Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 29, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists' Roundtable


  • Don’t miss HORIZON’s weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week’s top stories.
Guests:
  • Paul Davenport - The Associated Press


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday, September 29, 2006. In the headlines this week, Clean Elections Commission dismissing a complaint filed by Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, Len Munsil, against Governor Janet Napolitano over campaign contributions. President Bush is going to be back in the Valley next week making a campaign stop for Congressman Rick Renzi and inscriptions on the 9/11 memorial at the state capitol have started a big flap. That's next on "Horizon."

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Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. This is the journalist roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Paul Davenport, of The Associated Press, Mike Sunnucks of the "Business Journal" and Paul Giblin of the "East Valley Tribune."

Michael Grant:
Clean Elections, yesterday, issued its ruling on a complaint filed by Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Len Munsil. He had accused Governor Janet Napolitano of receiving illegal contributions to her campaign. Paul, how did the commission rule?

Paul Davenport:
The commission dismissed that complaint. In essence what it centered around was independent expenditures by a couple democratic-oriented groups and Munsil's campaign. The gist of it is that they said these were illegal contributions because they alleged there was coordination between these groups and the governor's campaign. That campaign is publicly funded you're not supposed to take money on the side from private sources. The commission investigated, got sworn affidavits from folks involved with it and they said no, there's no coordination and the commission staff did not come up with any corroboration for it on its own. That's what happened. That's what led to the dismissal.

Michael Grant:
Munsil campaign-charging that this was a light once over on a serious allegation obviously not happy with the ruling.

Paul Davenport:
That's right. They wanted a deeper investigation of it. Politically that would have helped them, would have kept this whole thing in the limelight longer.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think this is kind of a side part of Clean Elections, you're going to see more of these kinds of third-party groups, and independent groups some of them front groups on both sides of the aisle. And it's just kind of a way to get around some of the rules.

Michael Grant:
Well, what the campaign -- now let me clarify here. What the two anti-Munsil groups are doing still qualifies Munsil for matching from Clean Elections, more money.

Paul Davenport:
That's right. That's right. Unfortunately for his sake, it doesn't amount to a lot of money at least as it's reported by the groups. And he's already received some matching funds for that, I think it was $1,000 or $2,000 in one instance and a slightly larger amount in another. But that doesn't add up too much in the big picture. I think at this point he's more trying to stop, put a damper on these groups and get some advantage from portraying that in the negative light.

Michael Grant:
Because we now know, Mike, that the state Democratic Party has given these two groups $100,000. So they got a few bucks in the kitty to sort of monkey around.

Mike Sunnucks:
Yes they have some more money to spend. And the Democratic Party originally you know said they hadn't given it to them and then Paul had a story about them giving over the $100,000. So there's some kind of loopholes with filing deadlines and what various groups have to disclose, this project for Arizona future doesn't have to disclose its contributors until after the election. So that really doesn't help the public or folks figure out when -- who's funding them. On the other side of the house Senate for Arizona policy, which Munsil heads, I think got an extension on their tax filings. So We're not getting a full picture from either side on these things.

Paul Davenport:
One side note on one of the groups involved on independent expenditures-in one of the documents filed with the commission, they said some of their money and efforts are going to end up in legislative races as well as gubernatorial race. So we could see this sort of tactic, critical websites and such pop up in other venues.

Mike Sunnucks:
I really think you need to see some more disclosure rules and filing rules for these types or groups put in place. If you're going to have this type of public finance system you have to have safeguards and obviously folks are kind of maneuvering around it or are pushing the envelope a smidge.

Paul Giblin:
Is there a chance the Clean Elections Commission can keep up with this if it starts entering other state level races?

Paul Davenport:
I don't know.

Michael Grant:
Is it very heavily staffed? I mean, my impression --

Paul Davenport:
They have added some additional staffing. As I recall, last election cycle they didn't have a dedicated campaign finance director either on staff or in place a lot of the time. This year they do. So you see more of a contemporaneous investigation than before.

Mike Sunnucks:
You kind of see these things with McCain Feingold, and these are well intentioned mechanisms to try to take the special interest money out of politics but they're special interests that are always willing to kind of maneuver around the rules. And you've seen this on the federal level with these 527's and swift vote. So this is just the state level of that, I think.

