Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Pearce reimbursement subterfuge

Last month, Russell Pearce sycophants started a meme that the state constitution REQUIRES Pearce to be reimbursed for his expenses in last fall's successful historic (unprecedented) recall. Recall, that is, that Pearce was the first sitting Arizona lawmakers to be thrown out of office by a Constitutionally proper voter initiated special election.

Voters in Pearce's Mesa district unequivocally demanded he be removed from office. End of story, right?

According to today's (May 1) East Valley Tribune:

Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, said the Arizona Constitution requires the Legislature to reimburse the “reasonable special election campaign expenses” of any recalled public official. He said while there is not any money in the proposed budget at this point to deal with it, he does not want to set a bad precedent by ignoring what he sees as a mandate. (emphasis added)
As it turns out, though, Pearce reported spending no money of his own on his unsuccessful race. Instead, the $260,000 came from not just individual donors but a host of political action committees representing special interests at the Capitol.
But Pearce, who was Senate president, said if he takes the money — something he has not yet decided — he does not intend to seek out those who gave him the cash in the first place to reimburse them.
Isn't that special? Pearce will only GRUDGINGLY take the money if the legislature succeeds in passing a bill to appropriate it. But would Janice K Brewer sign the bill? From the Arizona Capitol Times, as posted on the National Conference of State Legislatures' website:
The day after the 2010 general election, Pearce said on television that Governor Brewer owes her election to him because she went from underdog to frontrunner after signing Senate Bill 1070.
But, back to the current meme. On April 26, Arizona Capitol Times editor Jim Small reported that Montenegro started circulating a letter calling for the reimbursement.

House Speaker Pro Tem Steve Montenegro said he began circulating the letter after he was approached by several Republicans concerned about a constitutional provision requiring recalled elected officials to be reimbursed.
“There’s a lot of legislators that have raised the issue,” the Litchfield Park Republican said. “Some members have spoken out, and it’s our constitutional duty.”
The Arizona Constitution requires the Legislature to enact laws to govern recalls, “including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer.”
Montenegro said that means lawmakers have a constitutional responsibility to ensure Pearce has his expenses reimbursed.
“If we don’t do it, that sets a precedent,” he said. (emphasis added)


Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts rightly criticized this fools errand and cited another Pearce sycophant, Brenda Barton.

In a discussion with readers on my Facebook page, Rep. Brenda Barton, R-Safford, wrote that the state is obligated to pay Pearce. The blame, she says, goes to Randy Parraz and the “union and community organizers” who instigated the recall.
“Were we to ignore this provision of the Constitution, Mr Pearce would have a clear case for legal action,” she wrote.
Perhaps he could get some pointers from Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who’s already suing us. (emphasis added)

Barton's bio makes no mention of her having attended law school or passing the Bar exam. Besides making apocryphal pronouncements about legal issues, I've witnessed her making questionable claims about biblical interpretations on Facebook.

Then this evening, Arizona Capitol Times' Luigi del Puerto reported:

Now some lawmakers are considering pushing the legislation in the final days of the 2012 legislative session.
“The big question is, you know, where we put it,” said Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa. We’re constitutionally bound to do it.” (emphasis added)
The Arizona Constitution requires the Legislature to enact laws to govern recalls, “including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer.”

How convenient, these "tools" (Barton, Montenegro and Smith) add more inflammatory fuel to the fire by blaming Randy Parraz and Democratic Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox for the "required" additional expenditure of $260K in taxpayer funds because of the recall election.

By the way, in the quotes above, I've put the meme in bold and italics.

However, Barton, Montenegro and Smith are not the only sycophants in this situation. NOWHERE in any of these stories do the Arizona Capitol Times or Howie Fischer (who wrote the EV Tribune story) do anything other than REPEAT the false notion that Pearce must be reimbursed.

Does a newspaper with several reporters well versed in reading and understanding the Arizona Constitution and Arizona Revised Statutes get to claim ignorance by failing to ask anyone to point to a lawful definition of who is an "officer" covered by this provision?

Tucson attorney Vince Rabago, who ran in 2010 for the Democratic nomination for state Attorney General, tweeted today,
Russell Pearce payback illegal: AZ Constitution permits reimbursement of "officer" but AZ law defines "officer" as incumbent, not former.
Now, obviously Rabago is not the Arizona Supreme Court and therefore is not the final arbiter of what ambiguities in the Constitution actually mean. But I have to figure that at minimum he posed the question that needed to be asked.

And what about the "respected professionals" at the Arizona Capitol Times (as well as Howie Fischer who wrote the EV Tribune story cited above)? Might they be guilty of journalistic malpractice?

As the saying goes, no bill proposed in the current session of the Arizona Legislature is dead until the session ends.

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