Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

Connect the dots: Local big businesses are working on a multi-level coup

The Roberts’ Court ruling overturning campaign finance laws in January 2010 opened the gates for corporations to flood the 2010 midterm election with cash… anonymously. Hundreds of millions of dollars in secret funds are being pumped into media markets across the nation in order to defeat progressive candidates and stop the progressive agenda in Washington, DC.

Right here in our own backyard, small government advocate Grover Norquist created a $230,000 TV attack ad for politically-untested, 28-year-old, Tea Party darling Ruth McClung, who is challenging CD7 Congressman Raul Grijalva.

If you connect the dots, you can see that local big businesses are using money and influence to change our local government, change the way we hold local elections, control key political positions, and basically take over Tucson. Here is the evidence…

  1. The Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC), a group made up of the richest businessmen in Southern Arizona, is sponsoring Prop 401. This proposition– if passed by voters on November 2– would change to the Tucson City Charter  and make the unelected city manager the most powerful person in Tucson; increase the power of the Mayor; diminish the power of the City Council (while giving them a 155% pay raise to roll over); and change the City Council election cycle, enabling all Council members to be elected in the same year (and also enabling people with enough money to sweep the Council).
  2. If you follow the Prop 401 money trail, you will see that there are several donations of $1000-$10,000 and almost no donations under $100. The moneyed backers include Tucson Association of Realtors, Diamond Ventures, Jim Click, several other car dealers and developers, and many other businesses. (Although the Yes on 401 advertising says that unions back Prop 401, there are no union donations.)
  3. It was revealed this week in the Tucson Citizen that Raytheon’s political action committee made one campaign contribution in this election cycle– $15,000 to Yes on Prop 401. (Raytheon belongs to SALC. Ov course, thanks again to the Roberts’ Court, Raytheon probably also made other anonymous donations.)
  4. On last week’s All Things Political talk radio show hosted by former City Councilman Steve Leal on AM 1330 we learned that SALC sided with the Arizona Legislature in a lawsuit against the City of Tucson. (Click the link to hear the audio from the radio show.) In the last legislative session, the Arizona Legislature passed a law forcing the City of Tucson to hold non-partisan elections. The City of Tucson is suing the Legislature over this law that specifically targets Tucson, and SALC is a co-defendant in the suit. Tucson voters have rejected non-partisan, ward-only elections more than once at the ballot box. Now the Arizona Legislature and SALC are trying to shove it down our throats. (Unfortunately, this is nothing new; SALC has a history of trying to manipulate Tucson and Southern Arizona.)
  5. SALC is in the process of installing their vice president, John Pedicone (1, 2), as the new superintendent of Tucson Unified School District. SALC has a side project– Tucson Values Teachers— which encourages private citizens to buy schools supplies and gift cards for teachers. Helping and valuing teachers is a noble cause, but I find it ironic that the richest men in Southern Arizona are asking the rest of us for financial support. Also, no where on the TVT website does it say that they value public education. What would Pedicone do as superindent of TUSD? Will he be a champion for public education? This is unclear. Who does SALC back for state superintendent of public instruction? I have hunted around for the answer to that question but couldn’t find the answer. Do they favor Republican John Huppenthal, who as a state legislator worked to dismantle public education? Or Democrat Penny Kotterman, a life-long educator and advocate for children?
  6. Not stopping with trying to take over city government and TUSD, a Raytheon employee– Ruth McClung— is running for Congress in Congressional District 7. McClung and her husband both work for our local defense contractor. (Interestingly enough, McClung campaigns against big government spending, while being supported 100% by big government spending.) I’m sure it would be a sweet deal for SALC and Raytheon to have an inexperienced, young Congresswoman at their disposal.  (Also, don’t forget that Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup is a retired Raytheon big-wig.)

Personally, I think this is chilling evidence of a local coup in the making. It shows that these local moneyed forces are working behind the scenes at several levels to change Tucson. Is democracy for sale? I hope not. For more on this topic, check out this link to today’s version of All Things Political.

