The following questions were sent to all of the Candidates for AZGOP Chairman by Frosty Taylor of MCRC Briefs with the answers to be published there. Jim's answers are reproduced here with permission.
I have offered to serve our Republican Precinct Committeemen as Chairman. After 5 months of meeting fellow PCs across the state, they have shared with me their many unmet needs for tools and resources. Specifically, they are requesting AZGOP assistance with costly communication and technology assets. I believe these needs should be met to aid our PCs in our quest to get Republicans elected.
I have been an 11 year Republican activist in Arizona. Thus, I fully understand what many serving in office have forgotten; that is, we live in a constitutional republic. We have structured a representative government, wherein "we the people" elect fellow citizens to serve. This public service is for a specific time period and is tasked with taking care of the business required at local, state, and federal levels of government. Those "elected" work on our behalf, and are charged with listening to their constituents on items and issues important to us. When we find our representatives not responding to our needs, we have the option to either "recall" or replace them.
That being the case, I hold to the idea that as political party leadership, we are tasked with holding our elected officials accountable. This opinion is in contrast to others within our Party, who as Chairman, would acquiesce to powerful elected officials. That framework will divide and diminish the roles of active PCs. This is destructive and must not continue. Our PCs throughout Arizona need to know the truth -- and I am here to give it to you.
Q: Will you be in the office every day and accessible when traveling around the state?
As Chairman I shall work full-time in that job from the headquarters offices. I am retired and have the time to devote to turning this state party around.
Most of my personal time will be devoted to working with every willing member of the newly elected Executive Committee. This party asset has been a hidden and underutilized treasure, consisting of 84 of our party's most experienced networkers, living and breathing Republican values throughout our state. As I serve and empower them, they will then serve and empower the Precinct Committeemen statewide.
The funding needed to finance the tools and training our state party — which, will supply all County and District Committees — will be raised through my team of well connected patriots in the political marketplace of Arizona. These individuals are eager to present me and our party's vision for investing AZGOP donor funds into tripling the number of active PCs statewide.
My 42 years experience in the investment advisory industry, includes an 18 month pro bono advisory role to the California Senate Select Committee. I investigated the Orange County bankruptcy and created the new Permitted Investment Regulations under the CA State Code after their 1994 incident. I come with a successful track record of earning the trust and respect of large and small public boards.
As the original founder of my privately owned firm in Los Angeles in 1981, the company grew its public clients to 112 cities, counties, school districts, airports, port authorities, and state agencies throughout California and Nevada. Additionally, I have raised significant multi-million dollar investments in restaurants, oil & gas exploration ventures, Real estate transactions, and a organic food processing venture. After retiring to Arizona, I began serving on several charitable ministries, including fund raising.
Lastly, I served on two church fundraising committees for building programs; the first in LA in the early 1980's and a larger one here in Arizona in the early 2000's.
For me this activity is a passion. It's fun and I have every confidence that together, we can accomplish our lofty goal.
Q: Why should I vote for you over the other two candidates?
Among those running for this position, I possess the people skills necessary to work cooperatively with almost anyone; I am running solely in a capacity as a servant leader volunteering to keep our Republic, respect and value every Precinct Committeeman for their priceless contributions of time and talent, and operate with integrity.
In my recent service as district Chairman of LD 23, my team built our district to an all time high of active PCs engaging in multiple campaigns, walking precincts, working call centers and watching or working the polls.
Beyond that, my 42 year career in the investment advisory industry includes:
Tested, tried and true. Vote for Jim O'Connor.
Q: What will you do as Chairman to fundraise for the Arizona Republican Party?
Our AZGOP has relied on contributions from the RNC to fund most of its operations. Two former Chairmen inform me that, if a Chairman is elected by his fellow State Committeemen, but is unacceptable and unyielding to the McCain/Flake machine, RNC funding of the State party flows to more "controllable" entities. The AZ Senate Victory Fund, the AZ House Victory Fund, and the Yuma County Republican Committee have been past recipients.
We need to break this reprehensible cycle. Our AZGOP should not be held in bondage. Given this indefensible and shameful reality, my financial team has created fundraising strategies that anticipate the possibility of no RNC financial help. However, we welcome the new leadership of the RNC, plan to apprise them of our unacceptable and unproductive situation, and eagerly look forward to working with them.
Our Party needs leadership to orchestrate victories in every political race throughout Arizona. Fundraising is an important component of the Chairman's job. Unfortunately, one of my opponents is spreading the dishonorable rumor that "Jim O'Connor cannot raise money." Let me debunk this right now.
I founded, owned, and operated an investment advisory business in Los Angeles. The firm employed 14 professionals. We managed approximately $1.4 billion in assets and had 112 clients. All of those clients were solicited by me and my partner. Our company was sold to a major international law firm.
After the 1994 Orange County, CA bankruptcy, due to my reputation and financial experience, I was contacted by the CA Senate Select Committee to be a pro bono advisor. This was an 18 month assignment.
