Fontes Fumed Over Budget, Stormed Through State House

Fontes Fumed Over Budget, Stormed Through State House

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s recently passed budget continues to divide Democrats as they bemoan Governor Katie Hobbs’ failure to negotiate more progressive additions.

Before the new budget was approved by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law, Democrat Secretary of State Adrian Fontes tweeted, “The present form of the budget proposal fails to fulfill the requirements we’ve conveyed to the Governor and the Legislature. This is because relying on one-time funds cannot address our urgent need for a larger number of SOS staff to boost IT security and offer technical support to the counties. As elections are critical infrastructure, the current budget proposal neglects the significance of maintaining the security and quality of our elections over time.”

After the budget was signed by Governor Hobbs, a Republican lawmaker alleged more discontentment from Fontes. Freshman Representative Austin Smith wrote, “During a House Elections Committee meeting this year @Adrian_Fontes came to testify for the ballot images bill to @electjacqparker, @realAlexKolodin, @azjustinheap, @RJ4arizonaand me. Fontes was storming through the State House yesterday cussing because he didn’t get what he wanted in the state budget for his left-wing pet projects. You CAN question ANYTHING in this country including elections. Only actual fascists and democracy frauds like Adrian Fontes hate it. Pound sand, @Adrian_Fontes.”

A few other individuals added some insight to this revelation by Smith, including Representative Jacqueline Parker, who stated: “Maybe if he stopped calling us fascists & working against us, & did his job better we would care about funding his department more… if I was in charge, A LOT more government agencies would have received much less funding. I thought he was treated too generously, considering…”

Representative Justin Heap said, “Uh oh. SofS Adrian Fontes is fuming about the Budget! He just discovered that the House Elections Committee made sure we stripped his control over millions of HAVA dollars he planned to use to “fortify” our elections. Tough break, Man. Seeya at the Joint Oversight Committee!”

Jen Wright, a former top attorney in Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s administration, tweeted, “Why would Sec. Fontes storm thru the AZ State House upset about the budget? Maybe because @realAlexKolodin & the @AZHouseGOP, & @AZSenateGOP refused to give him unfettered access to the MILLIONS in HAVA money that he had requested? #ElectionIntegrityHeroes #ThankALegislator”

Another freshman representative, Alexander Kolodin, responded to Wright’s post, saying, “Oh Gina Swaboda and I went through his budget MOST carefully. A little legislative oversight never hurt, right?”

Senator Wendy Rogers also chimed in to praise Kolodin for his contributions to the budget: “@repalexkolodin applies THE finest-toothed comb of anybody I know on planet earth… seriously. Picayune. Wonkish. But freakin’ sharp. I’m glad he’s on our side, is all I can say.”

Fontes’ issues with the budget follow the high-profile pushback from Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes, which occurred before the budget was passed and signed into law. Mayes previously sent a letter to Hobbs and members of the Legislature, writing, “The Legislature and Governor need to go back to work and produce a budget that is in the best interest of all Arizonans. We need a budget that funds essential state services that protect the well-being and safety of all Arizonans. I will continue to fight, especially for our most vulnerable residents, as well as the dedicated, hard-working public servants in the Attorney General’s Office.”

Mayes also threatened legal action if the Legislature swept “the authority of the Attorney General to direct funds received through consent judgments against several pharmaceutical companies for their roles in the opioid crisis.” Republican Representative David Livingston fired back against those statements, tweeting, “Attorney General Mayes should learn the facts first, and accurately convey those facts in committee hearings, before making demands and threats to sue the Legislature and the Governor over the budget.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Attorney General Challenger Hamadeh Argues For New Trial

Attorney General Challenger Hamadeh Argues For New Trial

By Corinne Murdock |

Abe Hamadeh argued for a new trial on Tuesday before the Mohave County Superior Court.

The judge, Lee Jantzen, seemed interested in sampling the evidence presented by Hamadeh’s team in the case, Boyd v. Mayes, despite multiple objections from opposition. Arguments presented by the opposition — the attorney general, secretary of state, and Maricopa and Pima counties — mainly focused on the amount of time that’s transpired since the election and Hamadeh’s December trial. Arguments presented by Hamadeh’s team focused on evidence of allegedly disenfranchised voters, claiming that hundreds of “lost” (uncounted) votes from undervotes and provisional ballots proved that Hamadeh won the race.

