Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 13, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists’ Roundtable


  • Join us as reporters bring us up to date on the latest news in the Journalists’ Roundtable.
Guests:
  • Luige del Puerto - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
  • Howard Fischer - Journalist, Capitol Media Services
  • Hank Stephenson - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Journalists Roundtable   |   Keywords: roundtable, top stories,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Coming up next on Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery calls on Attorney General Tom Horne to resign. This as Montgomery faces criticism for advising a gubernatorial candidate and for not filing criminal charges against a former State Senator's son. The Journalists' Roundtable is next on "Arizona Horizon."

>> Arizona Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable. I'm Ted Simons. Joining us tonight, Luige del Puerto of the "Arizona Capitol Times," Howard Fischer of "Capitol Media Services," and Hank Stephenson also from the "Arizona Capitol Times." Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery thinks Attorney General Tom Horne should resign, so I'm guessing Attorney General Horne just handed in his papers right then and there right?

Luige del Puerto: Yes of course, he said, your highness I shall follow thy words. Of course not. What started as a tweet or war between an agent staffer and the county attorney has now escalated into the county attorney saying that Tom Horne should resign because of the totality of his actions, of all of the things he has done, all of the controversies he has faced and been accused of. And of course Tom Horne said, well maybe it’s you who should resign.

Ted Simons: Yeah, basically Horne said you're the one abusing your office, why don't you resign.

Howard Fischer: Well he also said, you know, this started as Luige said, you know Stephanie Grisham who is Horne's press aid mentioned something about Montgomery, and whose advice he is offering, and Montgomery says well you know, I'm doing the good of the state. Stephanie says what you do mean? Montgomery responds sensing well if Tom was interested in the good of the state, he would resign. And of course Horne responds now in a statement saying well he is in the one engaged in silly activities. Look, there is plenty of blame to throw around on this thing. We have politicians. Each of them has an ego the size of Duluth. They're just -- each convinced of his or her own ways being correct. And, so, you know the voters will get a chance in November. They will decide, actually in August, whether Tom Horne should be nominated, or Mark Brnovich, who is being backed obviously by Mr. Montgomery. And they will decide in two years whether Bill Montgomery should stay.

Ted Simons: Yeah, and that fact that backed by Mr. Montgomery, Brnovich, that is a major factor here is it not?

Hank Stephenson: Yeah, I think that is the main factor here. You’ve got political opponents calling on each other to resign. Obviously neither of them has stepped down yet. I don't think this tactic has ever worked anywhere, of calling on your opponents, or people who you are aligned with, their opponents to resign. It just, it doesn't happen.

Howard Fischer: What it does, it keeps the drum beat.

Hank Stephenson: Yeah.

Howard Fischer: The drum beat about Montgomery saying he is the only elected state official, attorney general, convicted of a crime while in office. This was essentially a bump and run, pleaded no contest. But it keeps that message going. And particularly with Brnovich who has no money, this becomes a way to get media on it.

Luige del Puerto: Right, Howie is right. It adds to this narrative that even members of Tom Horne's own party are now saying this guy should not just not run for office, but he should step down as attorney general. Of course, you know, as -- as has been pointed out, Montgomery, is, of course, supporting Tom Horne's opponent, Mr. Mark Brnovich, and right now he -- it doesn't show that he has the money to truly be competitive. We have yet to see if he does.

Howard Fischer: And the fact is, look, even Montgomery admitted he is not expecting Horne to step down. You know if you want to get into conspiracy theories here, if Horne were to step down, it’s Jan Brewer who gets to name the replacement, who could name Brnovich as the heir apparent of course, given the two-term limit that would cut Brnovich short four years from now.

Ted Simons: And we mentioned Brnovich has Montgomery as a political ally, he also apparently has the County Attorney as a legal advisor, what’s that all about?

Hank Stephenson: Yeah, that’s kind of an interesting one. The County Attorney has come under some criticism for actually providing some sort of legal advice on this issue of immigrants being shipped to Arizona. It's -- it's kind of interesting to have him in this duel role of supporter of Ducey and also County Attorney where he is supposed to give legal opinions but probably not to candidates and probably not on this kind of an issue.

Howard Fischer: And this gets tricky, because look, I called Bill Montgomery today for an opinion on something that Kelly Ward wants to do which we will talk about later. Is that outside of his scope? I mean, I'm not running for anything. But here is what it comes down to; Bill Montgomery is criticizing Tom Horne for allegedly using his office for political purposes. If you are going to be out there throwing stones, you ought to be purer than Caesar's wife in terms of anything your office is doing that can be taken as political.