Additionally, I have raised substantial funding for diverse business ventures and church building programs.
Q: Will you conduct regular state committeeman meetings?
The annual meetings of the AZGOP are for the purpose of electing officers of the state party on a rotating basis, voting on proposed resolutions, and voting to adopt bylaw changes if any are proposed. The rent for venues to hold the meetings are currently estimated at approximately $7,000.00 each. This is a necessary but costly item in our budget. To accommodate a larger attendance will proportionately drive up the cost of these meetings, as would an increase in the frequency of them.
One of my first initiatives will be to ask for the Executive Committee's cooperation in our installing video conferencing equipment into each of the 15 County Headquarters offices (or specified locations for those county committees without an office), so that we can meet with greater frequency without the burden of long and costly driving expense and hotel stays. My expectation is that we will be able to transition to allowing credentialing at those locations for purposes of future voting at both Statutory and Mandatory meetings.
That will make room for guests and visitors at all venues. This will ease the burden for every member of our party to become better informed in a timely way and just imagine the headquarters lead trainings we could deliver. I already have a candidate in mind who will be perfect leading this project through full implementation.
Q: What have you done for the AZ Republican Party to warrant the chairmanship?
My service to the AZGOP for the past 11 years has been that of:
While Chairman my leadership team recruited 135 new Precinct Committeemen during the 15 month "appointment period." We held more precinct pot luck house parties than ever connecting new PCs to their more experienced PC neighbors. We conducted PC trainings at a record pace.
Along with six other district Chairman from the MCRC Executive Guidance Council, participated in nine (9) chairman round table dinner meetings, wherein we discussed how to grow and run our districts. We shared our successes and failures with certain activities such as voter registrations, PC recruiting, dealing with proxies, endorsing candidates in primaries, driving voter turnout, canvassing precincts, endorsement slates and other topics regarding the efficient operation of a legislative district committee.
As the National Popular Vote Compact arose as an issue in need of critical attention in our legislative session 2016, a few of my LD 23 PCs assembled a power point presentation which we took all around the state as the peoples opposition to this very bad bill. Although it passed successfully through our State House with 69% voting in favor, we thankfully provided sufficient evidence to Senate President Andy Biggs, that Arizona Republican PCs did not want our Republicans voting for this bad idea. And it was not heard in the Senate Chamber, therefore, killing the bill. Those efforts continued this fall with visits to many LDs and County's which subsequently passing Resolutions condemning any future attempts for Republican House & Senate members to support it.
And most recently, I was honored to serve as one of Arizona's 11 Electoral College members to cast our votes for Donald J. Trump and Michael Pence on December 19, 2016.
Q: How many PCs have you personally recruited?
During the 14 month appointment window from February, 2015 through March, 2016, our LD 23 leadership team under my direction recruited 135 new PC's. I also referred dozens more to District Chairman throughout Maricopa County over that same time frame. I really like that part of the job.
Q: What percentage of LD, County and State Meetings have you participated in during your time in Arizona?
I began attending district PC meetings in 2006 and before becoming a PC I visited one MCRC and one AZGOP annual meetings. For me becoming a PC was on the job training. From 2008 through the end of 2016, I attended almost every LD meeting and all MCRC & AZGOP annual meetings. While Chairman of LD 23 I attended 95% of MCRC monthly EGC meetings, all nine East Valley Chairman evening workshops, and every Executive Committee meeting called between 2010 & 2016 by the State Party Chairman as I served as a member for that six year period.
Q: Do you perceive a major split with the AZGOP? If so, what actions will you take to unite the State Party?
There is a fundamental divide within our party in Arizona. Any attempt to cover that up with clever language by either side of the divide, will lessen our chances of curing the problem under the next administration. It existed when I first began participating in my LD and continues to this very day.
I invite all of us to get real as an alternative to getting even. Both sides use the same tools to engage in this fruitless battle: Proxy abuse, attitudes and facial expressions at meetings (that would scare off new PC prospects), some party leadership who show favoritism to certain PCs, just to name a few.
These destructive behaviors must stop.
A thorough audit of our State Party is long overdue. And by audit I mean much more than a financial audit. We need the soon to be elected Executive Committee (EC) to be empowered to act. These 84 members represent every County and Congressional District across Arizona. The issues to be addressed by the EC are: By-Law Review, Proxy Abuse, Technology, Teleconferencing, PC Recruitment And Training. I invite you to join with me to create a formidable organization focused on registering Republican voters, recruiting new PCs, and working to get good Republicans elected.
Q: Will you invite the Maricopa County Republican Committee to return to its space inside AZGOP Headquarters?
Yes, with open arms. And without regard to whoever is elected County Chairman. It's the right thing to do.
Q: What are your thoughts on sharing AZGOP financial status with PCs?
