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January 23, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Corporate Financial Disclosure

  |   Video
  • A discussion about HB 2385, a bill introduced in the Arizona State House of Representatives, that is designed to strengthen corporate financial disclosure requirements, making it easier for the public to know the source of political ads.
  • Tom Horne - Arizona Attorney General
  • Nick Dranias - Goldwater Institute
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: political ads, HB 2385, corporate campaign supports,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: When the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Citizens United case it opened the doors for businesses and unions to spend money to oppose or support political candidates. Some are worried that such power could be abused and a bill has been introduced in the state legislature to strengthen corporate financial disclosure requirements making it easier for the public to know who is paying for certain political advertisements. Here to discuss that bill is Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, a supporter of the measure, and Nick Dranias of the Goldwater Institute, which has come out against the bill. Thanks for joining us tonight on "Arizona Horizon."

Tom Horne: Good to be with you. Good to be with you. Nick and I disagree about this issue but he did work on another Supreme Court case I'm interested in that was so good I told the Goldwater Institute I forgave them all their prior --

Ted Simons: All right. Why is this particular bill a good idea?

Tom Horne: It's a good idea because we don't want to have anonymous speech. We want to know who it was that paid for the attack ads that we see or sometimes the attacks really nasty personal attacks that occur, people need to know who is behind it.

Ted Simons: People need to know who is behind anonymous speech.

Nick Dranias: I don't think people should have to choose between their first amendments rights and privacy. There's a real problem going after third party groups, people who just organize themselves collectively in a group and spend money to project their message. There's a problem with treating them as equivalent to candidates. They aren't. They are ordinary citizens organizing as corporations or unions or other legal forms that want to spend money to project the message. One of the things that really concerns me about this bill is that it presumes the electorate is so incredibly dense that the only way that the political market can correct for abuses of free speech is if the government puts its heavy hand of regulation into the market in fact very few examples of abusive speech by independent expenditure committees have ever significantly impacted an election and the market is fully capable of dealing with that. That people trade on the reputation. They trade on who they are. They have enough of an incentive to disclose who they are in the process without additional laws.

Ted Simons: You mention people trade on reputation. How do we know -- if we want to know your reputation why not let everyone know you're part of this particular process?

Nick Dranias: The First Amendment says no law shall abridge freedom of speech. You don't start with the premise we're going to abridge freedom of speech and figure out how to get to that point. We first recognize people should be free to speak without any legal hindrance. Clearly lays a number of complicated legal hindrances in front of groups.

Ted Simons: Heavy handed government, keeps people from their freedom of speech.

Tom Horne: let me give you an example. I remember Len Munsil running against Don Goldwater for the Republican nomination for governor. A piece went out saying something about Len's oldest child being illegitimate. Terrible, nasty, personal attack. Everybody assumed Don Goldwater was behind it because he would benefit. A lot of people got mad and voted for Len for that reason. I can testify personally knowing that my statement is true, after the election it turned out a group of Democrats had done it. The public had a right to know who did that. That nasty personal attack on Len.

Ted Simons: I would think the public would also need to know some Republican and right leaning groups are also sending out attack ads.

Tom Horne: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Why should we not know whether it's left or right? How is it abridging freedom of speech?

Nick Dranias: People are fearful of political retaliation. If this wasn't about deterring people from expressing themselves, this wasn't what it was really about, there would be some way to protect people's privacy. There's no way. We shouldn't forget there was a time when membership lists of politically active groups were sought by the by state legislatures during the civil rights era for the purpose of political retaliation. When groups organized to take positions on controversial issues they have a legitimate concern about their privacy.

Ted Simons: But if groups organize and take positions on controversial issues, isn't that -- let the chips fall where they may? If you're taking a position on a controversial issue shouldn't you be for lack of a better phrase man enough to say here's what I think?

Nick Dranias: Not when the government is doing it through law. The First Amendment says no law shall abridge freedom of speech. If we go back to the Federalist papers the founding fathers advocated for the ratification anonymously. Things would be hyper regulated under this new law.

Tom Horne: Let me tell you what the United States Supreme Court said. It was a 5-4 decision allowing corporations to spend money but on this point it was 8-1, eight agreed with this statement. The First Amendment protects political speech and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages. That was eight justices agreed with that statement.

