Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon" -- journalists roundtable. Arizona files suit to force a federal voter registration form to adhere to Arizona's voter I.D. standards. Managers at a local chain of car washes are charged with I.D. theft and document fraud after a federal immigration raid. And the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules against an Arizona abortion law. The journalists' roundtable is next on "Arizona Horizon."
Arizona "Horizon" made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon" journalists' roundtable. I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Capitol Times, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media services and Steve Goldstein of KJZZ radio. Managers and supervisors at over a dozen Danny’s Car Wash locations in the Valley face criminal charges after an immigration raid by federal agents. Jeremy, this was considered somewhat unusual and rather comprehensive.
Jeremy Duda: Yes. This is a pretty massive raid. The biggest we’ve seen out here in a long time, especially from the Feds. Most of the raids we’ve seen around here from local agencies focused on the workers. They are really going after people running the organization now. A lot of them charged with falsifying documents, hiring hundreds of illegal immigrants, fired them, rehired them with fake documents. These are pretty serious charges. My understanding is the Feds are trying to seize a lot of these properties now.
Ted Simons: That's the thing, Howie. This isn't just going in for raids. Apparently, Danny’s rehired people already considered on the list.
Howard Fischer: And I think that's the adding insult to injury. There's no question, you're going to go into certain places in this state you'll find illegal immigrants, undocumented workers. The idea that somehow they were so allegedly stupid to say, “We like these guys so we're going to help them with fake Social Security numbers, fake I-9s,” all that stuff, that's part of what got the government's attention. The other reason the government is doing this is having stopped Joe Arpaio from doing them, having taken away his 287-G authority, they felt we need to step up and show we’re doing the kind of employer workplace raids he was doing.
Steve Goldstein: There may be some level of arrogance with what Danny’s was practicing but there's also a feeling maybe the Feds won't do much because Sheriff Arpaio had been aiming after employees. He hadn’t been going after businesses in this sense, based on the Employer Sanctions Law or whatever it may be. So I think the feeling may have been “maybe we're free and clear. What's really the worry at this point?” Then ICE after a two-year investigation put the hammer down.
Jeremy Duda: That's been one of the criticisms of our Employer Sanctions Law for years. We put this in place when Governor Napolitano signed it. We're going after the employers, not rank and file dishwashers. That's the way it's been used since by Sheriff Arpaio, by former County Attorney Thomas. The criticism was they never go after the employers. This really is. Not that that has diffused criticism from activists towards the government on this.
Howard Fischer: There’s one other fact we can't ignore: trying to get comprehensive immigration reform through Congress. The argument has been, “Why are we doing this when we are not even doing the kinds of employer raids that supposedly the new law is going to do?” This proves and I think that the Homeland Security at the highest level has approved this, this proves that we can do that so therefore you can trust us to approve comprehensive immigration reform.
Ted Simons: So is ICE sending a message with this particular raid and is that being received?
Steve Goldstein: I don't know if the message is being received. I'm not real optimistic about that. But when we talk about sending a message, Ted, we have to come back to the fact that this is a two-year investigation. The gang of eight coming up with the proposal -- Howie makes a good point but they weren't making that two years ago. This illustrates how much we just don't know about what's being investigated. We don't know when a judge is going to come out with a ruling against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We have no idea, no one gives us clues. We think, “What's taking them so long?” Maybe they’re working behind the scenes and coming up with a major operation.
Howard Fischer: What's also interesting is if it took two years for this one raid, that suggests -- so when are we going to actually start going after the farmers knowingly hiring these folks?
Ted Simons: Again, what the allegations are, this is serious stuff. This is identity theft, identity fraud, document fraud. The whole nine yards. This isn't just you happen to hire a bunch of folks without papers. This is criminal action here.
Jeremy Duda: This isn't just an employer that didn't bother to use E-verify because they don’t care or they don’t want to know. These are people falsifying documents to rehire people when you already have gotten in trouble in the past for hiring undocumented immigrants.
Ted Simons: Do we know why the owner has not --
Steve Goldstein: We don't know much about him. Danny Hendon has been a person around town for a long time. But we do know he's given a lot of money to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I will not make the connection, but it's something to think about.
