Democrats Distancing From Maricopa County Attorney Candidate Julie Gunnigle

Democrats Distancing From Maricopa County Attorney Candidate Julie Gunnigle

By Corinne Murdock |

Democrats appear to be distancing themselves from Democratic Maricopa County Attorney candidate Julie Gunnigle in order to secure wins for themselves and other members of their party. 

The latest indication of this comes from footage shared with AZ Free News in which Chad Campbell, former minority leader for the state legislature and Democratic consultant, said that Gunnigle’s campaign resembled the Democratic Party’s “worst campaign” over the last 30 years in Arizona. Campbell was referring to failed 2018 gubernatorial candidate David Garcia. 

“[Gunnigle’s campaign] reminds me of that: not knowing the audience, not knowing the issues that matter to a lot of voters,” stated Campbell. “And I will say this: the vast majority of Democrats that I know all believe that there needs to be reforms in law enforcement, we believe there needs to be more accountability. But almost everybody I talk to, nobody wants to defund the police, everybody knows we need more public safety resources, which will actually make more accountability.”

Campbell indicated that voters weren’t keen on “defund the police” rhetoric — an association Gunnigle has attempted to shake unsuccessfully. A portion of Gunnigle’s campaign money can be traced back to George Soros — the Democratic dark money kingpin known for establishing progressive prosecutors across the country. 

Gunnigle has historically aligned with individuals and groups calling for police defunding. She advocated for the city of Phoenix to shift $25 million from the police budget to mental health and youth programs — an initiative called “25 Saves Phoenix Lives” launched by the nonprofit Poder in Action. 

Campbell’s remarks are the latest in a series of developments indicating that Democratic Party candidates and leaders are distancing themselves from Gunnigle ahead of the election.

Democratic attorney general candidate Kris Mayes told voters during the debate hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce last month that she wouldn’t endorse Gunnigle. Mayes said she disagreed with some of Gunnigle’s positions.

That’s a complete flip from two years ago. Mayes endorsed Gunnigle’s first run for Maricopa County attorney.

“She believes in greater accountability in politics and in our government, and she also will bring greater transparency to the office of Maricopa County attorney itself,” said Mayes.

Gunnigle also doesn’t have the support of Paul Penzone, the county’s top sheriff and a Democrat. In an interview with KTAR last month, Penzone said that Gunnigle’s platform concerned him. Namely, Gunnigle’s promise to prosecute law enforcement more harshly for errors. 

“It’s not the fact that they’re willing to do so if there’s merit, but, if your intentions are solely to be more about oversight and prosecution of law enforcement versus being balanced in your responsibilities across the board, then it’s not a place really for activism,” said Penzone. “It’s a place for a foundation of just being sound in your duties and being fair and just.”

This distancing may reflect a greater sentiment within the Democratic Party. According to the Arizona Progress Gazette, statewide and state legislature Democratic candidates were instructed not to appear in pictures with Gunnigle. 

Criticisms of top Democratic Party leaders from Gunnigle and her campaign may have lended to this development. In July, Gunnigle called President Joe Biden “the architect of mass incarceration.” Gunnigle said there was a difference between her, a “reform-minded” candidate and the party leader. Her controversial campaign manager, Bruce Franks, also called Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) and secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes “anti-black” in February.

Those are just criticisms from this year. Over the past few years, both Gunnigle and Franks have excoriated Arizona’s Democratic leaders such as Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

ADOT Launches Survey Ahead Of 2050 Transportation Plan

ADOT Launches Survey Ahead Of 2050 Transportation Plan

By Terri Jo Neff |

What will Arizona’s highways and other roadways look like 25 years from now, and what will the transportation needs be across the state?

Those are the key questions the Arizona Department of Transportation must answer as the agency begins updating its 2050 Long Range Transportation Plan, and state officials are turning to the public for help with the answers.

ADOT has launched a survey to seek the public’s input on what priorities should be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan for how ADOT should invest limited resources to meet future transportation needs across the state. The survey is available here and will be open through Dec. 21.

The Long Range Transportation Plan, which ADOT expects to be finalized in May 2023, is not project-specific. Instead, it establishes the strategic priorities, goals, and objectives which will guide ADOT’s transportation investments based on anticipated funding levels. The plan will also identify projected funding gaps to meet transportation system needs.

