PARTY MONSTER: AZ’s GOP chairwoman busted for blowing over $500K on this
Arizona GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward is in hot water after financial records show the ultra-MAGA head of the state’s Republican fundraising arm spent over $500,000 on a splashy election night party and three-day bus tour designed to rile up the base.
“It’s no surprise we didn’t fare well in the election,” said former Arizona Republican Party chair Robert Graham. “Ward didn’t use resources to win, she used it for parties.”
According to Graham, Ward had one job – to win elections.
“Spending so much money on things like a bus tour and a fancy party instead of proven get-out-the-vote strategies is political malpractice,” Graham said.
Estimated to have cost $325,000, the planned celebration ended with a whimper after Republicans lost statewide races – including those for governor and attorney general for the first time in nearly half a century.
Final scene from the Arizona Republican election party. They didn’t even bother to drop down the red, white and blue balloons from the ceiling. pic.twitter.com/x1rCcYz1tH
— AZ Right Wing Watch (@az_rww) November 9, 2022
Nearly $200,000 was paid to The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch to host the event, with another $76,000 spent on audio and video production.
The Arizona GOP reportedly forked over more than $29,000 to rent one bus.
Add an additional $11,000 to cover the bus with graphics of losers Lake, Hamadeh, Mark Finchem, and Blake Masters, and the $137,000 paid to an event production company to run the tour, and it comes to a whopping $177,000.
U.S. Senate hopeful Blake Masters’s failure to beat incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and flip the seat from blue to red helped secure a Democratic majority in Congress’s upper chamber – albeit a small one.
Despite having nearly a million unspent dollars on hand in the weeks leading up to election day, Ward has been accused of not prioritizing candidates’ campaigns, leaving donors and Republican operatives wondering at what cost.
“Ward’s refusal to spend to the bottom of her organization’s coffers has baffled top Republicans,” Politico wrote. “It remains unclear to those outside the state party leadership why exactly she is hoarding the funds.”
“The current leadership at the AZGOP has consistently placed a higher value on flash rather than substance,” said J.P. Twist, the political director for the Republican Governor’s Association. “It makes you wonder what impact that money could have had on so many close races.”
Lake challenged her gubernatorial loss by 17,000 votes, but the courts were having none of the former local Fox News anchor’s unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election.
The GOP nominee for attorney general, Abe Hamadeh’s race was much closer – he lost by less than 300 votes.
A person of interest in the federal government’s investigation of Arizona Republicans’ fake elector plot, Ward isn’t the only GOP chair to face criticism for using money meant to help boost candidates’ campaigns.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel – who is in an uphill battle to win another term – reportedly spent millions of dollars on expensive trips, fresh flowers, alcohol, and luxury accommodations for her team.
The AZGOP is set to elect new leadership this weekend, with at least three candidates vying for Ward’s position.
Frontrunner and party treasurer Sheila Muehling told the Arizona Mirror of her plans to turn the Republican Party around by focusing on “training our volunteers, raising money, and helping our candidates win their election.”
“To me, it was negligent in every way, shape and form,” Muehling said. “I wish I could tell you what the point was. It made no sense at all.
Ward’s reputation for putting her ego above her duties caused the Republican Governor’s Association to go through the Yuma County Republican Party to support Lake’s campaign for Governor.
In December, the Trump ally took to Twitter to condemn her party colleague’s decision.
Ward alleged that her team had “turned off the feeding trough” for members of the AZGOP and accused the consultants of being the ones making all the money.
“This is a blatantly moronic LIE,” Twist responded. “We sent our money to Yuma because we couldn’t trust you to spend it wisely had we sent it to you.”
This is a blatantly moronic LIE. We sent our money to Yuma because we couldn’t trust you to spend it wisely had we sent it to you.That’s the reason. We also did so with Lakes blessing so there’s that… https://t.co/sxqUKWTI8D
— J.P. Twist (@jp_twist) December 12, 2022
With a special counsel being appointed in the Department of Justice’s investigation, Ward may want to focus on staying out of federal prison.
Fallout from the Republican’s failed “red tsunami” continues as party members point the finger at each other in an attempt to recover from a disappointing midterm performance.
“In this case, I’d bet some of these candidates who lost by a few hundred or a few thousand votes wish that money were better spent with direct voter contact,” former AZGOP executive director Chad Heywood said.
Let’s hope that Republicans continue to practice incompetence and finger-pointing in all future campaigns nationwide.
Original reporting by Jim Small at the Arizona Mirror.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick
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