Ted Simons: Okay. On the other side you could argue as you mentioned you used the word stupid -- [laughter]
Howard Fischer: Allegedly stupid.
Ted Simons: -- Allegedly stupid, but maybe managers and supervisors were doing things that the upper echelon would say, “You have got to be kidding me.”
Steve Goldstein: But, then, of course, I don't want the Sheriff to be upset with me, we come down to the fact when Dave Hendershott was running things, the sheriff said, “I didn't know this was happening.” Either you're ignorant or a bad manager.
Ted Simons: Minuteman versus MCSO deputy out 70 some odd miles southeast of Phoenix. What in the world is going on out there?
Steve Goldstein: First we have deputies out there doing their patrols. Apparently it's a major drug corridor. They expect to see people out there running drugs. So apparently they did their flash of their signal in their vehicle to indicate maybe there's a drug deal going on, maybe we could get people to come out of the woodwork. Some people were in the minutemen, people who feel the militia should be doing more to protect our border. Apparently this one gentleman decided he didn't want to give up his firearm, not believing the sheriff's deputy was actually a sheriff’s deputy. A great quote from Sheriff Joe Arpaio, “He's lucky he didn't get rounds put into him.”
Ted Simons: Yeah. This is southwest of Phoenix, not southeast. All sorts of things seem to be happening. Goodness gracious, you have armed guys to the teeth. Apparently this deputy was clearly marked that he was law enforce men and the guy said, prove it.
Jeremy Duda: I think this guy -- it was dark, he heard someone coming, he said it must be a drug smuggler. I'll point my rifle at him and figure it out later. If you're not a law enforcement officer you can't do that. You have a number of these groups running around the desert, around Gila Bend or in Pinal County, they think they are enforcing the law. There's only so far you can go as a civilian. I remember back in '05 when the minuteman movement first started, a lot of -- this is a much different organization. They didn't pull weapons on people. They kept on the lookout for activity that they thought might be illegal and called it in to authorities. They didn't engage people, they didn’t detain people.
Howard Fischer: That's crucial. Down in Cochise County, where a lot of this started, it was an idea of walkie-talkies, cellphones. Yes, they were armed in case they were attacked but you don't confront, you don't do that because you don't know who you're going to come up against. If you're really facing a true drug smuggler, they are better armed than you are.
Ted Simons: They’re not going to wait to discuss things and have an argument back and forth on whether or not you're a law enforcement officer.
Steve Goldstein: There are so many splinter groups now. People would be alarmed by having a huge minuteman militia group. In the same sense we talk about terrorism around the world, people said the Cold War was easier. We knew Russia was our adversary. Now you have these little groups these were three armed guys who can do a lot of damage to themselves or others.
Ted Simons: I was under the impression the minutemen were on their way out or certainly weren't as much of a presence as they once had been. Perhaps they aren't, but that's pretty serious incident out there in the desert.
Jeremy Duda: The minutemen, as in the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, this large organized group you saw years ago when this first started, but there's all these little splinter groups now. Remember we had J.T. Ready, the infamous neo-NAZI, running around Pinal County a few years ago. And Sheriff Babeu saying, “I just want you to get the heck out of my county, we don’t want you down here.”
Steve Goldstein: I want to follow up on something Howie said about comprehensive immigration reform in regard to the Danny’s raid. I think this applies here as well in the sense that here we are in Arizona, one can argue whether we're enlightened or not. The two Senators are both in the gang of eight yet there are still a lot of groups here who do not want this kind of reform and see illegal immigrants as --
Ted Simons: Last point on that, then. Is, as some have suggested, is the sheriff's office along with certain politicians in the state somehow responsible for this kind of activity and this kind of response?
Howard Fischer: Well, I don't think you can hold a law enforcement person responsible for the fact that there are idiots running around the desert with guns. There were people who would probably blame law enforcement, say if you were out doing your job, blaming border patrol, customs, ICE, say if you were out doing the job, but the fact is you have under-staffed, under-armed officers out there doing the best they can against the tide. We all know what happened after they secured the California border, the Yuma sector, after they secured Texas, guess what! What does that leave? That leaves the Tucson sector and that's become the funnel.