According to ADOT, the plan will include recommended investment choices, which will define how ADOT intends to allocate future resources across three major investment types:

  • Preservation: Activities to maintain the current state highway system, such as replacing, repairing, or maintaining pavement and repairing or replacing aging bridges.
  • Modernization: Activities to improve safety and operations of the existing state highway system, such as adding shoulders and implementing smart road technologies.
  • Expansion: Activities to add new highways, add lanes to existing highways, or add interchanges.

More information about the plan is available here. The website also includes an option for being added to the mailing list for future updates.

Google Skewing Search Results For Arizona’s Gubernatorial, Secretary of State Races

Google Skewing Search Results For Arizona’s Gubernatorial, Secretary of State Races

By Corinne Murdock |

Editor’s Note: Since our story published, search results for Kari Lake now show her campaign website on Google’s first page.

Google appears to be skewing search results of Arizona’s gubernatorial candidates to favor the Democratic candidates over the Republicans. AZ Free News monitored search results over the past week and discovered indications of a consistent bias for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs and secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes, over their respective Republican opponents Kari Lake and Mark Finchem.

It’s likely the latest in Google’s history of attempting to sway election outcomes. The Big Tech giant historically referred to their technique of manipulating search results as “ephemeral experiences.” Google has admitted to manufacturing this information in order to change people’s attitudes and behavior concerning politics.

A search of “Katie Hobbs” brings up Hobbs’ website as the first result, followed by top news portraying Hobbs favorably. A sample of articles featured over the weekend: an MSNBC interview that she’s the sane candidate, a Fox News report that she has “Republicans” campaigning for her, a KTAR report that former President Barack Obama will stump for her and Senator Mark Kelly, and an Insider report on Fox News mistakenly screening mock election results of a Hobbs victory. 

After those articles, it’s Hobbs’ secretary of state website, her Twitter feed, her Wikipedia page, an endorsement by pro-abortion group Emily’s List, her Ballotpedia, her Facebook, and various coverage of the burglary of her campaign office.

Then there’s the results of a search on “Kari Lake.” Her campaign website doesn’t appear on any of the first 11 search result pages, and doesn’t appear even when omitted results are included. Lake’s website appears sporadically via ads, alongside which there are usually ads asking voters to donate to Hobbs. 

Search results for Lake yield a Wikipedia page first, followed by top news portraying Lake unfavorably. Here were some of the articles featured over the weekend: multiple outlets’ coverage of “Saturday Night Live” mocking Lake and other Trump-backed candidates, multiple outlets’ reports on former congresswoman Liz Cheney’s millions and latest ad to defeat Lake, an Arizona Republic report detailing Attorney General Mark Brnovich accusing Lake of running a “giant grift,” and a Politico report on Lake using “MAGA star power.” After those articles, it’s Lake’s Ballotpedia, her Twitter feed, several YouTube videos, a Washington Post article, her Instagram feed, and her Facebook page. 

Something similar occurs when voters look up the secretary of state candidates. A search for “Mark Finchem” yields his state legislator profile first, not his website, followed by his Wikipedia page and a collection of “top stories” characterizing Finchem as an “election denier” and target of Cheney’s PAC. Whereas a search for “Adrian Fontes” yields his campaign website first, followed by his Ballotpedia profile, endorsements, social media profiles, and two individual links to news coverage detailing Fontes’ campaign platform. Absent from the first page of results are “top stories” portraying Fontes in any negative light. 

The same can’t be said for other races. Google search results for attorney general candidates Abraham Hamadeh (R) and Kris Mayes (D) yield their websites first, followed by Ballotpedia and social media accounts — no top news stories aggregated near the top. 

The same is true for the search results for Maricopa County attorney, superintendent, treasurer, and state legislative candidates. U.S. House and Senate races don’t reflect that bias, either.

Google has a history of political favoritism of the left. Evidence of their role in elections became evident following the 2016 presidential election. 

In last Thursday’s episode of Fox News “Tucker Carlson Today,” acclaimed psychologist and researcher Robert Epstein said that Google modifies its search results to influence voters. That’s in addition to the fact that Google is one of the top surveillance entities in the world. 

Epstein, a Biden voter, said that his research confirmed whistleblower testimonies of Google’s election influence. Throughout the 2016 election, Epstein monitored Google activity using 1,735 voters across four swing states. In all, Epstein gleaned around 1.5 million ephemeral experiences across not only Google, but Bing, YouTube, and Facebook.

