Phoenix, AZ- When the first drafts of the proposed state budget came out there was something odd. Someone had inserted $5 million into the budget for universities, but the money, which would automatically be appropriated every year, is earmarked only for “economic freedom schools.” That’s code for Koch Brothers University. Although no one at the Capitol will say who inserted the $5 million, it’s not hard to imagine. The Koch Brothers largely funded Governor Doug Ducey’s election campaign, and he continues to have strong ties to them.
Progress Now has received a confidential document from the Koch Brothers organization, Americans for Prosperity. Titled the Winter 2015 Partner Prospectus, the document details how the Koch Brother’s organization plans to infiltrate every aspect of our society, from school boards to public universities, with their small- government, anti-union, pro-corporation agenda. The document includes plans to infiltrate public universities, like Arizona State University and University of Arizona. The specific excerpt, titled, “Creating a Culture of Freedom,” outlines specific steps to pushing Koch Brothers ideology into higher education institutions.
SEE DOCUMENT HERE: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2035387-merged-document-2.html
The plan? Lawmakers first debate ideas and enact policy, then transform those complex policies into relatable educational materials and distribute for citizens and lawmakers to understand. After that, think tanks analyze and test academic findings to produce official policy papers for public consumption. Finally, get scholars and academia to devise and test these theories.
“Think tanks take amorphous ideas to conduct further research and analysis to produce policy white papers. Educational outreach groups transform white papers into relatable products and educations materials for everyday Americans to learn and understand,” it says on page 14 of the Partner Prospectus.
But the only theories Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers are interested in are the ones that bolster their pro-business, anti-worker, anti-public education policies. These are ideas the Koch Brothers want to push into the minds of Arizona’s university students. ASU’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty was created in November 2014. Shortly after Governor Doug Ducey was elected. The Center was also funded with $3.5 million from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation, the same brothers who bankrolled Ducey’s campaign.
The center claims it’s “committed to the study of the role economic liberty and the free enterprise system play in increasing opportunity and improving well-being…seeks to advance our understanding through independent thinking, scholarly debate, factual argument, and clear, honest communication of research and policy findings.”
But what does it say about a public university that allows the Koch Brothers to purchase its brand to legitimatize an anti-public education political agenda? In an Arizona Republic article Doug Ducey’s spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said, “The governor … believes it’s important that students in our university system are exposed to a broad range of viewpoints and academic views on a number of issues, including economics,” spokesman said. “So this fits in with that priority.
Josselyn Berry, Interim Executive Director of Progress Now Arizona said, “You would think that an economic freedom center that pushes Ayn Rand libertarianism could follow its own propaganda and survive without taxpayer-funded government assistance. But you’d be wrong. This appropriation discredits Arizona’s public universities while short changing our higher education system as a whole.”
PHOENIX- A new Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by Progress Now Arizona, finds that a trio of bills under discussion in the Arizona legislature related to campaign finance, overriding citizen initiatives and changing Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission are supported by fewer than one in four voters, and large majorities of voters between 66 and 78 percent of voters say they oppose the bills HCR2023, HCR2009, and SB1516, after hearing arguments against them.
HCR 2023 would dismantle Proposition 105 passed by voters in 1998, and allow the Arizona legislature to repeal or amend any initiative or referendum voters worked hard to pass. HCR2009 would make the Independent Redistricting Commission into a partisan and elected position, letting politicians to draw future district lines in their favor. SB1516 completely rewrites Arizona campaign finance law, and creates loopholes that would let millions of anonymous dollars buy Arizona elections and politicians through independent expenditures.
Representative Rebecca Rios read the results on the poll on the Arizona House Floor this morning.
“I think its important for us to have a pulse on the community and state and understand what Arizona believes in to accurately represent our constituents and the people of Arizona. Again, it’s very important if were representing the state of Arizona that we listen to the voters and not assume that we know when passing legislation here,” Rios said.
