Brewer PAC focuses on defeating Sinema

2012-10-16T05:00:00Z Brewer PAC focuses on defeating SinemaHOWARD FISCHER Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Sun
October 16, 2012 5:00 am  • 

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer has finally figured out how to start spending the money in her federal political action committee: She wants to end the political career of former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

Jan PAC spent more than $23,000 last week to produce and send a mailing to voters in the newly created 9th Congressional District urging them not to support the Democratic contender and instead vote for Republican Vernon Parker. Files at the Federal Election Commission show this is the first such expenditure in the year Brewer has had her committee.

The mailer includes a photo of Sinema, first elected to the Legislature in 2004, with President Obama and lists some votes she took as a lawmaker on immigration issues. That is in line with Brewer's repeated statements that the Obama administration won't secure the border and has sued Arizona when it sought to enact its own restrictions.

PAC spokesman Paul Senseman said Brewer's decision to put her resources into an anti-Sinema campaign piece should be no surprise.

He said that, as a legislator, Sinema made "a number of key votes ... that are troubling to the governor." And Senseman said Brewer is concerned with the "totality" of Sinema's track record.

Sinema quit the Legislature earlier this year to devote time to her congressional bid.

Senseman would not say why Brewer has so far weighed in on only that race and not made similar buy on behalf of Republican congressional candidates Jonathan Paton and Martha McSally, both of whom, like Parker, are in competitive districts. But he said Brewer still has more money in her PAC to spend and likely will find other GOP candidates she likes.

The PAC is set up under federal laws which allow any interested group or party to make independent expenditures on behalf of or against any candidate as long as that effort is not coordinated with the candidate.

There has been an explosion in the number of such PACs since federal courts threw out limits on donations. That means Jan PAC can take money from any source with no limit on how much it can spend to get someone elected.

At this point, the largest single donation to Brewer's PAC is $25,000 which came after that report from a separate PAC operated by Magellan Health Services. That in turn is fueled by donations by company executives and officials.

And since 2007, Magellan has a state contract as the regional behavioral health authority for Maricopa and parts of Pinal counties. Last budget year the company was paid $769.4 million by the state.

Senseman said there's nothing wrong with Brewer taking such a donation.

"The governor hasn't accepted any funds that she thinks are inappropriately contributed," he said.

Company spokesman David Carter said there is nothing unusual in the donation or the amount.

He said Magellan "contributes on a bipartisan basis in areas where Magellan has strategic interests and in states where our employees live and work." And Carter said about 10 percent of the company's employees are in Arizona.

Carter also said that Brewer also is known for her "advocacy on behalf of those with mental illness."

Rod McLeod, Sinema's campaign manager, said Brewer's efforts will have little effect. He said other outside PACs already have spent $1.5 million to produce commercials and other campaign materials attacking Sinema.

Anyway, McLeod said that the voting precincts that make up the new congressional district, stretching from Tempe through parts of Scottsdale to north Phoenix, actually supported Obama four years ago -- and did not support Brewer in her 2010 race.

None of that, however, kept McLeod from trying to turn Brewer's move into more cash for Sinema: Late Monday, Sinema's campaign web site mentioned what it called the governor's "sleazy attack" -- and then used that to solicit $50 and $100 donations to the race.

McLeod also said the governor's opposition to his candidate should shock no one.

"Sinema stood up to the governor's priorities," he said, such as when Brewer sought to cut funding for Kids Care, a program that largely uses federal dollars to provide health insurance for the children of the working poor.

"This kind of attack is what we would expect," he said.

He also called some of the explanation of votes misleading. For example, he said Sinema's vote against sending National Guard troops to the border was because of the question of whether state taxpayers would be on the hook, not because she is against border security.

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