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.


Exclusive: State Senator Juan Mendez’s plagiarism went on for 5 years

PHOENIX — For five full years, if not longer, Democratic State Senator Juan Mendez repeatedly plagiarized his floor speeches, committee speeches, and online commentary in his capacity as an elected official, Arizona Democrats Exposed can now reveal for the first time.

Last Tuesday, this website reported that Mendez, while serving as a state representative for Arizona’s 26th legislative district, plagiarized a significant portion of a candidate questionnaire in 2016 while campaigning for his current position in the state senate. The candidate copied and pasted blocks of text from already-published sources, ranging from Planned Parenthood to media outlets across the state, and claimed them as his own words.

This website then reported on Thursday that Mendez additionally plagiarized several paragraphs of a committee speech that he delivered in opposition to Arizona’s “right to try” health care legislation. The Democratic lawmaker, whose district includes the academic institutions of Tempe, told his colleagues that he had “consulted experts” before arriving at his ‘no’ vote.

In reality, he did not. His speech, along with the name of the “expert” whom he allegedly consulted, was derived in part from a conspiracy theory website — which once implied that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax — and in part from an Internet post published by a Wikipedia user named “WhatamIdoing” in 2008.

Today, Arizona Democrats Exposed can reveal exclusively that Mendez’s plagiarism did not start during that committee hearing in 2014, nor did it end with his candidate questionnaire in 2016.

According to transcripts and videos of several years’ worth of committee hearings and speeches on the floor of the Arizona state legislature, Mendez repeatedly plagiarized already-published sources — claiming them as his own before colleagues — from at least early 2014 through 2018, the current legislative session.

In February 2014, Mendez attended a hearing of the House Reform and Human Services Committee regarding House Bill 2234.

“I would hate for staff to take responsibility for my typos and bad grammar,” Mendez told members of the committee in his opening line. “These are my explanations.”

What followed was praise from the state representative about the Medicaid expansion signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in 2013. He touted the “end to lifetime and yearly dollar limits on coverage of essential health benefits” and said that it was “now illegal for health insurance companies to arbitrarily cancel your health insurance just because you get sick.”

Those words — along with others from his committee speech — were pulled without attribution from an archived page on the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid website promoting the Affordable Care Act. The website highlighted that the law “ends lifetime and yearly dollar limits on coverage of essential health benefits” and makes it “illegal for health insurance companies to arbitrarily cancel your health insurance just because you get sick.”

Mendez merely re-ordered the bullet points to give the speech the false appearance of originality.

That same month, this time on the House floor, Mendez spoke about his opposition to House Bill 2153.

“This bill allows individuals and businesses in our state to discriminate against people they do not agree with in the name of the religious freedom, resulting in increased vulnerabilities for non-believers, the LGBTQ community, and others on the targeted list of religionists,” Mendez said into the microphone.

A group called the Secular Coalition for Arizona published the same words — one year earlier. About a different bill.

The bill “expands the ability of individuals in our state to discriminate against people they don’t agree with in the name of religious belief–resulting in increased vulnerability for nonbelievers, the LGBT community, and others on the target list of religionists,” the website wrote in 2013.

Much like in the Democratic lawmaker’s candidate questionnaire and other speeches, Mendez subtly altered words and phrases, perhaps as a way of evading detection by plagiarism-checking services. In the example above, Mendez simply added the phrase “and businesses” after “individuals,” broke up the compound word “don’t” into “do not,” and turned the singular word “vulnerability” into the plural form.

About 180 words from this committee speech, in addition to the quotation above, were pulled nearly verbatim from the group’s website. Somewhere in the middle of those excerpts, Mendez added two sentences that do not appear on the website.

“This legislation will grant for-profit corporations with a powerful affirmative defense to not have to acknowledge any state law which the corporation deems religiously offensive,” the lawmaker said. “In an effort to allow economic power to dictate the free exercise of religion, Chik-fil-A and Hobby Lobby were just the most brazen before this law.”

However, while those two sentences don’t appear on the aforementioned website, they do appear in a letter written by the Anti-Defamation League weeks earlier. The letter criticized the legislation for providing companies “a powerful affirmative defense to the enforcement of any state law” (“enforcement,” compared to Mendez’s “acknowledgement”) and said that it could have the unintended consequence of “allowing economic power to dictate the free exercise of religion.”