Lawyers present for the oral arguments included former assistant attorney general Jen Wright, State Rep. Alex Kolodin (R-LD03), and James Sabalos for Hamadeh; Alexis Danneman and Paul Eckstein for Attorney General Kris Mayes; Craig Morgan for Secretary of State Adrian Fontes; Daniel Jurkowitz for Pima County; and Joseph La Rue for Maricopa County.

Sabalos opened up the oral arguments, quoting Thomas Jefferson and summarizing general discoveries in the course of their months-long review of voter data as a precursor to Wright’s arguments.

“We do not have a government by the majority; we have a government by the majority who vote,” quoted Sabalos. 

Sabalos insisted their case wasn’t about fraud, but about the evidence and facts supporting the reality of Hamadeh as the winner of last November’s election contest. He claimed that Gov. Katie Hobbs, in her former capacity as secretary of state, was aware of and neglected to immediately publicize 63 Pinal County undervotes that lent to Hamadeh’s claims last December of lost votes. 

Sabalos said this intentional concealment of facts served to handicap their team’s due diligence of reviewing election data for the courts. Sabalos further claimed that there were 76,339 votes counted as undervotes in the attorney general’s contest. Of the approximately 2,000 ballots they inspected, 14 were misread (.61 percent). With that percentage applied to the larger total of undervotes statewide, Sabalos said that amounted to 466 or more votes — more than the 288-vote lead Mayes holds over Hamadeh. 

Sabalos then claimed that there were uncounted provisional ballots that constituted legal votes, and that the majority of those would’ve turned in favor of Hamadeh.

“We don’t come today with hyperbole or speculation. We come with some reasonably solid evidence, and we need a heck of a lot more for this judge and this court to get its hands around,” said Sabalos.

Wright followed up Sabalos’ arguments by first focusing on Hobbs. She said that Hobbs didn’t fulfill her duty of being a neutral, nominal party, since Hobbs argued heavily that Hamadeh had no evidence to support his claims, while allegedly knowing of the dozens of undervotes recovered during the recount, and pushed for his case to be dismissed. Wright further noted that Maricopa County Elections Director Scott Jarrett admitted during the December trial that he wasn’t sure why certain votes weren’t counted, and instead counted as undervotes. 

Wright expanded on Sabalos’ claim of the 63 undervotes, noting that they were counted as valid during the recount. Wright asserted that Hobbs knew of this fact, which she said rendered Hamadeh’s claims during the December trial valid. Wright also dismissed Hobbs’ claim that she was under an order preventing her from disclosing the undervotes, since the order only applied to counties discussing the recount results from vote totals. Wright claimed that the judge would’ve permitted Hamadeh a review of the evidence had Hobbs been forthright all those months ago. 

“I find it questionable that a government agent would take support of or opposition to a candidate in an election contest,” said Wright.

Wright further noted that Hamadeh was unable to obtain the provisional ballot data from Maricopa County until days after the trial occurred, further hindering his ability to meet statutory deadlines.

When Wright attempted to discuss the evidentiary numbers on undervotes, both Mayes and Fontes’ legal teams raised objections. The judge overruled their objections, however.

Wright claimed that their team interviewed hundreds of high-propensity voters affected by statewide computer system changes, which allegedly altered their registration address without their consent and therefore deprived them of the right to vote. She claimed that over 1,100 Election Day provisional voters were disenfranchised.

Election Day votes went overwhelmingly for Hamadeh: over 69 percent to nearly 29 percent for Mayes. Wright said that this would mean about 760 of provisional ballots would be for Hamadeh, and 316 for Mayes. By Wright’s math, Hamadeh would prevail on the provisional ballot issue alone by 165 votes. 

Wright further noted that their team had collected sworn affidavits of hundreds of voters claiming disenfranchisement due to bureaucratic failures. When she attempted to read the account of one allegedly disenfranchised voter, Mayes’ team raised an objection. The judge promptly overruled.

The allegedly disenfranchised Maricopa County voter, Marlena, attempted to vote on Election Day but was denied. Marlena had reportedly experienced issues with the county’s registration system for months: earlier that year, she discovered that her registration had changed without her knowledge and consent. Wright presented evidence that on October 10, 2022, Marlena attempted to correct her voter registration before the deadline. Wright also presented evidence from Maricopa County confirming Marlena’s registration. Yet, she was denied on Election Day.

Danneman, Mayes’ lawyer, said Hamadeh’s claims were speculative and based on unsworn opinions. She emphasized repeatedly the timeliness of his contest, noting that it has been over five months since the December trial and that their team could only present an argument that they needed more time to look for votes.

