On January 24th, the Mesa Public School Board chose to maintain a relationship with and send district funds to the National School Board Association (NSBA). They might as well have also given parents the middle finger.
In September 2021, the NSBA sent a letter to the Biden administration requesting that it deploy the force of the federal government to put down angry parents speaking out at school board meetings. The letter called on the administration to use resources from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center, FBI National Security Branch, and FBI Counterterrorism Division. The letter equates parents speaking out at school board meetings with domestic terrorists! Immediately and dutifully, the DOJ responded by sending out a directive to FBI field offices to create a partnership with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement to address the problem.
A full 5 months later, the Arizona School Board Association (ASBA) came to the correct conclusion—that the NSBA does not represent the values it believes are necessary to advance education in the state. As a result, they sent a letter to the NSBA severing all relations with them.
Yet, one month later in March 2022, the Mesa Public School Board voted unanimously to send board member Kiana Sears to the 2022 NSBA Annual Conference. Then in September, the board again voted unanimously to send board member Sears to two additional NSBA sponsored training sessions: the Counsel of Urban Board Educators in Miami, FL and the NSBA Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. And at its latest meeting on January 24th, the board voted to approve sending board member Sears to the 2023 NSBA Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.
As a concerned Mesa taxpayer, I asked at that meeting that the vote on this item be pulled from the consent agenda. I was hoping that the board would do so to send a clear message to parents that their voice is valued and appreciated. Instead, the board voted 3-1 in favor of sending district money and board member Sears to the NSBA.
The one shining exception to this insult to parents was board member Rachel Walden. Mrs. Walden boldly voted no, keeping her campaign promise to be the voice for parents on the school board.
Mrs. Walden is one of many newly elected school board members across the state who ran for office after the COVID shutdowns—when “distance learning” gave parents a glimpse into the classroom and exposed the failures of school boards. Walden correctly stated what should be obvious, “I feel we do have an obligation to build a sense of trust with our parents. They are stakeholders in this. When we have an entity working with the government to put down the First Amendment rights of parents, then I think we would want to disassociate ourselves with that entity as much as possible.”
But Board President Marcie Hutchinson disagreed, stating, “The NSBA probably mis-stepped.” PROBABLY!?
She continued, “But anytime we make a decision, we have to weigh costs versus benefits, and I believe that the benefits that we as board members can receive, and therefore transmit to our district, far exceed the cost of an association with a group that supports public education.”
President Hutchinson seems to have completely misunderstood the “cost.” The actual cost is not “association with a group that supports education.” The cost is choosing to associate with the group that thinks concerned parents speaking out at school board meetings should be treated, by the full force of federal law enforcement, like domestic terrorists.
The Mesa Public School Board doesn’t get it, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Across the country, parents are speaking out against the questionable decisions of school boards and the resulting abysmal academic performance. And while, it is becoming increasingly obvious that governing boards are not inclined to hold themselves accountable, you can make a difference. You can have your voice heard by showing up and speaking up at board meetings. You can email board members with your concerns. And you can get involved with the election of our school board members. The future of our schools—and our children—depends on it.
Ed Steele is a husband, father, grandfather, and Mesa resident with a passion for helping the younger generation succeed in education.
On Friday, Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) turn over all records concerning an Arizona man accused of working as a federal informant: Ray Epps.
In a press release, Gosar said it was suspicious that Epps was never arrested or charged with a crime despite inciting illegal activity. Last January 5 and 6, Epps encouraged and directed protestors to breach the Capitol building.
“If the Department of Justice has nothing to hide and is genuinely interested in what happened on January 6, they should release every piece of information relating to Ray Epps’ involvement on that day,” stated Gosar. “Then and only then will the American people know what really happened.”
The first to question Epps’ January 6 involvement was Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) last October. Massie asked Attorney General Merrick Garland whether federal agents were present and encouraged protestors to go into the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Further details about Epps’ January 6 involvement were uncovered through investigative reporting by Darren Beattie, Revolver News founder and former White House speechwriter.
Epps appeared on the FBI Capitol Violence Most Wanted List within several days of the January 6 riot. The public and mainstream media identified him quickly. However, the FBI didn’t arrest or charge Epps. Last July, they removed Epps from their list.
A year later, this July, TheNew York Times featured Epps in an article discussing how accusations of federal informacy ruined his life. Epps said that he and his wife plan to file a defamation lawsuit against those levying accusations of government collusion. Elsewhere, he cited Revolver News and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson as the main sources of many of his problems.