Michael Grant:
Well in fact many people tend to forget that Pac's, the great evil now, were the winning campaign finance election reform right after Watergate. It was going to purge the entire system. We went, Mike, to polls on all the statewide races, actually starting last week through the weekend, came out with results. Were you surprised by the point spread on the Napolitano-Munsil polls?

Mike Sunnucks:
Polls had her up what 36 points? I think it was 64-28. Some of the polls have it a little bit closer. She's definitely ahead, she's definitely the favorite. And Munsil has got a huge challenge to some get momentum with independents and moderates. You see him reaching out pretty well to the Republican base and that's what he's used to dealing with his group and his background. But I think it's a huge uphill climb for him to get there. I mean you see Pederson within 10 to 11 points, which is still a decent lead. He can seem within striking distance. I'm not seeing Munsil getting even close to getting to that point yet.

Michael Grant:
Well let's shift off to the Kyl-Pederson campaign. What did the F.E.C. say this week, or I'm sorry Paul, what did the F.E.C. say this week about the Pederson Campaign finance reports?

Paul Giblin:
This goes back to earlier in the campaign when Pederson was putting a lot of money into his campaign from his personal finances. There's a mechanism involved when he gets too high then the opponent, which would be John McCain, can cash in and start getting some money.

Michael Grant:
Jon Kyl.

Paul Giblin:
I'm sorry, you're right. Jon Kyl. So what he has to do is he has to report that. When he puts money into his campaign he has to let his opponents know and let the Senate know within 24 hours. He was late five different occasions early on. The state Republican Party reported him. Then the Federal Election Commission this week issued a preliminary ruling that said, yeah, looks like you're behind.

Paul Davenport:
Does this rule help Kyl in some way? Does it loosen the purse strings on him, that sort of thing?

Paul Giblin:
It sort of does. But when Pederson was contributing this money to his campaign, at that time he was in the primary still though he had no opponent in the primary. He hasn't contributed money to his campaign since then. If they were to do that now, dump another $8 million into his campaign now that would allow Kyl to go back to his contributors and ask for more money right now.

Michael Grant:
Basically, lifting caps, raising caps that kind of thing.

Paul Giblin:
Right. But the issue here is the 24-hour notice rule that he has to let everyone know within 24-hours that he's funding his campaign again.

Mike Sunnucks:
And Pederson has an opportunity to reply to their letter and say why. They say it was clerical errors; it was just kind of basic miscues that they sent it in a couple days late. And they could fine him but that would come after the election. I mean we're in October and by the time he responds back probably not going to see a F.E.C. action before Election Day.

Paul Giblin:
And the fines they've issued in the past compared to what Pederson is throwing into his campaign are dimes, they are nothing for Pederson.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think from the Kyl side it might be a benefit to continue bringing up the fact that Pederson has put this kind of money his own money into the race to get into that kind of he's trying to buy the election-type charge.

Michael Grant:
In fact that's a theme that he's running through at least one of his radio ads.

Mike Sunnucks:
And so you play that populous theme up. And just having that issue out there could be somewhat helpful to Kyl-Pederson. On the other hand, you know he points out the big oil.

Paul Giblin:
This is an argument that both sides are using. They both claim the other guy is buying the election, the money they use to buy the election with.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of our poll results, Paul, still that pesky 11 points that Pederson is trailing Kyl by.

Paul Giblin:
It is pesky. And that's pretty consistent with most polls recently about 11 percent. Other polls have had him within about 5 or 6 percent. But it's a time for Pederson to make a move. If he has any hopes of winning this election he really has to chop that down from 11 to zero.

Michael Grant:
Well they figure early balloting starts in ten days. Really, Election Day starts in about ten days from now.

Paul Giblin:
Right. And there should be a lot of TV ads. I mean, as if there aren't enough right now there's going to be more getting that period, heading into Election Day. But I've been talking to a lot of people about polls and there's a couple of different theories right now is that though Kyl is leading by 2 percent, the theory is that republicans actually show up and vote more than democrats do. So you would give him another 2 or 3 percent of a cushion. And then there's also the thinking that everyone is so sick and tired of the war and Bush and everyone else there's going to be a 5 percent surge for the democrats. So if you talk to the democrats they say they need to be within about 5 percent on Election Day. If you talk to the republicans they say it's not 11 it's more like 13.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Wes Clark shows up for Pederson this week?

