It's been a busy week Arizona State Senator Lori Klein, between running in the LD1 primary, holding fundraisers, and fielding phone calls from the media about comments made by Joe the Plumber.
Klein, who is running against Speaker of the House Andy Tobin and incumbent Representative Karen Fann, invited Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka, Joe the Plumber to be the headliner for a couple of her fundraisers. The comments he made have gone viral, getting the attention of local, state wide and national news media organizations.
Klein graciously sat down with eNewsAZ for an interview to discuss this and other issues. After walking through a rainstorm she was a little disheveled, but prepared for tough questions and honest answers.
1. Meet Lori Klein, and oh, yeah, about that pink pistol...
Besides Joe the Plumber speaking at her fundraisers, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio also came, speaking on Friday night. In this first video, Klein talks about why she's running, and about what she carries.
AZCentral has a different perspective on this story. Read: Sen. Lori Klein's claims vary over conduct with firearm in interview
This article also includes a video interview (upper left corner) and the transcript of the interview (after the second paragraph).
2. Klein: About those comments by Joe the Plumber - ouch!
Coming to Arizona from Ohio and telling folks to, "Build the damn fence and start shooting," didn't play well here. Klein addresses that issue.
3. Klein: About her leader, Senate President Steve Pierce -
When it came time to choose a Senate President, Klein didn't vote for Steve Pierce, who hails from the Prescott area communities. But, she voted for now-Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs. As for Pierce, well, she's still not entirely supportive.
It's an admittedly longer video, and it brings up three topics:
- The Senate and House Victory Funds
- Is Andy Tobin involved?
- Whether or not Ron Gould 'bought' Steve Pierce's endorsement
Let's examine each of these allegations separately.
The Senate and House Victory Funds
On August 9, a letter was delivered to Senate President Steve Pierce signed by ten senators. This letter was protesting the use of Senate Victory Funds in a primary election between two Republican candidates, State Representative John Fillmore and Rich Crandall.
When Klein sent out copies of that letter, she also included a thread of emails between herself and Biggs.
First, Klein wrote:
"Do you have the letter yet. We need to strike while the iron is hot!
"LK Delivered on Tuesday. Pot boiling now. Taking the next step soon. ASb"
Can I read the letter….? Please send me a copy. Great job! Lori
Is this simply a plan to get Pierce to stop using the Victory Fund money? Is there something more to it? And, what is the next step that Biggs referred to?
Is Andy Tobin Involved?
Klein has seized upon this as a way to include Tobin in the controversy, concluding that Pierce and Tobin are working together in the use of the Victory Fund money. Fillmore, who happens to be endorsing Klein, also states that Tobin is acting with Pierce.
But, according to Tobin, nothing could be further from the truth. He explained, "Kirk Adams and Bob Burns, former President and former Speaker, both set up accounts. One was a House Victory Fund, one was a Senate Victory Fund. To fast forward this, they spent their money in 2010, but the Senate Victory Fund had money left over that was never used. Steve Pierce decided he would start a new Senate Fund. In the meantime, they were closing out the existing Senate fund, and transferred that money to the House Victory fund. Well, then Steve Pierce said, 'Well, the Senate's doing their own thing, and we'd like you to send the money back to us, because the Senate raised it."
"Quite frankly, I'm not involved in it at all, but the Chairman of the House Victory Fund sent the money back," Tobin continued. "And that's the whole story. The Chairman of the House Victory Fund gave the money back. Now, that money is in the Senate account. Steve Pierce's Senate account has been doing mailers in primaries. The House fund does not do any work in primaries at all. Nor have I endorsed any Senate races at all. It's disingenuous for Senator Klein to make that assumption, because I'm not involved. Mr. Fillmore is in the House, he's a current House member. I don't participate in his race at all. Mr. Crandall is a current Senate member. I don't participate in his race, either. I don't play in Senate races, from my perspective, it lacks protocol. The confusion here is when the House Victory fund, that I'm not in control of at all, Steve Twist is the manager, he sent the money back to the Senate fund as Steve Pierce requested."
We obtained a copy of a letter that Steve Twist sent out to the House Republican members regarding this situation, and he verified Tobin's explanation.
"Good afternoon! I’m writing to you as the Chairman of the Republican House Victory Committee. There has been some confusion created by recent references to the House Committee on campaign materials being used in Senate primary races. I want you to have the facts.
"The House Committee exists exclusively to promote the election of Republicans to the House in the general election. It does not spend money in Senate races. Moreover, it does not spend money in primary campaigns.
"Recently, a different Committee--which focuses on the State Senate--mailed campaign fliers in a Senate primary. The disclosure on the mailers listed the Republican House Victory Committee. This disclosure was triggered only by the fact that some time ago the House Committee transferred back to the Senate Committee leftover funds from a prior election cycle that were being held in the House fund. This transfer back to the Senate fund was done because the funds were originally raised for the Senate. Indeed, the only reason for the transfer was to return Senate-focused funds to their original purpose.