Epstein asserted that the biggest issue in elections wasn’t fraud but the Big Tech companies’ unchecked influence.

“I was nauseated that our data were [sic] telling us that this election was in the hands of private companies, Google in particular. Literally, that there is no more democracy, there is no more free and fair election, it’s just an illusion,” stated Epstein. 

Epstein said that Google and YouTube influenced search results to favor far-left ideology. He estimated that Google’s influence in search results affected around 6 million votes in 2020. 

“What we found was extreme liberal bias on Google — which is the only real search engine that counts — and hardly any bias on Bing and Yahoo,” said Epstein. 

Arizona doesn’t appear to be the top priority for the Big Tech giant this year, despite evidence of their handiwork in the gubernatorial and secretary of state races. According to Epstein’s research, Google’s current primary focus is Wisconsin. 

Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee (RNC) sued Google over claims of censorship. The RNC provided research indicating that the Big Tech giant sends its campaign emails to spam folders automatically to suppress its fundraising and get-out-the-vote messages.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Student Loan Forgiveness Recipients Likely to Spend On Nonessentials Like Vacations

Student Loan Forgiveness Recipients Likely to Spend On Nonessentials Like Vacations

By Corinne Murdock |

Recipients of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program appear to be wrestling with shoulder angels and devils over how they should spend their relief funds.

According to a recent survey of 1,250 applicants by Intelligent, 75 percent expressed interest in spending on essential items like groceries while 73 percent expressed interest in spending on nonessential items like vacations. 60 percent of these applicants said that student loans had an adverse impact on their life.

66 percent were likely to pay off their rent or mortgage, 65 percent were likely to pay off credit card debt, 62 percent were likely to fund transportation costs, 60 percent were likely to pay off medical care or other debts, and 40 percent were likely to pay for childcare.

Comparatively, 52 percent were likely to buy new clothing and accessories, 46 percent were likely to go on a vacation, 46 percent were likely to eat out, 44 percent were likely to buy a smartphone, 43 percent were likely to invest in the stock market, 42 percent were likely to buy gifts, 36 percent were likely to buy a gaming system, 30 percent were likely to finance their wedding, 28 percent were likely to buy drugs or alcohol, and 27 percent were likely to go gambling. 

Despite 73 percent of respondents saying that they would spend their forgiveness funds on nonessentials, 73 percent also said that doing so would be wrong. 84 percent of male respondents were likely to spend on nonessentials, versus 65 percent of female respondents; 80 percent of male respondents said that doing so would be wrong, versus 67 percent of females. 

Twice as many Democratic applicants as Republicans insisted that these types of expenditures were acceptable. 

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Biden’s student loan forgiveness program earlier this month (Missouri v. Biden). Despite the hold, the Biden administration told reporters that it continues to accept and review applications. 

Biden predicted last Thursday that the order would soon lift, saying that his administration would be mailing checks sometime this week or the next. The funds wouldn’t be mailed in check form, but would be applied directly to their loan balances. 

The president criticized Republicans for fighting the controversial program. 

Nearly 22 million of 40 million eligible borrowers have applied for student loan forgiveness. Over 1.3 million Arizonans at least are eligible for relief. Applications don’t close until the end of next year. 

On Monday, the Biden administration announced reforms to other student loan forgiveness programs, such as relief for those victimized by colleges with false advertising or other forms of fraud. The administration also reformed rules for student loan forgiveness for government and nonprofit workers. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Higher Halloween Candy Prices Were Nothing Compared To Cost For Thanksgiving Dinner

Higher Halloween Candy Prices Were Nothing Compared To Cost For Thanksgiving Dinner

By Terri Jo Neff |

Anyone who bought Halloween candy likely noticed the higher prices and fewer sales. Yet it appears to be just a prelude of things to come heading into Thanksgiving.

Avian flu outbreaks across the country have led to the slaughter of more than 7 million turkeys, resulting in a shortage that has prompted souring supply and demand pricing (up 70 percent per pound from last year) that has been further worsened by inflation.

Turkeys are not the only Thanksgiving staple subject to significantly higher prices this year.

Baking pumpkins are also much more expensive, up 24 percent from last year’s holiday season. And anyone who buys butter or margarine—a must-have for those potatoes and rolls—knows the shortage of sunflower oil (due to the war in Ukraine) and canola oil (due to droughts in Canada) have seen prices creep up all summer along with milk costs.