Ted Simons: Not so much blaming law enforcement but just the political rhetoric and the tone, again, some are suggesting. What did you expect?
Steve Goldstein: There's this helplessness for some of us would label extremists, some would not, this idea why isn't the government doing more, we can't trust the government to do this so we'll take the law into our own hands to the extent Arizona decided to take the law in its own hands with SB1070.
Ted Simons: Okay, let’s move on here. 9th Circuit in action, again, striking down an Arizona law. This is the one that was passed and signed last year regarding abortion funding. Funding away from -- oh, please, help me with this.
Jeremy Duda: This is a bill the legislature passed in 2012. The purpose was to essentially defund Planned Parenthood, to keep them from getting any government funds. State and federal law both prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used for elective abortions but that's such a small part of what Planned Parenthood does. They see a lot of Medicaid patients. So the legislature didn’t want any taxpayer dollars going to an organization that performs abortions. Earlier this year, a federal court said you can't do that, you can't withhold these federal funds from qualified medical providers and the 9th circuit -- they agreed with that. They upheld that. That might be the ends of it.
Howard Fischer: Well, I don't think it will be the end of it. You'll always find somebody who wants to -- Steven Aden from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian law firm, they are always looking for things to take to the Supreme Court. The argument has been that to the extent Planned Parenthood gets Medicaid, title 19 dollars, or family planning for pap smears, things like that, it's helping keep the lights on. The argument made by Representative Justin Olson is that is effectively subsidizing their abortion services. They said you want to break off the whole separate arm to have abortion, separate offices, separate utility bills you can do that. Planned Parenthood said that makes no sense, which is why they sued. The federal government, which sided with Planned Parenthood, said, no, look, federal law says any Medicaid recipients can go to any qualified provider. The state said we decide who is qualified. The federal government said, excuse me, you do know we're taking up 90% of the family planning funds and what part of the Golden rule of he who has the gold makes the rules don't you understand?”
Ted Simons: The bottom line is the state saying, “We decide who’s qualified” and the feds basically saying, “No, you don’t.”
Steve Goldstein: That’s exactly what this came down to. I see this as an uphill climb but one that won't end any time soon because we're going to keep getting legislation related to abortion. Howie mentioned this idea of having Planned Parenthood break off, many lawmakers see that as a way for, this part of Planned Parenthood is okay, this part is not. We’ll focus on that one.
Ted Simons: Jeremy, the agreement if you want to be part of Medicaid, part of the federal government being part -- there are agreements, there are stipulations. It sounds relatively clear here.
Jeremy Duda: I think it probably is, at least from the court's perspective. In some cases you can have that separate family planning division, I believe they have that in Texas, but, I forget exactly why, but there's some sort of procedural or bureaucratic reasons why that was done there but can't be done here. Remember, this issue came up during the legislative session, during this Medicaid expansion fight after the first federal court ruled against the bill and people started trying to insert abortion clause into it. They threatened to splinter the coalition the governor is putting together. The governor said, based on this court ruling there's nothing we can do here.
Ted Simons: Last question on this, does this become something that is a focal point in the elections?
Howard Fischer: I don't see -- this is such a small area of the whole abortion debate, I think the larger issue is some of the other things we have out there. We have had obviously prior regulations, 24-hour rules, ultrasounds. The other lawsuit that we're waiting for is can Arizona ban abortions at 20 weeks. There's another case also pending which is can Arizona ban abortions based on the race or gender of the child. Those are the things that are going to lead to the fights. Those are things people can relate to more than are you funding Planned Parenthood.
Ted Simons: Do you think, Steve, that all these these fights and this consternation and the pushing and the pulling and the shoving and the fighting, is that going to be a factor next year as far as the vote is concerned or does it become so convoluted, so top heavy in this direction it drifts away?
Steve Goldstein: Boy, Ted, you have really given me the Solomonic choice here. I think we’re going to see the same people interested in this, a lot of people who are one-issue voters. For them this is very passionate. For others it becomes are we going to have these social wedge issues. I think it will be out there but not as large a mainstream push.
