Taxpayer-funded League of Arizona Cities and Towns (League) apparently penned two opinion pieces on behalf of Pinal County mayors and supervisors praising Representative David Cook (R-Globe), email records reveal. What’s more, the League asked Cook to offer any edits and approve at least one of the pieces before they ran.
It appears the League’s primary lobbyist, Nick Ponder, contacted Cook about two opinion pieces for Pinal County officials: one on behalf of their supervisors, and one on behalf of their mayors. In emails obtained by AZ Free News, Ponder reached out to Cook for the final say on one of the pieces concerning Pinal County mayors. The subject line for some of the emails concerning that piece read: “Mayor’s Letter for Cook[.]”
The mayors’ opinion piece lionized Cook as a “brave legislator” who stood up against tax cuts and supported water sustainability.
“Thankfully, we have State Representative David Cook representing us in the Arizona state legislature. He is one of a handful of brave legislators with enough courage to stand up to the power brokers at the State Capitol in Phoenix. Rep. Cook is forcefully speaking out about the destructive impact the proposed tax cut will have on our rural communities and he is fighting to protect us. […] Equally important, Rep. Cook joins us in supporting policies which address our water challenges here in Pinal County. Securing long-term sustainable water solutions will ultimately cost the state billions of dollars. Considering Arizona’s water future and its pending costs, Rep. Cook is right to stand up and fight a permanent tax cut valued at nearly $20 billion over the next decade. Those are dollars the state will sorely need to fund future water solutions. We wish to make it perfectly clear to all our municipal residents: We stand with Rep. Cook in protecting our public safety budgets and bringing funding to Pinal County to help mitigate our state’s long term water shortage.” (emphasis added)
The League is funded principally by taxpayers. Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland, Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson, Eloy Mayor Micah Powell, Florence Mayor Tara Walter, Globe Mayor Al Gameros, Hayden Mayor Dean Hetrick, Kearny Mayor Jamie Ramsey, Mammoth Mayor Patsy Armenta, Miami Mayor Sammy Gonzales, Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney, Superior Mayor Mila Besich, and Winkelman Mayor Louis Bracamonte were signed onto the letter.
Email records show that Ponder reached out to Copper Area News Publishers for publication in the Superior Sun, Copper Basin News, and San Manuel Miner. Arizona Capitol Times published the opinion piece.
In another email, Ponder forwarded Cook an email chain about the Pinal County supervisors’ opinion piece. Pinal County Communications and Marketing Director James Daniels had submitted the piece to the managing editor of the Casa Grande Valley Newspapers.
After that, Daniels forwarded the correspondence to others, including County Supervisors Association of Arizona Executive Director Craig Sullivan – he shared it with Ponder, who then shared it with Cook.
The piece focused on how much the Pinal County supervisors supported Cook.
“Representative David Cook has always fought to protect the interests of the residents of Pinal and Gila counties, whether by securing resources to build roads or to develop water supplies, and we are very grateful to see his hard work to ensure that any tax reduction package passed by the legislature is designed so that the state remains on solid financial footing going into the future,” read the letter. “We are very concerned that in the legislature’s desire to do something ‘big and bold,’ what will get lost is doing things right. Therefore, we applaud Representative Cook’s leadership to shape a tax package that strikes a wise balance – providing meaningful tax relief, reducing state debt, and ensuring the state has the resources to meet its obligations to Arizonans into the future.”
Pinal County Supervisor Steve Miller and Gila County Supervisor Tim Humphrey signed onto the letter.
The piece appeared in The Arizona Republic, Pinal Central, Copper Basin News,and Superior Sun.
AZ Free News inquired with the League about their involvement in the writing of these opinion pieces, as well as who initiated the idea to create them. The League’s administrative assistant confirmed that the appropriate staff members received our inquiries, but they didn’t respond by press time.
David Cook is a Republican politician elected to serve in the Arizona House of Representatives from the 8th Legislative District. Representative Cook was elected to the State House in 2016 and represents central and eastern Pinal County and southern Gila County. He currently is in opposition to tax reform.
When alerted that a postcard campaign was taking place on Wednesday the 16th to encourage him to listen to the stories of hardworking Arizonans that need tax relief he did provide the following social media tweets (@RepDavidCook), “ …Yes – “we” the people- not any one person, one party, one county- “We the people” of Arizona. Those of us that are truly conservatives – saving the taxpayers – Billions (or trying to) and paying off those debts – not kicking them down the road – for future generations.” A public school teacher then asked, for him to support the flat income tax rate. Now, more than ever we need tax relief. He replied, “How much are your HOA fees a year?” The response, “Respectfully, we don’t have HOA fees, we have Biden penalties.” Silence
Arizonans need to call Representative David Cook (LD8) 602-926-5162 and voice your stories about how hardworking citizens need tax relief. Tax relief is any government program or policy initiative that is designed to reduce the amount of taxes paid by individuals or businesses. This is the time to return money to taxpayers, not leave it in the hands of the government.