Epps also claimed to the outlet that he avoided arrest because he reached out to the FBI on January 8, the day that the agency included his picture on their Most Wanted list. After less than an hour on the phone, and a March 2021 in-person interview with federal agents, the FBI reportedly cleared Epps of wrongdoing.
In January, the House’s January 6 Committee revealed that they spoke with Epps. According to their account of the private interview, the committee said that Epps denied any involvement as a law enforcement informant or employee.
Epps was the former president of the Oath Keepers Arizona chapter. The Oath Keepers are a militia organization that believes the federal government is controlled by figures attempting to take away American rights. According to archives of the chapter website, Epps served as president from 2011 until at least 2014. Another individual, Gerald Rhoades, served as the chapter’s vice president.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was arrested for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot. Although 10 other Oath Keepers faced charges as well, Epps didn’t.
AZ Free News reached out to Epps for comment, and to ask him about his thoughts on the trials against January 6 participants. He didn’t respond by press time.
Extended Notes on the Timeline:
January 5-6, 2021: In one video, Epps advanced along the path where his group of fellow protestors pushed back the barricade around the Capitol. In another video, Epps declared that he and other protestors were “holding ground” while inside restricted Capitol grounds.
January 8, 2021: The FBI includes Epps in their Capitol Violence Most Wanted list, identified as the now-deleted Photograph #16. Epps claimed in a later interview with New York Times that “a family member” notified him that same day that “the FBI issued a be-on-the-lookout alert in his name.” The FBI never identified Epps by name. Epps told the outlet that he called the FBI tip line to turn himself in, and spoke with agents for less than an hour. Epps wasn’t arrested.
January 11, 2021: The Arizona Republicinterviews Epps. At the time, Epps refused to comment on whether he knew he was on the FBI’s list. Epps denied that he wanted people to go “into the Capitol,” as he said in video evidence, but rather “go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they [the protestors] went in.”
March 2021: Epps reportedly spoke again with federal agents, this time in person. He told them that he tried to calm down protestors, not incite them, as confirmed by a New York Times review of interview transcripts, which weren’t shared.
January 11, 2022: The House’s January 6 Committee discloses that they spoke with Epps, though they don’t publicize the interview. FBI official Jill Sanborn refuses to give details about Epps to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
March 29, 2022: The DOJ promises to provide a “disclosure” about Epps to several individuals facing charges related to the January 6 riot. An attorney for Epps, John Blischak, toldPolitico that Epps provided “a full disclosure” to the House January 6 Committee.
July 13, 2022: New York Times features Epps in “A Trump Backer’s Downfall as the Target of a Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theory,” discussing how allegations of federal conspiracy ruined his life.
August 30, 2022: Shortly after the Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump posted a debunked claim about Epps’ wife previously working for Dominion Voting Machines on his Truth Social account. Epps’ wife worked for an unaffiliated company, Dominion Enterprises.
Today every Republican finds themselves asking a new question: “If I speak out, will the FBI come for me next”? Recently, the LD3 Republican Committee heard a “Resolution to Censure the FBI as the Arm of the Leftist Police State in Maricopa County.” The fear in the room was palpable, for nobody knows any longer where the First Amendment ends and “sedition” begins. Yet nonetheless, one brave man, the songwriter Bruce Arlen, stood up and began to read.
He read a damning condemnation of the weaponization of the DOJ and the perversion of the law. And he read a clear and resounding call for the Legislature and Governor of Arizona, through both words and actions, to provide the citizens of our state with the “double security” against invasion of their liberties for which the federal system was designed. His courage inspired others. The motion carried. Bravery is contagious.
I am also afraid. I have seen the mechanizations of the DOJ and J6 Committee up close and know that this is no idle political witch-hunt but a coordinated and deadly serious effort to decapitate the Republican Party’s leadership and cow ordinary Republicans into silence and inaction. To be sure, some of the rioters on January 6th appear to have broken the law. But most of the “crimes” that Washington’s tyrants are now investigating amount to no more than allegations that political opponents said things that they do not like. The others are mere pretexts to prosecute people for the same reason.
Over the past few months, I have fielded too many questions from the Republican grassroots about whether they can still communicate with party leadership safe from the prying eyes of the FBI. And as a lawyer, I have had too many citizens come to me to ask, “can I say this”? One is too many.