Paul Giblin:
Right. Wes Clark showed up at a union hall downtown and he did a town hall meeting, spoke about the war. And I have to say I was impressed by Wes Clark. He articulated an end to the war like no one I've heard articulate an end to the war. Better than Bush, better than Kyl, better than Pederson, better than anyone I've heard, and I've heard a lot of people trying to explain this away.

Michael Grant:
What was the--

Paul Giblin:
Well, he had a three part strategy. He said the first one you have to talk to countries like Syria and Iran, he said these are countries that don't like us, but the United States is big enough that we can talk to our enemies. And he is under the idea, and it's probably correct, that these countries are funding the war in Iraq because they're afraid the United States will invade them otherwise. So he says we have to convince them we're not going to invade them so they'll stop funding the insurgents down there. His second point was: we have to do negotiated diplomacy with the tribal leaders. That's when you negotiate with your army standing behind you in Iraq and say stop with your militias. Tell them to go away. And to urge them to do that, you know look at my army behind me.

Michael Grant:
It's kind of the military concept of "volunteer."

Paul Giblin:
Right. Right. It reminds me of the "Godfather," make him an offer you can't refuse.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think you're going to see Iraq really dominate this race the last two weeks. They haven't talked about it too much. And you've seen it with the Clark visit. Pederson started talking about putting our troops out the streets of Baghdad-put them in training bases and just focus on getting the police and the new Iraqi army up so we can decrease the casualties there. Kyl on the other hand in the conference call the other day mentioned we might need more troops there, which I don't think that's going to be a very popular position. He also said he was confident in Don Rumsfeld who gets a lot of flack from folks. One thing I think is Pederson has to be strong and offer some kind of alternatives to what Bush and Kyl offer. People need a reason to vote Kyl out of office and Iraq is the big issue so I think you're going to see him probably be a little more aggressive on that.

Paul Giblin:
Another interesting point was Clark said we have to be prepared to leave the country recognizing that and it's not going to be, what he termed, a Jeffersonian democracy with pictures of George Washington on the walls. He says we're going to leave the country, they'll still hate Israel, they're still going to hate us and that's good enough. Whereas, in that conference call you mentioned, with Kyl, Kyl's version of ending the war was you have to defeat them enough that they have lost their will to attack us or attack their neighbors. So those sound like two different attitudes there.

Mike Sunnucks:
Clark also raised money for Mitchell while he was there. So you see the kind of focus the Dems have on that race also.

Michael Grant:
And speaking of which, what are J.D. Hayworth and Harry Mitchell saying in their latest TV ads?

Mike Sunnucks:
You see all kinds of Jim Pederson and Jon Kyl ads up there when Mitchell and Hayworth ads. Mitchell talks about ethics. J.D. is tied to the Abramoff scandal, the fact that his wife gets paid by the political action committee that J.D. runs. J.D., not surprisingly, talked about immigration and border security characterizing Mitchell as weak on the border, Mitchell's vote against some of the republican measures down at the legislature including English language learner one. So that's kind of the main thing of that race, ethics versus J.D.'s tough border stance.

Paul Giblin:
When Mitchell entered this it looked like this Abramoff thing could blow up in Hayworth's case, in which case would have handed the race to Mitchell, but that hasn't happened. I think for Mitchell to get some traction he's going to have to come up with a different issue and push that one 'cause I don't think Abramoff is working for him.

Mike Sunnucks:
I agree with. There's no indictments. J.D. has denied any wrongdoing and it hasn't progressed. And it's kind of an inside baseball story. I think immigration and security in Iraq is probably where Mitchell needs to go.

Michael Grant:
President Bush back in town next week. Why?

Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah. He's coming in for Rick Renzi, which I think is a bit of a surprise. Of all the races out there, Renzi has a well-financed opponent, Ellen Simon, but she's not that well-known. I haven't seen any poll numbers to show that race tightening. So maybe there's something that they're worried that he would come out here and raise money for Renzi. They've done it before because it's a swing district. But Renzi has been pretty strong in that district. He brings some resources back; he works the district pretty hard. And, so, that shows me a concern on the Republican's part that he's raising money for Renzi at this time of the year.

Paul Davenport:
It's an interesting concept, is last week we were talking about the C.D.A. Race being different in a sense that ads are being pulled out by both parties and that one's being shoved aside. Had been the front burner but now we have a different race coming up.

Mike Sunnucks:
Yea you saw that seat was one two, three in the country, for some time, the Colby seat. Now they think Gabby give Gifford will take that.