Our state party must file FEC financial reports each month throughout a high volume campaign year and quarterly in off year elections. Those reports are publicized on the FEC website. Therefore, I will make those same financials available to our party's precinct committeemen. For those concerned about Democrats getting their hands on our financial information, console yourselves in knowing that we get to see theirs at the same time.
Q: How will you improve the atmosphere at AZGOP Headquarters to make it more PC friendly?
At the AZGOP — like any business, place of worship, or political institution — the "atmosphere" is created not by paint color or air conditioning, but by leadership. The current leadership must be removed to improve atmosphere for AZ Republicans. The current leadership is not for empowerment of ordinary people in our Party. Our party leadership at the State level is not about the majority of us; it is about money and power; who is owed and what must be paid. That mindset controls our AZGOP leadership, and now drives its struggle to keep control. Our AZGOP leadership is acting in ways that most find disgusting and inexcusable.
At the Republican State Convention the AZGOP leadership was given the official Trump Campaign slate of National Delegate candidates to copy and return. Instead of faithfully conveying this information to the Arizona State Delegates, our leadership changed many to match their desires. This was discovered at the very last moment. No one with integrity can condone this. It's happening again in the LD23 fight, and it will happen again next time unless you stop the Graham-Lines machine.
These people are not leaders; they are misleaders and creators of an atmosphere hostile to ordinary Republicans. Similar to the Washington establishment, which has "Never Trump" people, the Arizona swamp has "Never O'Connor" people.
Together we will beat them here just like in D.C. I want every SC TO PHYSICALLY ATTEND the January 28th meeting and stand with me for the new era of Republican politics: that begins with integrity, continues with the truth, and wins because of the people we are and the ideals we hold dear.
Q: Do You Think It Is Time For Some "New Blood" In The AZ US Senate?
Time for "new blood" in the US Senate representing Arizona? As future Chairman of our Republican State Party, it is critically important for all to understand that the job of the role I will be taking on is that of a referee or umpire in a sporting contest. The job of the Chairman is to stay neutral in ALL primary Republican contests.
That test of my ability to do just that was met in the recent Trump/Cruz contest. Please interview any of my LD 23 Precinct Committeemen and ask them whom they believe I supported. My Cruz friends will tell you for sure I was a Trump supporter, while every Trump friend in my district will say I was a Cruz guy. That confirmed to me that I passed the test of keeping it balanced and doing the job I offered to do. What I will guarantee every candidate is that under my leadership they will be respected and treated equally by the state party. You really would not want it any other way.
As for "new blood" entering Republican races for office throughout our State, I am excited and hopeful that there will be no end to sharp young and old patriots to step forward and offer themselves to serve in elected office. There is much the state party can do and certain things it cannot do for candidates. As Chairman I intend to make that very clear to all Candidates' and PCs.
Given the recent flurry of misinformation associated with those limitations, I am obliged to provide clarity to one and all. That extends to those County and District Chairman scurrying to determine the definition of "mail" regarding call to meeting notices. I herein commit to amending state party bylaws to clarify and facilitate the language so that this arguably vague misinterpretation no longer inconveniences the business of our Republican party for the advantage of all of us.
Q: Would you support state legislation or AZGOP bylaw changes that would prohibit proxies at legislative district/county/state level meetings?
As part of my calling the state party Executive Committee (EC) to an all day workshop on Saturday, February 11, 2017, included on the agenda for that meeting will be a robust discussion of all major issues plaguing our party. Among those are bylaw amendments to stop the abuse of proxies and much more. What is important to understand is that my agenda is to listen to every side of this and the other troubling issues with a goal of reaching practical common sense solutions to these chronic yet ignored blockages to a cooperative operation of AZGOP and all its committees throughout the state.
Our goal will be to identify every major problem area and to rewrite our State Bylaws to address those concerns but only after full discussions and a vote of the majority of the Executive Committee. This new chairman will do nothing without a strong consensus of the EC.
Q: Since there are so many unhappy campers over phone voting difficulties, lack of Wi-Fi connections, people leaving in frustration without voting etc. at county / state conventions, would you support reverting back to paper ballots?
To me the real question is one of confidence in the team running the election. Going back to the State Convention and the major fiasco with afternoon voting via cell phone technology, I heard many complaints suggesting a purposefully manipulated process to achieve the outcome desired by a few bad actors. Unfortunately the lack of integrity demonstrated by our current party chairman diminishes the confidence of all of us working to build a strong and appealing organization for the future.
As to the technology itself, I am fully prepared to move our party into the modern era through trainings and practices at every County and LD meeting. Our goal is to increase the comfort level of all participating PCs. The state party is committed to provide those training sessions statewide immediately after my taking office. These processes will also be added to bylaw changes recommended by the EC upon a thorough study of every issue after which a vote will be taken to recommend changes to the State Committeemen. It is intended that we conduct a Special Meeting for Bylaw changes as early as this summer.