Joe Ferguson

Joe Ferguson, Arizona Daily Star reporter

Sen. Martha McSally has a new plan to get the $4.5 billion in emergency funding to address the border crisis. She wants the funds to be tied to the next disaster relief funding package.

Labeling it a national emergency, McSally is asking the funding to be part of the next supplemental appropriations bill.

“Significantly more federal resources are needed, and fulfilling the president’s request for emergency appropriations would go a long way in providing these resources,” she said.

But even if Congress backs her plan, Southern Arizona may not.

Local Democrats are unlikely to request the funding because it would more than likely require that they declare an emergency as Yuma did a few weeks ago as a response to the influx of asylum seekers.

Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias balked at the suggestion. He said an emergency declaration simply isn’t needed to provide temporary shelter for the migrants for the few days they are in the state. Most asylum seekers leave Arizona to stay with relatives until their asylum case is heard, he said.

The county does want federal funds, Elias says, noting considerations are underway to use Operation Stonegarden funding to pay for the costs incurred by the county to run a temporary shelter.

The controversial federal grant approved by the supervisors earlier this week does allow the use of the funds for humanitarian reasons. However, it requires the approval of several state and federal law enforcement agencies, and it isn’t clear whether they will sign off on the request.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says the federal emergency funding comes with too many strings.

“What the release doesn’t say is how the dollars would be used. In Tucson, we need funds for (non-governmental organizations) to feed, shelter, and care for asylum seekers who are passing through. What we don’t need is more razor wire, or more active-duty troops at the border,” Rothschild said.

Ex congressman Renzi says he's fighting political corruption

Former Flagstaff Republican Congressman Rick Renzi returned to the political spotlight late this week, touting a nearly eight-minute documentary titled “Rick: The Truth About Justice.” In it, he argues that he is continuing the fight against his political enemies.

A Tucson jury found Renzi guilty in 2013 on 17 of 32 counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering, money laundering and making false statements to insurance regulators. Prosecutors said Renzi used his office for personal financial gain and looted a family insurance business to help pay for his 2002 campaign. Renzi served three terms in congress, leaving office in 2009. He served three years in federal prison.

Renzi has a new target since his January prison release: the prosecutors who put him behind bars and cut short his political career.

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The video, which includes clips from old Renzi campaign commercials, contains interviews with him, his son Rob and a former Assistant United States Attorney, Sidney Powell. Powell wrote “Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice” in 2014.

The release of the documentary, which does not interview anyone who prosecuted the case, comes shortly after Renzi filed a request with the Inspector General asking for an independent investigation of what he calls “corrupt prosecutors and crooked business interests” in his case.

He says there is evidence of “egregious prosecutorial misconduct.”

Renzi also compares himself to President Trump.

“For nearly two years, President Donald Trump was the target of a federal investigation that started with suspect motivations and grew into a full-fledged media circus. The Russia Collusion myth was the highest-profile-attempted political hit job of our time — but it wasn’t the first,” the teaser for the documentary states.

The nonprofit he founded last year, Abuse of Power, states on its website that Renzi is dedicated to “exposing abuses of power and corrupt government officials who use the mechanisms of the state to promote injustice.”

The website, in addition to asking people to sign his petition, also accepts donations via Paypal.

Renzi did not respond to an interview request from the Arizona Daily Star through the Abuse of Power website.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.