Debbie Lesko defeats Hiral Tipirneni in AZ-08 race

PHOENIX — Debbie Lesko officially defeated Democrat Hiral Tipirneni Tuesday night in the race for Arizona’s eighth congressional district.

The Associated Press called the race for Lesko, who received 53 percent of the vote to Tipirneni’s 47 percent after early-voting ballots were counted. The Arizona Secretary of State’s office will continue to report updated numbers as they come in.

Lesko, a Republican, served in the state legislature for ten years, overseeing many areas in the district that she will now represent as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. She often touted this record on the campaign trail, speaking with constituents about her legislative achievements that range from allowing golf carts on the street to expanding Arizona’s successful school choice program.

Tipirneni, the Democratic candidate, mounted an uphill bid for the conservative district despite her candidacy having been dismissed by liberal pundits and abandoned by allied groups who didn’t want to spend money on a race that the party likely wouldn’t win.

The Democrat also faced several stumbles along the way, including her opposition to the 2017 tax relief package and her last-minute admission on MSNBC that she doesn’t oppose partial-birth abortions — which garnered widespread criticism.

The candidate also faced increased scrutiny after an ABC15 investigation questioned her professional history, discovering that, despite campaigning on her background as a physician, Tipirneni was named in a medical practice lawsuit and had not actually treated any patients since 2007.

Lesko, the Republican, appeared on national television early Tuesday morning, to praise the constituents she will now represent.

“This is a good district,” Lesko said. “We have lots of veterans. People that are very patriotic. They believe in lower taxes, less government regulation, and they want to secure the border. And I share their values.”


Hiral Tipirneni defends partial-birth abortion

PHOENIX — During an otherwise low-key interview on television Sunday night, Hiral Tipirneni defended laws allowing partial-birth abortion and said that she doesn’t want Congress to legislate against the issue.

Tipirneni is running for the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district. Widely seen as an underdog, the Democrat is hoping to capitalize on liberal voters’ enthusiasm (in response to the Trump presidency) to score an upset in the deep-red district, where Republicans have a significant voter-registration advantage. The area extends from Litchfield Park to New River and includes the densely populated communities of Sun City West.

Tipirneni appeared on MSNBC for an interview about her campaign and was asked point-blank by Kasie Hunt, the host: “Would you support, for example, a ban on partial-birth abortion?”

The candidate responded by talking about her background as a physician — which itself has been the subject of scrutiny — but then defended the legality of the practice: “I truly do believe that that is a decision that should be between a woman, her partner, her physician, and her faith.”

“We know that we have Roe vs. Wade in place, and we want all of our legislation to be in alignment with that,” Tipirneni said, adding that Americans should focus on more “sex education in the classrooms” and making sure that women have “access to contraception.”

(Click Here To Watch The Exchange.)

Hunt then asked her a follow-up question, “Is there a point at which you do think that abortion should be limited?” to which Tipirneni gave a similar answer.

The Democrat said that late-term abortions — which, conducted during the later stages of pregnancy, are significantly more controversial among voters — are “based on medical input from very experienced physicians.”

“I don’t think that that is something we should be legislating,” Tipirneni said. “We need to let medical professionals make that decision . . .”

The admission during the uncomfortable, televised exchange could end up placing another barrier between the candidate and a potential victory Tuesday as Republicans ramp up their get-out-the-vote operations.

Tipirneni has long tried to paint herself as a moderate Democrat but has been criticized for her opposition to the tax relief package and U.S.-Mexico border wall — as well as her support for the Affordable Care Act, often known as “Obamacare.”

Tipirneni’s position on abortion was not common knowledge until the MSNBC appearance.

The interview came after a week-long media blitz, including the Democrat’s Q&A sessions on KAET Thursday evening and KSAZ early Sunday morning, when she announced her opposition to Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20 percent pay raise to teachers in Arizona.


Hiral Tipirneni opposes Governor Ducey’s 20% teacher pay raise plan

PHOENIX — Hiral Tipirneni admitted Sunday morning that she opposes Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to give a 20 percent pay raise to teachers in Arizona.

