Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AZGOP Executive Committee Report

Important Results from AZGOP Executive Committee Meeting
We had a long and productive AZGOP Executive Committee meeting this weekend. Even though you should be receiving reports at your next LD or County meeting from the members of the Executive Committee and your respective LD Chairmen, I wanted to make sure details of what we discussed and accomplished were shared.

The Executive Committee Members in attendance represented the vast majority of Arizona counties and every congressional district. Additionally, your Legislative District Chairmen were invited and nearly all of them attended. In short, the entire State Party was well represented. Below is an outline that summarizes the entire meeting.

If you have any questions regarding any of the outlined points, please do not hesitate to call or email me directly. My personal cell phone is 480-744-5442 and my email is robert.graham@azgop.org.

General Party Business and Information:
  • We reviewed and approved a budget and fundraising plan of $2.5 million that will help us prepare for victory in 2016. As with any goal-orientated budget we back into the expenses once we clearly understand what it takes to fund the operations of the party, which includes technology, community engagement, mail, events, office rent and overhead, labor, etc.
  • The committee received informative presentations regarding the Phoenix transportation tax on the August ballot and marijuana legalization initiative expected to be on the 2016 ballot. Both will be significant battles and it is imperative that we as the Republican base understand all points relating to both initiatives.
  • Corporation Commissioner Susan Bitter Smith updated the Committee on commission business and utility issues.
Congressional Redistricting:
  • Republican General Counsel, Tim La Sota, presented information about the congressional redistricting lawsuit and the upcoming decision by the US Supreme Court that we expect will favor us. He explained the steps following a ruling if and when ruled by the Court. He encouraged us to be ready for action in late May or early June. 
Home Owner Associations:
  • Next Tim La Sota addressed an ever-increasing problem with HOAs. Some HOAs are prohibiting petition signature gatherers or grassroots activists from going door-to-door in gated communities. La Sota drafted a letter that will posted on the AZ GOP website. The letter can be used if HOAs are prohibiting canvassing neighborhoods. Further to the point, if an HOA insists on stopping electioneering or canvassing we are prepared to support all members with legal action.
Election Reform Bills:
  • La Sota spoke about the bill signed into law this week by Gov. Ducey that levels the playing field for candidates by requiring all candidates, not just those from major parties, to obtain a similar amount of signatures. The abuse that had occurred was real, with candidates in the Libertarian Party needing as few as five signatures to qualify for election. This new law will helpful by leveling the playing field candidate election signature requirements.
  • Lastly, he addressed ballot harvesting prevention bill. The harvesting prevention bill did not make it through the process but we’ll continue our efforts to end ballot harvesting. Please contact your representatives and stress that Arizona voting should be One Ballot, One Vote. No harvesting will help to restore integrity to the entire voting process. 
2014 Victory Report:
  • Our Political Director, George Khalaf, gave a presentation on the exceptional work done by precinct committeemen, other volunteers and Victory Centers throughout the state for candidates. After careful analysis of the data collected for the 2014 cycle, we were able to show that the work done by the State Party and grassroots volunteers, created an 8.7% lift. This increase in votes helped candidates like Congresswoman Martha McSally and State Senator Sylvia Allen achieve victory this past November. George was also able to show that compared to the last 6 election cycles, the Republican slate held together better than anytime before. The work done on behalf of the entire Republican slate helped Republicans sweep all statewide offices, maintain majorities in both the House and the Senate and gain a majority in our Congressional delegation. Additionally, Republicans won countless races at the school board, city and town council, county and other levels. Great outcome for Republicans and the State of Arizona.