Danneman further rejected the argument that Hamadeh should be granted a new trial to undertake further investigation. She said that evidence must be material, in existence at the time of trial, and not be discovered with reasonable diligence. 

She added that Hamadeh’s request for a more complete ballot inspection proved there wasn’t any newly-discovered evidence warranting a new trial.

The provisional voters list didn’t hold much weight in Danneman’s view. She claimed Hamadeh was undertaking a “fishing expedition” for evidence, which she pointed out was prohibited by court precedent.

“This list of names proves nothing,” said Danneman. “The plaintiffs had their day in court.”

Morgan, with Fontes, added that it was “long past time” for this election contest to end. He said that Hamadeh’s challenge impugns the validity of election processes as well as the integrity of election officials. 

La Rue with Maricopa County concurred. Jurkowitz with Pima County argued further that statute time bars any further contest.

Following the hearing, Hamadeh expressed optimism that the oral arguments ultimately were in his favor.

The judge promised to issue a ruling within the next couple of weeks.

Watch the full hearing here:

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

Adrian Fontes Begins Campaigning For Joe Biden’s Reelection Campaign

Adrian Fontes Begins Campaigning For Joe Biden’s Reelection Campaign

By Corinne Murdock |

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes has joined an effort to support President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. The initiative cited Fontes as a key worker to mobilize the Latino and rural voters in Arizona.

Fontes was the odd man out in the voter turnout effort, named the “2024 Mobilization Project,” because the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association (DLGA) launched it. The press release announcing the voter turnout campaign effort characterized Fontes as a fellow lieutenant governor, lumping him in with lieutenant governors Garlin Gilchrist (Michigan), Peggy Flanagan (Minnesota), Sara Rodriguez (Wisconsin), and Austin Davis (Pennsylvania).

“In critical swing states, the incumbent Democratic Lieutenant Governor has a demonstrated history of organizing and turning out key areas and constituencies,” stated the press release. “Secretary Adrian Fontes served as the County Recorder of Maricopa County for two terms before his 2022 election to Secretary of State, where he received the most votes out of any non-federal statewide office. He will be key in mobilizing Latino and rural voters throughout Arizona.”

DLGA’s website also lists Fontes as the “lieutenant governor” for Arizona.

Sergio Arellano, executive director of Conserva Mi Voto, told AZ Free News that Fontes’ involvement in the DLGA reelection initiative was suspect. 

“Secretary of State Fontes says that he has ‘seen firsthand how vital it is to protect our democratic processes, and defend our elections,’ but rather than focus on protecting those processes for Arizonans, he is spending time engaged in partisan pandering,” said Arellano. “I don’t believe that the chief elected official tasked with managing our elections should be assisting an individual candidate that will most likely be on the ballot. If his participation in the Biden campaign is not a breach of ethics, it certainly appears to be.”

Arellano was quoting Fontes directly from his press release statement, in which he claimed that Democratic states have been delivering for voters.

“As Secretary of State, I have seen firsthand how vital it is to protect our democratic processes, defend our elections, and ensure every single person in our country, no matter where they live, who they are, or where they’re from, has access to their version of the American dream,” said Fontes. “To do that, it is absolutely paramount that we all work together, hand-in-hand, to elect Democrats in 2024.”

Arellano challenged Fontes’ claim that states have done better under Democratic leadership. Arellano recalled the recent #freethetamale controversy, in which Gov. Katie Hobbs killed a bill expanding allowed homemade food sales. The bill would’ve especially impacted Hispanic communities, where homemade food like tamales are often sold by street vendors and make up a key part of family income.

“Secretary Fontes says ‘every single person in our country, no matter where they live, who they are, or where they’re from, has access to their version of the American dream.’ However, President Biden has created an American nightmare for the average Latino in this country in his brief time in office,” said Arellano. “From runaway inflation to onerous regulations, the Biden administration and the Democrats are crushing opportunity. We have seen it firsthand in Arizona with the recent veto by Governor Katie Hobbs of the ‘tamale bill.’”

In addition to reelecting Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the DLGA said they planned to raise $15 million by 2026.

Arizona voters approved a constitutional amendment, Proposition 131, creating a lieutenant governorship last November; however, that position wouldn’t begin until January 2027. That leaves Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Wyoming the only states without lieutenant governors. Oregon’s secretary of state was also listed as a lieutenant governor on DLGA’s website, though Maine’s Senate president, who sits next in line for the governorship and is a Democrat, wasn’t listed.