So let me be clear: President Trump has a constitutional and God-given right to say that the 2020 election was stolen. So do you. And President Trump, like all Americans, has a constitutional and God-given right to petition Congress to take action on the basis of that belief or any other. Had Congress acted, those acts would, perhaps, have been proper subjects of judicial review. The rights to expression and petition are not. They are absolute.
Unfortunately, citizens are increasingly aware that if they are unlawfully targeted for their speech, they can no longer rely on the procedural protections of the American justice system as they once might have. The left has long intimidated and harassed attorneys willing to represent conservatives through the traditional Soviet tactics of the midnight phone call and anonymous threat. With the 65 Project, the left has institutionalized this harassment through a coordinated and well-funded effort to “shame” such attorneys, “make them toxic in their communities,” and curtail their ability to practice law by filing bar complaints against them. Attorneys willing to defend conservatives, never many in number, are becoming a rapidly dying breed.
In a few months, I will place my hand on the Bible and swear to defend the constitutions of the United States and the State of Arizona against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Then, despite my fear, duty will no longer permit me the luxury of inaction. I have heard the cries of the people of my district and will make every effort to fulfill my sacred obligation to defend the liberties of the citizens of Arizona.
It is a fact unknown to most that the federal and state criminal codes are so lengthy and complex that almost everyone is a criminal. It is, for example, a federal offense to slice canned peaches incorrectly. When everyone is a felon, prosecutors have unfettered discretion to prosecute their political opponents for perfectly “real” crimes. To protect our rights to freedom of speech and association, I will work to reform the law to ensure that only things that you and I would perceive as morally wrong can be prosecuted.
Ten years ago, Congress caught the FBI teaching agents that they could “bend or suspend the law.” Its academy is notorious for teaching trainees that suspects have “forfeited their right to the truth.” Thus, should the FBI continue down its dark path, I will go further and heed the calls of my PCs to introduce legislation prohibiting the State of Arizona from sharing information with the FBI that might help facilitate their reckless political prosecutions.
I call on liberals of good faith to join in these efforts. The FBI began its metamorphosis under Hoover. I am not blind to the fact that it was one of my favorite Republican presidents, Calvin Coolidge who appointed him. The erosion of our constitutional liberties was furthered by Dick Cheney’s push to expand the power of the secret FISA courts to spy on American citizens. His daughter Liz Cheney now continues his dastardly work by serving on the J6 committee. Today they are coming for Trump and the GOP leadership. But tomorrow the midnight knock could be at the door of my home. Or yours.
Do not let yourself become used to these escalations. Do not let your anger diminish with each new outrageous assault on your rights. Do not allow your liberty to be slowly boiled away like the life of a frog in a pot. The time to stand is while the noose sits but lightly about the neck. The time to fight is now.
Alexander Kolodin is a constitutional attorney and a Representative-Elect to the Arizona House.
On Monday evening, FBI agents raided former President Donald Trump’s household-name Florida home, Mar-a-Lago. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking at least 15 boxes of missing records from Trump’s administration that the National Archives seeks to recover.
Mainstream media received the inside scoop, many making retroactive edits and falling in line with a euphemistic switch from “raid” to “search” preferred by former and current Biden administration officials. Establishment media knowledge of the raid outpaced what Republican elected officials told the public they knew.
A number of unnamed insiders supplied details of the raid to the following outlets: Axios, Reuters, CNNreported that the raid concerned potentially classified documents taken by Trump, NBCreported that the search warrant was connected to the National Archives, the Washington Postreported that the potentially classified documents in question may have been taken to Trump’s residence instead of sent to the National Archives, and Politicoreported that paper records were seized.
The Arizona Republican Party said that the Biden administration crossed an “unprecedented line” in American history. The organization called on Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to seek an explanation for the raid, which they claimed was a historical level of political targeting.
“[Biden’s] administration has weaponized the Judicial System — the raid at President Trump’s home was an act of political warfare,” stated the organization.
Neither Kelly or Sinema have commented on the Trump raid, as of press time. When Tuesday came, they focused their messaging on President Joe Biden’s passage of the CHIPS and Science Act: a $280 billion package with $52 billion in subsidies to increase domestic production of semiconductor chips, also called “integrated circuits” (ICs) or “microchips.” Both Democratic senators issued support in the hopes that Arizona would attract manufacturing plants from Intel and other companies.