Paul Giblin:
He, and when I say he, Bush is making a four state tour, he's going through Nevada and California and Colorado and Arizona and he's showing up at these events for a lot of different candidates both in congress and the governor's seats.

Michael Grant:
What is A.G. Candidate Bill Montgomery saying about his ad that had illegal aliens in it?

Paul Davenport:
Well, the new development in that one this week is that the opponent Goddard, the incumbent, produced an affidavit from a fellow who happened to be in the park when Montgomery filled a commercial. And that commercial, ostensibly, was about illegal immigrants and allegedly used illegal immigrants as paid employees, on a temporary basis, to help film it. And as you can imagine that raises some questions about whether you should be hiring illegal immigrants. Montgomery says no, he didn't do that but he wasn't quite sure what the arrangements were by the film company in question, which he did hire.

Mike Sunnucks:
Well, Bill Montgomery is the only employer in the state that hires illegal immigrants. So at least we found one of those. [Laughter]

Paul Davenport:
The interesting thing about the affidavit from the fellow who said he happened to be in the park is that he said he talked to the Hispanic men in question and that they in fact told him that they were illegal. They did not have papers.

Michael Grant:
Interesting. There'll be a follow-up story on this on whether or not he paid the FICA Taxes. [Laughter] Inscriptions on the new 9/11 moral stirred up -- memorial stirred up controversy. Mike, why don't you put this thing in context?

Mike Sunnucks:
I think that is exactly what we need-a special session of the legislature to get down there and work with the governor on that. I think that would serve the people very well. The issue is just not going away. I think they had a press conference today with Billy Shields from the Firefighter's Union, he's on the commission that built this thing and they're going to come back and revisit it after the election surprisingly enough try to diffuse it. I think there's going to be some kind of middle ground, people start calling for some of the two or three controversial inscriptions on the thing to be taken off. It's a couple-day story for the Republicans to hit the governor on.

Michael Grant:
Although this one had longer legs than I expected. And the other thing that I always find fascinating about election cycles is it is impossible to predict. There are…there will always be issues like this that no one could anticipate.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think sitting here six months ago I didn't think the 9/11 memorial would be a driving issue a month out. But I think the governor extended this a bit by deflecting and being kind of stubborn at her press briefing when she talked about: ask the commission. She's a pretty good leader. She's on top of things. She could have just said if there are things on there that people think are insensitive we'll look at those and revisit those. So I think she extended the story a couple days by saying that.

Paul Davenport:
One interesting thing is even though Shields is the chairman of the Memorial Commission says yeah, they're going to look at it after election there's another commission involved and that spins off on what you're talking about how you can't predict what's going to happen. These other commissions, the mall commission, authorized placement in Wesley Bolin Plaza. Their chairman wants to have them look at it next month, October. That's before the election. So even though Shields want to put it off for awhile, this other commission may bring it back front and center.

Michael Grant:
Incidentally, I'm curious as you mentioned that, Paul, has the Mall Commission mentioned at all what it knew or did not know about the content of the work?

Paul Davenport:
Yes, in the sense of I went back and listened to the tape of their meeting and looked at the handouts they got. They got some examples but they didn't have anywhere near all 54. And some of the ones they got were changed because back then, when they dealt with this back in February, it was still evolving. And they did not vet all these inscriptions.

Mike Sunnucks:
And in the governor's defense, they said she never saw them beforehand. I wouldn't imagine that this was something that people would sit there and say, well, it's a 9/11 memorial. How controversial is it going to be?

Paul Davenport:
Well, that's what Tom Smith said. He said that it never occurred to occurred to them they needed to look at this stuff.

Paul Giblin:
Well, I think it built over night. It's in the process for three years. Where were we three years ago if this was such a big issue to them why weren't they monitoring it or shepherding it through? It's a political issue. He's trying to make political hay out of -- not stupidity. It's not stupidity it's a memorial. But it's political.

Michael Grant:
I think part of the response to that though, Mike, as you indicated is, well, we didn't feel that we a whole lot of groups felt that we didn't need to have our antenna up. It was going to be a memorial to 9/11 and oftentimes those actually turn out to be memorials, not political statements.

Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah. I'm not assuming that somebody rushed the inscriptions into Janet's office and she reviewed them. I can't imagine that. You're right it is political and it does help Munsil because he gets his name out there. That's one of his weaknesses is name ID so you'll see him push this as long as it will go. The threat for the republicans and the folk who wants to tear it down is they just push too hard and folks see it as unreasonable.