At least 70% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for any candidate for office who supported any of the bills. This coalition of voters is diverse and broad-based, and includes majorities of men and women, all age groups, Democrats, Independents and Republicans.
– Just 22% of voters support SB1516 on dark money compared to 48% who oppose. After hearing arguments against the bill, 70% of voters say they oppose it including 65% of Republicans. 81% say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the bill.
– Only 23% of voters support HCR2023, which allows politicians to override the Voter Protection Act, compared to 47% who oppose. After hearing arguments against the bill, 66% of voters oppose it including 63% of Republican voters. 82%say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the bill.
– Only 19% of voters say they support HCR2009, which would alter Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission, while a majority of 54% oppose the bill. After hearing arguments against the bill, 78% of voters oppose it including 70% of Republican voters. 73% say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the bill.
*PPP surveyed 573 Arizona voters from March 21-22, 2016. The margin of error is +/-4.1%. This poll was conducted by automated telephone interviews.
Phoenix, Ariz. – October 14, 2015 – Randy Pullen, former Chair of Arizona’s Republican party, sent out a tweet during last night’s debate in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pullen’s tweet received several responses from activists and local reporters.
“You knew all this ‘Second Amendment’ posturing was always about white people only having guns, right?” tweeted local blogger Donna Gratehouse.
The responses didn’t appear to faze Pullen as his tweet was left in tact.
“Randy Pullen thinks his racist tweet was funny,” stated Julie Erfle, executive director of ProgressNow Arizona, “but for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been affected by gun violence, this isn’t a laughing matter.
Pullen’s tweet underscores the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the disconnect between the Republican party and communities of color.”
Phoenix, Ariz. – September 28, 2015 – In a new ranking of the nation’s best and worst states to be a public school teacher, Arizona ranks third from the bottom among all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The rankings by WalletHub, an online personal finance information clearinghouse, are based on public education investment and teacher salary statistics from 2014-15.
“With strained budgets inflating classroom sizes and stagnating teacher pay, it’s no wonder Arizona teachers are fleeing the profession and leaving our schools with a shortage of teachers and experience,” stated Julie Erfle, executive director of ProgressNow Arizona.
The WalletHub ranking points out that Arizona has one of the highest pupil-to-teacher ratios and the lowest spending per student.
“The future of hundreds of thousands of Arizona students as well as the economic future of our state is at risk,” stated Erfle. “The time is now to switch course and put funding for our educators and schools at the top of our legislative priority list.”
Tempe, Ariz. – September 16, 2015 – A citywide survey among likely voters in Tempe shows overwhelming support for earned paid sick time. The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, found 80% of likely voters support a measure that offers up to 5 days of earned paid sick time annually. Only 16% of voters opposed the measure, a rare feat in today’s political climate.
The survey also found that half of voters would be more likely to cast a vote in favor of a candidate running for Tempe City Council if that candidate supported the earned paid sick time measure. On Thursday, council members will have an opportunity to show their support for this policy by voting to advance a proposed ordinance.
Support for the ordinance is being spearheaded by a local coalition, Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces. The coalition consists of public health organizations, sexual and domestic violence community members, women’s organizations, faith communities, and nonprofit and service providers.
“We are hopeful our city council members will listen to the wishes of their constituents, honor the needs of sexual and domestic violence survivors, and move this ordinance forward,” stated Allie Bones, CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and member of the Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces coalition. “With support of this magnitude, it’s clear that Tempe residents see the value in offering earned paid sick time for employees to care for themselves and their families without risk of losing their job or compromising their safety.”
The Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces coalition believes hardworking people and their families should not have to risk grave financial hardship because of a common illness or safety concern and that access to paid sick days should not be reliant on where someone lives or what job they hold.
For a breakdown of this survey, including questions polled, please click on this link.
