Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Representative Thorpe on disabled veteran who lost his home because he was late paying his taxes

Arizona House of Representatives 
Representative Bob Thorpe (R-6) 
1700 West Washington ⚫ Phoenix, Arizona ⚫ 85007-2844 
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 
Representative Thorpe: We Must Look Out for Our Homeless and Vulnerable Populations 
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –Representative Bob Thorpe (R-6) today released the following statement on looking out for homeless and vulnerable populations: 
“On June 28, just 6-days before our patriotic Independence Day celebration, a disabled American veteran lost his home because he was late paying his taxes. Although legal, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sold his mobile home out from under him even though he was only a few hundred dollars behind in his 2018 property taxes. Currently, mobile home property tax lien sales can occur much quicker than those for traditional homes. This is one of many issues that will be addressed at my Mobile Home Stakeholders meeting to be held on July 11 from 10 am to 4 pm at the State House. 
Homelessness is not only immoral, it is also expensive. It has been estimated that each homeless individual can cost society between $35,000 - $45,000 annually. Los Angeles and San Francisco have seen dramatic increases in homeless individuals and the size and number of their encampments, with associated outbreaks of disease and rat infestations. It is therefore in all our best interest to keep people in their homes, especially our most vulnerable disabled and elderly citizens and our veterans. Whether living in a mobile or a traditional home, our fixed-income seniors shouldn’t have to decide whether to pay their property taxes instead of buying food or prescriptions, or paying their summer air conditioning utility bills. 
With our 4th of July celebration in mind, the Declaration of Independence states that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ However, in an earlier draft, Thomas Jefferson instead used John Locke’s trinity of rights, that of ‘life, liberty, and property.’ 
Our nation’s Founders recognized the importance of private property ownership. Jefferson’s early draft implied that private property ownership was an individual right given by God, a right that could not be taken away or denied. The negative impacts of not 
being allowed to own private property is evident in the rampant poverty of our citizens currently living on the federally-controlled lands within our Native American nations. 
Sometimes, a mere $50 can mean the difference between an individual or family being forced to live on the streets. I call upon our veterans and elderly assistance advocates to please contact and partner with their local county assessor’s offices with offers of financial help for our most vulnerable citizens. 
I also call upon our law enforcement and government agencies to enact internal rules that help keep people living within their homes, for example, by helping them better manage their personal finances, referring them to groups and agencies for assistance, and by extending the timeframe prior to a property tax lien sale. 
My thanks especially go to Maricopa County Treasurer Royce Flora and his chief deputy Russell Pearce for their tireless work advocating for our fixed-income seniors and this disabled American veteran.” 
Matthew Specht 
Director of Communications 
House Republican Caucus 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

VIDEO: Wrongly Imprisoned Former Rep. Rick Renzi Tells His Story

Monday, April 1, 2019

Facts, Not Myths Back National Popular Vote’s Surge in Popularity

Ronald Reagan was reportedly fond of referencing the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Monahan’s admonition, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Today, that would most particularly include opponents of the growing drive to enact the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would award 270 electoral votes and the presidency to the candidate who wins the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Of all the myths conjured up by naysayers to try and torpedo the compact, perhaps the most egregious portray the measure as either unconstitutional or an effort to eliminate the Electoral College. Both are patently false.

The compact isn’t the same thing as the national popular vote that the 2020 presidential candidates are calling for. The compact is 100 percent constitutional and consistent with the intent of the Founding Fathers, who explicitly gave states the authority under the Constitution to form agreements among themselves for any number of reasons. There is no issue with the states usurping the power of the federal government.

Moreover, while some reform advocates argue for elimination of the Electoral College through a long and cumbersome effort to amend the Constitution, the compact preserves the Electoral College intact, exactly as the Constitution specifies. In fact, the compact states that if the Electoral College is done away with, the compact goes away.

Under the Constitution, states are free to award their electors in any way they see fit. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution either mentioning or mandating the current winner-take-all system by which most states award their electoral votes. The Founding Fathers never approved it. By entering the compact, the states agree to direct their Electoral College votes through a popular vote.

The myths and falsehoods aren’t limited to the Constitution and the Electoral College. Another falsehood imagines the votes of large, populous states running roughshod over smaller, less populated states. This is patently untrue. More people live in rural areas and small towns than in the big cities. If Republicans direct their campaign efforts in the former areas, they should be able to win the popular vote, since they dominate those areas. Right now, they direct their energy at the swing states instead.