Governor Ducey recently announced the plan, which will provide a 20 percent pay increase to teachers across to state by the 2020 school year. That includes an immediate 10 percent salary increase at the beginning of the Fall 2018 school year and an additional five percent for each of the two school years after that.

Tipirneni, a Democrat running for the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, made the admission that she opposes it during an appearance on KSAZ’s “Newsmaker Sunday.”

When asked about Governor Ducey’s plan and whether he should “be given a chance” to solve the issue of teacher pay, the Democrat responded that she was aware of the “recent effort by our governor to propose salary raises” but dismissed the idea as too “quick and dirty.”

“I don’t think you can throw this sort of quick and dirty solution at it and think it’s going to fly,” Tipirneni said.

(Click Here To Watch The Exchange.)

The Arizona Democratic Party, Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia, and the union boss backing them said that they oppose the plan as well, a decision that was mocked in the press as a knee-jerk display of partisanship. The union has long pushed for a statewide teacher strike, and, despite teachers receiving a 20 percent pay increase, the union said that it will move forward with a strike regardless.

Families did not react well to the walk-out that closed several schools last month. One parent complained that “it takes away from the kids” and that her son would suffer from “the repercussion” of the decision. A grandmother who looked after her grandchildren agreed, saying, “It bothers me a lot.”

The plan, currently being debated in the state legislature, has garnered significant support from education advocates and business organizations across the state. The Governor’s Office created a new page on its website touting support from teachers, superintendents, and other school officials, too.

Debbie Lesko, a former state senator and the Republican running against Tipirneni in the U.S. House race, called Governor Ducey’s 20 percent pay raise plan “a fair proposal,” adding: “I really hope the teachers don’t walk out because that’s going to hurt the students.”


Hiral Tipirneni, under fire: “I did not profit from” Obamacare

PHOENIX — Congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni claimed during an interview this week that she “did not profit” from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, attempting to push back on recent criticism to the contrary.

Tipirneni appeared on “Arizona Horizon” Thursday night to talk about her uphill bid for the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district.

Even though liberal pundits and allied outside groups have largely given up on the party’s chances in the conservative district, the Democratic candidate said that she believes the race is winnable — not just a symbolic bid to make a point.

When pressed by host Ted Simons over criticism that she financially benefited from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — often known as “Obamacare” — Tipirneni responded that it was “political mud-slinging” and “not even worthy of response.”

“I did not profit from it,” she said. “The company has other arms. That has no connection to me. My work has never had anything to do directly with the ACA.”

The truth is a little more blurry.

The company that Tipirneni referred to — SRA International — received a lucrative $92 million contract under the Obama administration in part to help implement the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic candidate has worked as a Scientific Review Officer at SRA International since 2010. Republicans point to her $1.5 million home — fitted with a large pool, tennis court, and solar panels — as proof that the Democrat made a fortune in the private sector.

Tipirneni has been an outspoken supporter of President Obama’s health care overhaul on the campaign trail and often argues that the government should implement a “public option” to supplement it. The proposal for a “Medicare-for-all” system is popular among supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, for which Tipirneni’s opponent, Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko, has criticized her as fiscally irresponsible.

“How are you going to pay for this?” Lesko asked during a recent debate. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh, I want to give free things to everybody’ and not have a way to pay for it.”

Tipirneni’s career as a physician has been scrutinized as well. While shown wearing medical scrubs and interacting with patients in campaign ads, an ABC15 investigation revealed that the Democrat had not actually treated any patients in about 11 years and was mentioned in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Both candidates recently released campaign-finance reports for the latest filing period. Tipirneni, despite pledging to reject influence from lobbyists, received thousands of dollars from lawyers and lobbyists between February 8 and April 4, including a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The general election is on Tuesday, April 24.


10 things that didn’t exist the last time Hiral Tipirneni practiced medicine

PHOENIX — One week after an exposé rocked her congressional campaign, Democratic candidate Hiral Tipirieni remains under fire for what many have described as inflating her professional resume.