Ted Simons: Arizona suing regarding federal courts to compel the federal elections commission to act regarding the voter I.D. thing which we have discussed so many times. The difference between the state voter ID requirements and the federal postcard?
Howard Fischer: Arizona voters decided in 2004 you have to provide proof of citizenship. That exists. You go to the state office and pick up a state form. You do that. Congress authorized the election assistance commission to create a federal form useful across the nation that makes it easier for people to register. The federal form has only a statement saying I avow that I am a citizen; I'm eligible under penalty of perjury. The law requires states to accept and use that form. Arizona argued with the addition of citizenship proof. The U.S. Supreme Court said no but the court also said Justice Scalia said you can go back to the commission and ask them to add that to the form. Well, a couple of problems: There is no commission. There are four members of the commission. There are zero currently there. The executive director, acting executive director, said I'm not making a policy decision like that. Now Tom Horne, with the aid of Ken Bennett, wants to get a judge to order the acting executive director to approve the change which is going to be difficult because I don't know that a judge will tell a federal agency you have to do it that way.
Ted Simons: Even if it’s not approved, that again according to Justice Scalia, it is a way for you to come on back, and at least we have a different avenue for this. While the Supreme Court said “No,” Scalia said, “No but let me help you.”
Steve Goldstein: Usually you don't get that extra option thrown in there. But as Howie pointed out, we have no members of the commission. That puts a wedge in there. One thing, Ted, just to take us off track slightly, that I'm struck by is this is also being supported by the Kansas secretary of state, who I think we know pretty well, Kris Kobach, as someone who co-wrote SB1070 with Russell Pearce. And now Tom Horne is connected with that. Kobach is also arguing that there are people in Kansas who have been guilty of voting multiple times without some sort of citizenship --
Howard Fischer: But here's the problem in Arizona. The impetus that state presented in trying to uphold this is that 200 people registered who shouldn't have been there. They were found by the jury pool questionnaires, where “You’re registered to vote, you must be a citizen.” “Oh, I'm not a citizen. Don’t call me for the jury pool.” The fact is none of these people used the federal form because the federal form wasn't being accepted at the time. The closest thing we have to evidence of a problem is the Secretary of State's office found three instances where people used an Arizona driver's license only available to noncitizens to try to register to vote. They never got registered. They certainly didn't vote. That becomes the question of do we have a lawsuit in search of a problem here.
Jeremy Duda: This is the argument here on every one of these voter integrity laws, as Republicans like to refer to them, across the country is we're fighting voter fraud. The counter argument is there are so few real examples it certainly seems like a solution in search of a problem. The counter argument is that the people it stops people from voting who are allowed to vote but can't are primarily democratic voters. Elderly, minorities, naturalized citizens, low income voters.
Howard Fischer: Understand why groups like the federal form. If in fact you register with the state form you have to have some -- a photocopy of your naturalization papers or something. You’re going out and registering people on the street. The federal form makes more sense. You put in the last four digits of your Social Security number. It makes voter registration drives easier. Guess who they go after: Minorities, Democrats, and that's why Republicans don't like it.
Ted Simons: And the last point of this, the Supreme Court basically said the intent of this federal form is to make it easier. That's the idea behind this. What Arizona's law does goes against the intent.
Steve Goldstein: Exactly. That's what they are saying. What we have now, I think Jeremy pointed it out brilliantly; this is what it comes down to. This is not a matter of voter fraud or voter suppression. People say there isn't much of either. Let's get our sides going and amped up.
Ted Simons: Speaking of politics can anyone explain the clemency board and who these people are and why they were there and why they are not there anymore? Sounds like -- what is going on, Howie?
Howard Fischer: Well, to start with your threshold question, clemency board does exactly what you suggest, they get reviews, requests from inmates to be released early, be pardoned or have part of their sentence done away with. It used to be they had a lot more power. It used to be the governor had a lot more power, but now you have this whole procedure. We had Jesse Hernandez, who was appointed by the governor, who apparently ran into some problems, at the very least he may have been dating a staffer. We now come to find out he had developed a personal relationship with Amar’e Stoudemire who had a relative who had a case before the board. So this has been bleeding out very slowly. The governor's office unfortunately rather than laying it out there, making it a one-day story let this thing bleed.