13 comments on “Connect the dots: Local big businesses are working on a multi-level coup

  1. Scotty Johnson
    October 21, 2010

    District 7 Citizens need to know the connections between Grover Norquist’s, his C3 arm of American’s for Tax Reform.  Senate Finance Committee report in 2005 alleged they were “frauding taxpayers.”  This group might, right now, be under investigation.  See exceperts from Stories and links belowReport Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to AbramoffBy James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt   Washington Post Staff Writers
    Friday, October 13, 2006; 1:32 AM“Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, “appear to have perpetrated a fraud” on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients’ positions….”“…The Senate report released yesterday states that the nonprofit groups probably violated their tax-exempt status “by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff’s direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff’s clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff’s clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff’s clients.”“….The groups named in the report are Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform; the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which was co-founded by Norquist and Gale Norton before she became secretary of the interior; Citizens Against Government Waste; the National Center for Public Policy Research, a spinoff of the Heritage Foundation; and Toward Tradition, a Seattle-based religious group founded by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.Nonprofit Groups Funneled Money For AbramoffBy Susan Schmidt and James V. GrimaldiWashington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, June 25, 2006 “Newly released documents in the Jack Abramoff investigation shed light on how the lobbyist secretly routed his clients’ funds through tax-exempt organizations with the acquiescence of those in charge, including prominent conservative activist Grover Norquist….”“Among the organizations used by Abramoff was Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. According to an investigative report on Abramoff’s lobbying released last week by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Americans for Tax Reform served as a “conduit” for funds that flowed from Abramoff’s clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns. As the money passed through, Norquist’s organization kept a small cut, e-mails show….”    (Cont….)Senate Report Slams Norquist, Charities for Cheating
    Justin Rood | October 12, 2006, 4:54PM
    A long-awaited report by the Senate Finance Committee accuses Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and other Abramoff-linked non-profits with committing acts that are likely in violation of their tax-exempt status.You can read the full report here. The document is 608 pages in total, but most of that is devoted to appendices and exhibits; the report itself is 55 pages long.   (Cont.) CREW FILES IRS COMPLAINT AGAINST GROVER NORQUIST’S AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM
    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
    March 14, 2006 
    Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today filed an Internal Revenue Services (IRS) complaint against Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), and American for Tax Reform Foundation (ATR Foundation), conservative, non-profit organizations led by right-wing activist Grover Norquist. The complaint asks the IRS to investigate activities by the groups which may violate IRS regulations and require a revocation of their tax-exempt status.

    The complaint alleges that Norquist used either or both ATR and ATR Foundation as commercial enterprises by laundering money derived from Indian casino clients of former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. The casinos made contributions to ATR, which then skimmed a fee off the top before passing the money on to former Christian activist Ralph Reed and other anti-gambling activists. In this way, Norquist, Reed and Abramoff were able to disguise the fact that the money used to fund anti-gambling activities was generated through Indian gambling. The point of the anti-gambling campaigns was to prevent competition to the Indian casinos.Read the full report >

  2. Allan
    October 22, 2010

    To make it even spookier, Raytheon is running an employee in CD8 – Libertarian Steven Stoltz. Imagine CD7, CD8, Mayor, and State Senator Antenori all doing Raytheon’s bidding. With that sort of control, can Predator drones looking into our windows be far behind?

  3. Angel Piazza
    October 22, 2010

    This is a terrible article. Proving once again, that Grijalva is using his influence on trying to keep our people down.  He has many latino’s scared about “Change” for the better to help Tucson by blaming things on successful “white” businessmen and women.  It’s time to stand up to him.  This story just like the strange “white Powder” package at his office, are all attempts to keep us down. By voting for some same old crooked canidates every year who do not represent us at all.

  4. andrew farley
    October 22, 2010

    Gabby spoke about these at the debates the other nite and watching the TV ads, a lot of outsiders are attacking her, not just Jesse Kelly but four or five differant sources from differant States

    • Pamela
      October 22, 2010

      I actually think she said 9 out-of-state, big money groups started raising money against her as early as May 2010. Kelly and McClung are empty suits spouting Tea Party BS.

      • andrew farley
        October 22, 2010

        I believe Kelly and McClung are but Mr. Grijalva has to go.

      • Cruz
        October 23, 2010

        You really don’t consider yourself a journalist do you?

  5. Jim Hannley
    October 22, 2010

    Great story, Pamela. Connecting the dots is difficult for many of us as it requires time to research. Here you have done that work and presented it in a clear, concise manner.

    • Cruz
      October 23, 2010

      You really don’t mean that do you?

  6. shane
    October 22, 2010

    Excellent report, Pamela.

  7. Cruz
    October 23, 2010

    Grijalva and SEIU one in the same.

    • Pamela Powers
      October 23, 2010

      Do you know what SEIU stands for?

      • Cruz
        October 23, 2010

        Service Employees International Union, major supporter of your buddy raul you two bit hack.

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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