Even though Tipirneni appears in scrubs interacting with patients in her campaign ads, an ABC15 investigation recently revealed that the Democratic candidate has not treated any patients since 2007.

The Washington Examiner also pointed out this week that Tipirneni — in addition to the wearing scrubs and holding a patient chart — is sporting an Apple Watch in one of her ads . . . a device that didn’t come onto the market until 2015, eight years after she left the profession.

In other words, it’s been a long time. To give you an idea, here are 10 other things that didn’t exist the last time the Democratic candidate was treating patients:

1. President Obama: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, Barack Obama — the husband, father, and former Illinois state senator — certainly existed, but the U.S. Senator wasn’t anything close to a household name, nor was he considered a viable candidate for the White House. He was running an uphill bid against an established, well-funded primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, who many assumed would handily win, sending the Illinois native back to Congress.

2. Breaking Bad: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, the now-famous television series “Breaking Bad” — about an Albuquerque man’s transformation from a chemistry teacher into a wealthy methamphetamine manufacturer — hadn’t aired its first episode. The pilot originally aired on AMC in January 2008.

3. The iPad: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, the Apple Watch (as we mentioned) wasn’t yet on the market. But neither was the iPad, a $500 tablet computer first released in April 2010.

4. Instagram: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, people’s best chance of commenting on their friends and family members’ photographs might have involved mailing around a photo album with a note attached. Instagram, the popular photo-sharing and video-sharing service — later acquired by Facebook for $1 billion — launched in October 2010.

5. Justin Bieber’s First CD: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, Justin Bieber was nothing more than a kid uploading videos of himself singing to YouTube. The singer was later discovered by a talent agent and didn’t make his debut on the Billboard charts until July 2009.

6. FarmVille: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, the only real option for people who wanted to play a video game about farming was Harvest Moon. FarmVille, the simulated farming game whose number of players skyrocketed to tens of millions of users thanks to Facebook, wasn’t released until June 2009.

7. WALL-E: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, WALL-E was a lovable, big-eyed robot on wheels whom few people even knew about. A movie trailer introducing the character was uploaded online in 2007, and WALL-E was officially brought to life on the big screen in June 2008.

8. Hunger Games: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, Katniss Everdeen from District 12 hadn’t entered the 74th annual Hunger Games because she didn’t exist. Scholastic published the first installment of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy in September 2008.

9. Uber: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, people were hailing yellow cabs on the street corner because Uber hadn’t been created. The ride-hailing service, which reached 40 million monthly active riders in 2016, didn’t launch until March 2009 under the name UberCab.

10. Snooki: The last time Tipirneni practiced medicine, the world hadn’t met a little meatball named “Snooki” — nor had we met “Pauly D,” “JWoww,” “The Situation,” or any other cast members from “Jersey Shore.” The reality television series first aired on MTV in December 2009.

The general election in Arizona’s eighth congressional district — in which Tipirneni will be running against Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko — is on April 24.

You can click here to learn more about the race.


Green-energy campaign receives $0 in donations (other than Tom Steyer)

PHOENIX — New campaign filings this week revealed that a controversial green-energy ballot proposal has received significant financial support — but only from a single climate group based in San Francisco . . . and not one cent from families in Arizona.

The ballot proposal, which would force the state’s utilities to obtain half of their energy from renewable sources, is tied to California billionaire Tom Steyer.

According to new campaign-finance reports at the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, the campaign received more than $950,000 from a San Francisco-based political group called NextGen Climate Action that focuses its election-year work on climate change.

Steyer, a Democratic mega-donor, founded the group in 2013. One of its first efforts was helping to elect Hillary Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe as governor of Virginia. It reported more than $9 million in independent expenditures last year to help Democratic candidates.

Steyer — who also is running a multimillion-dollar campaign to impeach President Donald Trump — bankrolls NextGen America and its affiliated groups.

