Journalists’ Roundtable: Invest in Ed, Gary Pierce trial, Shooter ballot challenge

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In this week’s episode of Journalists’s Roundtable, local reporters discuss the Invest in Ed initiative, the trial of former Corporate Commissioner Gary Pierce, the residency challenge of expelled Representative Don Shooter, and the Stop Dirty Money campaign.

Katie Campbell: Arizona Capitol Times

Howie Fischer: Arizona Capitol Times

Jeremy Duda: Arizona Capitol Times

Invest in Ed

The Invest in Ed initiative effort proposes to raise the income taxes of a small percentage of Arizonans. A recent poll indicates two-thirds of Arizonans support this move.

The initiative suggests raising the income tax to eight percent for individuals who make more than $250,000 and couples who make more than $500,000. There will also be an increase to nine percent for those making $500,000 or more and couples making over $1 million.

“This guarantees pretty much that we will have some of the money we need for teacher raises,” Howie Fischer with Arizona Capitol Times says.

It’s predicted that the initiative requires at least 200,000 signatures for this to have a shot.

Trial of Gary Pierce

The trial involves former Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce, his wife, Sherry, lobbyist Jim Norton and his ex-wife Kelly, and utility owner George Johnson. There are allegations that Johnson bribed Pierce through the lobbyist and his ex-wife in exchange for favorable votes on the commission.

“It is inarguable that Kelly Norton isn’t the star witness for this trial,” Katie Campbell with Arizona Capitol Times says. “She’s gone on and said that she really pointed out that she had personal issues with Jim before their divorce. She said that wasn’t the start of the problems. She was uncertain about this alleged scheme from the very beginning and she kept all of these records. She’s been able to go through these records and really bolster the prosecution’s narrative.”

Shooter ballot challenge

Months after being expelled from the House on sexual harassment claims, Don Shooter now wants to be on the ballot again and he has enough signatures to do so. However, his residency is now being challenged.

Shooter and his wife recently registered to vote in Maricopa County from their home in the Biltmore area. Two weeks later, shortly after he announced his decision to run, he re-registered in Yuma County.

“One of his opponents in the senate primary filed suit claiming he does not live in the county and he is unable to run,” Jeremy Duda with Arizona Capitol Times says.

Dirty money

The Stop Dirty Money campaign held a press conference this week to get a lot of attention for its signature gathering. They claim to have about $140,000 in the bank, but it wouldn’t be enough to get it on the ballot.

“They don’t have a lot of money,” Fischer says. “They don’t have a lot of organizers. It’s going to be interesting. I think it’s going to be very, very tight.”

Duda says if this does make it to the ballot, he thinks it would pass overwhelmingly.

Katie Campbell: Arizona Capitol Times
Howie Fischer: Arizona Capitol Times
Jeremy Duda: Arizona Capitol Times

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