Legislative Update

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A reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times will give us a mid-week update on the state legislature.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," the speaker of the Arizona house day of the Gowan is asking to be investigated. Also tonight, what do yesterday's presidential primary results mean for Arizona's upcoming vote?

Ted Simons: And we'll look at how Arizona high school sports facilities were named. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Phoenix city councilman Michael Nowakowski is drawing criticism after a video showing him objecting to same-sex marriage and transgender rights. The Arizona Republic reports he made the comments last month while speaking to a group of Christian pastors. Nowakowski is a Democrat who previously supported gay and transgender rights but in the video he reportedly refers to those rights and says, I never thought that I would see the day that men and men would be married or where people would be able to go into the same bathroom as my daughter. This world is changing and it's time for us to take the leadership and change it back to the way it should be. Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton released a statement condemning the councilman's remarks. No Comment as yet from Nowakowski.

Ted Simons: Speaker of the Arizona house David Gowan is asking his travel expenses be investigated by the state Attorney General. Here with more on that in our weekly legislative update is Luige Del Puerto of the Arizona Capitol Times which broke the story of the speaker's use of state vehicles for questionable purposes. Good to see you.

Luige del Puerto: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Let's start with that. Speaker says to the A.G., come investigate. Why is he doing this?

Luige Del Puerto: So it really had been a surprise that caught many off guard. The speculation is that David Gowan probably anticipated they would investigate him anyway. Tom Ryan, Chandler attorney, had told a reporter several times that he will file a complaint with the Attorney General's office, and the speculation is that to get ahead of the news cycle, if you will, why not just ask the Attorney General to investigate yourself and in this case he did that. I think it's a very smart public relations move on his part.

Ted Simons: And again this deals with travel expenses. Does it also deal with the days he supposedly worked but didn't work?

Luige Del Puerto: Yes. He's asking Attorney General's office to investigate not just his use of state owned cars in going to trips that included trips to CD1, where he's running as a candidate for Congress. But also the fact that in an internal review that he has ordered his house staff to do, they found out that he had overbilled the state for per Diem as well as travel expenses and in short he has gotten money from the state for days that he wasn't working so he's asked the Attorney General to investigate those as well. I would add that when David Gowan asked the Attorney General to investigate him he didn't include investigating other members of the house that had also used state-owned vehicles to go on trips.

Ted Simons: Why did he do that?

Luige Del Puerto: That's a good question. I think he believes that the trips that he had made could be explained and the fact of the matter that he has repaid the state I think he's repaid $12,000 for those travel expenses and those per diem expenses he had overbilled the state. He said in instances that there were questions, I had repaid the state. I have taken the appropriate move of doing that.

Ted Simons: So basically, he says Attorney General, please investigate me, please investigate all these things that I repaid to the state. Attorney General's office says what?

Luige Del Puerto: So if the Attorney General's office is not already investigating David Gowan, I think this letter prompts them to investigate him and Tom Ryan as I mentioned is going to file his complaint. Add that and I think you will see an investigation.

Ted Simons: Interesting. He announces this the same day that Carlyle Begay announces he's running for congressional district 1, the same district David Gowan is in. Any coincidence?

Luige Del Puerto: At this point when you have who a whole bunch of people running in CD1 you have to look at every single story somewhat connected in a way. You can't really separate the fact that as you mentioned Carlyle Begay announced yesterday he's running for CD1 at the same time David Gowan has been dealing with his troubles, if you will, and the fact that he also yesterday asked the Attorney General's office to do this investigation. I think he's campaign is very wise. He has some very good people working for him. I think just my speculation, there has to be some thought put to this announcement or this letter of request to the Attorney General.

Ted Simons: Get out in front of it as quick as you can.

Luige Del Puerto: Right.

Ted Simons: Speaking of running for Congress, Justin Olson is going to run against Senate president Andy Biggs for this office. Surprise announcement there?

Luige Del Puerto: It's not a surprise announcement. We heard for several days that Justin Olson is going to run against Andy Biggs. In fact other members of the house have told us privately that he has asked for their endorsement so this came as no surprise to us. So Justin Olson is chairman of the house appropriations committee, influential member of the house from Mesa, very conservative. We're waiting for or anticipating that someone like maybe Scott Smith also entering the race. If not we will have two very conservative very ideologically positioned legislators going for that position.

Ted Simons: I know that Justin Olson said he got in and one of the reasons he got in was he felt he was almost ordained, everyone was thinking it was already set in stone that Andy Biggs would succeed Matt salmon and he didn't like that. I think a lot of voters are questioning that.

Luige Del Puerto: When Matt salmon announced he was retiring, and said by the way I'm supporting Andy Biggs, and within the last couple days we have seen endorsement after endorsement. And frankly I can't keep up with the endorsements that Andy Biggs is getting. There is some sense that Matt salmon has sort of orchestrated this to ensure that it's going to be Andy Biggs, everybody is boxed out including for example governor Ducey's chief of staff Kirk Adams who ran against salmon a couple of years ago. It would be nice to see some competition. I think Andy Biggs would welcome that as well. It's always good to see some debate and from the point of view of reporters it's nice to have some debates.

Ted Simons: I think he would welcome one competing person but if a Scott Smith got in there, more moderately conservative, and you have Olson and Biggs fighting it out one side, clear path for Smith on the other you may have yourself a horse race.

Luige Del Puerto: In fact a poll was done by a new firm just a couple -- late last month, early this month. The poll essentially said if there's a head to head match-up between Andy Biggs and Scott Smith that Scott Smith is ahead by about seven points. I think that's more a function of a name I.D. buy it shows he would be a formidable opponent to Andy Biggs if he were to run.

Ted Simons: Especially if it were a three-person race.

Luige Del Puerto: there's some speculation that both Biggs and Olson might be getting support from the same pool of voters and therefore somebody like Scott Smith or Bob Orr, Bob Orr already said he wasn't running but a Republican in that mode could get ahead.

Ted Simons: Good stuff Luige. Thanks for being here. We appreciate it.

Luige Del Puerto: Thank you.

Luige del Puerto -- Arizona Capitol Times

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