoric for the crowd that he needs to speak to? What other kind of reaction is going on out there? What can be done?

Alia Rau: Well, I don't think it is rhetoric. A lot of people said, look, we had this election. We have got a lot of new Republicans in. The Republicans are taking the Senate and Obama kicks it off by bringing everything to a standstill. And what does that really do to kind of encourage communication between the new Congress and the president? According to Ducey and a lot of people, it doesn't go in the opposite direction.

Ted Simons: If it goes the opposite direction who wins? We have already heard about the do-nothing Congress and stalling at every turn. They haven't done anything so far. Who wins that argument?

Jeremy Duda: Hard to say. Last year when the Republicans shut down the government, the Democrats said, well, you guys will pay for this the next election and that certainly didn't happen. It's kind of difficult to figure. The next election is a presidential election. Higher turnout, the dynamics might be different. It will be interesting to see -- what I am kind of waiting to see how folks at state level respond. We see in Congress kicking around these ideas but the state level we have three Republican governors, Scott Walker and Rick Perry, talking about a possible lawsuit. I don't know if we have heard anything from other Governors or Doug Ducey who might join it, but those are three Governors he holds in very high regard. This might be something where a new Governor feels he has to take a stand. A lot of people chose this. So there might be legislation introduced. I am not exactly sure what that can be but I would certainly expect do see bills coming up in the Legislature next session.

Bob Christie: Governor Brewer's statement was, it was seven paragraphs of attacks against the president, calling him an emperor and a king and he can't act this way. And very, very strong statement. Ducey's was much more tempered. That may be different styles. And as we talk to him this week on other matters, he's not really ready to reveal exactly what he wants to do.

Jeremy Duda: He hasn't talked about illegal immigration or border stuff that much throughout the whole campaign. This came up a lot during the Republican primary, mostly because of Christine Jones to a lesser degree and Andy Thomas but those are the only times Doug Ducey talked about that issue when he was forced to talk about it. Since then when he's talked about it, that's been far, far from one of his primary focuses.

Ted Simons: Yes. We will get to one of those primary focuses in a second. Before we leave this, does this, are you hearing that this will now galvanize the Latino vote? Will it galvanizes conservatives who are so strongly against immigration, this kind of an immigration action -- you are talking about lifting one side but the other side could very well be lifted higher.

Alia Rau: I think its galvanized conservatives. They are mad. You have got all the social media, King Obama and the pictures and the jokes and there are definitely some furious people out there. In terms of the Latino population, there was some frustration, Katie Hobbs mentioned some last night, why didn't Obama do this a month ago when you could have galvanized the Latino vote before the election?

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Alia Rau: That's an interesting point.

Bob Christie: Yeah. What we could do at the state level is fairly limited. Governor Brewer has put into place these bans on in-state tuition and state benefits and driver's licenses. That's going to be extended. For those folks in Arizona, there's approximately 360,000 illegal immigrants estimated in Arizona so maybe four out of 10 of those would qualify under this. They will be able to work now. But they are working now but they won't be able to get licenses and they won't be able to sends their kids to college and all the same problems that they carried around before are going to stay in Arizona except for the fear of deportation.

Ted Simons: Last question on this. Will this action be a memory by the 2016 elections?

Jeremy Duda: No. I think people are very much going to remember this in the 2016 election, both sides. As Alia points out, conservatives will definitely rally around this but Democrats will rally around it, too, and use it as a talking point to push to elect someone who will push for immigration reform, whether as they have in previous elections, hasn't worked out so well for them so far but who knows.

Ted Simons: Attorney general Tom Horne pays a fine to settle a claim even though he said he was not guilty of anything and it was all a big nuisance. It doesn't sound like there's much remorse here. Talk to us about that.