Other than the $950,000 in contributions from NextGen Climate Action, the campaign committee responsible for the ballot proposal didn’t receive one cent in support. Steyer’s group provided $750,000 in direct contributions, $65,680 in in-kind contributions for staffing and overhead, and $141,666.67 in in-kind contributions for petition gathering. Not one person in Arizona provided support for the group or its efforts.

Matthew Benson, a spokesman for an affordable energy coalition fighting the initiative, said that the proposed mandate would mean “higher electricity costs and reduced power reliability for Arizona families.”

“Every Arizona voter should be alarmed by these campaign spending reports, which detail how a California billionaire is sparing no expense in his bid to bring costly, California-style energy regulation to Arizona,” Benson said in a press release.

The green-energy proposal has faced bipartisan wrath in recent months.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle passed legislation in March, signed by Governor Doug Ducey, to protect Arizona ratepayers in the event that Steyer’s proposal is implemented. State Representative Vince Leach said at the time that the legislation “sends a strong and an unmistakable message to those out-of-state people that want to come in. We just tell them: ‘Arizona’s constitution is not for sale.’”

Other opponents, like State Senator Sylvia Allen, warned that the “renewable” mandate would devastate the economies in their districts and that — because of the Voter Protection Act — repealing the mandate would be incredibly difficult, even if Arizonans suffered from unforeseen consequences.

“If we ever get in a situation which we wish we could go back, we won’t,” Allen told her colleagues. “We’ll be stuck with the higher costs of our utilities. And we’ll be stuck with higher taxes.”

Many business organizations have come out against the proposal, too, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Arizona Manufacturers Council, which released a statement three weeks ago calling on the California donor to “take [his] risky scheme somewhere else.”


Inside Hiral Tipirneni’s new campaign filing: Lawyers, lobbyists, and California

PHOENIX — The Federal Election Commission published new campaign-finance reports this week, and the details are worth a look.

The filings offer a glimpse into candidates’ bank accounts, namely where get their campaign money and how they spend it. The records show that Hiral Tipirneni, an underdog candidate running for the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, received more than $434,000 in net contributions from February 8 to April 4 — and the Democrat has been touting that number on social media.

But we dug a little deeper, and there are a few things Tipirneni forgot to mention.

Here are five discrepancies you should know about in the Democrat’s campaign filing:

1. Lawyers And Lobbyists: Despite pledging to not be influenced by lobbyists, Hiral Tipirneni continued to rake in thousands of dollars from lawyers and lobbyists during the latest filing period. Those lobbyists include Irene Bueno — whose personal client, Pfizer, paid her firm $280,000 to lobby Congress last year alone — and Robert Fleming, who is registered to lobby on behalf of a lawyers association at the state level. Lobbyists and lawyers who donated to Tipirneni come from New York, Maryland, California, and elsewhere. Speaking of which . . .

2. Out-Of-State Donors: Three-hundred and fifty-one (351) contributions in Hiral Tipirneni’s campaign filings come from out-of-state donors. That includes individuals and political action committees (minus any refunds the campaign provided) for a total of more than $113,000. Her opponent may have been speaking tongue-in-cheek when she said that Tipirneni would be “a better fit” for San Francisco than the West Valley, but donors agree: Californians ponied up more than $33,000 for the Democrat’s candidacy during the filing period.

3. The Soros Family: At least one family member of George Soros, the Democratic mega-donor with strong ties to President Barack Obama — took note of Hiral Tipirneni’s candidacy. Jennifer Allan Soros, who is married to George Soros’ son Jonathan, cut Tipirneni a $975 check on February 28, the very next day after she won the Democratic primary. The campaign filings do not provide enough information to determine if Tipirneni solicited the donation or if Jennifer Allan Soros provided the funds without the candidate’s knowledge.

4. Political Groups: Political organizations — as opposed to individual donors — contributed $24,750 to Hiral Tipirneni between February 8 to April 4. They include 314 Action Fund (a political action committee), an arm of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (a labor union), End Citizens United (a group focused on reversing the eponymous U.S. Supreme Court decision), and several others. Former Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor’s campaign committee gave $1,000 as well, despite not having been in office since 2015.