 Resolution to Close the Primaries:
  • Closing the Primaries - It is important to note, that the largest allocation of time on the agenda was set to discuss closing Republican primaries. Please note that when the discussion began…my opening statement and remarks throughout the discussion addressed the fact that the State Committeemen had passed a resolution to close the primary and it was our committee’s job to understand all of the moving parts and to find a solution, if possible, to make it happen. The majority of members of the committee thought is/was essential to understand the legal process, financial impact, legislative actions and/or ballot initiatives involved to actually close the primary elections.
  • Based on the resolution to close the primary that was passed January, and loose comments that have been circulating through emails and on various member community blogs, we presented the Committee with the research and legal advice we have compiled over the last two and a half months. The legal opinions were from four of the top state election attorneys. Three of the four attorneys are the same attorneys referenced by AJ LaFaro and the AFA Blog.
  • If you recall, the resolution asks both the legislature and the party to overturn a provision in the state constitution, specifically directing the Committee to file paperwork to close the primary.
1) Legislative Action:
The legislature has taken no action and has adjourned until 2016.
2) Lawsuit Option:
Many of us heard the case of the Libertarians closing the primary, and that it was just a matter of petitioning the court. What we learned, however, in our research and discussion which included several experienced elections attorneys as well as the attorney who fought to close the primary for the Libertarians, is that the effort would include significant research and the cost would range across the board…potentially in the hundreds of thousands to millions.
Furthermore, the majority of the attorneys who had written opinion letters to be shared with the Executive Committee mention a lawsuit of this type would be time consuming (up to 66 months), and that the outcome was uncertain or even unlikely to be beneficial.
Specifically, we heard the Republican Party would have extreme difficulty showing severe burden as the Libertarians. Simply stated the argument is different thus making the path to closing the primaries different. This does not shut the door to the resolution…it highlights the necessary approach and the potential cost and time involved.
3) Cost of Administering a Closed Primary:
The Secretary of State’s Office provided information regarding the likely costs to the AZGOP for a closed primary, with a typical statewide election costing about $10 million.
4) Motion to Fund a $75,000 to File the Suit to Close the Primary-Failed 
During the Executive Committee meeting a motion was made to spend up to $75,000 in legal fees to file suit to close the primary. After discussion the motion was defeated with a significant majority NO vote. After the motion failed, I asked the more than 75 attendees if anyone could or would join the fundraising committee, only two committee members volunteered to raise funds for the effort. This was after I asked three separate times.
5) Ballot Initiative – Change the State Constitution
Some members discussed amending the constitution with a ballot measure, and that’s certainly a possibility but ballot amendments are voted on by all registered voters, which included Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Green, American Elect. It was also discussed that a ballot initiative is probably not something that would be approved in a general election. The cost of such an effort was also discussed, with amounts in the millions of dollars considered.
County Chairman, National Committeeman and Committeewoman Reports:
  • Each county chair presented an update on their county activities for the past quarter, and National Committeeman and National Committeewoman reported on RNC issues.
Conclusion and Wrap-up:

