Between July 23 and July 30, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in Arizona announced that they had arrested five previously-convicted sex offenders, all attempting to reenter the United States illegally.
Of those arrests, four of the attempted border-crossers had previously been convicted of sex crimes involving children.
Governors in wildfire country had a message for President Joe Biden and Congress on Friday: it’s time for the federal government to step in and manage its forests because their state resources are running on empty.
In 2021, 83 large fires have burned more than 1.7 million acres in 13 states, the National Interagency Fire Center reports. Some 547,000 acres have been lost to fires in Oregon, where the state’s Bootleg Fire has swelled to 413,000 acres and has become the nation’s largest fire. While some 22,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel beat back the flames nationwide, states governments are calling on Biden to help them rewrite the nation’s firefighting playbook.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said as much to Biden on Friday at a virtual news briefing. More specifically, Newsom took aim at the U.S. Forest Service response to the Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe that grew to 625 acres before creeping into Nevada over little more than a three-week span this month.
The siblings of U.S. Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) slammed their brother in a recent opinion piece for his behavior, claiming their brother “betrayed America.”
“Although his colleagues in Congress and others in the media seem to only recently be paying attention, we have been aware of his unhinged behavior for years,” the trio of Gosar siblings wrote in their piece published by NBC Think on Sunday.
Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Wednesday that Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Director, is leaving her position on August 27 to become chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
“When Cara Christ became a doctor, she did it to help others and save lives. That’s exactly what she’s done,” Ducey said in a news release. “She dedicated countless hours to protecting millions of Arizonans from the COVID-19 pandemic — and she’s done it with grace, stability and confidence.”
The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona released its 2021 scorecard rating Arizona legislators this session, with just two legislators receiving perfect scores — and one of them actually scored 102 due to bonus points. Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) received an extra two points for his efforts on SCR 1001, a Senate Concurrent Resolution to terminate Governor Doug Ducey’s declaration of emergency on COVID-19. The resolution was highly critical of Ducey, observing that “Governor Ducey has subjected individual citizens to criminal sanctions for noncompliance with the stay-at-home orders.” It did not make it through the legislature.
Rep. Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), who is running for Arizona Secretary of State, was the only representative to receive a perfect 100. Rep. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) received the Rookie of the Year award as the highest scoring freshman legislator, with 94. Petersen, Bolick and Parker were among seven legislators to receive perfect scores earlier this month from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club for their voting.
Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) issued a mask mandate on Friday, in violation of state law. The mandate was issued three days before the district began its fall semester.
“We teach and trust science, follow guidelines and recommendations from health experts, and use health data to drive our decisions. The science is clear that the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 and known variants is to get vaccinated,” announced PXU. “In an effort to protect our staff, students, and community, PXU has a good faith belief that the following guidance from the CDC and other health agencies regarding mitigation strategies is imperative. Therefore, Phoenix Union will begin the school year on August 2 enforcing our existing Board-adopted mask requirement of universal indoor masking only, regardless of vaccination status.”
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Thursday joined 11 other Republican governors and filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to ask the court to overturn Roe v. Wade — which created a federal ban on preventing abortions.
“Every single life has immeasurable value. That includes children who are preborn — and I believe it’s each state’s responsibility to protect them. It is time for the U.S. Supreme Court to fix their mistake and return this authority to the individual states as the democratic process intends,” Governor Ducey said in a statement.
Both Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich joined separate amicus curiae briefs with other governors and attorneys general in an abortion case out of Missouri that would gut Roe v. Wade by banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Ducey joined 11 other governors led by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to demand that the Supreme Court uphold the state law and undo Roe v. Wade. Brnovich signed on with 23 other attorneys general led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to ask that the court overrule Roe v. Wade because it is “erroneous, inconsistent, uneven, and unreliable.”
Ducey said in a statement, “The Constitution preserves the rights of the states by specifically enumerating the authority granted to the federal government. Unfortunately, almost 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to ignore the Constitution and created policy which has led to the over-politicization of this issue for decades.”
The former Secretary of State serving as the liaison for the Arizona State Senate Audit, Ken Bennett, will remain in his capacity as liaison after all. This is the second time that Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) has apparently walked Bennett back from the brink of walking away from the audit. Their latest agreement to keep Bennett on was less publicized than the first; no official statements have been put forth concerning the new terms of Bennett’s role. Per their agreement, Bennett will regain access to the building and may obtain information from the auditing company, Cyber Ninjas, upon request.