5. Money In = Money Out: Hiral Tipirneni reported about $416,000 in operating expenses during this period, slightly more than her opponent. The donations didn’t come cheap, either. Tipirneni’s campaign spent more than $22,000 on fundraising consulting, $13,000 on online donation-processing fees, and $278,000 on a combination of items that includes advertising, direct mail, signs, stickers, and print collateral. The campaign also spent $15,000 on polling from Lake Research Partners, a firm whose longtime ties to the Democratic Party have been detailed on Arizona Democrats Exposed.

While Tipirneni’s fundraising numbers are on-par with those of her opponent, the Democrat has faced increased scrutiny in recent days after a new investigative report found that Tipirneni — who often appears in medical scrubs interacting with patients in campaign ads — has not actually treated any patients in 11 years and was named in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The investigation aired on television after the latest campaign filing period.

Tipirneni will face Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko on April 24.


David Garcia, Democratic Party oppose Governor Ducey’s 20% teacher pay raise plan

PHOENIX — Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia and the state Democratic Party are both pushing back against Governor Doug Ducey’s proposal to give Arizona teachers a 20 percent pay raise.

Governor Ducey, a Republican, announced a new plan Thursday to give a significant pay raise to teachers across Arizona. The plan includes an immediate 10 percent increase in salary, effective at the beginning of the Fall 2018 school year, and 5 percent increases at the beginning of each of the next two years — for a total of a 20 percent raise.

The investment is in addition to the governor’s proposal to fully restore recession-era funding cuts to education, which he announced earlier this year.

The Arizona Democratic Party issued a press release dismissing the plan as a “bandage.”

“There’s no doubt Arizona’s teachers deserve a respectful wage, but Ducey’s pay raise proposal is the sort of ‘political theater’ that only vulnerable governors pull on an election year,” Herschel Fink, the party’s executive director, said.

Laurie Roberts, a liberal columnist with the Arizona Republic, mocked the Democratic Party’s characterization on social media.

“Democratic Party just called @DougDucey’s 3-yr plan to raise teacher pay by 19% ‘a bandage,’” Roberts tweeted in response. “Seriously?”

Hank Stephenson, a K-12 education policy reporter at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, agreed.

“lol Dems are so mad rn Ducey just took just gave them what they wanted and now they have no campaign talking points,” Stephenson tweeted.

David Garcia, one of the Democrats running against Governor Ducey in 2018, said that the proposal did not pass the smell test for him and might be “robbing from other needs” in the budget. “We do not give Doug Ducey the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Garcia has faced intense scrutiny over the past several weeks for his role in politicizing the #RedForEd movement, which critics saw as an attempt to benefit his campaign. The Democrat was confronted on the radio for “making it political” and having “trampled on #RedForEd’ Day” in March. Garcia lost the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, a union headed by Randi Weingarten, to his Democratic primary opponent one week later.

State Senator Steve Farley, Garcia’s opponent, offered a more measured response to Governor Ducey’s plan, praising it as a “first step.”

“While it looks like we may have turned the battle in our favor, the fight is never over,” he said.

When interviewed last month about the prospect of a teachers union strike, Farley initially refused to answer the question directly.

He responded that it was “hard to tell” if such a strike would be counterproductive but ultimately said: “If the teachers are leaning in this direction and we’re not getting any action when it comes to the legislature, then we should support where the teachers are going.”

A version of this article appears at The Farley Report.


ABC15 investigation questions Hiral Tipirneni’s resume

PHOENIX — A new investigation into Hiral Tipirneni’s work history has raised questions about whether the congressional candidate inflated her professional resume on the campaign trail.

The investigative segment, aired by ABC15 on Tuesday evening, opened with an eyebrow-raising statement: “You could call Hiral Tipirneni ‘a doctor.’ Just don’t try getting an appointment.”

Tipirneni, a Democrat running for the open seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, has not shied away from touting her work as a physician during campaign events, at candidate forums, and in television ads.