Catherine Barrett, an Arizona Master Teacher, has been called “the bravest teacher advocate in the state” by educators and lawmakers. She holds Masters degree in Education and had been teaching for 19 years.
As a constituent in LD8, I have been hearing for years from Representative David Cook about his “conservative record.” This has been the song Cook has sung every election, and being completely unchallenged, he has successfully convinced many voters it is true.
But David Cook is no conservative, and him just saying he is, doesn’t make it so. The gig is up; Mr. Cook can’t run away from his very liberal record anymore.
Last week Rep. David Cook singlehandedly killed much needed tax cuts, institutionalizing the damage of Prop 208 and carrying the water for the democrats and Red4Ed. He was the lone Republican in this vote.
In trying to spin his way out of siding with the Dems on opposing tax relief, Cook is telling voters in Pinal County that he cut taxes by $600 million last year. One small problem with his claim–it never happened.
No tax cuts were passed in 2020, as the Pandemic ended session early and a “skinny budget” was passed by the legislature.
Cook didn’t vote to cut our taxes in 2019 by $600 million either. In fact, he raised taxes when he voted to collect a new tax on online sales which has resulted in an over $425M windfall in state and local coffers so far. Although Cook and his Republican colleagues did lower income rates in 2019, this was a part of an effort to stop a tax hike caused by conforming with the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Stopping a tax increase is not the same as a tax cut. None of this was very conservative.
Cook didn’t cut our taxes in 2018 either–he again voted to raise them. Cook voted with the Democrats for the now repealed $32 car registration fee most Republicans voted against. That wasn’t Cook “standing against his colleagues” to defend conservative principles. No, that was Cook standing with the Democrats and other liberal Republicans to pass a new $500M tax. This is not conservative.
And In 2017 Cook tried to raise our taxes again when he voted for a bill in the House Transportation committee to increase our gas tax by over 50%. This is not conservative.
This year Cook has been the main champion in the House to permanently increase unemployment benefits. On the heels of a government shutdown of the economy, Rep. Cook sponsored the bill this year that would increase unemployment taxes on small and medium businesses by 14 percent. Businesses are already struggling to hire workers back because they are competing against government paying people more to stay at home. This is not conservative.
Amid a surging border crisis, this year Cook was one of only four Republicans who voted to allow illegal immigrants to qualify for in state tuition, scholarships, and financial aid at Arizona public universities. This is not conservative.
The truth is that the legislature hasn’t cut taxes by $600 million in all of the years David Cook has served in the legislature. We have only seen our taxes go up, with Cook and his Democrat pals leading the way.
This year the state has a historic $4 billion surplus sitting in the coffers that all Republicans, except for David Cook, want to use to ensure real relief to taxpayers with real tax cuts.
Voters of LD8 aren’t fooled anymore, despite the impressive amount of gaslighting Mr. Cook does. David Cook is not a conservative. And it is long overdue he stops pretending to be.
PHOENIX – In response to the escape of two inmates from the prison in Florence last month, State Rep. David Cook has introduced new legislation that would toughen penalties for correctional facility escapees.
“Following the recent successful capture of two dangerous escaped state prison inmates, I was dismayed to learn that they could only be charged with a Class 4 felony,” said Cook in a press release. “It is only by the grace of God that nobody was injured, or worse, while these criminals were at large. The penalty needs to fit the crime and this change in statue does exactly that.”
Inmates John B. Charpiot and David T. Harmon escaped from a medium security unit at Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence on January 23. The two men managed to break into a tool room and steal tools to cut through the outside fence. After they escaped, the men attempted to rob an employee at a nearby hotel. They were captured on January 28, in Coolidge.
Cook’s bill, HB 2790, cosigned by Representatives Kevin Payne (R-21), Frank Pratt (R-8), Bret Roberts (R-11), Ben Toma (R-22), and John Fillmore and Jacqueline Parker (R-16), as well as Senators Vince Leach (R-11), T.J. Shope (R-8), and Kelly Townsend (R-16) increases the penalty for escape from a Class 4 to a Class 2 felony.
Cook says his bill gives prosecutors and judges a “wider array of options and greater discretion when charging or sentencing an offender.”
A Class 2 felony is the highest non-murder felony classification in state law and carries a sentencing range of anywhere from 3-35 years imprisonment, depending on the offender’s prior criminal history and whether a weapon was used. Under the law, any sentence for an escape conviction must be served consecutively to the sentence that the inmate was serving at the time of their escape.
“I commend the tremendous efforts by state and local law enforcement to protect the public and quickly apprehend the two escapees. HB 2790 respects their efforts and those of all who uphold public safety in our state. Moreover, it respects those who have been crime victim and their families who are likely to endure additional traumatic stress if their perpetrator escapes,” concluded Cook.