Ted Simons: There is some of those saying this even violates state statutes for sitting county attorneys.

Howard Fischer: Well here is the problem, if he is using resources, in other words, if he is taking a request from Doug Ducey, farming it out to his staff maybe. Now, if it is Bill Montgomery saying, oh, I can answer that question, we get into the same problem to a certain extent that even Tom Horne has. You know, when is he doing stuff on the clock, off the clock, he’s a salaried person. I think -- look, you get three attorneys; you get six opinions as to whether he is violating the law. I think that it is certainly on the edge, but from an appearance perspective, it’s bad. There are certain things, if you are going to be out there criticizing somebody else for political use of your office, then you better damn well stay away from that.

Ted Simons: Does this impact Ducey's campaign?

Luige del Puerto: I don't think so. I mean these are the kinds of things we see all of the time. It is ripe for all sorts of claims, all sorts of insinuations to be raised at this point during the primary. I think ultimately what impacts the campaign is the candidate himself, his actions, how much money he has, and really how good his opponents are. Right now we have a very competitive primary. And I think whatever the actions of his surrogates are at this point; I don't think they would really matter. Like I said, what would matter is what Ducey does and how much money he has and, you know, how competitive his opponents can be.

Howard Fischer: And the other half of it is, if you don't like Bill Montgomery, you won't like Doug Ducey. And so that is the way it tends to affect it. Now, if you happen to like Bill Montgomery, the fact that he is working with Ducey might tend to move some votes.

Ted Simons: Speaking of Montgomery, there was also a fatal accident involving a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy, that deputy the son of Russell Pearce, Russell Pearce is a supporter of Bill Montgomery, and of course Maricopa County sheriff's department run by Joe Arpaio, a supporter of Bill Montgomery, and this particular deputy not criminally charged in a nasty, fatal accident, which, again, raises some questions here, does it not?

Luige del Puerto: Well it does raise some questions. But like I said, this is a legal matter. There is an insinuation by the family of the victim that maybe this is being done because Bill Montgomery has political ties with Sheriff Joe. Sheriff Joe, of course, is a political ally of Russell Pearce, and Russell Pearce is a former state senator. I mean all sorts of insinuations and allegations that are being raised at this point. So yeah there is that narrative, at the end of the day you know this is something that a county attorney has to consider. The facts are that we have a deputy, he was on the job, of course he was running way, way beyond the speed limit and he killed somebody.

Howard Fischer: Not only beyond the speed limit, unmarked car with no lights and no siren. You know, I probably would have made a different decision based on that. If you’ve got no lights and no siren, you get on the radio and you say excuse me, you know can you find somebody for me? The other piece of it, this comes down to appearances. If you've got those political ties, is there any reason you can't find another county attorney, another prosecutor to handle this, another way to separate it out from your office? And that, again, comes down to what you should be looking at in terms of what does it look like.

Ted Simons: And that, according to the County Attorney, is a prime example of amateur analysis.

Howard Fischer: Well, and I have been guilty of amateur analysis on this show since 1982.

Ted Simons: Well, but the point is Montgomery has responded to those suggesting there might be some influence and he calls that amateurism and he says that there is enough of a question here -- and he thinks if it gets settled, civil courts are where this should be handled.

Hank Stephenson: Yeah, I mean I think that if you look at the facts of the case. Speeding way beyond, I think it was 80 in a 45, no lights, no sirens, and still they're saying that, you know, those aren't the only factors you look at. He was on the job going to check out a homicide suspect, and frankly he had the authority to be going that fast.

Ted Simons And there might have been obstructed vision there that he had mentioned.

Howard Fischer: But again, why not farm it out. Why leave that cloud, you're right this is going to be settled in civil court. The family will sue the county. The family will sue the deputy involved, the investigator involved, but the fact is that you -- there are certain things that you should farm out. There are certain things that you -- you declare a conflict. You declare a potential conflict.

Ted Simons: Right.

Howard Fischer: And say why am I asking for trouble?

Ted Simons: Yes, and so as I asked regarding the impact on Ducey—does this hurt Montgomery politically at all?

Luige del Puerto: You know, that is tough to say at this point, I don’t think it does. The fact of the matter is that, you know, he is the incumbent. If he seeks re-election, he probably will win. This is the county, Maricopa County, still a very republican district. I mean, you know, all of these questions are being raised at this point. Some of them will probably play out during the election, during his election if he does seek for re-election. But, you know at the end of the day, the fact is that we do have more republicans in this county, I think he still wins this race.

Ted Simons: He still wins this County Attorney race, but you have got to wonder about future ambitions as well.