As The Arizona Sun Times reported on Thursday, Bennett has gone back and forth over his decision to bow out of the audit. Bennett relayed those sentiments twice this week: once on Monday, then again on Wednesday. Both times, Bennett discussed stepping down from his role with the radio host James Harris on morning episodes of The Conservative Circus. Both times, Bennett said he was liaison “in name only” because he was repeatedly excluded from overseeing critical aspects of the audit.
The cities of Phoenix, Tucson, Peoria, Tempe, and Flagstaff have all announced reinstatement of their mask mandates following the updated CDC guidance. The mayors of these cities directed their officials to mandate masks in city facilities regardless of vaccination status. Tempe and Tucson’s mandate went into effect on Wednesday, Peoria’s mandate on Thursday, and Flagstaff’s mandate on Friday. Phoenix’s mandate will go into effect on Monday.
As The Arizona Sun Times reported, the CDC recommended on Tuesday that everyone – even fully-vaccinated individuals – wear masks inside public spaces where high transmission rates exist. The CDC claimed that this reversed guidance was influenced by the surge of Delta variant cases. The CDC mentioned that certain data necessitated this change, but hasn’t published it.
On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate’s audit liaison Ken Bennett announced he will step down from the audit. Bennett issued the announcement on Wednesday morning in a radio interview.
Bennett said it was “impossible” to function as liaison, and revealed that volunteer consultant Randy Pullen would be assuming his duties. He said he would be a liaison in name only. Bennett refused to approve any final report on the audit, since he wasn’t allowed inside any longer.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) joined U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to co-sponsor legislation that indirectly funds local media. The Local Journalism Sustainability Act establishes tax credits that give consumers a huge deduction on media subscriptions, subsidizes journalists’ salaries, and funds news outlets by paying for businesses to advertise.
Twitter permanently suspended several accounts dedicated to documenting the Arizona audit. The social media giant also permanently suspended other similar or affiliated accounts covering the audit or calls for an audit in Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
The suspended accounts were: @arizonaaudit, @AuditWarRoom, @AuditMichigan, @AuditWisconsin, @AuditNevada, @AuditGeorgia, @Audit_Arizona and @Audit_PA. The latter 7 accounts are associated with an Instagram account, @auditwarroom, that hasn’t been suspended from the Facebook-owned platform. That account notified the public that it joined GETTR, a social media platform created by former President Donald Trump’s aide Jason Miller.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Tuesday slammed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for recently “updating” its guidelines on masks.
Earlier this week, the agency changed their policy to recommend that some vaccinated individuals resume wearing masks in certain situations. Additionally, the group suggested that all K-12 students continue to wear masks when returning to the classroom this fall.
Pima County Recorder Gabriella Cázares-Kelly claimed Monday that white supremacy caused fear of Indian reservations and Tucson’s Southside area – not the high crime rates.
One way that white Supremacy impacts organizations is when the [people] in charge are scared of certain locations [because] the residents don’t look like them and/or their communities are structured differently. ‘It’s not safe to go on the Southside.’ ‘The reservation is kinda scary.’ A decision is made at the top because of an individual’s comfort level and the priorities to engage or not engage with that community stop before any attempt can ever be made. ‘We’ll, [sic] they don’t even vote.’ Those sentiments are transferred to staff and opinion can become a practice or policy. ‘We don’t do outreach in this region because it’s not considered safe.’ ‘We require two staff members to travel there and we can’t spare anyone right now.’ ‘We don’t usually do outreach there.’ The fear of engaging in certain areas populated by Black, Indigenous, People of Color is then justified by the concept that those regions are dangerous or unsafe. The white Supremacy is believing that communities must look a certain way before they can be engaged.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club filed a lawsuit recently against Invest in Arizona over the organization’s attempt to get three referendums on the Arizona ballot that would reverse Arizona’s recently passed tax cuts. The lawsuit contends that since the tax cuts “provide for, and directly relate to, the generation of revenues that are remitted to the general fund and appropriated to various agencies, departments and instrumentalities of the state government,” they cannot be the subject of a referendum and are unconstitutional.