Paul Giblin:
Totally transparent from start to finish. Every single time we went to batches we saw them with their little campaign thing trying to get money for it. Seriously, why doesn't anyone ask these guys where were you two years ago, where were you three years ago, where were you six months ago, last month? Why weren't they there before the jet flies over and everyone cries and they make a big deal about it.

Paul Davenport:
A side effect is we were talking about how Munsil was putting out his agenda on issues and was going to have weekly news conferences to provide specifics on issues. Well, that didn't happen because of this memorial thing. They were focused on that.

Michael Grant:
Now, any timing at all on when the mall -- other than a generic October? Is it more specific than that?

Paul Davenport: Just October. Tom smith was going to take a look at the inscriptions and take it from there.

Michael Grant:
Arizona Supreme Court, the state's new self-defense law, Paul, it had a couple of different aspects to it. One was your ability to defend your home somewhat with impunity. Another aspect, though, was if you pled self-defense, the burden of proof was shifting. Why don't you pick up the story at that point?

Paul Davenport:
Well, the legislature did make that change. And they made it easier for you, somebody pleading self-defense, to advocate that position in court, and harder for the prosecution. And the thing was the law was passed as an emergency. It took effect immediately upon the governor's signature. Well, there were cases pending at that time where people were pleading self-defense, including a rather high profile one up in Coconino County Superior Court. A fellow who shot another guy in a trail confrontation, the fish case. And, not surprisingly, these cases have produced disputes over this very issue. Was the law retroactive to apply to these cases? The Supreme Court took two of these cases and reached them and this week they said no, we're not going to hear them. But they still have a third one that's coming out of Pima County and that involves a published opinion by the court of appeals that said the law can be retroactive as opposed to the other ones.

Michael Grant:
Mike, I think it's truly ironic that the Cardinals tied for about what, 17 to 18years to get out of the university stadium and end up in the university stadium.

Mike Sunnucks:
Yes, University of Phoenix stadium is the name of our new stadium out in Glendale. I think it was 150 million or so was the deal. And obviously the University of Phoenix does a ton of advertising. You go on any newspaper Web site, any blog, and you'll see them up there. They're marketing their M.B.A. degrees and other kind of adult education programs that they offer. It's not a name that kind of rings of any kind of sports history or, it doesn't even flow off the tongue. I'm trying to think of what we shorten down to.

Paul Davenport:
University of Phoenix can now say they have a football team.

Mike Sunnucks:
That's right. So they could play U.S.C., you know.

Paul Giblin:
And this furthers the nonsense that Cardinals have been putting in front of us for years and years on this whole stadium. They say now that we have all this money we can sign better players and that sort of thing. I'd like to remind the Cardinals they can't spend more money than they're already receiving from their TV contract on players. Where does all this money go? It's not going to any signing bonuses or any players. It's going straight to the middle of the Bidwell's' back pocket.

Mike Sunnucks:
Nobody ever likes these naming deals. They never sound right. You have relied ant field in Houston, Enron, Qualcomm and stuff that people aren't really sure what it is. We don't have that many headquarter companies here so they were one of the biggest ones.

Michael Grant:
You know, we're almost out of time but I got to ask you about this downtown Indy Car Race. We've never tried it downtown, have we?

Mike Sunnucks:
I think we did. It didn't go over very well but this is a different animal. Plus we'll have Sheriff Joe's tank out there blocking the race in a Tiananmen Square type deal where Joe pledges to stop the race.

Michael Grant:
And Paul I didn't quite catch it. The sheriff was worried about the 9/11 center?

Paul Davenport:
Noise disrupting the dispatch center in terms of it being distracted or something like that.

Mike Sunnucks:
And maybe Sheriff Joe can go shoot the 9/11 memorial and his tank also.

Paul Davenport:
9-1-1.

Michael Grant:
On that positive and uplifting note we are out of time. Thank you very much.

Announcer:
It's Vote 2006 and eight is your official source for Clean Election Commission Debate. Turn to "Horizon" at 7:00 p.m. the week of October 2 for the superintendent of public instruction debate on Monday, the secretary of state debate on Tuesday, the attorney general debate on Wednesday, and a special one-hour-long governor debate on Thursday. "Horizon," week nights at 7:00, only on Eight.

Michael Grant:
A week full of debate material. Hope you'll join us then. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition of "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Good night.

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