DLGA issued its press release on Monday, a day before Biden formally announced his reelection bid. 

The president’s initial campaign theme was, “Let’s Finish the Job,” insisting that his administration was focused on preserving and expanding Americans’ freedoms. 

DLGA featuring Fontes, who isn’t a lieutenant governor, as a key player in mobilizing Latino votes aligns with the president’s formal reelection bid announcement. The campaign video included subtitles in only one other language than English: Spanish.

DLGA organized in August 2018.

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

It’s Time To Hold the City of Phoenix Accountable for Its Handling of The Zone

It’s Time To Hold the City of Phoenix Accountable for Its Handling of The Zone

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Democrats like to believe they are the party of compassion and kindness, but the reality in most blue cities says otherwise. For years, homeless encampments have been springing up in liberal-run cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. And in recent years, this trend made its way into Phoenix.

Just blocks from the state capitol, amidst what was once a thriving business district, a sprawling encampment of around 1,000 homeless has come to be known as “The Zone.” It’s a place where drug use, drug deals, defecation, urination, sexual acts, assaults, rape, and murder are frequently committed out in the open—often with little to no consequences. The problem has even gotten so bad that the Phoenix Fire Department won’t respond to calls inside The Zone without assistance from the Phoenix Police Department and assurance that the scene of the incident is secure.

But crime within The Zone is only one part of the problem…


Secretary Of State Fundraised By Dissing Kari Lake, ‘MAGA Fascist’ Supporters

Secretary Of State Fundraised By Dissing Kari Lake, ‘MAGA Fascist’ Supporters

By Corinne Murdock |

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes attempted to build up his fundraising campaign email list by dissing gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and her “MAGA fascist” supporters.

In an email last month, the secretary asked for his supporters to not only pressure the Arizona Supreme Court to reject Lake’s lawsuit, but to impose punishments on her and her supporters.

“We need you to make your voice heard and tell the Arizona Supreme Court that MAGA fascists must be held accountable for their election denying lies,” stated Fontes. “We’re demanding that Lake’s last lawsuit be dismissed and her legal team sanctioned for wasting the resources of the Arizona legal system.”

The body of the email is reproduced below in full:

Kari Lake just doesn’t know when to quit. We’ve already seen her attempts to overturn the 2022 election fall flat, but now Kari Lake is approaching her last legal option. She’s appealed her election case to the Arizona Supreme Court, and if they refuse her appeal, she’ll have no legal recourse left. 

Even though the facts and case precedent are on our side, we can’t leave our democracy to chance. We need you to make your voice heard and tell the Arizona Supreme Court that MAGA fascists must be held accountable for their election denying lies. 

We’re demanding that Lake’s last lawsuit be dismissed and her legal team sanctioned for wasting the resources of the Arizona legal system. Our democracy has stood strong, and with Lake’s last defeat on the horizon, we can finally shut the door on the 2022 election and look forward to Arizona’s future.

Can we count on you to sign our petition urging the Supreme Court to dismiss and sanction Lake for her frivolous election lawsuits? A strong rejection of these election lies is essential for the health of Arizona’s democracy. Stand with us and make your voice heard by signing the petition today.

Critics of the call to action were quick to point out that the only way to “petition” the court would have been to file an amicus brief ahead of last week’s deadline.

The referenced case, Lake v. Hobbs, is pending a ruling from the Arizona Supreme Court. Lake asked the court to expedite the hearing in January, ahead of Hobbs’ swearing in, but the court rejected her request. Lake asked the court, again, to expedite the hearing earlier this month; the court accepted. The Arizona Supreme Court granted review of the case late last month on one of the seven issues, concerning Maricopa County’s signature verification process.

In his most recent response opposing Lake’s lawsuit, Fontes asked the court for Lake to be punished.

“This [lawsuit] justifies the imposition of sanctions, or some kind of admonishment, so others will not follow suit,” stated the response. “If this Court sits silent in the face of what has occurred, then those who would due [sic] our union harm will continue to malign and erode the foundations upon which our great state stands.”

Fontes has persisted in issuing jabs against Lake and her supporters amid the ongoing lawsuit. Earlier this month in an interview with MSNBC, several days after the Arizona Supreme Court accepted Lake’s motion to expedite review, the secretary pretended to not know Lake.

“Who are you talking about? I don’t know of anybody of relevance in Arizona named Kari Lake,” asked Fontes.

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