Attack ad claims Kelli Ward wanted to ban NSA

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 21:56:03-04

Several attack ads have surfaced in the three-way race for U.S. Sen. John McCain’s seat ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

McCain is skipping out on July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland to campaign against his main opposition, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick and fellow Republican Kelli Ward.

The Arizona Grassroots Action Political Action Committee, which supports McCain, challenged Ward’s weakness on national security in an April 20 attack ad.

"She wanted to ban our intelligence agencies from operating in Arizona, leaving Arizonans vulnerable to attack from terrorists," claims the PAC.

We decided to put this claim through a truth-check. 

"She wanted to ban our intelligence agencies from operating in Arizona, leaving Arizonans vulunerable to attack from terrorists."

Ward and the NSA

Matt Kenney, Arizona Grassroots Action PAC Executive Director, referred us to several news articles on SB 1156, which Ward sponsored in the state Legislature in 2014. The bill eventually died in the Senate.

According to the bill’s text, the law would have prohibited state and local law enforcement from assisting federal agencies that collect data without warrants, such as the National Security Agency. It also would have barred local governments from providing "material support," such as water and electricity, to these agencies, assuming they had an in-state facility.

Finally, the bill would have also blocked public universities, such as Arizona State University, from serving as "NSA research facilities."

A December 2013 U.S. News and World Report article quotes Ward as saying that "the NSA isn’t welcome in Arizona unless it follows the Constitution."

Ward believed the NSA violated the Fourth Amendment with "unconstitutional snooping."

We did not hear back from her campaign.

Arizona State University law professor Paul Bender said the ad’s claim exaggerates what the bill sought to do.

"I don't think that it is accurate to say that, if the bill passed, that would ban U.S. intelligence agencies from operating in Arizona," Bender said. "It would just require them to get warrants in order to get electronic information from Arizona state or local governments."

Our ruling

The ad claimed Ward "wanted to ban our intelligence agencies from operating in Arizona."

Ward did seek to limit the power of the NSA by preventing assistance from state and local law enforcement without a warrant. However, experts said calling it an outright "ban" on operations is beyond what the bill proposed.

The legislation was meant to discourage federal agencies from collecting information without a warrant.

We rate the ad’s claim as Mostly False.  


For the complete fact-check, visit our news partner, PolitiFact Arizona.