Mesa Public School Board Gives Middle Finger to Parents

Mesa Public School Board Gives Middle Finger to Parents

By Ed Steele |

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.

FBI Made Arrests For Threats Against Election Audit Critics, No Action on Threats to GOP Legislators

FBI Made Arrests For Threats Against Election Audit Critics, No Action on Threats to GOP Legislators

By Corinne Murdock |

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has nabbed two men who issued threats to elected Arizona officials critical of the 2020 election audit and claims of fraud — but has yet to act on threats made to at least two Republican officials.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges against a Missouri man for a threat of violence made against Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer. It is the first of few charges brought against anyone for threats issued to election officials concerning the 2020 general election. 

The DOJ also followed through with election-related death threats against Secretary of State and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs. They arrested a Massachusetts man, James Clark, for a bomb threat placed to her office in February 2021. 

The FBI Phoenix field office acting special agent in charge, Chris Ormerod, claimed in the indictment announcement that the FBI takes all death threats seriously.

“The FBI takes all threat-to-life matters very seriously,” said Ormerod. “While this arrest demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to hold accountable anyone who tries to intimidate a public official, it also shows that people cannot threaten others with violence and physical harm without repercussions.”

Yet, no charges have been brought for death threats made against at least two Republican officials: Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale).

“You are a completely worthless human being and an evil s**t. And you will die very soon. It will look like an accident. I’ve done this before. I have killed people,” wrote one anonymous individual to Fann. “I will kill again. I will kill you. Sleep well.”

Another to Ugenti-Rita not only threatened the legislator, but her family as well. 

“Listen up you s**c b***h, you have one chance to give the American people the Audit report or were [sic] coming from [sic] you, we know where you live, we know where you get your groceries, and we know where your family lives. You better do the right thing or your [sic] going to feel the consequences. Do you understand? We the people are no longer willing to play….”

The man accused of threatening Richer — Tecumseh, Missouri man, 50-year-old Walter Lee “Butch” Hoornstra — allegedly said last May in a voicemail that the recorder wouldn’t make it to his next board meeting if he didn’t fall in line with those challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

“So I see you’re for fair and competent elections, that’s what it says here on your homepage for your recorder position you’re trying to fly here. But you call things unhinged and insane lies when there’s a forensic audit going on,” stated the voicemail. “You need to check yourself. You need to do your f*****g job right because other people from other states are watching your a**. You f*****g renege on this deal or give them any more troubles, your a** will never make it to your next little board meeting.”

The Phoenix Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating the case. Hoornstra faces up to five years in prison for making an interstate threat, and up to two years in prison for making a threatening phone call. 

This latest arrest was executed by the DOJ’s special team formed to investigate threats against election officials and workers: the Election Threats Task Force. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco launched the task force last June.

The DOJ reported earlier this month that their task force has reviewed over 1,000 contacts reported as hostile or harassing by the election community. They said that only 11 percent of those contacts warranted a federal criminal investigation. It’s unclear whether the death threats made to Fann and Ugenti-Rita met that threshold. 

The task force operates through the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and encompasses the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section as well as the Civil Rights Division, National Security Division, and the FBI. Also involved with the task force is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). 

Richer said he was thankful for the FBI’s efforts. However, he said that he had plenty more threats for them to review. 

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

It’s Time to Stop the FBI from Continuing Down Its Dark Path

It’s Time to Stop the FBI from Continuing Down Its Dark Path

By Alexander Kolodin |

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.

Gun Fired During Attack On USBP Agent As One Sheriff Warns Of Escalating Danger

Gun Fired During Attack On USBP Agent As One Sheriff Warns Of Escalating Danger

By Terri Jo Neff |

A U.S. Border Patrol agent patrolling in Cochise County suffered several cuts after being assaulted trying to take an undocumented immigrant into custody Wednesday morning, leading to at least one shot being fired from a USBP-issued gun, Arizona Daily Independent has learned.

It remains unclear whether the gun was fired by the injured agent, another agent, or the “combative subject” as John B. Mennell, a CBP spokesman called the person the agent was trying to apprehend.

“Neither the subject nor the agent was seriously injured during the assault,” Mennell wrote in a statement Thursday. “The case remains under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation who will provide additional details as appropriate.” 

Very little is known about the assault which sent nearly two dozen law enforcement and public safety vehicles to the Coronado National Monument south of State Route 92 around 5 a.m. when USBP agents encountered a small group of people suspected of illegally entering the United States.

The agent’s injuries reportedly involved cuts or stabs on the hands and face, and were not life-threatening, according to Carol Capas, spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office. The agent was taken from the scene for emergency medical care; no statement has been issued by CBP, USBP, or the FBI as to the agent’s condition.

About 24 hours after the attack, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels took to the airways to  bitterly criticize the Biden Administration and the leadership of Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the unsafe conditions for residents of his county and the heightened dangers to law enforcement personnel.

Dannels told KFYI radio host James T. Harris that the attack on the USBP agent was just the latest incident of escalating violence. There was recently an assault on another USBP agent, as well as a local officer, and one of Dannels’ own deputies, he told Harris.

“It’s not getting better. In fact, just the opposite and we’ve been talking on this, preaching on this, for the last year,” Dannels said. “I’ll just say this – the failed leadership by this president and this administration to  recognize, secure our border, secure our communities, and secure our country is devasting to us right now.”


The agent was attacked near Montezuma Canyon, which lies a few miles west of the USBP Brian A. Terry Station in Naco.  Agents assigned to that station are among the 3,800 employees of the USBP’s Tucson Sector. 

It would not be until 5 p.m. that FBI spokeswoman Brooke Brennan issued a short  statement confirming the agency was conducting the investigation. At 6:30 p.m., Brennan issued a one-sentence supplement advising local residents there was no threat to the public.

However, several first responders familiar with the incident have told Arizona Daily Independent the “all-clear” notice could have been provided hours earlier. This would have relieved the worries of several local residents and tourists in the area.

Even USBP Tucson Sector Chief John Modlin ignored the assault on his agent. Modlin was active on social media throughout Wednesday but never bothered to address the morning incident.  But he did have time to share a video of a May 2021 rescue of a migrant in California.

CBP recently acknowledged more than 1.7 million people were “encountered” or arrested at the U.S. southwest border in 2021. That figure does not include whistleblowers’ accounts among USBP agents as well as public comments from officials like Dannels of several thousands of migrants who escape arrest.

While USBP agents were dealing with the attack in southern Cochise County, agents with the USBP Yuma Sector were meeting with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In his radio comments Thursday, Dannels told Harris that the Western States Sheriffs’ Association has taken a position of “no confidence” in Mayorkas.

The association, which represents the 17 contiguous states west of the Mississippi River, issued a declaration in November calling on President Joe Biden to replace Mayorkas with someone “who will work with our federal enforcement partners and the administration to restore security and safety on our nation’s southern border.”