Our meeting lasted nearly six hours and we accomplished a great deal, although many were disappointed to learn the significant and costly obstacles to close and administer the primary.

In conclusion, it is not just my hope by my promise that the party will continue to raise the necessary funds to win elections, field good candidates and provide the tools needed by our PCs and State Committee. We all worked very hard to turn out our voters in every election, and those efforts were fruitful in 2014 and set the stage for a huge GOP turnout in 2016. This is our time to register voters, build our ranks within the precincts and push forward onto victory.

I am proud to be part of the Executive Committee of the AZGOP and I thank each and every member who listened, spoke, acted and voted in good faith and in support of the party. 


Robert Graham

Maricopa County Republicans Has NOT received any compensation to post this information,it is a courtesy post

Arizona Representative Kate Brophy McGee 2015 Session Wrap-Up

Session Wrap-Up
Kate Brophy McGee
Representative Kate Brophy McGee

The 52nd Legislature wrapped up its first session in record time. New legislation will take effect July 3. We passed laws forwarding businesses like Uber, Lyft and Microbreweries and thankfully provided Arizonans the option to obtain a REAL ID for uninterrupted air travel come 2016.
My focus this session was education, child safety and our vulnerable populations. A brief recap:
I could not support the budgets for K-12, Higher Education, Health and Human Services. There was no path forward for sustainable, reliable funding for K-12, and the cuts to the universities were devastating. It didn’t make sense to me that health providers agreed to a 3% cut only to be cut 5%. Deep cuts to preventive services for struggling families means the state will be spending more dollars on crisis intervention. I believe that with more time and more effort, we could have crafted a structurally-balanced budget that would not result in greater cost to the state in the future.
HB 2166 Department of Child Safety (DCS) Transparency and Disclosure; HB2640 Angel’s Law
Transparency is the key to solving the problems with Arizona’s child safety system. HB2166 requires DCS to promptly release information to the public regarding prior DCS involvement with child victims and/or their perpetrators. This closes a big loophole in disclosure requirements. I deeply regret that Angel’s Law, requiring background checks on adults where a DCS child is returned home, was held in the Senate. It will be my focus this next session.
HB 2373 AHCCCS Orthotics Services
HB 2373 requires AHCCCS contractors to cover orthotics services if they are the least costly, medically preferred treatment option. Medicaid patients are denied orthotic services because they aren’t covered, while qualifying for more costly treatments that are covered. For example, a custom leg brace costing $1,500 is not covered, but an amputation and wheel chair, costing thousands of dollars, is covered. This makes no sense. HB2373 allows patients the option of orthotics if it is the least expensive treatment.
HB2167 Client Trust Fund; Developmentally Disabled
Appropriated $100,000 to the Client Trust Fund for Developmentally Disabled. The Trust Fund provides one-time assistance mini-grants to people with developmental disabilities so they can stay in their homes. The fund was swept during the 2009 budget crisis. While this bill died when the budget was adopted, I was able to move the bill forward as an amendment to another bill.Animal Cruelty I continued work on legislation that would make it possible to successfully prosecute escalating neglect, cruelty and hoarding of domestic pets in my district and throughout urban areas. The legislation was crafted by first responders, prosecutors and agricultural interests, and would separate commercial purposes from domestic pet ownership. Regretfully, the Governor vetoed the legislation. This issue is important to me because it is a precursor to domestic violence and child abuse – those who abuse animals also abuse family members and children. I will continue work on a legislative solution for the problems of domestic abuse of animals, children and family members.
Animal Cruelty
I continued work on legislation that would make it possible to successfully prosecute escalating neglect, cruelty and hoarding of domestic pets in my district and throughout urban areas. The legislation was crafted by first responders, prosecutors and agricultural interests, and would separate commercial purposes from domestic pet ownership. Regretfully, the Governor vetoed the legislation. This issue is important to me because it is a precursor to domestic violence and child abuse – those who abuse animals also abuse family members and children. I will continue work on a legislative solution for the problems of domestic abuse of animals, children and family members.
Looking Ahead
I look forward to continued representation of our district and state with the persistence, thoughtful consideration and common sense I have demonstrated the past five years. Big issues await on the horizon. I will be a passionate advocate for education and our vulnerable populations going forward.
Maricopa County Republicans Has NOT received any compensation to post this information,it is a courtesy post

Monday, April 20, 2015

Attorney General Brnovich to Honor Arizona Victims' Rights Advocates

Attorney General Brnovich to Honor Arizona Victims' Rights Advocates
What: Luncheon and awards ceremony to recognize the law enforcement officers, lawyers, volunteers and advocates who improved the criminal justice process for victims in 2014.
Who: Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Governor Doug Ducey, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill
Where: The Duce 525 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
When: April 21, 2015 at 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan Secures First Amendment Win in Arizona Legislature