"The return of the funds to the Senate Committee triggered the technical reporting requirement. The unfortunate result is a disclosure statement that is confusing. The Republican House Victory Committee has never consulted concerning any specific communications. The House Committee policy of not participating in primary elections remains unchanged.
Did Ron Gould 'sell his vote' to get an endorsement from Steve Pierce?
Klein makes another accusation, this time about Pierce:
Klein: "He [Steve Pierce] won [the Senate Presidency] by one vote. And you know whose vote that was?"
eNewsAZ: "No, was it yours? Did you vote for him?"
Klein: "No, I didn't. I voted for Andy Biggs because Andy was more conservative. Ummm... It was Ron Gould. Ron Gould sold his vote for the endorsement by Steve Pierce for his race for Congress. So, that's how that happened."
We asked Pierce about that, and he said that he chose to endorse Gould because he thought that Gould was the most honest Senator he knows. "Ron is absolutely the best person going," Pierce said. "In addition, he lives in the district."
Gould's campaign representative responded to the allegations by stating, "Ron respects the rules of the Senate that mandate votes for leadership are secret. That said, Lori Klein has no idea what she is talking about."
There are a couple of other things to consider here, and that is the chaos that was introduced by the Independent Redistricting Process.
- The Legislative Map was tentatively adopted on December 20; the final maps were sent to Washington at the end of February.
- Steve Pierce became Senate President on November 10, 2011, before there was any certainty as to where the new lines would be drawn.
- It was the worst-kept secret that Tobin seriously considered a congressional run - Pierce refrained from endorsing Gould until Tobin had announced his decision to run again for the House.
Making accusations of buying and selling votes is a serious matter.
4. Klein: On being respectful as she campaigns, of course she is, isn't she?
After all, she was just talking to her base. They understand, right?
Laurie Roberts, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, recently ran a column naming several elected officials at the Capitol as 'kooks'. Linda Klein was one of those she named. Tobin was quite incensed at the Roberts' column and wrote a scathing editorial defending the elected officials who had been attacked, which was sent out to media publications all over the state.
Klein claims Tobin won't debate her - yet he has on more than one occasion; she attacks those who endorse Tobin, such as calling the Chamber of Commerce the 'Chamber of Communists' and alleges that precinct meeting dates are changed so they don't have to appear together.
Malcolm Barrett, Jr., the Yavapai County Republican Chair, says that accusation is pathetic and silly.
5. Why she's running; the FAIR tax; Healthcare Exchange; and explaining Governor Brewer's success
Do you want to get Klein passionate about something? Ask her about the FAIR Tax. It's something she truly does believe in, and her enthusiasm practically bubbles out.
She's also adamant about not accepting the Healthcare Exchange, and isn't above taking a small swipe at Governor Brewer.
One More Thing: Nothing in Common?
This wasn't discussed on the video tape, but when speaking of Prescott, back in early January or so, Klein really did say, "We have nothing in common."
It was during that chaotic redistricting time mentioned above. Klein and her constituents were beginning to comprehend that Anthem was going to be put in the same district as Prescott and most of Yavapai County.
Klein... told the Arizona Republic she'd stand little chance as an urban resident representing a largely rural district. "It's absolutely insane," she said. "We have absolutely nothing in common with Prescott."
In another Arizona Republic article, her comments were even stronger, "Prescott is a hippy cowboy town with a lot of ranchers, farmers, some bedroom communities and it's totally different," Klein said. "There's no common interest."
Today she sent in an explanation of the comments:
"My comments were made prior to the decision of the IRC to keep the lines they had drawn temporarily. I was expressing the sentiments and verbiage of those that I represent in my LD6 district who felt it very unfair to be placed in an area outside of Phoenix -- the school districts their kids attend were here in North Phoenix and they take the Arizona Republic or Sonoran News and shop at Happy Valley and Scottsdale.
"Being their Senator, I had to defend their position until which time the final lines were decided. Once these lines were decided we all looked for the commonality which would bind us together as 30% of our new district is in Maricopa and 70% is in Yavapai. This wasn’t at all difficult for me as I’d spent summers for the past 16 years in Prescott at our cabin. Furthermore, having grown up with horses and on a farm in my young years I quickly felt part of my new district and have been pointing out the advantages to those here in Anthem. We do have much in common politically as our new district is even more conservative than our old LD6. We share concerns for protecting our constitutional rights whether it is with gun laws, limiting government, deregulation, parental choice in education, education reform, and states rights as well as defending our borders. So we as Arizonans in our new LD1 actually have the best of all worlds and we hope to work closely with our northern precinct committee persons to ensure that our district stays Republican and conservative.
"In some ways, I feel I fit more with my new district than my current one given my personality which is not politically correct, straight forward, no nonsense and bottom line which is certainly a trait of all of the cowboys I’ve ever met. I look forward to and will enjoy representing Prescott and the rural areas of my new district in LD1."
So, there you have it. Senator Lori Klein, up close and personal.