Nick Dranias: It also said prolix laws chill free speech. People of common intelligence must necessarily guess at the meaning of the laws and its application. The devil is often in the details. Definition of the word contribution is two pages. I have read this document now probably five times myself. I'm a constitutional lawyer. I still don't know what the word contribution means, yet this law says I cannot freely organize a corporation to speak unless I comply with this. That means my freedom of speech is contingent upon hiring a campaign finance attorney more expert than I am.

Ted Simons: There's also concern that if you are a group who says I'm for basically organizing to educate voters, we're not organizing to influence, just to educate, that slips through a loophole.

Tom Horne: That's true. Arizona law is actually stronger than what I think the U.S. Supreme Court permits. I said I think it's strong enough. It's stronger than what can pass constitutional muster in court. The issue is are you trying to influence an election or educating voters. That's an important distinction where the Supreme Court has put a broad standard saying you have to show specifically that you're making it clear to voters that you want them to elect or defeat a candidate to come under this law.

Ted Simons: I could easily say that I want to educate voters that my opponent fathered an illegitimate child. That's education. I think they should know that. I'm not necessarily against him.

Tom Horne: I think the court would rule you're trying to influence the election and you would have to disclose who it is. That's my point really. The quo takes that Nick just read about prolix, that came from a dissenting opinion from Justice Thomas with whom no other justice joined. So the conservatives Alito, Scalia, and Roberts didn't accept that. Eight judges felt it was important we have disclosure.

Ted Simons: You got a relatively conservative Attorney General, you have a leader at the legislature, you have a relatively conservative Secretary of State. These folks are saying we need some transparency. What's going on?

Nick Dranias: People on the right side of the law make mistakes. The Attorney General has made a mistake. He's mistaken for example about that quote. That quote comes from page 7, the slip opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, not by Justice Thomas. Prolix laws are a problem. When you define contribution like, this the only people this shuts up are unsophisticated groups. Sophisticated groups can navigate this because they have the resources to hire a campaign finance attorney to tell them what this means. Unsophisticated groups are the ones that are really burdened by laws like this.

Ted Simons: If sophisticated groups can get around that doesn't that suggest there's something to navigate around? And to get around? It doesn't sound to me like it's very transparent. If I'm Corporation LLC, and I think so and so fathered an illegitimate child, boom, let the chips fall where they may.

Nick Dranias: I agree with that. I think in realty because of the complexity of so-called disclosure laws, they are not really about the public's right to know. What this is really about is creating barriers to entry by unsophisticated political groups.

Tom Horne: Well, anybody who reads the English language, at, say, a 6th grade level, can understand definition of contribution. It's not that difficult. If you're contributing money or services or in some way promulgating nasty attacks on others, don't say I'm such a tender plant I can't take criticism for my participation in the public arena. Disclose who you are so people know the source of these kinds of attacks.

Ted Simons: Good discussion. Thank you both for joining us.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ Decision to Resign

  |   Video
  • Friends and former colleagues of Representative Gabrielle Giffords comment on her decision to resign from Congress.
  • Linda Lopez - Senator (D-Tucson)
  • Ken Cheuvront - Former State Legislator
Category: Government   |   Keywords: Giffords, resignation,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. President Barack Obama's visit Wednesday afternoon will include a stop at an Intel plant in Chandler to talk about job creation and economic development, part of a three-day tour that will take President Obama through five battleground states. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords today met with survivors of the shooting that took place at her Congress on the Corner event last year completing the event that was cut short when six were shot to death and 13 wounded. Gabrielle Giffords met supporters, talked issues, then went to see a food bank named in her honor. Tomorrow she will attend President Obama's State of the Union speech. Yesterday her office released a video announcing that Giffords will step down from Congress this week to focus on her recovery.

Gabrielle Giffords (video): Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week.

Ted Simons: Joining me now to talk about congresswoman Giffords' decision are two of her friends, former roommates and colleagues at the state legislature. State Senator Linda Lopez Democrat from Tucson and former Democratic state Senator from Phoenix, Ken Cheuvront. Was this decision a surprise?

Sen. Linda Lopez: It was a surprise that she resigned midterm. I was worried that they were going to try to run her anyway so when I heard the news on the radio yesterday, around the house, I was so relieved. Just a wave of relief went over me. I thought, oh good, she does not have to deal with that pressure any more. It was a good surprise.

Ted Simons: Were you surprised?

Ken Cheuvront: I was surprised about the timing that she had waited to this point to do it, but both of us were very happy. We would like her to focus on her health instead of having to worry about politics.