New definition of political committee protects freedom of speech
Phoenix – While Arizona’s 52nd legislature wrapped up business with a number of 
noteworthy accomplishments, perhaps none will have more of an impact on our system 
of elections than HB2649.  The legislation signed by the Governor this week protects 
individuals who come together to simply express their First Amendment rights from 
burdensome government regulation.
The new law comes in response to a federal court ruling that Arizona’s definition of a political committee was “vague, overbroad and consequently unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment.”
In 2011, Dina Galassini, a Fountain Hills resident, was ordered by the Town to register as a political committee after organizing a protest opposing a local bond measure.  After nearly three years of litigation, the court ruled in Ms. Galassini’s favor and rendered the state’s campaign finance law unenforceable.  Without a legal definition on the books, the Secretary of State’s office has not had the ability to adjudicate campaign finance complaints under its jurisdiction since late last year.
The new definition specifies an association or combination of individuals do not qualify as a political committee unless they raise or spend at least $500, and is organized for the primary purpose of influencing the outcome of an election.
“This is a great win for the First Amendment and people who simply want to publicly voice their opinion on any political issue,” said Secretary Reagan.  “I’m extremely pleased our team was successful in averting a crisis in campaign finance law and our entire election process.”
“Similar to our effort to modernize the Secretary of State’s office in its entirety, I will lead the charge to update and improve our campaign finance laws,” continued the Reagan.  “Over the summer, we will bring together a group of election administrators and stakeholders to thoroughly review the relevant statutes and develop a package of legislation that modernizes our campaign finance laws for the 2016 legislative session.” 
- See more at: http://www.azsos.gov/about-office/media-center/press-releases/458#sthash.TlJY5MIP.dpuf

AZGOP Executive Board Votes Against Funding Closed Republican Primary Elections

by Daniel Stefanski Posted at his request via Facebook
Daniel Stefanski and AZGOP Chair Robert Graham
A hearty thanks to AZGOP Chairman Robert Graham for working through another executive board meeting! Today, it sounds like the board voted against funding a lawsuit for closing Republican primaries. As it should have been, Robert allowed the motion to be voted on, and the representatives of the precinct and state committeemen did what they felt was in the best interest of the Arizona Republican Party and election victories in 2015 and 2016.
And for all the heartache by a select few over the closed meeting today, it was not closed to those who were duly elected in previous elections. Want to sit in and participate in future state party executive meetings that may be closed to observers? Run for election for one of those positions next time around. The process isn't being obstructed. It's being followed to the letter of the law.
Robert Graham voluntarily signed up for a non-paid job with round-the-clock hours, but he did not sign up for a job that featured lies, distortion and people from his own party working against future Republican victories to serve their own self interests. Before this meeting, Robert did not fight against the resolution to close our primary. Rather, he expressed his opinions and waited for the process to carry itself out. While false allegations that Robert was carrying out other interested party's wishes swirled around prior to today's meeting, it is now a fact that the AZGOP executive committee voted within their rights and responsibilities to table the closed primary funding proposal.
Though one will never come, I think Robert Graham is owed an apology for the way he has been treated and maligned by people who claim to be in the same party as him.
And to make up for an apology that will never come, I think Robert deserves thanks and encouragement by all those who appreciate the 2014 victories he was very instrumental in helping to achieve. We who were involved in the 2014 campaigns know how hard the State Party worked throughout the entire cycle.
Robert and the Arizona Republican Party have pledged to stay neutral in primaries, and they have remained faithful to that promise. The AZGOP has also always upheld the party platform during Robert's tenure as chair. Those who claim that Robert is attempting to pave a path for any individual primary contender are doing so without any factual basis. Robert is not going to pull any favors for any candidate in a contested primary election, and he's not going to lead the AZGOP towards an ideological potion that does not adhere to the entirety of our platform. Activists may "want" him to do their work for them in a contested primary election, but he's just not going to do play favorites. So to save everyone's time, let's support our primary candidates and await the time when the AZGOP will be waiting for the Democrats with guns a-blazin' after the winning Republicans make it past their primaries.
Thanks as well to everyone who sacrifices their time to serve at the AZGOP and on the executive committee!
Let's work for some more GOP victories in 2015 and 2016! Who's with me?!