Add all of that to the recent inflation report which shows most other foods have gone up 15 to 20 percent, and it equals a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner that is going to be costly this year.

Meanwhile, grocery stores and restaurants which typically sell take-home Thanksgiving dinner packages are advising customers to order early, as quantities are limited.

And those trying to escape the higher grocery prices—and cooking time—by dining out won’t see much relief, according to the National Restaurant Association. Restaurants are seeing the same price squeezes, which when added to higher labor costs will translate to higher prices on the menu.

The higher prices for Thanksgiving staples is also expected to squeeze nonprofits across Arizona who count on food donations to provide thousands of free meals to the homeless and low-income families.

Court Rejects Pima County Plan To Sell $14M Property To Company Affiliated With Mark Kelly For 10 Dollars

Court Rejects Pima County Plan To Sell $14M Property To Company Affiliated With Mark Kelly For 10 Dollars

By Terri Jo Neff |

In 2016, Pima County used more than $15 million in county assets as collateral to lure an aspiring space tourism company connected to now-Sen. Mark Kelly to Tucson despite myriad questions about whether the deal was constitutional.

The Arizona Court of Appeals answered one of those questions on Oct. 26, ruling that a major provision of the county’s deal with World View Enterprises violated the Gift Clause of the Arizona Constitution. That deal allows World View to purchase its Pima County-financed office and manufacturing complex on prime commercial land for only $10 in 2036.

Pima County has 30 days to file a petition for review with the Arizona Supreme Court. If no petition is filed, the case goes back to the Pima County Superior Court for further proceedings in compliance with the appellate decision.

Jan Lesher, the current Pima County Administrator, notified the county supervisors that the Pima County Attorney’s Office will discuss the appellate decision during an executive session on Nov. 1.

Former Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, with support from Kelly, attracted World View’s corporate and manufacturing operations by promising to construct a Space Port (launch pad) on county-owned land near the Tucson International Airport. In addition, the county designed and constructed a 142,000 square-foot complex on 12 acres of adjacent county-owned land.

The $19 million cost of the project, which includes interest Pima County pays for financing the construction, was justified, supporters like Kelly and Huckelberry claimed, because of the 400 high-paying jobs and $3.5 billion of economic impact World View would bring to the area.

For its part, World View is to reimburse the county’s outlay via rent payments as part of a 20-year Lease-Purchase Agreement. Then when the lease is up, World View can purchase the office / manufacturing complex (sans the Space Port property) for $10.

The problem with that provision, according to the Court of Appeals, is that the building will still have a 30-year lifespan in 2036 and a fair market value of $14 million.

“The ‘give’ then, by Pima County, is $14 million and its ‘get’ is $10,” wrote Chief Judge Karl Eppich in the Oct. 26 appellate decision. He added that the provision was “lopsided” from the perspective of the county because the purchase price represents only .0000007 percent of the property’s value.

Eppich wrote that the expenditure of public funds to benefit a private company is legal under the Arizona Constitution only when a public purpose is served and only if the benefit or consideration between the public and the private entity is not “grossly disproportionate.”

“We agree with Taxpayers that the $10 purchase option amounts to an unconstitutional subsidy because the consideration received by Pima County is grossly disproportionate to the value of the World View facility,” he wrote.

Kelly became an advisor for World View in 2013 after getting to know the company’s founders. He has continued his relationship with the company even though those founders are no longer affiliated with World View and have started a competing new space tourism company in Florida.

World View, which still claims people will travel to the edge of the stratosphere someday via its proprietary balloons, has significantly missed most of its annual staffing and payroll targets. County officials have also had to revise the agreement at least once to address several months of late rental payments.

Timothy Sandefur is vice president for Legal Affairs at the Goldwater Institute and is one of the attorneys who represent three Pima County taxpayers who sued the county shortly after the World View agreement was announced in 2016.

“County governments exist to protect the rights of citizens and allow them to pursue their own business in their own way—not to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, or gamble with taxpayer money,” Sandefur said after the appellate decision was announced. “When they do, the consequence is often that taxpayer money simply floats away.”

Sandefur also addressed the possibility that Pima County will ask the state’s highest court to consider the case.

“Although they could appeal the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court, it seems well past time for Pima County officials to admit that this entire deal was both illegal and foolhardy,” he said.