Alia Rau: Remorse, absolutely not. The allegation he was doing campaigning on state time with state employees. It was an allegation made by a former employee. The Clean Elections Commission looked into it and they could have potentially levied about $300,000 in fines against him. The agreement ended up being that Horne would pay $10,000 out of his own pocket. He does not admit any guilt. In fact, he does exactly the opposite. And so I didn't do anything wrong. But this saves me some money trying to fight this. The Clean Elections Commission says, you know, we wanted to make a point. We feel like we made our point. He did have to not admit but he had to say that employees should not be using state time to campaign but he doesn't have to say "I did it and I will not do it."

Ted Simons: What do we make of this settlement? Did he get off easy?

Bob Christie: He paid $10,000 out of his own pocket. He couldn't use campaign funds or his defense fund to do it. Strategically for the Clean Election Commission, he had to drop his lawsuit that he had filed that he was appealing that they didn't have oversight over him because he's not a clean election candidate. That's off the table. And, more importantly, he will have to comply with new -- refile his campaign finance reports, if the second investigation being done now by, out of the attorney general and AG's office, if he violated it. I think that's probably going to happen.

Jeremy Duda: The executive director of the Clean Elections Commission, Tom Collins, very much thought he was very significant and certainly did not agree with Tom Horne's sentiment. When they were going over this during the meeting yesterday, he said, it's significant because basically affirming the legitimately of the Clean Elections Commission to investigate this, affirming that state employees can't do this kind of electioneering on state time. Anything else you hear today is just spin. And after the meeting he had -- had a few more words for me about that and felt that Tom Horne can characterize this however he want. I acknowledge it does not include the word "guilt" but the settlement speaks for itself.

Bob Christie: And it's not a criminal case. It's not guilty or not guilty so it's really guilt, it's a civil penalty. He paid it. If you write the check --

Ted Simons: But he said it's a nuisance suit. He said it was basically a nuisance suit from a disgruntled employee to get it out of the way. If the cost me much less than take it on down the road.

Jeremy Duda: People are going to view this however they want to view this. For a lot of people, even though Tom Horne very much did not admit guilt, a lot of people will view this as a de facto admission of guilt. And Tom Horne is not out of the woods. As Tom Collins says this doesn't affect any other civil or criminal matters. The Maricopa County's office is investigating this. And there's still the original campaign finance case, the one that originated from his 2010 election, one that called, the first domino that caused all these problems from the first place where he could be facing $1.2 million in fines. He's still fighting that in court.

Ted Simons: Was there anything revealed in this case or the amended campaign reports? Or will that affect any of these other cases?

Bob Christie: Probably not. Because what these people have done with the current thing is share. So the Secretary of State's office investigating, the Clean Elections Commission was investigating, and all those, that material has been turned over to the Maricopa County attorney so their criminal, one suspects, investigation. I don't think having the clean elections cases go away has any impact on those at all.

Jeremy Duda: No. In fact, I think if he does amend those campaign finance reports to show, I think it was $300,000 that the Clean Elections Commission determined that he used in state resources by having state employees work on state time, at the amends that you got to wonder if the Maricopa County attorney's office is going to turn around and say, you just told us that you filed false campaign finance reports in the past. Now we gotcha.

Ted Simons: That's what I am wondering. If there were any more things to tumble. Will we be seeing Tom Horne again, you think, trying to ascribe for public office?

Alia Rau: He doesn't strike me as the kind of person who goes away. For his decisions and, yeah, I think we will. Although these cases are significant. These are criminal cases. You could also see criminal charges and criminal trials and that could, you know, lead to the end of him depending on how they come out.

Ted Simons: Do you think we will see more from Tom Horne?

Jeremy Duda: Not in a run for office. He lost a primary. For a statewide reelection. That does not happen almost ever. I don't think anyone, I don't think any of us could figure out when the last time that happened was. Politically, I think the guy is too damaged to run for anything. He wanted to run for Governor this year. A few years ago that looked like that was the plan. He had to pull out of that and try to settle on running for reelection and he lost that. I don't know how he could possibly come back from this.