Howard Fischer: Well what’s really tricky though is it’s real hard for county attorneys to run for attorney general for a simple reason. County attorneys are elected on a different cycle. So if somebody wants to run from county attorney to A.G. they have to resign to run. And that’s why we haven't had a lot of them coming that way.

Ted Simons: We mentioned the shipment of illegal folks, undocumented folks, describe them as you will, from Texas to Arizona. Now Attorney General Tom Horne is threatening to go ahead and sue the Department of Homeland Security Howie, to sue the feds over all of this.

Howard Fischer: A couple of problems. I read the letter. I went and looked at the federal laws he cited. Number one, is a law that makes it a crime to transport people who are in the country illegally, to knowingly trasport. It doesn't apply to the federal government. Number two, the question of the duty of Homeland Security, and customs and border protection to secure the border; we have been down this path. Tom Horne filed suit in 2011, went to a federal court. Federal court said you cannot mandate the federal government to do -- to tell them how to do their job. Horne says well this is different, that was an act of omission, this is an act of commission by transporting people here. You are doing the job as he said of coyotes, of bringing them into the interior of the country.

Luige del Puerto: Howie raises an interesting point. The way I understand this and I could be wrong, is that when they come here, they are actually not bused here, they come here via plane, then they go to the Tucson facility where they are processed. After they are processed, then they are dropped off at the Greyhound bus stations. All of this time they are under the custody of federal agents. And as Howie pointed out, you know the law that says illegal transporting does not apply to federal agents.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and through all of this the Attorney General, Tom Horne, is saying he is going to give the feds a reasonable amount of time now to fix this before he takes action.

Hank Stephenson: Without ever defining what reasonable amount of time is.

Howard Fischer: And here is where it gets interesting. I was talking with someone from ICE this afternoon who said we aren’t doing anymore of these family busings. The busings that are taking place are of children. And that clearly doesn't apply here, cause these kids are remaining in the custody of customs and border protection. From Texas, flown into Arizona, taken by bus to Nogales then transported from there to a health and Human Services facility.

Ted Simons: And why is this? What is going on here? What is all of this --

Howard Fischer: Politics, are you suggesting politics?

Ted Simons: No I’m not talking about Horne, I'm moving past Horne to the actual practice of shipping these folks. Whose idea was this?

Luige del Puerto: That is a really good question. It is not very clear how this policy came about. What we don't know is that there is a crisis at the border. There are hundreds -- I'm sorry, scores of thousands of kids that are crossing the Rio Grande and are surrendering themselves to border patrol agents instead of fleeing from them. The border patrol stations in Texas are overwhelmed. They cannot accommodate this many people. Of course there is one side is the legal process of getting them through the system, but there is the humanitarian side of it. I mean these kids have been through a lot. They, you know, some of them have not had a bath or some of them are -- have not had food. And so you have to take care of them. And our system is being overwhelmed. That is the problem.

Ted Simons: You take care of them, but do you fly them all of the way to Phoenix?

Howard Fischer: The problem becomes there, you know Hank knows some of this too, is that the argument is we can only process so many people.

Ted Simons: Right.

Howard Fischer: In San Antonio, in the Rio Grande valley. So you’ve got two choices. Either you fly some CBP people there, assuming you even had the space to do it, or you fly the migrants here to process them here. And that's the course that they took. Look, there are 47,000 unaccompanied children in the first nine months of the year who have crossed over. And 33,000 of them are through the Rio Grande valley. You can only process so many folks. So the idea is, you move them here.

Ted Simons: I guess the question, though is, here okay, but elsewhere too or no?

Hank Stephenson: Well, they've got to kind of spread it out, and then they have to have facilities to house these people. A lot of them don't have anywhere to go. You see down in Nogales, they are housing about 1,000, a little bit more than that right now. Nobody has really entered the places and seen the conditions as far as outside observers. So, there are a lot of questions about this program. And I think it is going to stick around for a long time. Some of the most fundamental questions about this haven't been answered. Why are we seeing this huge influx of young unaccompanied immigrants coming to the states?

Howard Fischer: And that gets into sort of macro geopolitical stuff. You’ve got on one hand the question of Honduras is the murder capital of the world on a per capita basis. So you have a lot of people who are fleeing. I mean, they are refugees, do they fit the legal definition? I don't know. The fact that they're willing to come up through Mexico and deal with, you know, the Mexican authorities and the bribes and the shootings there, to come here for a better life, that suggests something. And the fact is that what we know is that we're not getting the kids from Costa Rica, we’re not getting kids from Mexico, we are getting from EL Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which suggests it is a specific problem there.