But ABC15’s investigation found that, while Tipirneni may be wearing medical scrubs and interacting with patients in those campaign ads, the candidate has not actually treated any patients since 2007. That’s more than a decade ago.

The station also discovered the Democrat’s name in court filings related to medical malpractice claims.

“The last month of Tipirneni’s tenure as an ER doctor included settling a malpractice lawsuit,” ABC15’s reporter continued. “The plaintiff, an elderly woman, suffered a leg wound in 2001 and went to what’s now Banner University hospital. The woman accused Tipirneni and the ER doctor group there of failing to give her a medically necessary tetanus immunization, and she actually got tetanus, went into a coma, and had life-long injuries and disability.”

(Click Here To Watch The Investigative Segment.)

The station followed up by asking, then, whether it is “disingenuous” for her to appear in political ads wearing scrubs, to which Tipirneni responded “no.”

The Democrat’s longtime claim that she is a “cancer research advocate” is true — with an emphasis on the “advocate.” Tipirneni does not actually perform any research herself but rather “worked for a company that pairs medical researchers with groups (or the government) that fund medical research,” according to ABC15’s reporter. (One of her responsibilities was speaking engagements.)

The company she worked for received a lucrative $92 million contract during the Obama administration to help implement the Affordable Care Act, often known as “Obamacare.” Critics have pointed to the company’s contract as a potential conflict of interest, citing Tipirneni’s steadfast support for President Obama’s controversial health care law.

Groups tied to the Democratic Party have largely abandoned Tipirneni’s congressional bid, and the Democrat recently has tried to separate herself from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, refusing to commit to supporting the party’s embattled leader despite supporting her congressional agenda.

Tipirneni will face Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko on April 24.


Hiral Tipirneni won’t “commit” to supporting Nancy Pelosi — but largely supports Pelosi’s agenda

PHOENIX — Democratic congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni wouldn’t commit to supporting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during an interview this week, but she has largely supported the Democratic leader’s agenda.

In a new article Tuesday about the U.S. House race in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, NBC News reported that the Democrat “declined to commit to supporting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if elected.”

“I don’t know who’s going to throw their hat in the ring,” Tipirneni said during the interview.

Tipirneni’s decision to distance herself from the embattled Democratic leader comes only one week after the candidate was mocked as out-of-touch for claiming that $1,200 tax-reform bonuses are “not going to cover anything” for American workers. Her dismissal of a $1,200 bonus was compared to Pelosi’s infamous gaffe in January 2018, when she dismissed similar tax-reform bonuses as “crumbs.”

However, despite keeping herself at arm’s-length on the campaign trail this week, Tipirneni has supported the Democratic leader’s agenda on policies ranging from tax reform to health care and immigration.

On tax reform, Pelosi has expressed support for repealing the legislation, which she has repeatedly criticized since before its passage. Tipirneni has used similar language to criticize the tax package, calling it “a Trojan horse.”

On health care, both Pelosi and Tipirneni have walked a fine rhetorical line between the Affordable Care Act and a single-payer system. In 2009, before the passage of President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Democratic leader said that the bill would need to include “a strong public option” in order to pass the U.S. House, but Pelosi has not yet endorsed the “Medicare-for-all” system proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Tipirneni also suggested implementing a “public option” during a recent candidate forum but pushed back on the assertion that she supports a “Medicare-for-all” system. (The Democrat tried to distinguish her support for “universal coverage” from “universal health care,” which her Republican opponent, former state senator Debbie Lesko, dismissed as political “semantics.”)

On immigration, Pelosi has criticized the president’s proposal for a border wall as “immoral” and said in April 2017 that “building a wall is not an answer.” Tipirieni echoed those comments during a March 2018 interview on 3TV, during which she said that “the wall is not the answer.”

Outside groups tied to the Democratic Party have for the most part abandoned Tipirneni’s candidacy. It was reported last week in the Arizona Capitol Times that the party has left the Democrat “to fend for herself” in the conservative district at a crucial time before Election Day.