Medicaid expansion debate continues in current campaign cycle

Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer pushed Medicaid expansion last year with a handful of Republican legislators. Those legislators had to choose between loyalty to their party’s platform, their fellow Republicans, and a big cash payout by Brewer’s donor friends.

Their decision to betray their constituents has paid off in the short term. However, as their coffers are filling up with money, opposition to them is growing.  So much so, that John McComish has opted out of running for the Legislature again. He has announced that he will be running for a Justice of the Peace spot.

The Governor told Capitol Media Services, “Whatever I can do to help them, I will help them. They came together and they delivered the goods.”

Candidate    Raised  Spent Cash On Hand
Worsley  $153,802   $28,570   $131,821
BrophyMcGee    113,220    10,809    107,119
Carter    103,268    14,197      92,042
McComish      78,093    19,767      60,865
Robson      14,528      1.680      73,297

During the fight against expansion, opponents vowed to challenge the Governor and her capitalistic cronies then and in the next election cycle. Incumbents who opposed expansion have kept the loyalty of their constituents, and a few candidates have stepped up to primary the expansionist lawmakers.

LD11 candidate Vince Leach, a staunch opponent to expansion, is one of the top fundraisers, indicating that Brewer will meet some resistance with monetary teeth. Despite the fact that Representative Ethan Orr threw his fellow republicans under the bus with his support of expansion, not only has he not raised a relatively large amount of money, the Democrats are running a considerable opponent against him.

While individual candidates are able to raise money, the group that emerged for the early opposition to expansion, URAPC, which was started by former state Senator Frank Antenori and self-described community organizer Christine Bauserman, has not been successful in raising money. Their recent filings are raising eyebrows as well.

According to the Yellow Sheet:

“On the anti-expansion side, the Alliance of Principled Conservatives, an IE committee that sprung out of the URAPC referendum effort, raised a mere $225 since forming in November. The committee managed to post cash on hand of about $4,600, thanks to a nearly $4,800 transfer from the URAPC referendum committee. Likewise, the Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee raised relatively little following the passage of Medicaid expansion, even though the group has singled out several legislators for a primary challenge because of their support of the policy (LINK).

The recent reports have caused a stir. Questions have arisen about URAPC. From the Yellow Sheet:

Amid the campaign finance reports filed on Friday are two that show just how out-matched the grassroots Republican opponents to last year’s Medicaid expansion were. The URAPC committee pulled in nearly $21,000 in contributions. The vast majority of the $9,300 in individual contributions came in small-dollar checks – one person gave $2,000 and two others gave $1,000 each. Another $11,500 came from businesses, including $1,500 from URAPC leader Christine Bauserman’s group, Foundation for Responsible Accountable Government (The campaign finance report omitted the word “for” in the group’s name and listed it with an incomplete address on a road that does not match the information Bauserman gave to the secretary of state’s office when she registered the company’s name). The biggest single contribution came from the national Tea Party Patriots, which chipped in $20,000 on Aug. 30, less than two weeks before signatures were due.

As of February, 4, 2013, the Foundation for Responsible Accountable Government is only a registered trade name in Arizona serving as the dba for Christine Bauserman. It is not registered as an entity doing business in the state of Arizona.

According to the Yellow Sheet dated September 10, 2013, “Gould claimed that URAPC never had the money needed to hire petition gatherers.” The Yellow Sheet reported, “Gould said he didn’t think Restoring Arizona moved the needle much in the end. The majority of that money went right into the wallets of consultants,” he said.

However, according to documents filed with the Arizona Secretary of State, on August 30, 2013, the Tea Party Patriots out of Indiana contributed $20,000 to URAPC. On that same day, URAPC hired Derrick Lee Signs professional signature gathering firm that was not registered as a corporation or dba with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

Bauserman admitted as much in an email dated September 10, “I did hire people and they are not delivering – my volunteers get ten times the signatures they do. The speculation is that they were paid to go slow, the signatures were bought from them – yes, this is illegal.”

According to a 2011 article in the East Valley Tribune, “Two of the six major petition companies in the country are based in the East Valley. Lee Petition Management, which has run petitions from Massachusetts to California, is based out of Mesa.”

John Gilbert, vice-chairman of the state Reform Party, said, “Derrick Lee hires the unhireables. He does not have a lot of high-end people. And it’s not surprising that he got a couple of people who simply tried to run a scam on him.”

To view the URAPC filing click here.

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