AFEC President Scot Mussi, who is one of the plaintiffs, said, “All three bills directly provide for the support and maintenance of the state, were key aspects of the state’s budget, and therefore are not referable by Invest in Arizona.”
Reverend Jesse Jackson and 38 others were arrested during a protest of Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) stance on the filibuster rule outside of her Phoenix office on Monday.
The arrested protestors were charged with trespassing, according to Phoenix Police Public Information Officer Mercedes Fortune. The protestors were voicing opposition to Sinema’s lack of support for the proposed filibuster reform. Without reform or abolition of the 60-vote filibuster rule, Senate Democrats can’t pass massive election reform in the For the People Act.
The CDC awarded the University of Arizona (UA) $15 million to study COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness and immunity in children and underserved communities. Children as young as 4 months to minors as old as 17 years will be eligible for study of the emergency use authorization vaccine. The announcement didn’t specify who qualified as an “underserved community.” The grant was awarded specifically to the Arizona Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Other Essential Workers Surveillance (AZ HEROES) study, originally designed with a focus on frontline workers such as firefighters.
AZ Heroes lead official and associate dean for research and professor at Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, Jeff Burgess, asserted that this research would offer a better understanding of how effective COVID-19 vaccines are in youth.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich responded to the Biden Administration’s interest in potentially reviving a pre-K and K-12 discipline policy based on race. The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a request for information early last month, asking the public to submit written comment on the state of discipline in pre-K and K-12 schools. In the accompanying press release, ED alluded that it would form policy to reduce the number of certain demographics being disciplined at higher rates, specifically citing Black and disabled students. Public commentary for ED’s request for information closed last Friday.
In response, Brnovich organized a coalition of 15 other attorney generals to submit a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona opposing any discipline policy based on race. Brnovich asserted that a policy similar to the Obama-era discipline policy would be illegal. In 2014, the Obama Administration imposed a policy requiring schools to include disparate impact requirements within their disciplinary guidelines, referred to as the “2014 Dear Colleague Letter.” Brnovich recounted the history and cited several stories detailing failures of the policy, like students receiving no discipline for assaulting teachers.
A federal court dismissed a lawsuit filed by former State Representative Donald Shooter claiming that his expulsion from the legislature due to sexual harassment allegations was conspired. Circuit Court Judge Daniel Collins issued the ruling last Thursday in the case, Donald Shooter v. State of Arizona, et al.
Shooter alleged that former speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and current state senator, J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), and Governor Doug Ducey’s former chief of staff, Kirk Adams, orchestrated his expulsion from the legislature. He claimed that he was targeted while serving as the Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman after he attempted to investigate further the possibility that the state was engaging in no-bid contracts for technology purchases. Due to this, Shooter asserted that he was deprived of equal opportunity and due process. Collins dismissed the case for a failure to state a claim: the judge found no plausible inference of sex discrimination, and opined that no due process claim could be present because Mesnard and Adams were entitled to qualified immunity.
PHOENIX, Arizona – The Star News Network Wire Service – The energy of the thousands of attendees of former President Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday, hosted by Turning Point Action at the Phoenix Federal Theater, carried over to the constant stream of Republican politicians who appeared over the more than three hours of the event prior to the the former president taking the stage.
Trump took advantage of the “Protect Our Elections” theme to detail many of the November 2020 election irregularities in Arizona and other states, as well as to thank the “brave and unyielding warriors in the Arizona State Senate,” who initiated the forensic audit in Maricopa County.
PHOENIX, Arizona – The Star News Network Wire Service – Former President Trump took the stage to thunderous applause at his rally in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday, where he highlighted efforts across the country he said are needed to ensure the integrity of elections.
“Thank you to Charlie [Kirk] for that introduction which was so beautiful, and for your fearless leadership at Turning Point Action and Turning Point USA,” Trump told the crowd as he began his speech at 3:55 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.
“Let me also express my appreciation to the thousands of bold, young, and proud American Patriots that are with us today. What a crowd, what a crowd … You are the pulse of our movement, you are the ones who will make America Great Again,” the 45th President of the United States added.