Under the current system, we don’t so much elect the president of the United States as we do the president of the battleground states. The 12 states where the candidates spend virtually all of their time — and money — chasing blocks of electoral votes that can swing back and forth every four years. The other 38 states and the District of Columbia — encompassing roughly 70 percent of the population — are ignored because they are so faithful in voting either Republican or Democrat every four years.

In an election fought under the compact, the 12-state election model becomes a 50-state contest in which candidates are compelled to chase down every single voter in every nook and cranny of the nation. The states are essentially working with other states to make their votes more relevant.

Oregon is a good example of why the compact is needed. Over the last eight presidential elections from 1988 to 2016, a total of 5,429,496 Oregonians cast their popular votes for the Republican ticket. And in all of that time, their efforts have failed to produce one single GOP electoral vote. Because eight out of eight times, the Democrat ticket won Oregon’s popular vote and all of its electoral votes.

Under the compact, voters gain a direct voice over the disposition of the 270 electoral votes. No voter in any state would have their vote cancelled out because they didn’t go along with the majority of others in their state. Every voter would have their vote counted directly toward their choice for president. And the presidential candidate who gets the most popular votes would become president.

Florida is gradually becoming more Democratic, as Puerto Ricans move into the state and overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Republicans are going to lose this swing state and will be unable to win presidential elections through the existing system much longer. It’s a good time to switch. The movement in support of the compact is gaining momentum with Delaware and New Mexico having just passed bills joining it for a projected total of 189 of the 270 electoral votes necessary to switch to the compact (a majority of the 538 electoral votes). It has bipartisan support because Democrats erroneously think large cities will end up deciding elections. Republicans need to do their homework on this issue before blindly repeating falsehoods.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

State Bar Mandatory Unions for Attorneys are Finally Being Dismantled

An effort started a few years ago to eliminate the unionlike, mandatory nature of state bars. These associations have become increasingly politicized, spending members’ dues for partisan purposes that always go against Republicans. This is illegal, since the 1990 Supreme Court decision Keller v. State Bar of California decision held that mandatory members of state bar associations have a First Amendment right not to subsidize political or ideological activities. Additionally, in the 27 states with right-to-work laws, attorneys aren’t supposed to be required to join a union in order to practice law.

In order to practice their profession, attorneys should be required to go through no more than a licensing agency. But somehow, these illegal state bar unions have thrived in 31 states. The other states have voluntary bars and do just fine.

The existence of these politically motivated state bars has finally started getting attention due to their targeting of conservative attorneys and spending members’ dues on partisan activities. In Arizona, the state bar disbarred a popular conservative district attorney in order to stop him from cracking down on illegal immigration with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. After that happened in 2012, conservative attorneys in Arizona tell me they are terrified to write articles, tweet or say anything publicly for fear of having the left-wing wing state bar come after them. Almost no one dared to defend the disbarred attorney, not wanting to make themselves a target of the bar.   

In North Dakota, the state bar got caught spending a significant amount of money opposing a shared parenting ballot initiative. A small but motivated group of unscrupulous family law attorneys who are heavily involved in state bars stand to lose a lot of money in client litigation fees if shared parenting goes into effect. They heavily influence state bar lobbying in this area. An attorney filed a lawsuit, assisted by the Goldwater Institute, which made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The high court ordered the trial court to decide the case in accordance with Janus v. State, County, and Municipal Employees, which held that public sector unions cannot collect dues from people who do not want to be a member of the union. While state bars are not governmental, they act quasi-governmental and are granted a virtual monopoly over the legal profession. Illinois, where Janus arose, is not a right-to-work state.

In Oregon, the state bar ran a piece in its bulletin that appeared to tie President Trump to the promotion of white nationalism, while sanctimoniously denouncing white nationalism in an adjacent second piece. After a backlash, the state bar provided a refund of $1.12 — the cost of the bulletin — to any member that requested it. Based on Janus, two attorneys in Oregon sued the state bar alleging that mandatory dues infringe on their First Amendment rights to free speech. They said the dues unconstitutionally pay for political and ideological speech they disagree with. Oregon is also not a right-to-work state.

