Kyrsten Sinema quietly unloads another $33,000+ in tainted money

PHOENIX — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema quietly unloaded more than $33,000 in tainted campaign contributions, marking the second time in one year that she has done so.

Sinema is running for her party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jeff Flake next year.

The incumbent congresswoman’s campaign quietly got rid of $33,800 from a Democratic donor whom the Arizona Republic reports “has come under scrutiny after a male escort died of a drug overdose at his California home last year.”

“The latest problem involves the death of Gemmel Moore, a 26-year-old homeless man whom the Los Angeles Times described as a male escort who overdosed in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment in July,” according to the newspaper. “In August, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department opened an investigation into the matter after Moore’s mother and friends raised doubts about whether the drug was self-administered …”

Sinema unloaded the $33,800 in two increments. The first disbursement ($18,800) appears in her campaign committee’s most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, and the second disbursement ($15,000) appears in her leadership PAC’s most recent filing with the agency.

The Democratic candidate came under fire in 2017 for accepting tens of thousands of dollars from individual affiliated with the controversial website Backpage, which was investigated by a U.S. Senate committee regarding the facilitation of sex trafficking.

Sinema was found to be “the biggest individual beneficiary of their donations in Arizona” and subsequently donated the money to charity — but not before one charity returned the money after discovering the original source.

Sinema will face Deedra Abboud — who is under pressure for refusing to correct a “completely untrue” claim promoted by her campaign — in August 2018.

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Poll: Arizona Democrats out-of-touch with voters on tax reform

PHOENIX — All four Democratic members of Arizona’s congressional delegation opposed the tax reform package signed into law by President Donald Trump, but, according to a new poll conducted for the New York Times, that’s not in line with how the American people see it.

The poll, released on Monday, was conducted by SurveyMonkey for the New York Times. It found that the 2017 tax reform legislation increased in popularity after it went into effect, with 51 percent of Americans now supportive compared to only 46 percent last month.

Support for the legislation “has grown even among Democrats,” the newspaper reported. SurveyMonkey’s chief research officer added, “Public opinion is moving in the direction of this bill . . . Considering where it was, it is dramatically different.”

In December 2017, Democratic U.S. Representatives Tom O’Halleran, Raul Grijalva, Ruben Gallego, and Kyrsten Sinema all voted against the legislation.

Grijalva, one of the congressional delegation’s most liberal members, was hand-picked by House Minority Leader Nancy to serve on the conference committee tasked with fusing the U.S. House and U.S. Senate versions of the tax reform package. He called both versions “a national disgrace.”

Gallego, who last week slammed President Trump as a “psychopath,” used similar language, calling the legislation “one of the biggest heists in American history.”

Sinema and O’Halleran issued more measured statements, both claiming that the tax package would not help middle-class families.

However, families across the country already have begun to benefit from the legislation in the form of tax relief and pay increases. The president of an aerospace company based in Tucson confirmed in an interview with the National Association of Manufacturers that the tax reform package will empower the business “to invest in more equipment and hire more people.”

Arizona Public Service (APS) announced in January that the utility will be passing along the benefits of tax reform to its customers across the state by seeking a $119 million rate decrease. Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson is supporting such efforts. Tucson Electric Power also announced in February that the southern Arizona utility is looking at ways to do the same.

A version of this article appears at The Farley Report.

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Arizona Democrats face uphill battle in 2018

PHOENIX — Only a few months ago, Democrats across the United States looked at the national landscape and felt a twinge of optimism.

The unexpected victory of President Donald Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a blight on the party’s organizing efforts in 2016. Her loss drained the confidence of the Democratic Party’s biggest financial contributors, led to a messy leadership overhaul within the Democratic National Committee, and raised several questions internally, and often publicly, about the ideological direction that the party should take in order to get back on its feet.

It also presented an opportunity.

The Democratic Party — long expecting to enter the 2018 midterm elections as the underdog, defending a number of U.S. Senate seats while governing under an unpopular President Hillary Clinton — suddenly enjoyed the advantage of a deeply polarizing Republican figure in the White House.

For the Arizona Democratic Party, regionally-felt issues like the administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could be used mobilize thousands of Hispanic voters in the southwest, with the aim of turning a traditionally red state blue. U.S. Senator Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) decision in October 2017 that he would not seek reelection fanned the flames of that momentum.

Three months after Senator Flake’s announcement, though, that momentum is nowhere to be found.

The three officials expected to be at the top of the ticket in Arizona — Governor Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Michele Reagan, and Attorney General Mark Brnovich — have significant cash advantages over their prospective Democratic opponents. None face Republican primary challengers, either, virtually guaranteeing that the three officials will enter the general election unscathed and with plenty of money to spend.

U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), currently running for U.S. Senate, was expected to face former State Senator Kelli Ward after Senator Flake dropped out. Many operatives have aimed to portray Ward as a weak general-election candidate whose presence would convince Democratic donors to invest in the race, in turn buoying down-ballot candidates. However, it is increasingly clear that the Democrat will be facing a stronger opponent: U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), an Air Force veteran and one of the Republican Party’s strongest fundraisers who has represented a swing-district in southern Arizona since 2015.

Representative McSally announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in January 2018.

Representative Sinema’s candidacy, meanwhile, has been under a dark cloud since it was revealed last year that she accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from individuals affiliated with the controversial website Backpage, which in March 2016 was held in contempt by the chamber to which she is seeking election. (She donated the contributions after media reports surfaced.)

Additionally, President Trump’s first year in office has not been the effective voter-registration tool that the Democratic Party assumed it would be. According to data released by the Secretary of State’s office, the percentage of Republican voters in the state has actually increased since the 2016 election while percentage of Democratic voters has fallen, expanding an existing gap that already gave Republicans an advantage.

In what may have been an otherwise politically tumultuous year for Republicans, their success in passing a decades-in-waiting tax reform package, repealing the individual mandate, opening new land to energy exploration, and confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court is certain to boost the energy of Republican voters and the confidence of the party’s most generous contributors — leaving Democrats heading into the midterm elections exactly where they were before Election Day 2016.

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