In a “confidential” letter issued Sunday, debtors of fallen crypto giant FTX asked for refunds from Arizona politicians, political action committees, and other beneficiaries. Arizona politicians received at least $33,200; debtors estimate total FTX donations at $93 million, however FTX executives admitted using dark money routes to finance their favored political allies.
The Arizona Democratic Party (ADP); Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03), Eli Crane (R-AZ-02), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08), David Schweikert (R-AZ-01); and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) received FTX funding.
Of the $24.7 million given to Republicans, FTX co-CEO Ryan Salame donated $2,900 to Lesko, $2,900 to Schweikert, and $2,900 Crane. Of the $8.4 million given to Democrats, FTX Director of Engineering Nishad Singh donated $2,900 to Kelly. Of his $38 million, FTX CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried donated $11,600 to Gallego and $10,000 to ADP.
As of press time, only Schweikert and Gallego have responded to the FTX scandal by divesting themselves of the funds. Schweikert donated the funds to various, unnamed charitable organizations, while Gallego gave the funds to Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-OR-06) who Bankman-Fried attempted to defeat in the primary election through millions to her opponents.
In a press release, FTX Debtors stated that they have the right to take legal action if these contributions aren’t refunded voluntarily. They noted that any payments or donations to third parties, even charities, could be subject to FTX’s recovery efforts.
Gallego called for an investigation into the FTX collapse, in response to Elon Musk pointing out that Bankman-Fried primarily donated to Democrats.
“Musk knows about crypto schemes. FYI we should investigate FTX collapse,” said Gallego.
For years, Schweikert has advocated for maintaining freedom and limiting government oversight of cryptocurrency and other blockchain technologies. He’s been a longtime member of the bipartisan Congressional Blockchain Caucus, and introduced multiple bills in past years to advance crypto development.
Schweikert hasn’t issued a public comment about his FTX funding either, though he’s listed as having donated the funds.
Donations directly to campaigns weren’t the only ones influencing Arizona politics.
As AZ Free News reported last year, Bankman-Fried gave the most, $27 million, of his funding to a Phoenix-based political action committee (PAC), Protect Our Future PAC. The PAC treasurer, Dacey Montoya, is a key player in the Democratic dark money network. Montoya served as treasurer for Kelly and Gov. Katie Hobbs’ campaign committees, along with numerous other political committees and PACs across at least 16 other states. Montoya also described herself as a friend of Hobbs.
Kelly, along with Gov. Katie Hobbs, gave over $1 million to Montoya for her work.
Protect Our Future PAC shipped its millions outside of Arizona, specifically to 19 Democratic House candidates including Reps. Lucy McBath (D-GA-07), Maxwell Frost (D-FL-10), and Jasmine Crockett (D-TX-30).
Former Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said Rep. Ruben Gallego’s (D-AZ-03) support for abortion was a crime.
Gallego lamented that Arizona could limit abortions on Monday, which marked 50 years since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision legalizing abortion.
“Today, we should have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Instead, extremist officials ripped away the right to choose, leaving women in Arizona and too many other states without basic reproductive freedom,” wrote Gallego. “But make no mistake: this fight isn’t over.”
SCOTUS determined that the Roe v. Wade decision invented a constitutional right based on the “right to privacy”: a legal theory created by the late SCOTUS Justice Louis Brandeis in the 1890s. Brandeis’ invention informed the landmark decision Griswold v. Connecticut, the precursor to Roe v. Wade.
The state currently has a ban on abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation in place, enacted last year. The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled last month that the state may not prosecute doctors under the pre-statehood ban on abortion. However, the court didn’t repeal the law. Instead, the appeals court clarified that the later laws, including the 15-week ban enacted last year, were the standard to follow.
State abortion laws also limit abortion access in other ways. Telemedicine health care may not be used to obtain abortion pills. However, the state doesn’t have bans on funding travel and procedure costs for women obtaining abortions outside the state past the 15-week period.
The SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked early last May. SCOTUS announced last week in a 20-page report that they were unable to identify the source of the leak. Politico published the draft opinion; it appears they’re unwilling to reveal their source.
Gov. Katie Hobbs, at the time the Secretary of State, responded to the draft leak last year with an expletive railing against those she perceived to be ruling the state.
“F**k the patriarchy,” tweeted Hobbs.
The draft leak incited mass protests and riots at the Arizona Capitol and nationwide. An activist group with the University of Arizona (UArizona) and Planned Parenthood ties petitioned to make abortion a constitutional right in the state — an effort which ultimately failed.
In a Sunday statement, President Joe Biden called on Congress to codify the legalization of abortion. Biden characterized abortion as a “constitutional right.” The president also promised a Presidential Memorandum ensuring a right to abortive medications, which Vice President Kamala Harris announced during a visit to Florida. Ahead of the announcement, Harris declared that those opposed to abortion were “extremist,” and in violation of women’s constitutional and reproductive rights.
“We are looking at a situation where extremist so-called leaders in states around our country are depriving women of the right to have access to reproductive health care,” stated Harris.
Arizona’s congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle didn’t appear too fond of the Democrat-led Congress’ $1.7 trillion, 4,000-page spending bill.
Republicans decried the plan entirely, first noting the Democrats’ last-minute submission of the legislation for review and demand for a vote. They admonished what they considered excessive spending, especially given the nation’s current financial insecurity. Democrats that commented on the spending bill, which were few, were more vocal about the aspects they disliked than the virtues of the package. However, Democrats ultimately voted for the bill.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) declared that the omnibus was an “assault” on the people, separation of powers, and fiscal responsibility. He warned it would devalue the American dollar to “unprecedented levels.”
Biggs and representative-elect Eli Crane signed onto a letter led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) urging the Senate GOP to unify their 41 votes to kill the bill.
Biggs said that Republican resistance on the spending bill would allow the incoming Republican-led House to hold the FBI accountable for suppressing free speech online.
Biggs also shared commentary from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) disputing Democrats’ claim that Republicans were holding up the spending bill. Paul reminded the public and press that the Democrat-led Congress, just as with every other Congress, knows the deadline.
Watch here for Biggs’ full remarks on the omnibus:
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) said the bill was “America Last” in nature. He criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for prioritizing Ukraine over America.
Gosar listed a litany of real issues facing the country: inflation, declining wages, World War II-era shortages and supply chain issues, record crime levels, a weaponized Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI censorship and political persecution, Big Tech monopoly colluding with the DOJ, Biden family corruption with illegal Ukrainian bribes, record levels of broken families, a transgenderism crisis, failing infrastructure, record low confidence in government, broken elections systems, inept public health systems, COVID-19 vaccine harms, declining military, over $31 trillion in debt.
“Yet the Omnibus bill failed to remedy a single one of these very real problems. Not one. In fact, it rewards the DOJ, the FBI and the failed military leadership with more money and no reforms and no investigations. Not a dime is allocated towards securing our own border,” said Gosar.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) said the plan was “reckless.” Lesko noted that the country’s interest payments would surpass the entire Department of Defense (DOD) budget on a yearly basis ($742 billion).
Lesko also noted that 63 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
“We cannot continue spending money that we don’t have,” said Lesko.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) backed the bill, declaring that further funding for Ukraine was a good thing. However, Sinema did break with her former party (she now identifies as an independent) to speak out on border policy within the bill. Sinema reaffirmed dedication on a bipartisan solution with Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) for border legislation.
As AZ Free News reported last week, Sinema has been attempting to broker a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for increased border security measures.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) hasn’t commented on the omnibus as of press time.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) hasn’t commented either, though he did signal support for Ukraine once again.
Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09) criticized the decision to leave out the Afghan Adjustment Act, legislation to expedite the legal status process for Afghan evacuees. Stanton signaled his support for Ukraine as well.
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02) had the most favorable view of the spending bill. She championed the legislation as a great increase in funding for Arizona.
Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) continues to call Trump-backed and Trump-supportive Republicans “Nazis” and “anti-Semites,” despite supporting anti-Semitic groups.
Last year, Gallego ignited controversy over his $84,000 trip to Qatar paid for by a special interest nonprofit focused on strengthening US-Qatar trade relations. The Qatari government opposes the Jewish faith, and supports terrorist efforts to destroy Israel such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Additionally, Gallego continues to support the Arizona chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ). The Department of Justice (DOJ) acknowledged CAIR as an entity of the Muslim Brotherhood and noted that they were linked to Hamas activity.
Several months after Gallego filmed for CAIR-AZ denouncing the Trump administration’s travel restrictions, the organization appointed an outreach coordinator by the name of Ismail Abu Hayyeh, who advocated for the destruction of Jews and Israel. The month after joining CAIR-AZ, Abu Hayyeh tweeted from a since-suspended account that Israel shouldn’t exist at all.
“If you support Israel’s right to exist, you are a part of the problem,” wrote Abu Hayyeh.
In October 2020, Abu Hayyeh tweeted that the only solution to free Palestine was to kill the Jews of Israel. Prior to joining CAIR, Abu Hayyeh issued many other remarks advocating for the end of Israel and even public support for Adolf Hilter. While in high school, Abu Hayyeh said that all Palestinians wondered why Hitler “didn’t finish the job” and called Hitler “his hero,” and that he considered it a compliment to be called “the next Hitler.”
On the CAIR-AZ Board of Directors is David Chami, who filed a legal complaint last year on behalf of Fidaa Wishah: the pediatric radiologist fired from Phoenix Children’s Hospital for posting a video in pink hospital scrubs promising that Israel’s end would come soon.
Chami and another director on the CAIR-AZ board, Raeesabbas Mohamed, sued a Scottsdale Community College (SCC) professor in 2020 for issuing a class quiz that portrayed the Islamic religion factually but negatively. The Arizona District Court rejected the lawsuit several months later. In September, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals again rejected the lawsuit, concurring with the lower court to uphold the SCC professor’s free speech rights.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) opposes CAIR. Gallego hasn’t issued any public support for the ADL.
Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) took to Twitter to attack Republican congressional candidate Tanya Wheeless for including her maiden name, Contreras, in her campaign.
Gallego launched his brief attack on Wheeless in response to her jest alluding to First Lady (FLOTUS) Jill Biden’s controversial comparison of Hispanics to breakfast tacos on Monday. Little attention was paid to FLOTUS’ mispronunciation of “bodegas,” a gaffe similar to her mispronunciation of the Spanish phrase “Si Se Puede,” meaning “Yes You Can,” last April.
The congressman retweeted the same tweet from Wheeless three times with different criticisms, calling her race “convenient” and claiming that she “hid” behind her husband’s English surname.
“Glad you are a proud Latina now[,] hope it will stay after you lose,” wrote Gallego. “If you were Latino in Arizona around 2010 people were telling us to go back to Mexico. On the phone you would hear I am not voting for a ‘spic.’ We know people that couldn’t get jobs or leases. Did Tanya use Contreras then… no she hid as Wheeless. We took the arrows for her.”
In response, Wheeless issued a press release countering that Gallego’s attacks were sexist and racist. She explained that changing a last name through marriage doesn’t change an individual’s identity or heritage. Wheeless reaffirmed that she’s proud of her heritage.
“Ruben Gallego’s claim that I am not sufficiently Latina because I don’t always use my full name is disappointing, but not surprising,” wrote Wheeless. “These gross attacks have sadly become too frequent in our political discourse.”
Gallego replied, doubling down on his accusation that Wheeless only used her maiden name to run for office.
Gallego’s ex-wife, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, still uses his last name despite not being Hispanic.
Gallego changed his own last name from Marinelarena, his father’s surname, to Gallego in 2008. He decided to change his surname to honor his single mother and distance himself from his father, who he revealed had abandoned his family early on.
Watch FLOTUS compare Latino diversity to breakfast tacos below: