Local journalists discuss the complexity of the bribery case involving former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce, the questionable names that will be on the next ballot and a controversial tweet from Ken Bennett.
The trial of Gary Pierce
Pierce and three others attended trial this week on bribery charges to give their opening statements. It boils down to the allegation that Pierce took a $31,000 financial offering and approximately $350,000 land offering from Johnson Utilities Owner George Johnson.
The defense, on the other hand, is pointing out that it’s not a bribe if work was performed, and it also requires three commissioners to vote for something to pass. Pierce’s wife, Sherry, was had a job at Johnson Utilities where she was earning about $3,500 a month for nine months. The money was given to her by Kelly Norton, the ex-wife of lobbyist Jim Norton.
“Supposedly it (the money being given to Sherry) was a pay off for Gary’s vote,” Howard Fischer with Capitol Media Times says. “They’re (the defense) saying if she performed any work, federal bribery statutes don’t cover it. You’ve got the last piece of it which is these votes required three commissioners so Gary couldn’t have done it himself. That’s the essence of the defense argument.”
Related: Opening statements heard at trial for former Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce on bribery
The prosecution’s case, Capitol Media Times’ Luigi Del Puerto says, is to make this as simple as possible. They’re best bet is to make this just an issue of bribery. There’s also a key prosecution witness, Kelly Norton. The divorce was not an easy one, and the prosecution is trying for the angle of vengeful ex-wife.
“The defense is going to get into the nitty gritty details of what the corporation commission is, what the corporation commission does, how many votes it takes to do something, the history of the commission, Johnson Utilities, what constitutes a quid pro quo,” Dianna Nañez with The Arizona Republic says. “That’s the job of the defense. They will use everything at their ability to make that case.”
Plea bargains were offered early on, suggesting that this trial may just be the tip of the iceberg. Fischer guesses that prosecutors have bigger fish to fry.
“This case originally started several years ago with the FBI looking into Justin Pierce, who was running for Secretary of State, and whether Gary Pierce was using his influence maybe to get APS or somebody to help on Justin’s SOS race,” Fischer says. “That still may be out there.”
Election ballots finalized
There are a few names on the finalized election ballots that have people scratching their heads. One of those names is Don Shooter, former representative who was expelled for sexual harassment allegations. It seems that Shooter will be running for the state legislature while simultaneously suing the state.
“We are not surprised by this if you’ve had conversations internally within these organizations because he does not feel like he was treated fairly,” Nañez says. “He did not feel like the process by which he was ousted respected a certain ruling for the ethics committee. He did not feel like voters were respected who elected him.”
Related: House Speaker Mesnard explains decision to remove Rep. Shooter based on sexual harassment allegations
Shooter has filed a claim, and he will be suing sometime this month. He stated he would settle for $1.3 million.
“First of all, lawsuits lead to a whole bunch of discoveries of interesting documents that we have not seen yet …,” Fischer says. “His claim is that there were allegations against people like Michelle Ugenti-Rita and others and it was sort of a white wash with what was going on with her and the others.”
Tim Jeffries will be running for Senate after being fired as director of the Department of Economic Security. Those on the Journalists’ Roundtable don’t believe his odds are in his favor. He was fired for misuse of the state plane and keeping weapons in the basement of DES, Fischer says.
Another name on the ballot will be former Speaker of the House David Gowan. After an investigation done by Del Puerto and those at Capitol Media Services, Gowan had to repay the state about $12,000 after claiming he was working more days than he really was.
Ken Bennett tweet
Senator John McCain is experiencing serious health issues, and there has been concern that he won’t be able to complete his term. Governor Doug Ducey visited McCain recently, and there was speculation that they were coming up with a deal for the senator’s wife, Cindy, to take over if he isn’t well enough to continue. Nothing has been confirmed, but people were not quiet on how they felt about the possibility.
Ken Bennett, who is currently running for governor, sent a tweet on Thursday saying he promises to not appoint Cindy McCain to the Senate.
“Ken Bennett is running for a race where he is at a deficit in time and money and headlines,” Nañez says. “He’s using strategies we’ve seen used before. What remains to be seen is how the public will view those strategies.”
Fischer says Bennett was taking advantage of the anti-McCain sentiment among some conservatives at the moment. The Arizona senator upset many within his party for voting against the repeal of Obamacare.
Within an hour, there was a statement from Ducey’s office on Bennett’s comment. Daniel Scarpinato, spokesman for Ducey, released the following statement.
Whether you agree with Bennett or not, Bennett got his name in some headlines which was the goal, Nañez says. He went down “Trump highway,” she says, by being controversial on Twitter.
TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON" JOURNALISTS'
ROUNDTABLE, THE BRIBERY TRIAL OF GARY PIERCE BEGINS, AND THE 2018 ELECTION BALLOT IS FINALIZED WITH CURIOUS NAMES AND FAMILIAR NAMES, AND CURIOUSLY FAMILIAR NAMES. THOSE STORIES AND MORE NEXT ON THE JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE.
TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON" JOURNALISTS'
ROUNDTABLE. I'M TED SIMONS. JOINING US TONIGHT, DIANNA NANEZ OF THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC, HOWARD FISCHER OF CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES, AND LUIGE DEL PUERTO FROM THE ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES THE BRIBERY TRIAL OF GARY PIERCE AND THREE OTHERS BEGAN THIS WEEK. OPENING STATEMENTS UNDERWAY. WHAT HAVE WE GOT GOING THERE? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
DIANNA NANEZ: WE HAVE PROSECUTORS WHO ARE ALLEGING THAT GARY PIERCE TOOK A $31,000 FINANCIAL OFFERING, AND APPROXIMATELY $350,000 LAND OFFERING FROM THE UTILITIES OWNER.
TED SIMONS: AND YOU HAD PROSECUTION, OPENING STATEMENTS. DEFENSE CAME AT IT FROM A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT ANGLES.
HOWARD FISCHER: WELL THERE IS A WHOLE BUNCH OF THINGS WE START OFF WORKING BACKWARDS. THE LAND DEAL NEVER HAPPENED, SO THEY TELL THE JURIES NOTHING TO SEE HERE. THE 31,000, THEY ARE ARGUING, LOOK, THIS IS A GUY WITH CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN, WHY WOULD THEY RUIN THEIR CAREER --
TED SIMONS: THEY ARE REFERRING TO?
HOWARD FISCHER: THEY ARE REFERRING TO GARY PIERCE, AND THE OTHER PIECE OF IT COMES DOWN TO THE QUESTION OF -- WELL, TWO THINGS, ONE, IT'S NOT A BRIBE IF WORK WAS PERFORMED. BECAUSE THE PROSECUTOR'S THEORY ON THIS IS GEORGE JOHNSON PAID MONEY TO KELLY NORTON, WHO IS THE WIFE OF JIM NORTON, KELLY THEN PAID 3500 A MONTH FOR NINE MONTHS TO SHERRY PIERCE, GARY'S WIFE WHO THEN PUT IT IN A JOINT ACCOUNT AND SUPPOSEDLY WAS A PAYOFF FOR GARY'S VOTE. THEY ARE SAYING IF HE PERFORMED ANY WORK, THE BRIBERY STATUTES DON'T COVER IT. AND THESE VOTES REQUIRED THREE
COMMISSIONERS, SO GARY COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT HIMSELF.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: SO THE PROSECUTION'S CASE, I THINK THEY ARE TRYING TO MAKE THIS AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. IT'S A CASE OF BRIBERY. GEORGE JOHNSON DID NOT LIKE VOTES ON THE CORPORATION COMMISSION, AND SO HE BRIBED GARY PIERCE BY USING A LOBBYIST AS A CONDUIT FOR THE BRIBERY, AND THAT'S THE PROSECUTION'S CASE. THE DEFENSE IS SAYING, LOOK, THE PIERCES DON'T NEED THE MONEY. AS HOWIE MENTIONED IT'S WORK THAT WAS DONE. SO THERE WAS WORK DONE, AND ALL OF THIS WAS DONE IN THE OPEN. IT'S NOT LIKE THERE WAS MONEY STUFFED IN SOME DUFFEL BAG OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, IT WAS ALL DONE IN THE OPEN AND REPORTED TO THE IRS.
HOWARD FISCHER: AND THERE'S ONE MORE IMPORTANT PIECE. THE KEY PROSECUTION WITNESS IS JIM NORTON'S EX-WIFE.
TED SIMONS: THE LOBBYIST'S EX-WIFE.
HOWARD FISCHER: THE LOBBY'S EX-WIFE. AND THEY ARE ALREADY RAISING QUESTIONS ABOUT HER CREDIBILITY. FOR EXAMPLE, WE KNOW THIS WAS NOT A NICE DIVORCE. THE DAY OF THE INDICTMENT SHE PUTS ON HER FACEBOOK, KARMA, REVENGE. THERE ARE ALSO QUESTIONS ABOUT HER SPENDING. AND IF THE JURORS DO NOT BELIEVE HER, MUCH OF THIS FALLS APART.
TED SIMONS: IT WOULD SEEM AS THOUGH THIS CASE -- YOU KNOW, I'M GOING TO PLAY AMATEUR ATTORNEY HERE. IF YOU ARE DEFENSE, YOU WANT TO MUDDY THIS THING UP, AND GET AS DEEP IN THE WEEDS AS POSSIBLE, BECAUSE YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT THE CORPORATION COMMISSION, OR INNER WORKINGS OF THE COMMISSION, YOU HAVE A JURY THERE, IF THEY HAVE ANY DOUBTS -- AND WHO WOULDN'T HAVE DOUBTS IF YOU GET TOO DEEP IN THE WEEDS, BALL GAME OVER.
DIANNA NANEZ: THE DEFENSE IS GOING TO MORE THAN MUDDY. THEY ARE GOING TO GET INTO THE NITTY GRITTY DETAILS. OF WHAT THE CORPORATION IS, THE HISTORY, JOHNSON UTILITIES, WHAT REALLY CONSTITUTES A QUID PRO QUO, BUT THAT'S THE JOB OF – OF THE DEFENSE, AND THEY WILL USE EVERYTHING AT THEIR ABILITY TO MAKE THAT CASE. WE ALSO HAVE PROSECUTORS THAT WILL POTENTIALLY TRY AND SAY THIS IS SIMPLE FOR US TO EXPLAIN, AND WE COULD HAVEN'T ASKED FOR A MORE SIMPLE EXAMPLE THAN UTILITIES. PEOPLE EVERY MONTH HAVE TO PAY THEIR GAS, ELECTRICITY AND WATER. THEY GET THIS. AND WE HAVE SEEN HOW CERTAIN CONTROVERSIAL VOTES AND INABILITY TO HOLD TRUE TO THE ETHICS OF A VOTE HAS BEEN ABLE TO EXPLAIN TO THE AVERAGE PERSON. SO THEY ARE LOOKING AT THIS JURY AS THE AVERAGE PERSON, AND CAN YOU SAY, WE DON'T CARE THAT YOU THINK THIS WAS DONE OUT IN THE OPEN. WE HAVE THE FACILITY THROUGH WHICH IT WENT THROUGH. WE HAVE A PAYMENT THAT WAS MADE. AND WE WANT TO SAY, WE DON'T CARE IF IT'S $50 OR $31,000, THIS WAS MADE, AND A VOTE WAS MADE BY GARY PIERCE TO INCREASE RATES AND ALLOW GEORGE JOHNSON TO NOT HAVE TO -- TO USE THOSE RATE PAYER FEES TO PAY HIS INCOME TAX.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: I THINK THE DEFENSE MIGHT HAVE THE EASIER JOB IN THIS CASE, AND THAT IS TO PAINT AS MUCH DOUBT AS POSSIBLE SURROUNDING KELLY NORTON, BUT ALSO EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT TESTIFIES IN FAVOR OF THE PROSECUTION, THAT MEANS POTENTIAL BOB BURNS, THEY WILL PAINT HIM AS SOMEBODY WHO HAS AN AXE TO GRIND AGAINST THE COMMISSION. EVERYBODY THAT THE PROSECUTION ASKS TO TESTIFY WILL BE – THE DEFENSE WILL TRY TO PAINT THEM AS PEOPLE WHO HAVE ULTERIOR MOTIVES, AND PEOPLE WHO CAN'T BE TRUSTED
TED SIMONS: SPEAKING OF ULTERIOR MOTIVES, HOWIE REPORTED BY YOU, THERE WERE PLEA BARGAIN DEALS THAT WERE OFFERED. THAT SUGGESTS THAT THIS IS TIP OF SAID ICEBERG.
HOWARD FISCHER: I THINK THE PROSECUTORS HAVE BIGGER FISH TO FRY. THIS CASE ORIGINALLY STARTED SEVERAL YEARS AGO WITH THE FBI LOOKING INTO JUSTIN PIERCE WHO WAS RUNNING FOR SECRETARY OF STATE, AND WHETHER GARY PIERCE WAS USING HIS INFLUENCE TO MAYBE GET APS OR SOME OTHER COMPANY TO HELP FUND JUSTIN'S RACE. THAT IS STILL MAYBE OUT THERE. THERE HAVE ALSO BEEN CHARGING -- WE HAD BOB BURNS ON, AND HE SAYS APS IS CONTROLLING SOME THINGS. SO THE FEELING IS IF YOU ARE GOING TO TELL GARY PIERCE WE WILL LET YOU OFF WITH PROBATION, AND WE TELL JIM NORTON, WE'LL LET YOU OFF WITH PROBATION, IF YOU PROVIDE EVIDENCE, THEY THINK THERE IS BIGGER FISH TO FRY.
TED SIMONS: AND OBVIOUSLY THERE COULD BE SOME MESSY DIVORCE MARITAL STUFF GOING ON HERE. WILL WE SEE MESSY INTERNAL WORKINGS OF THE CORPORATION COMMISSION COME OUT?
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: VERY MUCH LIKELY WE WILL SEE -- DEPENDING ON WHICH SIDE YOU ARE ON, PAINT THEM AS REGULAR WORKINGS OF THE COMMISSION, OR DIRTY DEALINGS THAT WOULD SHED SOME LIGHT ON HOW AND WHY THEY COME UP WITH VOTES ON CRITICAL ISSUES THAT IMPACT ARIZONIANS ON WATER AND ELECTRICITY.
HOWARD FISCHER: WHAT IS CRUCIAL HERE IS THE UNIQUE NATURE OF THE COMMISSION. IT IS QUASI JUDICIAL. IF THESE WERE SIMPLY JUDGES, IT WOULD BE CLEAR. YOU DON'T HAVE DISCUSSIONS OUTSIDE OR TALK TO LOBBYISTS, OR DO TO DINNER WITH THEM. BUT JIM AND KELLY NORTON COULD TAKE SHERRY AND GARY PIERCE OUT TO DINNER AND TALK ABOUT STUFF, AND I THINK AS PEOPLE START TO SEE HOW THIS -- PEELING BACK THE LAYERS OF HOW THESE DECISIONS GET MADE, AND IT'S NOT STRICTLY BASED ON SOME MAGIC FORMULA, WE'RE GOING TO GIVE APS THIS RATE OF RETURN, BUT THERE IS SCHMOOZING PERHAPS, GOING ON.
DIANNA NANEZ: OKAY. SO THERE'S SCHMOOZING. WE TALK ABOUT THIS QUASI BODY, AND THESE ARE ELECTED POSITIONS. AND WHEN YOU HAVE A REALITY OF ALL OF THESE INNER MAKINGS, AND A LOT OF DOCUMENTS THAT WE WOULD NOT NORMALLY SEE, BUT WE ARE GOING TO SEE BECAUSE THEY ARE GOING TO BE MADE PUBLIC IN THIS COURT CASE, WE HAVE TO LOOK AT, HOW DOES THAT EFFECT THE NEXT RACE? HOW DOES THAT EFFECT THIS BODY? BECAUSE WHAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAPPEN IN A DEFENSE, THE PROSECUTORS HAVE A MORE DIFFICULT TIME AS WE OPINE AND THINK ABOUT THIS, THAT IS A COMPLETELY SEPARATE ISSUE TO WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH VOTERS. WE HAVE SEEN ONE POINT IN WHICH THE VOTERS ARE ABSOLUTELY SICK OF THE CONTROVERSY, AND A FEELING THAT VOTES WERE BEING BOUGHT OFF IN SOME WAY, AND THAT CHANGED TO A DEM-LEAD BODY. SO WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN THERE?
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: IT'S A VERY LONG PROCESS, AND IT'S QUITE OPEN, OPEN IN THE SINCE THAT ATTORNEYS ON BOTH SIDES OFTEN COME TO A SETTLEMENT. HOW MUCH DO WE VALUE YOUR COMPANY'S ASSETS. THE PARTIES DECIDE THAT'S THE NUMBER, AND THEN YOU BASE A PROFIT BASED ON THAT NUMBER, AND IN MOST CASES, AT LEAST SINCE I HAVE BEEN HERE, MOST OF THESE CASES ARE SETTLED CASES. THAT MEANS ALL OF THE MAJOR PARTIES AGREE.
HOWARD FISCHER: YEAH, BUT LET'S TALK ABOUT THE GAMES. THE UTILITY COMES IN AND SAY WE NEED 27 GAZILLION DOLLARS, KNOWING THEY ARE NOT GOING TO GET IT. THE STAFF COMES IN AND SAYS THEY ARE MAKING TOO MUCH. SO THEY SETTLE IN THE MIDDLE, AND IT'S THE RATE PAYERS THAT ARE OUT THERE WITH A SCREW IN THEIR BACK.
TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. WE'LL MOVE ON. BALLOTS ARE FINALIZED FOR THE PRIMARY AND THE ELECTION. THERE ARE THREE NAMES THAT POP OUT. LET'S START WITH THE FIRST NAME. DON SHOOTER, EXPELLED FROM THE HOUSE. HE'S RUNNING AGAIN.
DIANNA NANEZ: HE'S BACK.
TED SIMONS: ARE WE SURPRISED BY THIS?
DIANNA NANEZ: NO, WE ARE NOT. NOT IF YOU HAVE HAD CONVERSATIONS INTERNALLY WITHIN THESE ORGANIZATIONS BECAUSE HE DID NOT FEEL HE WAS TREATED FAIRLY. HE DID NOT FEEL THE PROCESS FOR WHICH HE WAS OUSTED RESPECTED A CERTAIN RULING FROM THE ETHICS COMMITTEE. HE DID NOT FEEL THAT VOTERS WERE RESPECTED WHO ELECTED HIM.WE CAN TALK ABOUT ALL OF THE INNER MAKINGS HERE, BUT THE REALITY IS, THAT'S WHY IT WAS NOT A SURPRISE.
TED SIMONS: IS HE SUING THE STATE OR PLANNING ON SUING THE STATE.
HOWARD FISCHER: HE HAS FILED A CLAIM. YOU FILE A NOTICE OF CLAIM. THEN -- AND YOU TELL THEM HOW MUCH YOU ARE WILLING TO SETTLE FOR. ABOUT 1.3 MILLION WILL ASSUAGE HIS HURT FEELINGS. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO SETTLE. SO THEN HE WILL SUE. AND LAWSUITS LEAD TO A DISCOVERY OF A WHOLE BUNCH OF QUESTIONABLE
TED SIMONS: IT OPENS UP A WHOLE CAN OF WORMS.
HOWARD FISCHER: EXACTLY. WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO BE BRINGING IN THE GOVERNOR ABOUT DID YOU PURPOSELY LET YOUR AIDS PUT MONEY INTO THIS COMPANY VERSUS THAT COMPANY. AND HIS CLAIM IS THAT THERE, ALLEGATIONS AGAINST PEOPLE, AND THAT IT WAS SORT OF A WHITEWASH OF WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH MICHELLE AND THE OTHERS, AND HE IS SAYING -- WAIT, I WASN'T TREATED FAIRLY. NOW THAT WE'RE IN CIVIL DISCOVERY, ALL OF THAT COULD BECOME PUBLIC.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: SO THIS IS NOT A SURPRISE. DON SHOOTER FEELS THAT HE WAS NOT ABLE TO PRESENT HIS CASE, AND HE WANTS TO PRESENT HIS CASE, AND IN SOME WEIRD WAY, THIS MAY BE HIS WAY OF PRESENTING HIS CASE. HE -- THE QUESTIONS WOULD BE WHAT DO THE PEOPLE OF LD 13 THINK OF HIM? LD 13 IS DIVIDED INTO YUMA, AND THE WEST PART OF MARICOPA COUNTY. SO THERE ARE VOTERS IN YUMA, AND THERE ARE VOTERS IN MARICOPA COUNTY. DO THEY PUT HIM BACK THERE? THE OTHER QUESTION IS THAT -- WHAT HAPPENS IF HE ACTUALLY GETS ELECTED NEXT YEAR? THAT WOULD BE A PRETTY INTERESTING DYNAMIC. NOW REMEMBER, YOU KNOW, WE DON'T KNOW IF THE DEMOCRATS WILL WIN THE STATE SENATE OR NOT, BUT ASSUMING FOR EXAMPLE, THAT IT'S A -- THE REPUBLICANS KEEP THE MAJORITY IN THE STATE SENATE. DON COULD BE THERE. AND THAT COULD BE REALLY INTERESTING.
HOWARD FISCHER: LET'S GO DOWN THAT RABBIT HOLE, BECAUSE MUCH OF WHAT DON WAS DISCIPLINED FOR, WAS THINGS THAT OCCURRED WHEN HE WAS A
SENATOR. SO DOES THE SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEE HAVE JURISDICTION OF THINGS THAT OCCURRED WHEN HE WAS A SENATOR --
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: I DON'T THINK ANYTHING PRECLUDES A MEMBER FROM ASKING
THE SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEE FROM DOING AN INVESTIGATION.
I MEAN THESE ARE THINGS THAT WE SORT OF --
TED SIMONS: THEY ARE POLITICAL BODIES.
DIANNA NANEZ: POLITICAL BODIES. LET'S JUST STICK WITH THE POLITICS OF THIS. WE TYPICALLY DO NOT SEE POLITICIANS TAKING ACTION UNLESS THEY HAVE THOUGHT TEN STEPS AHEAD OF THE RESULT OF THAT ACTION. AND WHAT WE'RE SEEING HERE, AND WHAT WE HAVE SEEN SOME PEOPLE ON THE INSIDE TALKING IS THAT THIS IS VERY, VERY PERSONAL TO SHOOTER, AND THERE MAY BE THE POTENTIAL THAT I MAY GO DOWN, BUT YOU ARE ALL GOING DOWN WITH ME. AND THAT PUTS THE PIN ON THAT FOR HIM.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: WE HAVE TO FIND OUT IF HE CAN RAISE THE MONEY, FIRST OF ALL. AND IF THERE IS ANY POLLING THAT WOULD SHOW HE IS IN FACT COMPETITIVE.
HOWARD FISCHER: WELL, HE HAS NAME ID.
TED SIMONS: YEAH. ANOTHER NAME HERE TIM JEFFRIES FIRED AS DIRECTOR OF DES. HE IS NOW RUNNING AGAINST MICHELLE IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY.
HOWARD FISCHER: EXACTLY. I MEAN THIS WAS A GUY WHO WAS FIRED FOR -- WELL, THERE WERE SOME THINGS WHERE HE WAS USING THE STATE PLAIN TO FLY PEOPLE DOWN TO HAVE LUNCH, AND THEN THEY FOUND OUT HE HAS THIS LITTLE ARMS CATCH IN THE BASEMENT OF DES, WEAPONS, AND THERE WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER HE HAD HAD WEAPONS. CURIOUS ENOUGH, HE HAS A PENDING LAWSUIT AGAINST THE STATE. THERE IS A HEARING LATER THIS MONTH, IN MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, WHERE HE IS GOING TO TRY TO BLOW UP EVERYTHING ELSE, AND HE PERHAPS ALSO WILL TRY TO TAKE EVERYBODY DOWN WITH HIM.
TED SIMONS: THE THIRD CURIOUS NAME IS DAVID GALLAND. THIS GUY WAS DRIVING ALL OVER TOWN BEING REIMBURSED FOR THAT. AND HE IS RUNNING AGAIN.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: HE IS RUNNING AGAIN. YEAH. SO HE WAS ACCUSED OF MISUSING STATE RESOURCES BY DRIVING AROUND IN A STATE CAR, AND THEN
CLAIMING HE HAD DRIVEN IN A PERSONAL CAR. HE ALSO RECEIVED MONEY FOR DAYS THAT HE WASN'T WORKING. THEY GET PER DIEM, SO – FOR DAYS THEY ARE WORKING, AND OF COURSE HE WAS THE ONE WHO WOULD HAVE SIGNED THE PER DIEM FOR HIMSELF. SO HE REPAID THE STATE ABOUT $12,000 AFTER OUR INVESTIGATION HAD SHED LIGHT ON WHAT HE WAS DOING, AND THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL'S OFFICE INVESTIGATED AND DECIDED THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TO CRIMINALLY CHARGE HIM, ALTHOUGH THE AG'S REPORT ALSO SAID THERE WERE VERY QUESTIONABLE THINGS THAT HE HAS DONE. SO YES, HE IS RUNNING AND TRYING TO GET BACK TO THE LEGISLATURE.
TED SIMONS: BEFORE WE LEAVE THIS, OF THOSE THREE, WHICH IS MOST LIKELY TO WIN?
DIANNA NANEZ: DON SHOOTER.
TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK?
HOWARD FISCHER: I THINK THAT DAVID GALLAND, BECAUSE THERE IS AN OPEN SEAT IN SIERRA VISTA. BECAUSE THE CURRENT SENATOR IS GOING TO THE HOUSE. HE WEARS A COWBOY HAT WHICH IS REAL IMPORTANT IN THAT COUNTY.
TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK?
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: I THINK DAVID AND DON BOTH HAVE VERY GOOD SHOTS.
TED SIMONS: LESS SO JEFFRIES?
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: LESS SO JEFFRIES.
TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. KEN BENNETT HAS RUN FOR A VARIETY OF OFFICES AS WELL. HE CAME OUT THIS WEEK WITH A TWEET. LET'S BACK THIS OUT A LITTLE
BIT. SENATOR McCAIN AS WE KNOW IS HAVING HEALTH ISSUES. THERE CONCERNS WHETHER OR NOT HE CAN COMPLETE HIS TERM. THE GOVERNOR VISITED McCAIN, AND THERE WAS TALK AMONG CONSERVATIVES THAT THERE WAS A DEAL BEING HATCHED, THAT MRS. McCAIN WOULD TAKE OVER FOR JOHN McCAIN. KEN BENNETT CAME OUT WITH THE FOLLOWING TWEET. GO AHEAD AND SHOW THIS. AND THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE RESPONDED WITH A TWEET -- AND I THINK THAT THIS IS -- THIS IS A BIT -- NICEST PART. DIANNA, WHAT IS KEN BENNETT DOING?
DIANNA NANEZ: KEN BENNETT IS RUNNING FOR A RACE WHERE HE IS AT A DEFICIT IN TIME AND MONEY AND HEADLINES. PERIOD. HE IS USING STRATEGIES THAT WE HAVE SEEN USED BEFORE. WHAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN IS HOW THE PUBLIC WILL VIEW THOSE STRATEGIES. SO WE CAN SAY THAT – BASICALLY WHOLEHEARTEDLY, MANY REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS CAME AFTER HIM ON TWITTER AS WELL, SAYING HOW IN POOR TASTE THIS WAS. HOW COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THIS. THIS IS NOT THE TIME OR PLACE FOR THIS. BUT WE CAN ALSO SAY IF YOU WANT TO GO THROUGH THOSE TWEETS, THERE ARE MANY SUPPORTERS WHO SAY, JOHN AND CINDY McCAIN'S TIME IS DONE.
HOWARD FISCHER: AND THAT'S REALLY THE KEY. HE IS LEVERAGING -- THERE IS A CERTAIN ANTI-McCAIN SENTIMENT, SOME OF IT EXISTED FOR YEARS, AND IT CERTAINLY GOT NEW FIRE AFTER McCAIN DID THIS THUMBS DOWN ON THE OBAMACARE REPEAL, AND HE IS TRYING TO LEVERAGE THAT FEELING -- PERHAPS THE 30% OF REPUBLICANS THAT FEEL THAT WAY AS A BASE, SO SAY -- ALSO TO ATTACK DUCEY. BECAUSE DUCEY SAID TO McCAIN YOU PROBABLY SHOULD VOTE NOT TO REPEAL OBAMACARE. HE HAS TRIED TO RUN WITH PUBLIC MONEY. IF HE GETS HIS $5 DONATIONS -- AND HE PUT OUT ANOTHER THING TODAY, SEND ME $5, HE WILL GET $837,000. HE ALREADY HAS 3 MILLION IN THE BANK, SO HE NEEDS TO GET THE PUBLIC MONEY THAT WARNED MEDIA. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HIM NOW.
DIANNA NANEZ: BUT THERE'S A TRUMP FACTOR AS WELL.
TED SIMONS: RIGHT.
DIANNA NANEZ: HE KIND OF WENT DOWN TRUMP HIGHWAY.
TED SIMONS: HE DID.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: ABSOLUTELY, YES. AND -- AND THIS MAY BE THE SMARTEST POLITICAL MOVE FOR HIM, BECAUSE BY TWEETING THE WAY HE HAS TWEETED, CONDUCTING THE WAY HE HAS CONDUCTED SINCE RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR, HE HAS CLEARLY SEPARATED HIMSELF FROM DOUG DUCEY AND SAID I'M THE ALTERNATIVE FOR THIS GOVERNOR THAT HAD DONE SEVERAL THINGS THAT I WOULDN'T HAVE DONE NOTABLY PASSED A BUDGET THAT HAS SOME VERY HUGE SPENDING INCREASE IN IT, AND POLITICALLY, THIS MAY BE THE SMARTEST THING FOR HIM TO DO. HE IS NO DOUBT -- THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT HE IS TRYING TO WIN THAT PRIMARY VOTER BASE IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THAT IS ALWAYS ANGRY WITH JOHN McCAIN. THE ONLY QUESTION IS, JOHN McCAIN HAS RUN AND WON EACH TIME REGARDLESS OF THIS FACTION OF THE G.O.P., THAT -- YOU KNOW, DISLIKES HIM.
TED SIMONS: BUT, AGAIN -- AND HE ACTUALLY DOUBLED DOWN AFTER THE CRITICISM. KEN BENNETT IS KNOWN AS BEING A SOMEWHAT MODERATE FELLOW. HE COULD BE CRITICIZED IN HIS PREVIOUS CAMPAIGNS FOR NOT BEING LOUD AND AGGRESSIVE ENOUGH. THIS -- I JUST DON'T KNOW – AND I UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT, AND IN A CERTAIN WORLD, YEAH, MAYBE THIS WILL GET HIM X-NUMBER OF MORE VOTES. DOES HE HONESTLY THINK HE IS THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA AFTER TWEETING SOMETHING LIKE THIS?
DIANNA NANEZ: I THINK HE THINKS HE IS RUNNING FOR THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA BY TWEETING SOMETHING LIKE THIS. AND THE DOUBLE DOWN TWEET SHOWS THAT. IT NOT ONLY JUST SAID I AGAIN, REPEAT CINDY McCAIN WILL NOT TAKE THE SEAT IF I'M ELECTS, IT ALSO SAID, THE GOVERNOR'S SPOKESPERSON HAS REFUSED TO SAY WHETHER THE GOVERNOR WOULD --
HOWARD FISCHER: FIRST OF ALL, POLITICIANS ARE DILUTIONAL. THEY ALL THINK -- I FEEL A DRAFT. LET'S START WITH MR. SHOOTER. ALSO UNDERSTAND WHO HE IS
SURROUNDING HIMSELF WITH. CHRISTINE BAUSERMAN. YOU MAY REMEMBER CHRISTINE AS A MAJOR TRUMP SUPPORTER. SHE GOT A JOB IN THE DEPARTMENT
OF INTERIOR, AND THEN HAD TO BE FIRED BECAUSE SHE WAS TOO WHACK-A-DOODLE FOR EVEN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. THESE ARE THE FOLKS WHO HE THINKS ARE GOING TO GET HIM INTO THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: I THINK THE POLITICAL CALCULATION IS THAT KEN BENNETT GETS THE PRIMARY VOTERS WHO ARE ALWAYS ANGRY WITH JOHN McCAIN ANYWAY, AND THE HOPE IS THERE IS ENOUGH VOTERS IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WHO HAVE DISLIKED WHAT GOVERNOR DUCEY HAS DONE IN THE LAST TWO YEARS, AND THAT SHOULD PASS A VICTORY. IN HIS MIND THAT MAY BE HIS PATH TO VICTORY.
DIANNA NANEZ: HISTORICALLY THE KEN BENNETT THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, THIS MUSIC PLAYING, PRESCOTT MAN, WHO -- YES, I DID SEE HIS TISSUE DEMONSTRATION. THAT MAN EXISTS, BUT WE ALSO HAVE A SOCIAL MEDIA THAT HAS TAKEN OVER MANY CAMPAIGNS OVER THESE LAST COUPLE OF ELECTIONS NOW, AND PEOPLE ARE USING THAT IN A DIFFERENT WAY, TO PROJECT PERSONAS IN A DIFFERENT WAY, THAN WHEN YOU SEE OR HEAR SOMEONE IN PERSON.
HOWARD FISCHER: AND HE IS -- LOOK AS YOU POINT OUT, HE IS NOT THE MOST FORCEFUL SPEAKER. HE ACTUALLY HAS SOME DECENT IDEAS. I INTERVIEWED HIM WHEN HE ANNOUNCED, AND HE SAID YOU CANNOT BASE A STATE BUDGET ON
TAXES ONLY. HOW IS THAT DEREGULATION THING WORKING OUT FOR YOU, GOVERNOR? SO THERE ARE WAYS OF DOING IT.
LUIGE DEL PUERTO: AND THERE'S NO DOUBT HE IS QUALIFIED TO BE GOVERNOR BECAUSE OF HIS PAST EXPERIENCES.
TED SIMONS: I GUESS THE CLOSING POINT IS, PEOPLE WONDER IF HE IS QUALIFIED TO BE GOVERNOR AFTER A HEARTLESS TWEET LIKE THAT. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. I GUESS WE'LL FIND OUT. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. COMING UP MONDAY A SPECIAL GRAND CANYON EDITION OF "ARIZONA HORIZON." A GRAND CANYON SPECIAL MONDAY ON "ARIZONA HORIZON." TUESDAY WE'LL TAKE YOU TO ARIZONA'S ANNUAL TEEN TALENT COMPETITION. WEDNESDAY A WATER SPECIAL AS WE LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF THE STATE'S LIMITED WATER RESOURCES. THURSDAY A MUSIC SPECIAL. AND FRIDAY, IT'S ANOTHER EDITION OF JOURNALISTS' ROUNDTABLE. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.
Dianna Nañez: Arizona Republic
Luige Del Puerto: Capitol Media Services
Howard Fischer: Capitol Media Services