After an investigation by the Arizona Auditor General into alleged financial mismanagement at Higley Unified School District in Gilbert, a grand jury indicted four people for fraud. Dr. Denise Birdwell, a former superintendent of both Higley and Scottsdale Unified School Districts, was indicted on 18 felony counts related to reportedly misusing $6 million of public monies, including conspiring to get around school district rules in order to make sure Higley’s $2,557,125 contract went to a certain vendor. Birdwell’s domestic partner, Hartwell Hunnicutt, and two men from the vendor, Gary Aller and Steven Nielsen, were indicted on related felonies.
State Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), who served on the Higley school board from 2013-2015 while much of this took place under Birdwell, said he was attacked and stonewalled by district administrators as he and another board member fought to get to the bottom of serious concerns and suspicions that many people had at the time.
Despite fears that COVID-19 cases are surging in Arizona due to the state’s low vaccination rate and the emergence of the delta variant, new cases barely exceed 1,000 per day. The most recent data from Worldometer, which is cited by reputable organizations and governments around the world, shows the number of new daily cases was 1,043 on July 21. The number of new cases has stayed generally between 500 and 1,000 since the beginning of March.
The Tucson City Clerk approved the signatures for a petition to adopt a $15 minimum wage citywide, meaning it will be placed on this November’s ballot. If approved by voters, the minimum wage would increase incrementally for the next four years, starting in April of next year. The minimum wage would first increase to $13 next year, $13.50 by January 2023, and $14.25 by January 2024. That means the $15 minimum wage would be established in January 2025.
The city clerk’s office verified with The Arizona Sun Times that they certified the petition on Thursday, called “The Tucson Minimum Wage Act.” The petition needed over 14,800 signatures; the campaign reportedly gathered over 25,000 signatures. The campaign, Tucson Fight for $15, submitted the signatures at the beginning of this month.
State Senator Paul Boyer (R-Glendale) won’t hold Maricopa County election officials in contempt for noncompliance with the Senate’s subpoena for election equipment and materials needed to complete the audit. This was revealed by Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) after Senate Liaison Ken Bennett shared that one of sixteen Republican senators wouldn’t hold the county accountable.
The auditing company, Cyber Ninjas, explained in a hearing last week that they still lack the splunk logs, chain of custody documents, portable media and external drives, router configuration files or data, network diagram, backups of election management data, digital copies of all election policies and procedures utilized, files transmitted for duplicating or spoiling ballots, records of all paper distributed to vote centers, information and guidelines on adjudication of ballots, total count of all ballots sent to eligible voters on the state’s voter information portal (UOCAVA), and a full backup copy of database of voter rolls.
Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake) is running for Congress in Arizona’s first Congressional district. The seat, which encompasses much of the northeast part of the state, is currently held by Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican turned moderate Democrat.
“We need to get back to the rule of law of Arizona to protect its people,” the Arizona legislator said in a video discussing his run on July 18.
Arizona State University (ASU) announced Wednesday that its latest hire is a Critical Race Theory scholar. ASU said that the new assistant professor of music learning and teaching, Dr. Joyce McCall, focuses her research on Critical Race Theory and other related disciplines.
“McCall is one of the few scholars whose music education research focuses on race and racism through critical race theory and double consciousness theory, as well as culturally relevant pedagogy,” reported ASU.
The Goldwater Institute is challenging an Arizona Court of Appeals ruling that shooting ranges qualify as “places of amusement,” subjecting them to higher tax rates.
The court ruled in April that shooting ranges are “comparable” to “amusement parks.” The Goldwater Institute filed a friend of the court brief last week, arguing that shooting ranges are not circuses but places where people can go to learn a new skill and practice self-defense.
Kelly Dixon, assistant director for the Maricopa County Election Department’s recruitment and training division, who admitted she knew there were “issues and concerns” with voters marking ballots with Sharpies, donated to Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ). She earmarked a $100 contribution to him through a donation she gave to the Democratic campaign fundraising organization ActBlue, Headline USA reported on Monday.
Maricopa County voters complained about poll workers handing them Sharpies on election day that bled through the ballots. Dixon knew ahead of election day that using sharpies to mark a ballot was an issue. In an email dated October 22, she wrote “Starting tomorrow, 10/23, and through 11/2, we are asking the Clerks hand voters BALLPOINT PENS rather than markers.” However, she then said “We NEED to use markers on Election Day.” She did not explain why. Republicans voted on election day in huge numbers last year, driven by fears of voter fraud. A Gallup survey found that 62% of Democrats said they would vote early last fall, compared to only 28% of Republicans.