Mendez merely tacked on his own commentary at the end of the sentence about Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby.

That same month, Mendez spoke at another committee hearing regarding House Bill 2367.

“Health care must be respected as a public good for all, financed publicly and equitably,” Mendez told members of the committee, adding that health care “must be accessible, available, acceptable, and of good quality for everyone on an equitable basis where and when needed.”

That, too, was published by a group called the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative in 2013, the year before this hearing took place. Mendez substituted “respected” in place of the group’s original word, “provided.” And not only did Mendez plagiarize the group’s website for his committee speech, he recycled the committee speech itself during the next legislative session, using it again — including the plagiarized portions — while reviewing a different bill one year later.

“Health care in Arizona must be respected as a public good for all, financed publicly and equitably,” Mendez repeated in 2015, adding that health care services “must be accessible, available, acceptable, and of good quality for everyone on an equitable basis where and when they need it, not just for five years.”

This time, Mendez made more minor alternations: He added the phrase “in Arizona” to the beginning of the sentence, changed “when needed” to “when they need it,” and tacked five words of his own commentary onto the end. The following 80 or so words also are recycled from that 2014 committee speech.

This wasn’t the only instance that Mendez plagiarized in 2015, either.

In March of that year, Mendez delivered a floor speech about Senate Bill 1047, which increased confidentiality protections for individuals who win the lottery.

“I will be supporting this bill, but I would like to come out and share with everybody that I believe lotteries are the single most insidious way that our state government raises money,” Mendez said on the Senate floor. “Many of the people who buy lottery tickets are not financially well-off, and the odds against winning a big jackpot are astronomically poor, far worse than the odds of a Vegas slot machine. All of this makes the get-rich-quick marketing by our government mean and offensive.”

Again, this text was plagiarized almost word-for-word from a column published by Joe Nocera, a writer at the New York Times, in 2012.

Nocera referred to “state governments,” while Mendez changed it to “our state government.” Nocera characterized the odds against winning the lottery as “astronomical,” while Mendez changed it “astronomically poor.” Nocera compared the odds to “an Atlantic City slot machine,” while Mendez changed it to “a Vegas slot machine.”

Mendez’s stolen paragraphs would not have been detected by most plagiarism-checking services because of his decision to intentionally manipulate portions of the text.

The behavior did not stop after the lawmaker plagiarized his candidate questionnaire in 2016.

In April 2017, as state legislators debated expanding school choice through Arizona’s empowerment scholarship account program, Mendez voiced his opposition to the legislation — ultimately signed by Governor Doug Ducey — on the Senate floor.

“ESAs allow students to re-arrange themselves within, across, and entirely outside districts in ways that courts would never have allowed a district to do so,” Mendez said.

An op-ed that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star two years earlier made a very similar criticism: Families are “re-arranging themselves within, across and entirely outside districts in ways that some government agency or the court never would have permitted of TUSD,” the original author wrote in August 2015.

In Mendez’s plagiarized version, the phrase “some government agency or the court” was condensed into “courts,” and the word “permitted” changed to “allowed.”

Other portions of his floor speech were stolen from a Web page published by the Children’s Action Alliance in 2016, an article written by reporters at the Arizona Republic, also in 2016, and an archived version of a blog post published on a website called Bringing Up Arizona in July 2015.

According to that July 2015 article, “When it comes to education, ‘white flight’ no longer requires a moving van.” Mendez echoed that: “[R]ight now with the ESAs it’s pretty easy see you don’t even need a moving van for our evolved version of white flight,” he quipped.

In his May 2017 floor speech regarding Senate Bill 1525, Mendez also appears to have copied an article published by the Arizona Sonora News Service in February 2016. That article was written by a student journalist who, at the time, attended the University of Arizona.

Mendez has worked as a substitute teacher on the side.

The plagiarism also was not contained to the state legislature. This website identified instances online in which Mendez plagiarized online commentary in his capacity as an elected official.

The state representative recycled his May 2014 committee speech — which itself was plagiarized from a conspiracy theory website, as detailed above — in a series of posts on Reddit. Mendez told users that he was “working off my phone without much at service” but managed again to plagiarize from the aforementioned website and Wikipedia, both published in 2008.

In his online answer, Mendez plagiarized from a third source.

