Of course, I could link to and recite all of the things along the way over the entire process involved -- from screening applicants to appointing commissioners to manufactured outrage by right-wing propagandists to the various lawsuits, "investigations" and special actions -- that elected GOP officials have done to subvert the independent redistricting process for Arizona. Well, maybe I will do just that soon.
However, at this moment, the Arizona Constitution* mandates the legislature to fully fund the operation of the AIRC. Yet, the legislature is threatening (not a veiled threat this time, but actual passive-aggressive (in)action) to refuse to provide that funding. This while AIRC attorneys still work on compiling the DOJ preclearance submission package for legislative district maps.
Just a few weeks ago, House Speaker Andy Tobin took to the (public) airwaves, appearing on Arizona Horizon to blame the AIRC for all manner of evil. Yes, he DID blame the AIRC for overspending, for delaying the redistricting process and for plenty more.
Now Tobin is complicit in, if not the primary instigator of, the current refusal to provide a supplemental appropriation to allow the commission to pay its bills. Failure to provide that additional funding potentially will further delay the DOJ preclearance for the new legislative district maps.
On the subject of delay, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission recently posted the following:
Although legislative districts have been approved by the Independent Redistricting Commission, these districts have not yet been precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Because this has not occurred, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office cannot process candidate petitions for the ballot at this time because the Secretary cannot make a determination of the number of signatures necessary to qualify. Without this determination, the Secretary cannot process petitions, and, as a result legislative candidates cannot at this time receive Clean Elections funding.
Please contact the Clean Elections Commission or the Arizona Secretary of State’s office for further information.
However, AIRC staff has put forth demonstratively good faith effort to answer (and even anticipate) any question legislative leaders would have in order to provide the necessary funding. Review the following documents (which show that willingness and diligence to provide all information asked of it by legislative leaders):
- Request Letter to Sen. Andy Biggs, Senate Majority Leader
- Request Letter to Speaker Andy Tobin
- Request Letter to Sen. Don Shooter, Senate Appropriations chairman
- Letter to Sen. Ron Gould, Senate Approps vice-chair
- Letter to Rep. John Kavanagh, House Appropriations chairman
- Letter to Rep. Chad Campbell, House Minority Leader
- Letter to Rep. Justin Olson, House Approps vice-chair
- Letter to Richard Stavneak, director Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC)
- Letter to John Arnold, director, Governor's Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting (OSPB)
- Spreadsheets with a log of meetings and correspondence with lawmakers; expenditure and budget data
Shortly after publishing my previous post, I spoke with several Arizona Democratic members of the state legislature. Their sense was that the GOP supermajority will NOT willingly fund the IRC; the IRC will have to sue the legislature; the legislature will lose; and the legislature will then provide funds necessary for the IRC to pay its bills.
To get a feel for the situation, you may also review the Special Action filed by the first AIRC and counsel Lisa Hauser to compel the Dept. of Administration to issue warrants (write checks) and the State Treasurer to provide the Constitutionally mandated supplemental funding. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields was also named as a defendant because he had ordered a trial to proceed before funding had been secured. Had that trial proceeded prior to the AIRC obtaining the relief requested, the commission would have been unable to defend the lawsuit in front of Judge Fields.
Apparently, the legislature decided (AFTER the Special Action was filed but before the Arizona Supreme Court could rule on it) to provide the required funding. Therefore, the suit was dropped.
This is currently so urgent also because Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has appealed last fall's ruling by Judge Fink on the Open Meeting Law issue. Montgomery addresses the IRC issue at about the 4:50 mark into this video, Montgomery explains his understanding of the timeline for his appeal of Fink's ruling. On February 3, Montgomery's office filed its opening brief on the appeal. On February 6, the Court of Appeals ordered the AIRC to respond no later than March 19. On February 14, the AIRC filed a motion seeking an extension. Montgomery declares, in the video below, his intent to object to the request for an extension of the deadline for the AIRC answering brief.
So, while the legislative and Congressional district maps have been developed and approved by the IRC, there are still steps to go before they can be relied upon by potential candidates for nominating petition/signature gathering, and before public campaign funding can be disbursed by the Citizens Clean Election Commission.
Make no mistake, GOP legislative leadership will continue to do everything it can think of to delay, disrupt and undermine Independent Redistricting. And the pious (literally, he is wearing Ash Wednesday ashes on his forehead in the video) Mr. Montgomery declares his intent to do what HE can do to delay implementation of the legislative maps.
And both Montgomery and GOP legislative leadership will do everything possible to characterize the delays as the "Democrats on the Redistricting Commission" preventing the will of the people from being implemented. Only, in this case, according to their usage, "will of the people" means decisions of ALEC-owned lawmakers.
But if WE the PEOPLE continue to be vigilant, watchful and call them on their dirty tricks, they will NOT succeed and WE will be able to RECLAIM GOVERNMENT for the PEOPLE of Arizona.
* The legislature shall make the necessary appropriations by a majority vote.
The independent redistricting commission shall have standing in legal actions regarding the redistricting plan and the adequacy of resources provided for the operation of the independent redistricting commission.
Ariz Const. Art 4, Part II, Section 1, Subsections 18 and 20