Alia Rau: I think he might try.

Bob Christie: I think he will retire quietly. After all is said and done, he won't be in office again. The other thing the Clean Elections Commission did was levy a $90,000 fine against an outside group that had come in and spent a bunch of money attacking Scott Smith during the Republican primary. That's an unusual case because they, this outside group, Legacy Foundation Action Fund, I believe, says, we are an issue advocacy group. Under Citizens United, we don't have to disclose our donors. We don't have to file with the state. And the commission said, yes, you do. That's it.

Jeremy Duda: This issue advocacy thing, this has come up a few times in the past couple of election cycles and the most recent iteration of it. You don't have to file as a political committee if you are. People try to stretch the boundaries of this a bit. This group, Legacy Foundation back in the late March, early April when Scott Smith was two weeks away from his announced resignation as both mayor of Mesa and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, ran all these ads saying, the Conference of Mayors supports all these positions on this and that, Scott Smith is Obama's favorite mayor. Call Scott Smith and tell him you don't want him to impose Obama's policies on Mesa. Certainly is a stretch to say that's issue -- he is about to resign. None of these issues are before the council. And strangely enough they could have just created another dark money group and done this without having to show they are contributors in the first place. But the Clean Elections Commission said there's absolutely no way this is issue advocacy. There's no way this was not intended to hurt him in the gubernatorial race. So they imposed this fine even after Scott Smith himself had his campaign attorney, right before yesterday's meeting starts, send him a letter saying, hey, we want to withdraw this complaint. And the commission basically, we have done this investigation. We have already looked into this, it's an important issue and we don't really care if you want to withdraw this. When he spoke to Smith yesterday after the meeting he said, you know, things have played out the way they did. There's no point in doing this anymore but obviously the commission agrees and this could set some precedent on issue advocacy.

Bob Christie: That's the significance of this. We have Citizens United from the Supreme Court several years ago looming as to how much money can come in. And states are pushing to try to have at least disclosure when the Supreme Court says is fine and that's what the commission is really pushing on here.

Ted Simons: Okay, before we get out of here I want to get to some of these committees that Governor-elect Ducey is forming, whatever the panels. The budget study committee is interesting. John Arnold is on that, other folks from the Brewer administration, outside the Brewer administration. Talk to us about this committee and who the Governor-elect; he's got almost everyone in the state on some committee.

Alia Rau: He's got military committees. He's got budget development committees. I am trying to decide what the next committee will be. He has about half of the government sector folks. You mentioned John Arnold, the state's current budget director. Maricopa County manager is on there.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Alia Rau: A couple of other folks and then private sector gentleman he had worked with Coldstone, couple of like that. We all had conversations I think with Ducey in the past week or so and I know everybody's question was, OK, you are walking into a $1 billion budget shortfall. What are you going to do? The election is over and we want details. He at this point has not provided those. We are hoping we will start seeing some things come out of this committee.

Ted Simons: We have about a minute left here but it sounds like what he is doing is saying I want folks with experience who have been there. That's the three Brewer appointees. But I want some outside faces to look at this as well. That's a lot to look at, though.

Jeremy Duda: That's a lot to look at. $520 million deficit, $1 billion for the next year. As Alia said, he hasn't done a lot of details yet but these are the folks who might help him come up with it. Certainly the Brewer administration people on the committee, they have been there before. John Arnold remembers the dark, dark days of 2009 and 2010. He was there. Maybe we will see if they will be able to come up with some solutions here.

Bob Christie: What we haven't seen from him is any appointments of staff. We don't have a chief of staff. We don't have a budget director. We don't have a legal advisor for the transition or the actual administration. So those will be interesting names when we start seeing those.

Ted Simons: If there's anyone left. They are all on committees. Good to have you here.

Alia Rau:Journalist, Arizona Republic; Jeremy Duda:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times; Bob Christie:Journalist, Associated Press;

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