Ted Simons: How difficult a decision do you thing was for her?

Ken Cheuvront: I think extremely. Linda and I were both there when Gabby decided to run years ago. To her politics were her life. When she decided to run for Congress I think it even pushed up further. Her being a public servant was always who she was as a person. So it was a very difficult decision.

Sen. Linda Lopez: I think it was hard for her, but it was also a realization on her part and the folks around her that she just could not do the job. I know Gabby. Ken knows Gabby. Gabby does not want to do anything unless she can do it to 150% of her ability and she recognized she was not able to fulfill that responsibility.

Ted Simons: With that in mind do you think she was in some way relieved?

Sen. Linda Lopez: I saw her yesterday afternoon, Ted. I sensed a feeling of relief from her. I think yes. She's relieved.

Ted Simons: Do you think she's in some way relieved this decision has been made?

Ken Cheuvront: I agree with Linda. She was a workaholic. When she would call me sometimes from Washington it would be midnight there and she was still working or she was making phone calls or she was always doing something. For her, as she said she never did anything halfway. To her I think in order to be -- for her to feel good about herself she had to depart.

Ted Simons: The importance of privacy, the importance of home to her now she will be able to maybe step a little bit back from the spotlight. Also get home to Tucson and stay in Tucson as opposed to flying back. How important do you think those issues were for her?

Ken Cheuvront: I know for us it was very important because we felt it was amazing over time how everybody became her best friend or a good friend of hers. We were just waiting until she wasn't in the spot slight so she could be herself again with her family, which is extremely important to her. Hopefully Mark and her will be able to spend more time in Tucson.

Sen. Linda Lopez: I have asked her a couple of times, when I saw her at Thanksgiving I asked how Houston was and she said, stinks, stinks, stinks. When I saw her yesterday, I said, okay, are you going to come back to Tucson now? When are you going to move home? She said, I don't know. Home, home. I said I need you to come home so we can have breakfast together. And she said, and lunch and dinner. She's happiest at home. It's where the people are that she knows and loves. It's where she is familiar with the surroundings.

Ted Simons: With that in mind do you think she will eventually when she recovers more, whenever that may be, will she get back into politics? Will she get back into elected politics?

Sen. Linda Lopez: well, I think that's going to depend on the trajectory of her recovery and how much she can recover. This is a long process. She suffered a really, really traumatic injury, so it's going to take a while for her. You know, whenever I see her, she continues to make progress, but it's slow for her. So I think it will depend on how that goes.

Ted Simons: And it could also depend on what else she does in the meantime. She may find something she really enjoys doing and may not want to run for Congress or elective office again.

Ken Cheuvront: I think people will be welcoming whatever decision she makes but I hope she doesn't make it too quickly. But she's done. If you knew her past from going to school, doing her studying down in Mexico with a Mennonite community, we traveled to Istanbul together, London together, she always has many interests, but elected office was something that was extremely important to her. If she's capable of it and she feels she wants to I think she will go back.

Ted Simons: Until she goes back up to now even if she endorses someone who runs in the primary in general for the special election, what's her legacy?

Ken Cheuvront: I think her legacy is amazing. From pushing so energetic for Arizona, to helping military spending, with mark being an astronaut, her focus on high-tech and NASA were extremely important to her.

Sen. Linda Lopez: I think that her legacy has been her ability to work with anyone, no matter what their background is. No matter what side of the aisle they were on, that she always was able to work across the aisle with everyone. I think she also has always held true to her principles as well even in the face of a lot of criticism. She has always supported reproductive rights. She never wavered from that even when under attack for that.

Ted Simons: Basically we're talking a pro business, moderate Democrat. Would that particular candidate run for that particular seat today, do you think? Would a young Gabby Giffords look at that seat right now and say, I want that?

Sen. Linda Lopez: I would hope so. I think that's the kinds of person that that district knees. That's the kinds of person that needs to come in and fill that seat and I think that's the kinds of person that could win.

Ted Simons: That's one district but that district becomes part of another district now with redistricting. Would a young Gabby Giffords be interested?

Ken Cheuvront: I would hope so. Seven or eight years ago we went to our Alma matter, Scripps College. She was being awarded a distinguished honor. It's an all women's school. So many came up to her and said, you're such an inspiration. A lot of women will see they can become a Gabrielle Giffords.