“Most cancer patients are deemed ineligible for drug trials beyond phase I testing because drug corps are looking for the healthiest patients at the earliest point in their disease to give the highest probability of a positive outcome in order to fulfill regulatory requirements.”

This text appeared in a BBC News article published seven years earlier.

“He points out that most cancer patients are deemed ineligible for drug trials beyond phase I testing – these tend to enlist the healthiest patients at the earliest point in their disease to give the highest probability of a positive outcome to fulfil regulatory requirements,” the London-based news outlet wrote in September 2007.

Mendez copied-and-pasted portions of an additional Reddit post in October 2014 inviting users to a movie screening hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona at the office of Congressman Ruben Gallego. More than half of his post was plagiarized from two separate pages on the website of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

This pattern of repeated plagiarism, which has not been reported until now on Arizona Democrats Exposed, went on in at least five of the six years during which Mendez has served in the state legislature.

It is possible that more examples of plagiarism occurred throughout these years but have not yet been found.

“It only takes 300 Republican signatures to run against me in the general and nobody even tried anything this election,” Mendez bragged in one of those Reddit posts. “I don’t think there will be that big of a line to run against me in 2018.”

You can view the substantiating research at Arizona Democrats Exposed.


Dems run from Juan Mendez, who quietly admits to plagiarism

PHOENIX — Democratic elected officials and campaign groups are keeping themselves at arm’s length from State Senator Juan Mendez this week after their colleague publicly admitted to plagiarism.

The admission came after two articles on this website revealed that the state senator had plagiarized a 2014 committee speech while in the Arizona House of Representatives and a 2016 candidate questionnaire while running for the Arizona Senate.

The Arizona Republic independently compared Mendez’s questionnaire answers and committee speech to the third-party sources. When the newspaper tried to contact him (repeatedly) for comment, Mendez refused to answer. Other Democrats did the same.

“Mendez did not respond to multiple messages left on his cellphone,” the Arizona Republic reported. “Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs, who leads the chamber’s Democratic caucus, declined to comment on the accusations against Mendez. The state Democratic Party also declined to comment.”

Mendez eventually was pressured to respond, which he quietly did on Twitter — but not before putting a figurative asterisk on the apology by claiming that he was “in a rush” at the time.

“Anything I’ve said truly represents my viewpoints,” he wrote. “However, I will put forth a greater effort to put ideas I support into my own words. While I am often in a rush, that is no excuse to not properly cite my sources. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in due diligence & judgement.”

You can view substantiating research for the respective articles here and here.


Democrat groups abandon Hiral Tipirneni in CD-08

PHOENIX — Groups affiliated with the Democratic Party have largely abandoned Hiral Tipirneni’s uphill congressional bid, the most recent indication that the party no longer believes it can win Arizona’s conservative eighth district.

Tipirneni, long seen as an underdog in the race against Republican former state senator Debbie Lesko, has suffered from several missteps in recent weeks. The Democrat hosted a campaign event in the wrong district in mid-March and, during a subsequent televised candidate debate, dismissed the pay increases benefiting American workers as a result of tax reform.

Tipirneni’s claim that $1,200 bonuses are “not going to cover anything” was widely ridiculed by Republicans, who called the wealthy Democrat out-of-touch and compared the response to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s “crumbs” gaffe from a few months earlier.

Now, the Democratic Party seems to have noticed — and its willingness to entertain such a candidacy appears to have waned.

In recent weeks, groups affiliated with the party “have left [Tipirneni] to fend for herself,” according to a new article in the Arizona Capitol Times. “All the while, there has been nothing but crickets from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — or at least from its pockets,” the article continued.

The Democratic Party’s decision to step away from the congressional race echoes comments made by Laurie Roberts, a liberal columnist at the Arizona Republic, who called the state party’s chairwoman “delusional” for trying to convince people of the “pipedream” that Democrats could win.

Tipirneni painted herself as a moderate Democrat throughout the general election but was criticized for her liberal position on immigration — she said that a border wall is “not the answer” — and support for a “universal coverage” health care system.

“How are you going to pay for this?” Lesko asked at a recent debate, referring to Tipirneni’s position on health care. “You can’t just say, you know, ‘Oh, I want to give free things to everybody’ and not have a way to pay for it.’”