Monday, November 20, 2017

Ninth Circuit Justices Grill Maricopa County Attorney In Alexander Appeal

Last week, the case of Lisa Aubuchon v. County of Maricopa was considered by a three judge panel in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case involves former Maricopa County Attorney employees, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander, who allege a breach of contract and retaliation by the County.
Justices Nguyen, Hurwitz, and Eaton heard oral arguments in the appeal by Aubuchon and Alexander of a summary judgment in their case against Maricopa County in which they allege a breach of contract under state law and First Amendment retaliation in connection with their State Bar disciplinary proceedings.
Despite receiving assurances from then-Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, that the cost of any disciplinary action in connection with their duties would be covered by the County, the two women were later denied that benefit by the County.
It is widely believed that Alexander and Aubuchon are still suffering from retaliation by associates of former members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, for the women’s roles in representing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, along with his attorney and their boss, former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pay Attention to the Arizona Governor’s Race

Government reformer Tim Jeffries is presenting a formidable challenge
With all due respect to Senator Jeff Flake’s recent surrender to prevailing populist political winds, and the reasonable assumption that Senator John McCain would face stiff headwinds if he was up for reelection this year, Republican Governor Doug Ducey also has big problems on the horizon as he seeks reelection in 2018. Sure, conventional wisdom could lead one to believe a Koch Brothers’ favorite with all the trappings and advantages of power (including millions of dollars in expected fundraising and independent expenditures) could not be defeated in the historically red state of Arizona.

However, like the 2016 election, the 2018 election is not expected to be conventional in Arizona nor in many other states. Historically, low favorability ratings of Congress and disgust with establishment politicians has led to upheaval. Recent Democrat victories in Virginia and New Jersey are likely another sign next year will be one of upheaval.
In recent years, Republicans have not always prevailed at the top of the ticket in Arizona. Democrat Janet Napolitano won the gubernatorial election in 2002 as well as reelection in 2006.

In the 2014 gubernatorial race, then-State Treasurer Ducey prevailed in the bruising and grueling primary with only 37.17 percent of the vote, versus 62.83 percent for seven other candidates. Despite a significant fundraising edge and the prevailing red state winds at the time, Ducey defeated Democrat Fred Duval in the general election with only 805,062 votes versus 626,921 votes, while approximately 74,000 votes were cast for other minor candidates.

Ducey has lost support over the years since becoming governor. Scars and grudges persist with some of the unsuccessful Republican candidates based on the heavy influence and unseemly negativity of the pro-Ducey independent expenditures (aka “dark money”) that has become standard in Arizona yet loathed by its citizens.

In addition, Ducey’s support for Trump’s candidacy has been lukewarm at best, and history is proving President Trump has a long memory for such things.

Besides the fact that Arizona voters are willing to vote for a Democratic governor, voter demographics are changing. Democratic voter registration has grown even more than Republican voter registration. Concurrently, the ranks of Independent voters have swelled. Today there are approximately 1.2 million registered Republicans, 1.1 million Democrats and 1.2 million Independent voters in Arizona.

So, what could all this and more portend for Ducey in his 24x7 campaign to secure re-election as governor and someday run for president?

Arizona may not be a purple state, but it sure isn’t a deeply red state. Arizonans have been, and surely remain, willing to vote for whomever they feel will advance our state and country.
The voter registration gains of the Arizona Democratic Party cannot be overlooked nor minimized just because the Arizona Republican Party currently possesses an approximate 100,000 voter advantage. Furthermore, it is reasonable to surmise voter energy will be with the opposition party in 2018, especially with a coveted U.S. Senate seat wide open due to Flake’s decision not to run for reelection.

The ranks of Independent voters are swelling in Arizona. Independents outnumber Democrats, and are barely outnumbered by Republicans. It is reasonable to surmise voter anger with intransigent government at all levels will be on display in 2018. This positions Independent voters with more power and leverage ever.

