Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Susan Bitter Smith -- Does she not see the writing on the wall?

The record in the Old Testament book of Daniel, chapter 5, tells the story of the Babylonian King Belshazzar. The king freaked out when he saw an apparition of a hand writing these words on the wall during a banquet:  MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN. From Jewish Encyclopedia.com,
Once when King Belshazzar was banqueting with his lords and drinking wine from the golden vessels of the Temple of Yhwh, a man's hand was seen writing on the wall certain mysterious words. Frightened by the apparition, the king ordered his astrologers to explain the inscription; but they were unable to read it. Daniel was then summoned to the royal palace; and the king promised him costly presents if he would decipher the inscription. Daniel read it "Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin" and explained it to mean that God had "numbered" the kingdom of Belshazzar and brought it to an end; that the king had been weighed and found wanting; and that his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Robert Graham apparently does -- see the writing on the wall. The Arizona Republican Party chairman earlier this year came out publicly to advocate in favor of the beleaguered Trash Burner Bob Stump when the writing seemed pretty obvious on the wall of Stump's banquet hall.

Do you think perhaps Sen. Andrew Sherwood's words got through to him? From Sherwood's op-ed published by the Arizona Capitol Times in August,
There is a distinct possibility that Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump may have engaged in illegal campaign coordination. To find out if he has, a group called the Checks and Balances Project is inquiring into Stump’s text communications with campaigns and the utilities he regulates. As a result, Republicans have launched an attack ad trying to discredit the investigation through good ol’ fashioned shooting the messenger.
Not surprising, Republicans took flak for their recent hit piece, some of which was in The Arizona Republic. In response to the criticism, state GOP Chairman Robert Graham took to these pages to defend his party’s actions saying, “That’s what the Republican Party does for Republican office holders.”
Nowhere in his op-ed did Robert Graham claim that the GOP was defending an innocent man. That absence is conspicuous. The job of a political party is to provide leadership, not a criminal defense in the court of public opinion. As is painfully obvious in Graham’s letter, the GOP’s only interest is to create misdirection.
Graham knows all too well that Arizona Republicans have engaged in a multitude of illegal campaign activities; just ask John Huppenthal and Tom Horne [and now Susan Bitter Smith]. I’ve said it before, when it comes to the Arizona GOP, party and power is all that matters. 
This time Graham's apparently more cautious in his approach. From the December 1 Yellow Sheet Report,
...Graham is lobbying Commissioner Bitter Smith to resign her post following Brnovich’s decision to officially seek her removal from office. This morning, Graham told our reporter that he and Bitter Smith spoke on the phone last night and discussed her options going forward.
Graham said he reiterated his preference that it’s best for Bitter Smith to quit the commission, but she gave no indication to him whether she would heed the advice or fight on. “What I got from her yesterday is that she is weighing all of her options and being very thoughtful about the whole approach,” he said. Ultimately, Graham said it’s up to Bitter Smith to decide which path to take.
When the conflict of interest allegation first surfaced, Bitter Smith had reiterated that she believes she’s not violating any laws, but Graham said things changed when Brnovich decided to go after her. “I said, ‘You really need to consider resignation as one of your most viable options,’” Graham said.
He is concerned that her legal woes might distract from her job as a commissioner, adding he believes it would be an expensive, drawn-out fight. “It’s one of these things where you don’t win when you’re winning,” he said. He added that Bitter Smith told him that she, her family and her lawyer are discussing her best course of action. He said Bitter Smith and her counsel clearly interpret the conflict of interest statutes differently than Brnovich does... she should seriously consider stepping down as chair.
“This is quite the distraction in a place that has lots of distractions. Somebody needs to get control of that place and regain focus,” the source [a Corp Comm observer who spoke to the YS reporter] said, hinting that a coup of sorts may be in the offing. “Does she do the right thing, or does it come to a head?”
Kudos to YS for doing this digging. However, given that they do at times make inferences in that publication, perhaps the "elephant in the room" this time is how much damage Bitter Smith, and ultimately also Stump (though Stump wasn't the subject of this YS blurb) will do to the AZ GOP.

Given the obvious structural disadvantages Arizona Democrats face in statewide races any more, it will probably take more than the scandal(s) at the Corporation Commission for Arizona voters to wake up and smell the coffee.

It will help Arizona Democrats' cause, however, to take Sen. Sherwood's lead in boldly challenging the obscenely thick corruption being practiced by AZ GOP officeholders these days.

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