Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Libertarians file Sinema recall papers UPDATED 11:50pm MST 8-8-13

Earlier today, Arizona Libertarians Mike Shipley and Thane Eichenauer filed a petition with the Arizona Secretary of State to start a recall against Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. They say that her vote against limiting National Security Agency domestic spying constitutes a violation of her oath to uphold the United States Constitution.
On July 24th, 2013, the US called a vote (number 412) where she chose NOT to stand with 205 other US House members in placing a limit on government snooping. Kyrsten Sinema chose to reject limits on NSA data collection. In doing this, she supports a "Big Brother" government with no limits. We call on our fellow Arizona residents to support the recall of Kyrsten Sinema. 
According to Secretary of State staff, 62,533 (valid) signatures of voters registered in the Nineth District must be filed on or before December 6, 2013 in order to force a recall election.

If this recall puts pressure on Sinema to find the Democratic voice she seems to have lost over the last couple of months, it could be a good thing. But it is also possible Sinema, figuring the odds are stacked heavily against the possibility the petition could succeed, will completely ignore Shipley and Eichenauer.

It was just last night I wrote that I figure the competitive balance of Arizona's First, Second and Nineth Congressional Districts is likely to foster a nasty re-election campaign for Reps. Kirkpatrick, Barber and Sinema.

If nothing else, the recall may raise the possibility this seemingly safe vote will be exploited in the 2014 election season as much as a bold stand in favor of civil liberties would have been.



There seems to be some disagreement among members of the peanut gallery (which includes me) as to whether Members of Congress are considered "public officers" according to the state constitution.

Article 8, Section 1 of the Arizona Constitution states:
Every public officer in the state of Arizona, holding an elective office, either by election or appointment, is subject to recall from such office by the qualified electors of the electoral district from which candidates are elected to such office. Such electoral district may include the whole state. Such number of said electors as shall equal twenty-five per centum of the number of votes cast at the last preceding general election for all of the candidates for the office held by such officer, may by petition, which shall be known as a recall petition, demand his recall. 
Until I get insight from an attorney, I have to figure that the Secretary of State's office would not have accepted the application, put a deadline date on it and calculated the number of signatures required if it was NOT possible to recall a Congressional representative in Arizona.


Additional update:

While there have been several recall applications filed with the Arizona Secretary of State over the years (including this year), none has ever gotten enough signatures to have to consider any other legal question. But I'm sure this has been covered before and likely is covered by the US Constitution which, on issues like this, would almost certainly supercede any state law.

Federal case law that may be applicable to this situation can be read here.

At best, it appears Shipley and Eichenauer have embarked on a symbolic but as far as any direct impact, strictly Quixotic effort to recall Sinema.

Anyway, it's likely there is additional insight to be gained that may warrant further updates.


  1. Though I disagree with her vote (and a her other "Blue Dog" votes), this one was a Catch-22 vote for her. She was going to be damned either way and by different types of voters. I am guessing though that she didn't learn from the Democratic route in 2010 where Blue Dogs (i.e. Republican-lite) were voted out of office in droves, whereas liberal-moderate, progressive and liberal Democrats were able to hold onto their seats.

    But yes, this is a "symbolic" recall as nothing in the U.S. Constitution, nor the rules of the House, give the States the power to remove members of the House of Representatives.

  2. Steve,
    Thanks to Wikileaks(!), here is a report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (2008). I haven't had a chance to look through it, but it looks like it concludes that you CANNOT recall a member of Congress.

    There have been several petition applications accepted by the Secy of State, most recently several against McCain.

  3. Now, having had a chance to review the CRS report, it seems pretty clear that you're right in describing it as symbolic. The U.S. Constitution sets forth the boundaries for removing a Congressperson, and the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that the 10th Amendment does not give states the power to change it.

    In fact, one of those cases explains why Arizona has term limits for state elected officials but not our Congressional representatives.