September 15, 2015
WASHINGTON: As controversy continued to grow regarding a contract signed by numerous vulnerable Republican legislators with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), promising to supply detailed information about their “legislative agenda” and “political justifications” to national Republican donors in exchange for financial support, numerous state affiliates of ProgressNow, one of the nation’s largest and most influential progressive advocacy organizations, called on Republican candidates to withdraw from the program and disclose all correspondence with the NRCC.
ARIZONA: “Rep. Martha McSally has a history of avoiding questions on specific policies,” said Julie Erfle of ProgressNow Arizona. “It’s outrageous that she would consider giving this type of detailed information to wealthy, right-wing donors but not her own constituents. Voters have a right to know whether McSally is pushing her own agenda or that of the NRCC.”
COLORADO: “For years, Rep. Mike Coffman has tried to reinvent himself as a ‘new kind of Republican,'” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Rep. Coffman used to represent one of the most right-wing districts in Colorado, and has struggled trying to adjust his message to a competitive district. By signing the ‘Patriot Program’ contract, Coffman has proven that his new image was a ruse to hold onto political power. Colorado doesn’t need another rubber stamp for the Washington, D.C. Republican agenda.”
IOWA: “Rep. David Young tells Iowans he is looking out for them, but now we know he has sold Iowa out to Washington, D.C. special interests,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “The ‘Patriot Program’ is an affront to Iowa values. Iowans want elected leaders who work for us, not on contract with big donors.”
MICHIGAN: “It’s unfortunate that Michigan has two Republicans in Congress who have signed the NRCC’s special interest pledge,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Representatives Tim Walberg and Mike Bishop should put the needs of Michigan’s people ahead of the needs of Washington funders. Walberg and Bishop have failed the people of Michigan by participating in this program. At the very least, the citizens of Michigan deserve to know what they promised Washington, D.C. special interests in exchange for financial support and even better, they should reject the ‘Patriot Program’ altogether.”
NEVADA: “Cresent Hardy loves to talk about ‘defending’ Nevada from Washington, D.C.,” said Annette Magnus of Battle Born Progress. “But in order to save his political skin, Hardy has sold out the people of Nevada to big-ticket political donors who won’t put our needs first. The only people who should be pre-approving Cresent Hardy’s ‘legislative agenda’ are the voters he answers to right here in Nevada.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Rep. Frank Guinta’s contract with Washington, D.C. big donors and lobbyists proves whose side he’s on,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins of Granite State Progress. “The NRCC’s ‘Patriot Program’ asks Rep. Guinta to put the agenda of national Republican donors and fundraisers ahead of the needs of the citizens of New Hampshire. Guinta represents one of the most competitive congressional districts in America–and they deserve their own representative, not a sellout to special interests.”
PENNSYLVANIA: “Shame on Rep. Ryan Costello for selling Pennsylvania out to the same Washington, D.C. special interests he said he was running for office to fight,” said Keystone Progress’ Michael Morrill. “The voters won’t forget this in the next election. If Costello really wants to put the people of Pennsylvania first, it’s time to exit the ‘Patriot Program ‘ and come clean about what he promised big donors and Republican Party bigwigs. If he doesn’t, he’ll be held accountable at the polls in 2016.”
TEXAS: “Rep. Hurd is signing away his legislative agenda to out-of-state donors and special interests in Washington,” said Progress Texas executive director Edward Espinoza. “The only thing that Rep. Will Hurd is delivering to his district is broken faith.”
VIRGINIA: “It’s unfortunately no surprise that Rep. Comstock would sell off her legislative priorities to the highest bidder since for years her clear allegiance has been to monied special interests, not her constituents,” said ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl. “From opposing funding for expanding Metro to voting for an invasive, transvaginal ultrasound mandate, Rep. Comstock has repeatedly thumbed her nose at her constituents. At least now Virginians know who she really works for: right-wing Republican donors, not Virginia families.”
Phoenix, Ariz. – September 3, 2015 – More than a dozen organizations joined together this morning to urge Governor Doug Ducey to call a special session and settle the education funding lawsuit with schools.