In multiple states, bills have been proposed to split up mandatory state bars. Unfortunately, the state bars are very powerful, backed by the inflated membership dues of attorneys, allowing them to afford the best lobbyists to resist the efforts. This is the case in Arizona, which has the second highest mandatory annual bar dues in the country after Alaska, $505. Ironically, the Arizona State Bar was forced to raise dues in order to pay for the show trial against the district attorney it disbarred. Bills are unable to make it out of both Arizona legislative houses due to the powerful lobbying efforts of the state bar. Disgusted with the corruption, the Goldwater Institute, which is headquartered in Arizona, asked the Arizona Supreme Court in January to eliminate the mandatory nature of the Arizona bar.

A couple of states have had success breaking up their mandatory state bars. Nebraska split its bar in half a few years ago. Now only the regulatory side is mandatory. The California legislature split the California Bar into two pieces with a bill in 2017. Like Nebraska, the mandatory part will retain the regulatory functions. The trade association activities, which include working on legislation, are being transferred to a voluntary nonprofit entity.

It is unfair that in order to practice law, attorneys in 31 states are required to be members of unions that engage in partisan political activity against members’ interests. Fortunately, the tide is finally turning and these corrupt organizations are starting to be dismantled. Just because the thugs running the state bar unions wear white collars does not mean they are any less union thugs.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Arizona Governor’s Office Was Warned About State Vendor Who Allowed Woman in Vegetative State to Be Raped and Get Pregnant

Hacienda Healthcare of Arizona is under local and national fire after a San Carlos Apache womanin a vegetative state gave birth to a child a couple of days after Christmas. Hacienda Healthcare CEO Bill Timmons resigned a week ago after the major scandal was unveiled due to a frantic 911 call and a healthcare whistleblower. The nonprofit corporation, which was founded in 1967, possesses a lucrative state contract with the State of Arizona and receives over $20 million annually in taxpayer funding to take 24x7 care of its severely developmentally disabled citizens.

The State of Arizona has had a problem since the last century with corrupt vendors on contract and the enabling swamp politicians that enable and run interference for them. New state agency directors rarely challenge the status quo due to the influence and power of special interests. Numerous state vendors contribute directly and indirectly to the very Republican and Democrat elected officials that should oversee them on behalf of hardworking taxpayers. The few state agency directors who actually embark on reform and house cleaning are forced out one way or another, typically at great cost to their respective reputations. In Arizona, as is the case with other states plagued with endemic corruption, long-time vendors have developed a cozy relationship with the elected state officials and appointed bureaucrats, which ensures the vendors' multi-million dollar contracts are seamlessly renewed, accountability is spartan, scandals are buried and the reformed are destroyed.

The state government officials and social services bureaucrats in Arizona have known for years that Hacienda Healthcare had various issues. In the first month of his directorship of the Arizona Department of Economic Security in early 2015, based on input from the management of the Division of Development Disabilities, AZDES Director Tim Jeffries identified Hacienda Healthcare as a “threat” in his first DES SWOT analysis. Throughout 2015, Jeffries, a prolific communicator, consistently noted to the Governor’s office that Hacienda was a problem. More specifically, Jeffries and his restructured leadership team were completely dissatisfied with and increasingly alarmed by the interactions with the combative and often belligerent CEO Bill Timmons. As state-to-vendor relationship deteriorated, primarily as it pertains to financial transparency, Jeffries made the decision to plan the termination of the vendor contract and transfer of the client patients, some of Arizona’s most vulnerable and defenseless, to other facilities.

Jeffries communicated his intentions to the Governor’s office and strongly recommended to the State Attorney General’s Office that Hacienda should be investigated for millions of dollars of suspect billings. Jeffries’ audit team in his inspector general’s office found that the nonprofit corporation overbilledstate government, therefore Arizona taxpayers, approximately $4.3 million in one just one year alone. Arizona DES audits accused Hacienda of overbilling the state in 2014 for wages, transportation, housekeeping, maintenance and supplies. The cost of treating a patient was nearly three times (3x) the national average. Haciendacharged$386,000 as compared to $134,000 per patient in similar developmentally disabled care facilities. The fact that Timmons and his team would not provide 2015 financial data to DES as required by law was another giant red flag to Jeffries.

