If these Pearce supporters connive at this 11th hour to "reimburse" Pearce, let it be known they are fooling no one. They are using scarce state funds to hand Russell Pearce a pay package of more than a quarter million dollars for the inconvenience of having experienced a recall, and to help finance his return to office when he runs again this fall.
That includes making changes to the law that allow him to get a payoff somewhere down the line.
That, simply, is an outrage that cannot stand.
The state Legislature declined yesterday to consider a tiny increase in funds for the developmentally disabled.
The Legislature decided yesterday to leave over 100,000 poor kids without access to health care, languishing instead on waiting lists.
The Legislature yesterday left highways untended, needed schools unbuilt, and uncounted other state services grievously unfunded.
Don't you dare, in the security of your back rooms, use the confusion of the 11th hour of the legislative session to cut a check to Russell Pearce.
Don't you dare.-----
But they dared. And they will continue to dare. Will they succeed? I don't know. But I am certain they will continue to try.
How and why do they think they can get away with it?
It's ALL ABOUT THE MEME.
Tuesday evening, after reading a tweet posted by Tucson attorney and former Assistant Attorney General Vince Rabago, I reviewed several local news stories on the issue (and posted my findings to this blog). There was a common thread to all of them. First, proponents of the $261,000 gift to the LOSER of last fall's LD18 Senate recall election all spoke to reporters as if the Arizona Constitution MANDATES or commands the legislature reimburse Pearce for the expenses he reported for his failed campaign.
Second, NONE of the veteran legislative reporters even questioned that assumption.
THAT should be troubling to anyone with any concern for how laws and public policy decisions are made at the state capitol. Freedom of the press has, unequivocally been co-opted by "market forces." If the people who pay Howie Fischer and Jim Small and Luigi del Puerto were to demand that they ask the right questions and challenge those to whom the power of Arizona voters has been delegated, this would never have happened.
But I must digress, for the moment.
Those news stories contained this simple message expressed invariably in similar words in each,
the Arizona Constitution requires the Legislature to reimburse the “reasonable special election campaign expenses” of any recalled public official.
Now, about that ridiculous claim:
Vince Rabago has practiced state and federal constitutional law for nearly twenty years. He scoffed at the effort to reimburse Russell Pearce.
Any Russell Pearce cash-back scheme is clearly unconstitutional and illegal. Simply put, the Arizona Constitution does not intend to pay back someone who gets ousted in a recall. The only plausible interpretation of the actual language used in the Arizona Constitution is that it provides for reimbursement of an incumbent official who wins a recall election. The language in Article VIII, Section 6 of the Constitution, provides for enacting a "provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer." But under Arizona law, an 'officer' -- in the context of elected officials -- is clearly defined as 'the incumbent of any office.' Because Russell Pearce did not win the recall election, he is not "the incumbent of any office" and therefore cannot be legally reimbursed under the Constitution.
Rabago continued, "The Constitution thus allows for payment of reasonable campaign expenses of an incumbent who wins a recall, but the Constitution does not permit or require reimbursement of a former officer. And, you can only know what reasonable 'expenses' are after an election occurs, which further supports the clear meaning of this provision. After the dust of the recall election settles, such 'officer'" ('incumbent') can be reimbursed. This is also the only commonsense interpretation of the Arizona Constitution because it makes sense to reimburse an official who remains the incumbent and was unfairly forced to spend money to defend their seat in a recall election. A recalled officer who maintains the trust of voters and wins the recall should not have to pay for the unnecessary recall campaign because the voters have effectively decided that the officer should not have been recalled in the first place. But it makes absolutely no sense to give a cash rebate to a bad politician who gets kicked out of office by the voters. It is as simple as that. (emphasis added)
In short, the effort to pay Russell Pearce is unconstitutional and illegal.
The Arizona Constitution has the following relevant language:
"No recall petition shall be circulated against any officer until he shall have held his office for a period of six months.... (Art. VIII, Section 5.)
Article VIII, Section 6, then states: "The general election laws shall apply to recall elections in so far as applicable. Laws necessary to facilitate the operation of the provisions of this article shall be enacted, including provision for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses of such officer." (Art. VIII, Sec. 6.)
"Such officer." So, what does officer mean?
"Officer" is clearly defined under Arizona law as the incumbent of any office. A.R.S. § 38-101(3). Because Russell Pearce did not win the recall, he is not the incumbent and cannot be legally reimbursed.-----
The Arizona Constitution thus provides for the payment of reasonable campaign expenses of "such officer" (i.e., "such incumbent"). The Constitution does not say reimbursement of "such former officer."
Until someone gets their attention, and I'm not sure even the Republic's editorial will do that, the Russell Pearce sycophants in the Arizona Legislature will continue to act as if they are completely justified in this foolish endeavor.
Let's not even get started on what things those "honorable" representatives of the voters REALLY have a duty to see get funded... I'm confident many readers can come up with a substantial list of things this bunch of fools has refused to fund despite constitutional mandate to the contrary.
UPDATE 4pm MST 5-3-12
Reportedly, the Arizona Legislature is preparing to end the 2012 regular session (Sine Die) this afternoon or this evening. And to the end, Pearce sycophant Sen. Steve Smith clings to the meme.
Pearce backer Sen. Steve Smith said the bill was not advanced "because people like him, to give him money," but rather because "we have to do it."The Arizona Republic even repeated the meme without questioning it in a story posted a few minutes before noon.
The Arizona Constitution includes a provision "for payment by the public treasury of the reasonable special election campaign expenses" of an official in a recall election. It requires the Legislature to set up a process, which supporters of the effort said was their intent with Senate Bill 1449.