“The parents of 1.1 million children are watching this issue closely,” declared Dr. Jennifer Johnson, a former state Deputy Superintendent and current Executive Director of Support Our Schools Arizona.
“Our children do not escape accountability because they find it inconvenient, or disagree with it or are simply not in the mood to follow directions. Parents hold the Governor and legislature to the same high standards and insist that they follow court orders, respect authority and do what is right for our children.”
Jonathan Parker, an AP U.S. History teacher and Arizona Educational Foundation Ambassador of Excellence, cited Arizona’s teacher shortage as a critical wakeup call for immediate funding. “Good teachers are leaving because they cannot make ends meet. We are chasing talented men and women, with a heart to teach, away from our public schools.”
Latino rights groups such as Promise Arizona in Action and the Arizona Latino School Boards Association referred to education funding as a “civil rights issue for our community.”
In all, 18 organizations representing thousands of parents, teachers and community activists stood together to ask the Governor and legislative leaders to honor the will of the voters and pay the court-mandated debt to schools.
“Be role models for our children,” concluded Johnson. “Provide the resources the courts have ordered you to provide. Call a special session immediately, and resolve this issue.”
Arizona Coalition for Quality Education – Arizona Education Association – Arizona Education Association Retired – Arizona Education Watch – Arizonans for Charter School Accountability – Arizona Latino School Boards Association members – Arizona Parent Network – Arizona PTA – AFSCME – Association of the U.S. Navy – Decoding Dyslexia Arizona – East Valley Patriots for Social Justice – Living United for Change in Arizona – Mi Familia Vota Arizona – ProgressNow Arizona – Promise Arizona in Action – Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition – Support Our Schools Arizona
PHOENIX — Progressives scored a major victory early morning when the Arizona Legislature descended into chaos and failed to pass its latest partisan assault on voting rights. Civic engagement volunteers who canvass low-income and Latino neighborhoods to turnout early voters won’t be in danger of becoming felons after all.
In what may have been an Arizona legislative first, the Senate adjourned sine die in the MIDDLE of the House’s vote on the voter roadblock bill Senate Bill 1339, which killed it. Before the discombobulated House finally quit around they had also defeated a referendum to repeal Arizona’s voter-approved Clean Elections Act. This was a clear victory against outside special interests who want to completely own our elections and take the referees out of the game. Also dying on the vine was a major budget-busting expansion attempt for Arizona’s controversial taxpayer-funded private school voucher program.
Thank you to everybody who called their lawmakers, wrote, tweeted or otherwise raised hell about these issues. Our voices were loud and clear it had an impact.
Last night was a silver-lining ending to a rough legislative session where rookie Governor Doug Ducey caused long-term damage to Arizona’s economy with deep cuts to universities, public schools and our safety net. Ducey also showed Arizona women what he really thinks of them by signing the Center for Arizona Policy’s latest attack on reproductive rights, Senate Bill 1318. Arizona Doctors must now lie to women about the possibility of a “reversible” medical abortion. Sigh. Another anti-choice CAP bill, another lawsuit, another expensive loss in court headed Arizona’s way.
But let’s focus on the positive. In addition to standing up for voting rights, Clean Elections and public education, ProgressNow Arizona also fought to defeat an odious attempt to revive pay day loans and a ridiculous Tea Party bill to allow guns in libraries, courtrooms and just about every other public space.
The culprits have now fled the scene of the crime. But, as we know all too well, the right wing in Arizona never gives up on a bad idea. To help ProgressNow Arizona keep standing up to the Tea Party bullies and holding conservative politicians accountable please consider chipping in or becoming a monthly supporter today.
PHOENIX – When it comes to telling the truth about Arizona’s virtually non-existent voter fraud one powerful Arizona Senator just can’t shoot straight. Sen. Don Shooter continues to distort and exaggerate a 2010 early vote project in his Yuma district to scare Republicans into supporting his bill to make volunteer ballot collections a crime.