In March and April of 2015, DES executives briefed Jeffries on Timmons and Hacienda, and warned Jeffries not to cross Timmons due to his vast political connections. Timmons frequently boasted about his connections to Governor Doug Ducey, who he brashly referred to as “my good friend Doug” and the key members of the Governor’s Office like Kirk Adams, the Governor’s Chief of Staff and former Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives. Timmons also consistently threatened to use his “extensive political connections” with top Republican and Democrat politicians in the Arizona Legislature to get his way, protect his business, shut up anyone who crossed him and have them fired.

Public records show that Timmons donated $4,000 to Governor Ducey’s campaign in 2014 and 2016. Timmons also gave thousands to other elected officials. What is not known, perhaps will never be known, is how much Timmons, his businesses, his associates, his friends and family gave to 501c4 “dark money” groups where contributors and contributions are not legally required to be reported. Jeffries’ chief law enforcement officer Charles Loftus, a former top special investigator for the Arizona Attorney General, observed in a written statement, “...there was an extraordinary level of anxiety by the DES staff that Mr. Timmons was a friend and donor of Governor Ducey. I personally confirmed Mr. Timmons made several donations to the Governor’s campaign using several variations of his name and different addresses.” If the total amount exceeded campaign finance limits, it is a violation of law. Jeffries recently toldABC 15 in Phoenix, "Timmons was intemperate, he was belligerent, he was abusive, he was a terror to our staff and God only knows how to his staff."

Tragically, the recent horrific sexual assault and pregnancy of a vulnerable and defenseless 29-year-old Apache woman isn’t the first time Timmons tried to cover up abuse of a patient. According to a former Hacienda manager, Timmons didthe same thing with another patient scandal in 1988.

Jeffries and Loftus believe their investigation of Hacienda contributed to their ousters the day before Thanksgiving in 2016. Not long after Jeffries and Loftus were fired, the Arizona Attorney General criminal investigation they pushed for was halted. "I was ousted as a result of a manufactured crisis, to shut me up and make me go away. Well, I'm not gonna shut up and I'm not gonna go away," Jeffries saysnow. Those who know his life story and work for crime victims know how serious and formidable he is.

Jeffries and Loftus have a joint lawsuit pending against the State of Arizona. In their joint lawsuit, they specifically site their work to root out state government corruption with multimillion dollar vendors like Hacienda as a major reason for their political deaths. During his 21 months of service, Jeffries and his inspector general team took down several public officials for fraud, most notablya member of the Arizona Legislature. As a result, the Governor’s Ooffice became increasingly uncomfortable with Jeffries’ crusader approach to public fraud, waste and abuse. Even the Arizona Attorney General’s Office became weary of Jeffries and his team’s passionate commitment to investigate and prosecute fraudsters. When Jeffries and Loftus were ousted, the criminal investigation was turned over to government healthcare bureaucrats for a civil investigation — and all discussions regarding terminating Hacienda as a state vendor ceased in late 2016.

Due to their support in the Arizona Legislature, Jeffries and Loftus were scheduled to testify about another major corruption issue in February 2017 and the Governor and his team blocked their testimony despite Arizona’s State Constitution clearly outlining separate but equal branches of government.” Jeffries and Loftus mentionthis scandalous act in their lawsuit.

Police have obtained a warrant allowing them to collect DNA from the male caregivers working at Hacienda and will surely expand the search warrant to former male caregivers if a match is not found. In the meantime, the Governor Office announced the Hacienda facility will no longer be assigned new client patients, a directive that Jeffries issued over two years ago that was irresponsibly rescinded shortly after Jeffries departed. The Governor says it is exploring all options regarding Hacienda, including appointing a third party to run the facility.

It’s unfortunate it took the rape of an innocent and defenseless woman with profound developmental disabilities to bring to light the problem of crooked vendors and the political swamp where they flourish. Powerful interests like Hacienda should not be above the law nor should the very politicians who fund and protect them. Jeffries believes if the Ducey Administration had followed through with his direction to terminate Hacienda's state contracts and pursue criminal charges, the rape never would have occurred. In the meantime, Governor’s Office stated late last week, “We have and will continue to take a very aggressive approach when it comes to Hacienda.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019

AZGOP raised less in 2017-18 cycle from individual donors than any cycle in almost a decade

This is a sign Republicans have lost trust in the Arizona Republican Party's leadership. It can be directly traced to why Arizona Republicans lost a U.S. Senate seat, secretary of state and superintendent of schools. The state is turning purple under current leadership. It is time for new blood. The numbers don't lie. Kelli Ward has the brains and the ability to mobilize the base and get individual contributions moving again.