A recent poll conducted on the Arizona election audit demonstrated high levels of support from Republican voters and that almost half of the state’s residents believe the ballot examination is important.
The Arizona Public Opinion Pulse poll showed that the majority of Republican voters view the audit favorably, and 62% believe that the results of the audit will show that former president Donald Trump received more votes in Arizona than President Joe Biden.
Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is calling for “the most partisan Secretary of State in the history of Arizona,” Democrat Katie Hobbs, to recuse herself from overseeing the governor’s race. Hobbs is also running for governor. Lake cited Hobbs’ behavior during the 2020 election and aftermath, her “history of irrational bias and disdain toward Republicans in addition to what election investigators have reported to the public about serious issues affecting tens-of-thousands of ballots and voters.” She said, “Arizona voters have lost confidence in Katie Hobbs to run another election.”
Lake is concerned that Hobbs will not conduct the election fairly for Republicans like herself in the race. She asked other candidates to join her demand. She cited a tweet from Hobbs in 2017, where Hobbs said, “[email protected] has made it abundantly clear he’s more interested in pandering to his neo-nazi base than being @POTUS for all Americans.” Hobbs did not delete the tweet.
Gov. Doug Ducey is investing $101.1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Visit Arizona Initiative to increase tourism spending in Arizona and expedite its economic recovery.
“Tourism is essential for Arizona’s booming economy and job growth,” Ducey said in a release.
He said that when tourists stay at Arizona hotels, eat at restaurants, buy Arizona products, and partake in the state’s recreational activities, Arizona’s economy booms.
Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data revealed that the nation hit a record high for job openings in April of 2021, yet employers around America are not receiving enough job applications to fill their available positions.
Though the Bureau of Labor counted 9.3 million job openings in June, the unemployment rate remains at 5.8%, notwithstanding the millions of Americans not seeking employment.
Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency, suggested in a press release that stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and recent tax refunds are deterring job applications as those on the hunt for employment have the option to hold out for jobs which meet their demands and goals.
The Phoenix Suns Arena will now be known as the “Footprint Center,” named after their new partner: local material science and environmentalist company, Footprint. This partnership will reportedly advance environmentalist initiatives concerning plastics. The company’s main initiative is eliminating single-use plastics entirely.
Included in the partnership are the valley’s professional men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, as well as the professional men’s soccer team, Real Mallorca.
The Arizona Free Enterprise Club completed its rankings of how Arizona legislators performed during the 2021 legislative session, and one Senator and six House members scored a perfect 100%. AFEC ranked them based on election integrity, income tax policy, “regulatory relief and ongoing government overreach from the covid-19 pandemic, banning critical race theory in our taxpayer-funded institutions and school choice.”
The seven legislators with a perfect score are Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and Reps. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa), Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert).
During the Arizona Senate hearing on the election audit in Maricopa County Thursday morning, audit officials reported discovery of issues such as ballot duplicates and surpluses, voter roll data, and machine security. The audit officials testifying were Senate Liaison Ken Bennett, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, and digital security firm CyFIR founder Ben Cotton. Cyber Ninjas is conducting the audit.
The Arizona Sun Times checked the Arizona legislature website at 8 am MST. The website was down. All that was displayed was an error message that said service was unavailable. The website remained that way until sometime after the Senate hearing began.
An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.”
Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.
The audit of Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 election ordered by the Arizona Legislature finished last month, and State Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) said Tuesday the ballot totals don’t match the county’s official results. She told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show, “They haven’t released a number yet, if you will, however we do know that those numbers do not match with Maricopa County at this point.”
When asked about the degree of the discrepancy in the audit versus the official county tallies, Fann said, “I do not know. They have not told me the number;” adding that the auditors are “finishing up.”
Mesa Public Schools (MPS) updated their dress code policy to make it more equitable and prohibit “hate speech.” Nowhere in their current policies does MPS define “hate speech.”
As reported by The Arizona Sun Times last month, MPS General Counsel Kacey Gregson said that students would have a right to express their political beliefs unless it could be perceived as “hate speech,” promoting violence, or immediately or potentially causing substantial interference with the learning environment.