Election officials, including then Secretary of State Ken Bennett, determined that there was no wrong-doing or broken laws surrounding the Yuma get-out-the-vote effort in 2010. Yet Shooter repeated the debunked story on Wednesday while testifying on behalf of a strike-all amendment to Senate Bill 1339 which would make it a felony for voluntary civic engagement organizations to turn in early ballots for voters who are unable to drop them off or mail them on time – often in heavily Latino neighborhoods. The canvasses are effective because many voters hold onto their ballots while trying to make their decisions, and if they mail them within four days of Election Day they won’t arrive in time and the votes won’t be counted.
If passed SB1339 would potentially prevent thousands of low-income, young and homebound elderly voters from casting ballots in the 2016. Republican incumbent politicians clearly see these roadblocks for progressive-leaning voters as vital to their long-term future given their extreme maneuvering – and in Shooter’s case outright distortions — to get it passed. House leaders will try to strong-arm the bill through a floor debate on Monday.
Shooter’s most recent distortion occurred on Wednesday when he testified before the House Appropriations Committee that members of several unions collected “5,500 some odd” Permanent Early Voting List requests for early ballots in Yuma during his first run for office, turning them in just before the deadline. Shooter then told committee members that “only 2,000” of those requests were valid. His testimony can be seen here. House Minority Leader Eric Meyer quickly pointed out to Shooter that his anecdote was not germane because his SB1339 criminalizes helping voters turn in early ballots and doesn’t address early ballot requests at all.
Shooter’s story was not only irrelevant, it was also wrong.
Francisco Heredia, executive director of One Arizona, led the 2010 door-to-door GOTV effort in Yuma as then head of Mi Familia Vota. Heredia confirmed that his canvassers turned in about 3,000 Permanent Early Voter List requests not 5,500. And those requests were collected and handed in over the course of several weeks, not all at the last minute. Of those, about 900 or 45 percent, were ultimately invalidated by the Yuma County Recorder, in most cases because the voters were already on the Permanent Early Voter List. They were simply duplicate requests, which are easily caught and corrected by election officials, Heredia said.
“The County Recorder in Yuma and Secretary of State Ken Bennett both confirmed that no voter received more than one ballot and that no ineligible voters were registered,” said Heredia. “Nothing illegal or even controversial happened. But Senator Shooter keeps distorting this story in order to scare his colleagues into making criminals out idealistic young campaign volunteers and disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters, mostly in Latino communities.”
This wasn’t the first time Shooter repeated his tall tale. Earlier this session he told an even taller version. During the February 18 Senate Government hearing on an earlier iteration of Shooter’s bill, he claimed that the 2010 Yuma GOTV effort turned in more than 5,000 VOTES at the deadline, not early ballot requests. Watch here as Sen. Martin Quezada checks Shooter and forces him to admit his story is not true.
Shooter and Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan are pushing for the voter roadblocks in an effort to recreate — piece by piece — the notorious House Bill 2305 from 2013. That four-part attack on voters also included legislation to criminalize door-to-door early ballot pickups. The Protect Your Right to Vote Coalition, made up of more than 28 organizations, collected over 146,000 signatures in eight weeks that summer to refer HB2305 to the 2014 ballot. Rather than face the voters’ wrath, frightened legislators instead repealed HB2305 last session. But now they are back trying to sneak its parts into law ahead of the 2016 Presidential election where Arizona could come into play as a swing state.
“Politicians like Michele Reagan and Don Shooter are terrified of the demographic changes happening in Arizona, which is growing younger and more diverse every day,” said former House Minority Leader John Loredo, who helped lead the Protect Your Right to Vote effort. “More than 146,000 voters spoke loud and clear on this. But they are afraid of a system where voters pick their politicians. They want to codify a system where politicians pick their voters.”