Luige del Puerto: Well what’s really interesting to watch is how the states are reacting, the states are getting the migrants, are reacting. Of course, what we see in Arizona is a two prone —- it’s not a two prone approach, but two responses, two reactions to it. On the one hand we have the nonprofits, the churches, the groups that are out there and said this is a crisis that we have to deal with. And so they're out there trying to help. On the one hand, we have the politicians who are saying, well, it is also a humanitarian crisis but we're blaming the feds, and this is what you should not be doing.

Ted Simons: And we have politicians, including in this state who are fundraising off of this particular--

Howard Fischer: I'm shocked. I'm shocked. Well obviously, you know, we’ve talked about the fact that the Governor has something called Jan PAC, it’s a federal political action that was made so she can affect congressional races, well sure enough, yesterday, even as Jay Johnson, the head of homeland security was holding a press conference, even as folks were looking for alternative ideas, a little note goes out from Jan PAC, send a petition to the President telling him to stop this outrageous activity, and by the way, it wouldn't hurt if you gave me a little bit of money.

Ted Simons: Only takes two minutes to make a donation.

Howard Fischer: Only takes two minutes.

Ted Simons: And critics of that move are basically saying instead of that approach why not say hey, what can we do here in Arizona to help?

Hank Stephenson: Exactly. It looks bad. I mean it looks like you are trying to fundraise off of a lot of kids who are going through a very hard time. If nothing else it’s just bad P.R.

Howard Fischer: But you’ve got another factor with -- to look at the other side, the message has gotten to the Central American countries. If you can get here --

Ted Simons: That’s indeed.

Howard Fischer: You will be reunited with your family members here. Now, Jay Johnson in his press conference yesterday said look, that's what our law requires, particularly for children. That is what humanity requires. What are we going to do? It is not -- you cannot send them unaccompanied children back to Honduras, it’s not like you can put them back across the border here.

Ted Simons: And apparently talk about political ramifications of all of this, we have a state lawmaker, this time from the legislature, from the Senate, who thinks that we should put National Guard troops on the borders. Not the border, the borders.

Hank Stephenson: The other Mexico.

Ted Simons: New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California. What’s this all about?

Hank Stephenson: A giant box around the state of Arizona where federal authorities can't come in.

Luige del Puerto: So we have a state senator, Kelly Ward, from Lake Havasu City, suggested to Governor Jan Brewer what our responses should be, saying, obviously this is a problem that the feds have to solve. In the meantime, what can we do? So she is proposing that the National Guard be activated to secure our borders with our surrounding states, that the constitutional sheriffs could band together and prevent busloads of illegal aliens from entering the state, and then of course the Attorney General, she is saying could also find other remedies. All of course are problematic.

Ted Simons: A variety --

Howard Fischer: Legally, how do you determine -- leaving aside the fact that Kelly wants the National Guard over there on I-10 next to New Mexico and the fact that they're flying over, but leaving that particular problem aside --

Luige del Puerto: She also wants them in airports.

Howard Fischer: And she wants them in airports, but in fact when they are getting off the planes they are being put on buses run by the Federal Government, and I'm sure that the federal officials are going to stop for the Pima County sheriff’s deputies.

Ted Simons: If -- this 10th Amendment Howie. These sheriffs are the constitutional legal hierarchy of the land.

Howard Fischer: Yes, they are and I salute every time I see Sheriff Joe. But the problem becomes that look, I talk to Bill Montgomery, I talk to Paul Babeu who, these people who are not shy about dealing with immigration. There is no authority. U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 struck down most of 1070 that said you can make state crimes, so you’ve got a problem. What do you stop them at, what is your probable cause for stopping the bus? What do you hold them on? There is no authority there.

Luige del Puerto: The one question I really had in mind when I read the letter to the Governor, is that assuming we go beyond all of this, the legal problems that you know the proposal will face, assuming they are being bused via plane, how do you know which ground buses are carrying illegal aliens?

Howard Fischer: The ones with the brown people, you are not paying attention.

Luige del Puerto: How do you see?

Howard Fischer: I'm telling you, but that is part of the issue, is there’s no probable cause. You would have to have somebody -- assuming they were being bused, somebody let's say New Mexico, calling up the Sheriff and saying I see people getting on a bus here in Lordsburg who I believe are illegal to stop the bus. There is no precedent, there is no probable cause.

Ted Simons: Okay and there is no chance that this thing is going to go anywhere?

Howard Fischer: Oh heck no, even the Governor's office, which is happy to do anything they can, Andrew Wilder who is the Governor's press secretary said, not going to happen.