Ducey enjoys some favorable traction with Republican voters in Maricopa County where Phoenix is located. Overall, Maricopa County comprises well over 60 percent of the electorate — but Democratic registration is growing. Furthermore, in Arizona’s second largest county, Pima County, where Tucson is located, various polls show Ducey’s numbers in the tank.

Ducey’s two reported challengers for 2018 are liberal Democrats. Dr. David Garcia is a highly respected educator based in Maricopa County who barely lost his 2014 run to become Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. Senator Steve Farley is an ultra-liberal yet avuncular politician with an ability to disarm many with his smile and wit. Both gentlemen are not viewed as strong challengers to the sitting governor, but Arizona citizens are restive just like tens of millions of other Americans.

As promised, Ducey has delivered for big business in Arizona, and is advancing his small business initiatives by way of regulatory reform. There is goodness to this, but the trickle down to average Arizonans is not often felt. Arizona’s wealthy are thriving. Arizona’s middle class is shrinking. Democrats accuse Ducey of neglecting the poor. His prolific press release machine does not actually solve the problems of simple average Arizonans trying to claw their way to the American dream.

Ducey has largely alienated Arizona public school teachers with his soaring rhetoric and limited action. His 2017 State of the State speech was very strong in its support for public schools and the plight of low-paid public-school teachers. However, his follow-up proposal to grant them a meager two percent raise over five years not only fell flat, it made him a political laughingstock to rank-and-file school teachers in Arizona.

Ducey is closely aligned with Senators McCain and Flake, both highly unpopular at this juncture. Self-fashioned “maverick” McCain cratered the repeal of Obamacare which significantly angered Arizona Republicans. Self-fashioned political martyr Flake has heaped derision on President Trump at every turn.

A recent and extensive statewide poll that I was privy to review as background for this article highlighted what many people can easily surmise on their own, and that is Arizonans want truly independent, non-partisan outsider solutions. It found that 74.3 percent of Republicans would vote for a “truly independent, non-partisan” candidate for governor. Even more Independents and Democrats agreed. Perhaps, like most Americans, Arizonans are weary of partisan political rancor and limited action that is often glossed over with soaring rhetoric and flowery press releases from both parties.

Ducey appears to have cleared the gubernatorial primary as the Republican candidate for 2018. However, the intriguing and disruptive specter of an independent, bi-partisan, coalition-building candidate for Arizona governor looms large in the person of Timothy Jeffries. As previously and widely reported, Jeffries is an unflinching Roman Catholic and highly successful businessman who came from a broken family to build an impressive “Only in America” success story that continues to unfold.

Jeffries served in Ducey’s cabinet as the director of social services in Arizona for approximately 21 months. The day before Thanksgiving last year, Jeffries (aka “Director J.”) and several of his trusted leaders were unceremoniously ousted from their transformational roles, much to the disappointment and dejection of thousands of social services workers and social services partners throughout Arizona. Approximately 2,000 of 8,000 of Jeffries’ former “colleagues” in social services have contacted him over the past year, and the word is over a thousand of these very same Arizonans have asked Jeffries to run for governor. Jeffries is a rising star in Arizona politics with a knack for government reform, and Arizonans are flocking to him in droves. Many believe he was wrongly fired by Ducey.

The Arizona governor’s race is looking like it will have as much excitement, if not more, than the U.S. Senate race to replace Senator Jeff Flake and the replacement of McCain.

Read more about Tim Jeffries below

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wrongly Fired Government Reformer Considering Running Against Arizona Governor

Tim Jeffries was a popular director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the state welfare agency, from 2015 to 2016. He became a colorful icon in Arizona government, with his smiley faces and practice of referring to employees as “colleagues.” He was likely the only state agency head to cut the size of his agency by 2 percent as instructed by Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey. He turned morale around at DES, making it a fun place to work — no easy feat at a welfare agency. The devout Catholic has a heart and passion for the poor and sick, coming from a poor upbringing himself. When the governor asked him if he wanted to be an agency head, Jeffries deliberately chose DES.