Ted Simons: And not only that but another member of the board left because he wasn't happy with what he saw Hernandez doing and treating -- that person allegedly dating, also allegedly got a $21,000 pay raise.
Howard Fischer: That's the problem. You have so many boards and commissions, Jeremy sees a lot of this. You can't keep track of what everyone is doing and you're bound to have some problems, but on occasion it comes to the surface.
Jeremy Duda: It's ironic you could have this level of problems on a board that their job is pretty easy. You're supposed to approve or disapprove clemency, but Governor Brewer is well known for not giving a lot of clemency. She's probably given it to fewer inmates than most of her predecessors. Hernandez was actually a replacement when she got rid of three people a couple of years ago because they disagreed on this point, he was brought in to not give clemency.
Howard Fischer: He has Republican ties, an $84,000 a year job.
Ted Simons: He was brought in but did he have much experience along these --
Steve Goldstein: No. No, he did not. This is where I would give Jesse Hernandez the hubris award of the week. He said he was asked to resign for political reasons. He got the position for political reasons. You take one, get the other.
Ted Simons: Two openings. Howie, any free time?
Howard Fischer: Let’s see, if it’s $84,000 just for hanging around a couple of days a week, not a bad deal.
Ted Simons: Don Shooter says, “Okay, where do I sign?” -- sounds like he didn't even read the agreement. He agreed to defer prosecution. The school incident in Yuma.
Jeremy Duda: The saga is not over. It's on hold and potentially over for a while. Senator Don Shooter down in Yuma was accused of bursting into his grandson's classroom in Yuma, yelling at a teacher, he believed his grandson was being bullied. He got charged with trespassing, with disrupting a school. This got resolved today where they said pay a fine to the school and to prosecutor's office and don't commit any crimes for the next year and we'll let this slide. The charges will be dropped.
Howard Fischer: It's not unusual. You find this actually with a lot of marijuana cases, called the deferred prosecution where we essentially say, “Look, the charges are still out there. We're going to hold it in abeyance for one year. If you keep your nose clean and don't do anything stupid, which given these people are lawmakers we'll find out, the charge will be dismissed with prejudice.”
Steve Goldstein: I'm intrigued. I wish Ron Gould would run for Senate so we could have a Senate ethics committee hearing on this, but I guess we’re probably not going to see that.
Ted Simons: Are we going to see a hearing on any of this now that the whole thing has been deferred?
Jeremy Duda: It's hard to say. We haven't really heard anything on that at least today. Some people may push, Democrats may push for it, because Senator Shooter is a Republican, fairly prominent at that. The fact that he paid the fine, he got a slap on the wrist might have dissuaded people from doing that or make some people say, well, maybe he didn't get enough, let's try our hand at it.
Ted Simons: Does Senator Shooter stay a fairly prominent Republican?
Howard Fischer: I don't see any reason why the leadership would say we're going to take you off the appropriations committee. A lot of this stuff had come out earlier. He's known for being a bit -- casual. Here's a guy who showed up at one point in a serape and a sombrero with a couple of bottles of tequila. He's a very happy guy, very emotional guy. I think he is going to say that's what happened; he didn't think his grandson was being treated right. So he went in and let his emotions lead.
Steve Goldstein: And Ted, I don’t know if you knew this, but lawmakers only make $24,000 a year, so I guess we take what we can get.
Ted Simons: With that encouraging note, we will say thank you all for joining us this evening. Monday on "Arizona Horizon" U.S. Senator Jeff flake will join us to discuss immigration reform, the affordable care act and other major issues facing Arizona and the country. Senator Jeff Flake Monday evening at 5:30 and 10 and on "Arizona Horizon." Tuesday we'll look at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's most recent public approval ratings. Wednesday we speak with professor and Arizona's first poet lair yacht -- laureate. Thursday, income levels in Arizona. And Friday it’s another edition of the journalists' roundtable. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great weekend.