The Arizona Democratic Party issued their response to the Trump raid in the context of the statement released by Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. Their party didn’t comment on the legitimacy or significance of the raid.
“Be wary of someone seeking government office who doesn’t understand the law, and pours fuel on the fire when issues arise,” said the organization.
Governor Doug Ducey didn’t remark on the raid. His silence wouldn’t be uncharacteristic. The Republican Governors Association (RGA) convened last November at the Biltmore resort in Scottsdale to plan the defeat of Trump-endorsed candidates.
Trump’s endorsed candidates swept the primaries last week. Lake, Blake Masters (U.S. Senate), Paul Gosar (incumbent, U.S. House), Mark Finchem (secretary of state), Abraham Hamadeh (attorney general), David Farnsworth (Arizona House), Anthony Kern (Arizona Senate), Wendy Rogers (Arizona Senate), Robert Scantlebury (Arizona Senate), and Janae Shamp (Arizona Senate) secured their spots as the Republican candidates for November.
Arizona’s Republican congressional leaders spoke out against the Trump raid.
Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) pointed out that the FBI was fixated on Trump but ignoring claims of corruption linked to the Biden family, via the evidence of Hunter Biden’s laptop, and Hillary Clinton via her mass email deletion.
“This seems to be yet another example of the Department of Justice’s hypocrisy and political bias,” stated Lesko.
Lesko pledged to investigate DOJ abuses if Republicans secure the majority come November. Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) went one step further. He pledged support to get rid of the FBI.
Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) said that he’s attempted to gather insight on why the FBI raided Trump’s home.
“The only thing missing from the unprecedented FBI raid at President Trump’s home is Muammar Gaddafi’s sunglasses and cap on Joe Biden,” tweeted Biggs. “I stand by President Donald J. Trump.”
Not all Democratic congressional leaders spoke out on the issue, but the one who did sided with the FBI.
Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) urged Trump to publicize a copy of the warrant.
The House Oversight Committee requested that FBI Director Christopher Wray provide it with a briefing.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declared Tuesday that neither Biden or anyone in the White House had knowledge of the raid. Insiders that informed Politico of the raid confirmed the White House’s denial.
On Tuesday, Trump posted a campaign-style video that concluded with the statement, “the best is yet to come.” The post and its rhetoric led to speculations that Trump would launch a third presidential candidacy.
“We are a nation that’s become a joke. But soon we will have greatness again,” said Trump. “As long as we are confident and united, the tyrants we are fighting do not even stand even a little chance, because we are Americans and Americans kneel to God and God alone. It’s time to start talking about greatness yet again,” said Trump.
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it sued the state over its new law requiring individuals to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The law, HB2492, wouldn’t take effect until next January.
DOJ Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke called Arizona’s proof of citizenship rule an “onerous” and “unnecessary” requirement.
The DOJ contended in its press release that Arizona’s law violates Section 6 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and Section 101 of the Civil Rights Act. The NVRA specifies that individuals aren’t required to show proof of citizenship for the federal voter registration form enabling them to vote in federal elections, just to attest that they have one: these are called “federal-only voters.”
In its lawsuit, the DOJ rationalized that the federal voter registration form doesn’t require anything beyond an attestation because documentation “is not necessary to prove citizenship.”
The DOJ also cited the 2013 Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, which determined that Arizona couldn’t require proof of citizenship for those registering to vote using the federal form.
As for the alleged Civil Rights Act violation, the DOJ argued that Arizona officials couldn’t deny individuals the right to vote if they willfully or mistakenly didn’t check a box on the voter registration form confirming that they’re a U.S. citizen. The checkmark serves as an attestation of citizenship, similar to the one outlined by the NVRA.
With this lawsuit, the Biden administration effectively declared their allegiance with other establishment Democrats suing Arizona over the citizenship requirement. At the helm of lawsuits from progressive activist organizations is Marc Elias, a favored lawyer within the Democratic Party who was at the center of the 2016 Russiagate hoax.
Elias celebrated the DOJ’s action.
HB2492 not only requires proof of citizenship when registering to vote. It also requires election officials to cross-check applicants’ citizenship through government databases. On top of local and state databases, these include databases within the Department of Transportation concerning Arizona IDs and driver licenses, the Social Security Administration, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, and the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems Electronic Verification of Vital Events System.
Over 11,000 voters in the 2020 election didn’t provide proof of citizenship. In 2018, that number was about 1,700.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich pledged to fight the Biden administration to uphold the law.