But this star reformer was pushed out in a highly publicized coup, spearheaded by the left-wing Arizona Republic which made him a target. After Jeffries fired 475 employees who were “bullies, racists, sexual harassers and slackers,” the newspaper featured some of the employees and wrongly made them out to be victims — even though some had actually been stealing from DES. The newspaper extensively covered Jeffries’ efforts to bring security in house, instead of paying for private contractors which were less accountable and not cost effective. The biased articles referred to it as “building an arsenal” and “stockpiling ammunition.”

With so much negative coverage, Governor Ducey caved to pressure, firing Jeffries in November 2016.

The firing was so unjust that one of the local left-leaning papers actually took Jeffries’ side. The Phoenix New Times expressed skepticism about the accusations brought against Jeffries. “Just before his ouster in late 2016, Jeffries reportedly bought alcohol for employees on state time, but the accusation was never proven.” As for the private security force, the paper said “much of the criticism was overblown.”

Jeffries observes, "I had the passion and courage to ‘run government at the speed of business’ as the Governor directed me. Unfortunately, it proved to be merely a campaign slogan for the Governor. Consequently, calcified bureaucracy and special vendor deals remain to the profound detriment of hard-working taxpayers that deserve good government."

Jeffries filed a $5.1 million libel claim against the state over the private security allegations. His former chief of security, Charles Loftus, filed a $2.6 million claim. Jeffries is represented by former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Some of the bizarre, false accusations in the audit performed by the state Department of Public Safety are that Jeffries carried a gun on state property and wanted to arm every state employee.

Ducey is vulnerable to a challenge from the right. He is ingratiated with Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake who are disliked by the conservative base, in part due to their repeated undermining of President Trump. Ducey endorsed Flake. Ducey's lack of leadership was foundational to McCain's vote stopping the Obamacare repeal. Ducey himself failed to stand with other Arizona leaders behind Trump at his August rally in Phoenix.

If re-elected to a second term, Ducey may end up appointing McCain’s replacement after the senator passes away from brain cancer. There are concerns that he would replace him with another establishment Republican. In contrast, Jeffries says, “I would be open to appointing anti-establishment warriors like State Treasurer Jeff DeWit, who was Trump’s campaign COO/CFO, or true conservatives like current Arizona Congressman David Schweikert and former Congressman Matt Salmon.”

Ducey is also vulnerable with teachers’ associations. Prop. 123, which he championed, only provided a 2 percent raise for teachers over five years.

Jeffries explains the difference between Ducey as governor and how he would run the state, "I entered the public sector to do big things, not small things with big press releases." Jeffries describes Ducey as a “poll-driven politician.” Jeffries is fearless and unrelenting. He went after a corrupt Democratic legislator who fraudulently obtained food stamps — something his predecessor was too afraid to take on. He had another corrupt member in the sights of his Inspector General — which sadly will now be swept under the rug. He boldly called for the termination of the corrupt vendor of the State’s Obamacare Medicaid Eligibility System.

"If I run and I win, I will not play small ball like the Governor. I will massively reorganize and restructure state government,” Jeffries said. “Partnering with thousands of true public servants, I will free up approximately 200 million dollars a year to invest in classrooms, foster kids, senior citizens and the developmentally disabled. These great folks need us to be audacious in vision and fearless in execution." Jeffries says he does not have aspirations for higher office afterward; he is not seeking a political career.

Jeffries is the type of candidate the conservative Breitbart powerhouse Steve Bannon might get behind. Support like that — which might lead to support from Trump — could tip a race. Breitbart reports that a “broad anti-establishment coalition” has been formed nationally to replace establishment Republicans in Congress and in key gubernatorial races. Additionally, after a successful career in business, Jeffries is independently wealthy and has a network of wealthy friends. Add to that fair press coverage from Phoenix New Times and Jeffries has a real chance of defeating Ducey. Arizonans are in an anti-incumbent mood due to McCain and Flake, and Ducey is too closely associated with the pair.