Ted Simons: Thank you so much for joining us. When we return, a look at the process to find Giffords' successor. First here's the complete video announcement released by Gabby Giffords' office.

Gabrielle Giffords (video): Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year we cannot change that, but I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs. Border security. Veterans. [applause] We can do so much more by working together. I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week. I'm getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much.

Selecting Giffords’ Successor

  |   Video
  • Associated Press reporter Paul Davenport explains the process for selecting someone to take Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ seat in Congress.
  • Paul Davenport - Associated Press
Category: Government   |   Keywords: selection process, replace seat, congress,

View Transcript
Gabrielle Giffords (video): Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year we cannot change that, but I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs. Border security. Veterans. [applause] We can do so much more by working together. I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery, so to do what is best for Arizona, I will step down this week. I'm getting better. Every day my spirit is high. I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: And joining me to explain the process for finding congresswoman Giffords' successor is Paul Davenport of the Associated Press. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us. What is that process? Lay it out for us.

Paul Davenport: In short it's a whirlwind. What we're talking about a special election that consists of a primary and a general and then of course we have the regular primary and the general later this fall.

Ted Simons: So primary has to be a certain day after the official announcement or when Congress tells the governor?

Paul Davenport: Right. Once Congresswoman Giffords actually leaves office, Congress tells the governor, that office is vacant. Under state law that triggers a process where the governor then has 80 to 90 days to -- she has a few days to set the election for 80 to 90 days down the road. After that you have the general 50 to 60 days.

Ted Simons: I heard primary likely in April, general in June?

Paul Davenport: That's the scenario we're looking at.

Ted Simons: That is pretty quick here. What are we hearing as far as Democrats likely to run?

Paul Davenport: We're hearing there's a lot of names being bandied about. We don't have a feel who will emerge from the pile. About a half dozen incumbent legislators, business people and other folks out in that community, they will have about 30 days to collect signatures.

Ted Simons: Guys like Steve Farley, Matt Hines possibilities?

Paul Davenport: Those are the names you hear about at the capitol. That's right. There are some names that aren't being bandied about yet publicly. The interesting thing on the Democratic side is to see if Congresswoman Giffords endorses somebody.

Ted Simons: Is there any indication she's looking to endorse, and if she does, she's got a hefty campaign chest there. Would some of that be used to help whoever she decides is best?

Paul Davenport: I don't think she can shift the whole kitty to them. She can make contributions out of that. By far the biggest thing would be the arm around somebody saying, this person is my choice.

Ted Simons: Interesting. What about the Republican side? What names are we hearing there?

Paul Davenport: Senator Frank Antonore, Jonathan Payton, former state Senator who ran in the primary last time. There would be quite a few names.

Ted Simons: Again, we mentioned previously, they are running to complete the term for the eighth district, but they almost have to run dual campaigns, don't they? Because so much of that district is now going to be moved into CD2 is that correct?

Paul Davenport: It is two simultaneous campaigns assuming you move forward in the process. The filing deadline for the general election, the regular two-year term, is in May, before the general in the special. So there's an overlap in timing as well as an overlap between the two districts. They are very similar but there are some changes around the edges.

Ted Simons: And I guess all candidates, this is an interesting race because all candidates need to be careful what they say, how they say it, if there's criticism of Giffords. It's going to be interesting to watch.

Paul Davenport: I don't think there will be too much criticism of Giffords.

Ted Simons: That's what I mean, you have to be really careful.

Paul Davenport: We can expect this to be a hot and heavy campaign, lots of national attention to it we're talking about a presidential election year with a special election in June.

Ted Simons: This district now, talk to us. Give us the makeup of—with the 8th but the 2nd as well, mostly the 8th. Mostly Republicans?

Paul Davenport: Tiny edge to Republican. This is about as competitive a congressional district as you're going to get in Arizona. The next version, the second, is even more tight. You're talking about eastern Tucson and then Cochise counties. It's a moderate district. Before Giffords they elected Congressman Colby, and he was a moderate in the Republican ranks.

Ted Simons: I want to ask you, would a young Gabrielle Giffords do you think be competitive in that district today? Moderate, pro business Democrat.

Paul Davenport: That would certainly help Democrat attract independent votes in that district.

Ted Simons: So basically we watch for the official announcement and get out of the way.

Paul Davenport: That's right.

Ted Simons: Good to have you.

Paul Davenport: My pleasure.