Ted Simons: Well something else is not going to happen is Ruben Gallego being kicked off the ballot because he happened to change his name to his mother's surname back in 2008. What was this all about with Mary Rose Wilcox? What was she doing?

Luige del Puerto: So Mary Rose Wilcox seized on this lawsuit that her ally had filed against Ruben Gallego claiming that he is using not his real surname. And the complaint said, well, because he used to be, or he is rather Ruben Marinelarena, I hope I got that one right, and that is his real name and we could not find any court documents showing that he has changed his name. In fact you know the lawsuit of course based this. The fact of the matter is Ruben has legally changed his name. There are court documents showing that he has legally changed his name. And more than that, he offered a very compelling reason for changing his name. He said look, my father, our father, abandoned us when we were young. We struggled. I wanted to honor my mom so I changed my name to Gallego.

Howard Fischer: But it goes beyond that. Number one, I love how Mary Rose's people are saying well it was the court clerk who misfiled something. You know before you a file a lawsuit, you might want to do your due diligence, number one. Number two, is let's even assume for argument sake that he has been in public office during a different name, he has run under this name, it is not like he is trying to hide past by changing his name. And number three, where was the apology?

Ted Simons: There was no apology.

Hank Stephenson: Yeah that was one of the most shocking things about this whole thing, when they were proven to be completely false, wrong allegations, baseless, really things that you -- a good lawyer should have picked up on very quickly, the media knew about Ruben's name change years ago. He has been very open about this. Anyone in real political circles with him knows about this. Once all of this came out, you know, six hours, 12 hours after they filed the lawsuit, there was no apology, and more than that, they doubled down on it. They used his middle name and then Gallego in the press release about it. They said it was hidden from public view as if like he had hid it when it was a clerical error.

Howard Fischer: And I love the fact that this from somebody who sometimes can change, as Mary Rose Gallego-Wilcox, cause she wants to use a name that somebody might remember. I mean come on folks, is this really the way we want to campaign?

Ted Simons: Is this a misstep that could really factor in the race?

Hank Stephenson: Oh yeah, this blew up in her face about as horribly as it could have. I mean my favorite things to come out of this were kind of references to 1070, or the Birther Movement, when is Ruben Gallego going to have show Mary Rose Wilcox this long form birth certificate.

Ted Simons: Oh boy, all right listen we’ve got about a minute and a half left here, we had a primary debate on Congressional District 1 here, the republican primary debate, real quickly, impressions?

Howard Fischer: My impression is I'm further conservative than you are. I’m further to the right. I mean it was 24 minutes of absolutely I am more conservative, I am more whacko, if you will, than the next person and that shows exactly how it’s happening. And the great part, I give credit to our host here, is he said to them finally, while you are doing this, you do know somebody has to survive this and run against a democrat. And don't you think it will affect you? Oh, no, no, this is going to sell in November.

Hank Stephenson: This was a change from Speaker Tobin, who is kind of seen as the front runner in this race. This was a change in tactic for him. Previously he’s been running against Obama and Ann Kirkpatrick. This time he was really facing the people in the room, the people who he’s got to beat in the primary just to get there, and going on the offensive against them, which was very much a different strategy than we have seen from him.

Luige del Puerto: Maybe he is realizing he does have primary opponents.

Ted Simons: Yes, and he also had an interesting comment about the tea party, saying it wasn’t as strong as it had been and gone to meetings not as many people there, the next night Eric Cantor takes the old a swan dive.

Howard Fischer: You know anybody who predicts the demise of the tea party is whistling in a graveyard, let me tell you.

Ted Simons: Okay. So, impressions, did anyone come out looking better or worse? Real quickly.

Howard Fischer: Well I certainly think that Gary Kiehne got some exposure, because he was sort of the unknown in the race. Obviously from the perspective of Tobin, he came across a little bit petty. You know, the fact is he said to one of his opponents, what else you got? You know. The New Yorker came out.

Hank Stephenson: He also said he didn't write his own Medicaid expansion plan. He said a lot of things during that debate. I think it goes to Ann Kirkpatrick, or maybe as you said Gary Kiehne for not repeating the 99% comment.

Ted Simons: Any problems with that?

Luige del Puerto: I'm still really deciding who is the most conservative of all.

Ted Simons: All right, well we will let you sit on that one for a while. Monday on Arizona Horizon, we'll discuss potential changes to Arizona's medical marijuana program, including the possible addition of PTSD as a qualifying condition. That's Monday evening at 5:30 and 10:00 right here on Arizona Horizon. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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