Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, June 27, 2011

Redistricting -- GOP efforts and the next AIRC meetings

As I mentioned previously, I called Paul Boyer, House GOP PIO to get the story on John Mills.  Mills is widely understood to be a GOP political operative being paid by state general fund (taxpayer) money.  Boyer said the legislature has a right to make suggestions about the maps being drawn by the AIRC.  As justification for Mills going to every meeting of the AIRC, Boyer cited the Arizona Constitution, Article 4, Part 2, Section 1, Paragraph 16 which states:

The independent redistricting commission shall advertise a draft map of
congressional districts and a draft map of legislative districts to the public for comment,
which comment shall be taken for at least thirty days. Either or both bodies of the
legislature may act within this period to make recommendations to the independent
redistricting commission by memorial or by minority report, which recommendations
shall be considered by the independent redistricting commission. The independent
redistricting commission shall then establish final district boundaries.
Of course, House GOP leadership takes liberties, suggesting that they have to have someone there for all of the meetings in order to be able to make recommendations.  Do they, in fact NEED Mills to attend every meeting in order to review the draft maps (not even close to being issued yet)?  Of course not.  Can they send him to the meetings anyway with that justification, without fear of legal trouble?  Certainly.  Does that mean people have no right to be concerned about taxpayer (general fund) money paying for GOP political activity?  You decide.

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A google search on "Fair Trust" turns up no group (anywhere, let alone this one in Arizona) by that name.  Searching the Arizona Secretary of State's website turned up nothing.  A phone call to the AZ SoS elections section, where staff could check to see if any group had registered with them under that name, turned up nothing.

SoS staff agreed with my understanding that in order for a group to raise money to influence state politics, they would have to register at that office.  SO -- it looks like Fair Trust has issues beyond being concerned about "impartial redistricting in Arizona."

Mike Liburdi, who spoke -- on-the-record -- on Friday before the AIRC, hoping to derail Research Advisory Services and Strategic Telemetry in each firm's efforts to win the mapping consultant contract, says the reason he has not registered his group with the Arizona Secretary of State is that he is not required to do so.

Liburdi also said that he has spoken with his client and has not been given clearance to disclose any information on this mysterious group.

However, before he got around to answering these questions, Liburdi wanted to get into a pissing contest with me about whether I've read Arizona's lobbying law.  When I persisted in clarifying that I wasn't going to engage him on that (and repeated my question about why Fair Trust hasn't registered with the SOS), Liburdi let me know I should be thankful, that he just gave me thousands of dollars worth of free legal advice AND that he was going to send me a bill for it.

One has to wonder whether Liburdi can keep his composure in a court room.

So, to recap, the FACTS are that Mike Liburdi, a Snell and Wilmer attorney, has been hired by a shadowy group (for an example that seems much like what Liburdi wants to pull off, read this).

For anyone who wants to bone up on Arizona's lobbying laws, they can be found in ARS Title 41, Chapter 7, Article 8.1.

For Mr. Liburdi's benefit (and that of his client), let me just state that whether what he has done is legal or not is less of a question than whether the people of Arizona have a right to know.  They say that sunshine is the best disinfectant. 

So, who is trying to influence the single most significant political situation at issue in the state this year, how are they going to go about trying to do it and why do they not want the people of Arizona to know what they are up to?

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Wednesday's meeting of the AIRC will start at NOON and be held in the State Library Conference Room, 2nd Floor of the State Capitol bldg., 1700 W Washington, Phoenix.

Tentatively, the commission will also meet on Thursday in Tucson.  Time and location have not yet been set.

The recording of last Friday's meeting, with the interviews, has finally been posted.

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