By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
Within days, federal agents were swooping through Kingman, Mesa and even tiny Oatman, Arizona, in search of evidence and co-conspirators and anything else connected to bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of reporters followed.
Soon, Arizona was the target of national coverage that focused on militia members, who were generally portrayed as armed, dangerous extremists.
Of course, the national media did not know, and did not learn, and therefore could not report the real story of the states' rights debate in Arizona. In search of drama, they missed the context--the intellectual consistency and the commitment to common sense--that has made the constitutionalist movement such a genuine challenge to federal control.
To commemorate the leadership Arizona has brought to the fight against federal power, in this Independence Week issue, New Times proudly offers four profiles of leading Patriots:
* Shortwave radio talk show host, constitution party chairman and longtime UFO expert, William Cooper.
* Former Arizona governor, newspaper magnate and current chairman of the Constitutionalist Networking Center, Evan Mecham.
* National award-winning defender of the right to own guns and renowned author, Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack.
* And the state's most trusted fed-battler, Governor J. Fife Symington III.
These four men are the most visible and effective leaders in Arizona's fight against federal power. It is their competence, their reason, their honesty that will--or will not--be sufficient to guide a Second Revolution.
Let the facts about them--and only the facts--be submitted to a candid world!
The Clever Ruse of Ambassador Krlll
When Arizona patriots want to air their love of freedom and democracy, they call the bastion of liberty and free speech in Arizona: William Cooper of St. Johns.
Cooper hosts a nightly shortwave radio show broadcast from a decrepit former drugstore that abuts a thriving militia supply outlet on St. Johns' run-down and half-abandoned East Commercial Street.
From here, Cooper beams explanations to those who wonder why their lives are miserable and downtrodden.
Cooper's "Hour of the Time" shortwave broadcast includes a mix of fare that emphasizes the activities of treasonous elected officials, America's debased paper currency and the New World Order takeover, combined with information about the occult, secret societies (particularly Freemasonry) and the JFK assassination.
Former governor Evan Mecham and Sheriff Richard Mack have appeared as guests on his call-in broadcasts.
Last year, Cooper helped co-found the constitutionalist party and now serves as its chairman. The party appears to follow basic Libertarian tenets; personal freedoms get heavy emphasis. The party is working closely with Mecham's Constitutionalist Networking Center to nominate a single presidential "Constitutionalist" candidate.
"We believe it is time again to make the government accountable to us--the American people--and to restore our personal freedoms which have been slowly but systematically taken from us," party literature states.
Of course, there is a flip side to that sort of hope. The literature also issues a dire warning: "We believe that if we as people fail to act, the course on which the ship of state is currently set is clear: an accelerating bankrupt socialist police state."
To counter the impending police state, Cooper is encouraging the creation of citizen militias "as the people's last and only protection against subversive government." This encouragement is offered in an open letter to the people of St. Johns, published in Cooper's newspaper, Veritas.
Cooper conducts militia seminars sponsored by another group he runs, Citizens Agency for Joint Intelligence, or CAJI. Last year, a weeklong miniconvention held in St. Johns attracted some of the biggest names in the militia movement, including gun-toting Linda Thompson, an Indianapolis lawyer who, among other things, has called for and then canceled an armed militia march on Washington, D.C., and produced a video on the Waco assault that no one but true militia members believe is true.
Cooper's 1994 seminar also included these topics: "Camo, Terrain, Escape & Evasion, Tracking" and "Long Range Rifle, What's Right for You." The conference ended with a campout that included a weapons-safety course followed by five hours of live shooting.
Unfortunately, a New Times request to attend another seminar, held in May, did not receive an enthusiastic response, despite an offer to pay a $350 registration fee.
"You're not welcome. You're not invited. You will not be allowed. If you come, we will call the sheriff and have you arrested and taken away," Cooper said.
An Air Force and Navy veteran who served in Vietnam and collected a bevy of medals, Cooper cut his teeth on complex conspiracies by diving headlong into the UFO issue. He claims he saw his first flying saucer in 1966 while aboard the submarine USS Tiru.
"I was just lifting the binoculars off my chest when I saw it. The giant saucer shape plunged out of the clouds, tumbled, and pushing the water before it, opened up a hole in the ocean and disappeared from view," he writes in his legendary 1991 book, Behold a Pale Horse.
Cooper pursued his research into UFOs to great lengths. Through his high military security clearance, Cooper said, he had learned of these realities by the mid-1970s:
* There was never any danger of a war with the Soviet Union.
* All nations of the world would soon be disarmed under a world government.
* The executive branch, in cooperation with the intelligence community, would be instrumental in disarming Americans.
* The money to plan for and create a one-world government comes from the CIA's importation and sale of drugs.
Disgusted by his discoveries, Cooper resigned from the Navy and tried to tell his story to the media.
"As I furnished more information concerning the intelligence community and the United Nations, the efforts to silence me became brutal," he wrote in a five-page biography.
In March and April 1976, two different attempts to kill Cooper failed, but, he claims, he pressed on with his work. By 1989, Cooper was ready to reveal a world conspiracy/UFO theory to the public at the Mutual UFO Network Symposium in Las Vegas, according to published reports.
Cooper discovered that three races of aliens had already visited Earth by the 1950s. In 1954, he found, President Eisenhower signed a formal treaty with the second alien race to land on the blue planet. The treaty was signed by "His Omnipotent Highness Krlll," Cooper found.
The treaty signing was filmed, Cooper says, and the film still exists. Ambassador Krlll "gave lots of information, scientific data, some of which was published in open scientific literature, under the name O.H. Krill," Cooper writes.
Subsequently, President Kennedy discovered the treaty with Krlll and his alien cohorts and was about to tell the world. Hence, Cooper says, Kennedy was assassinated.
Cooper began a massive marketing campaign of his theories, selling audio and video tapes as well as his book to UFO enthusiasts. He soon merged UFO phenomena with New World Order doctrine.
But by 1994, Cooper began to distance himself from his UFO past, although he continued to claim he's seen documents signed by "O.H. Krill."
Because he was told that Krlll was invented by a couple of other UFO investigators, Cooper finally concluded that the UFO documents he had seen were nothing more than a hoax.
He decided that the UFO misinformation campaign that fooled him was "exclusively of human origin . . . designed to bring into being One World government," according to Omni magazine.
Cooper began asking his followers to destroy previous tape lists that included many references to UFOs. A fire destroyed his UFO archives.
About the same time that Cooper discovered the UFO-Krlll theory was a clever hoax, he decided to launch a hostile takeover of Gannett Company, Inc., the multibillion-dollar media giant that owns USA Today and many other newspapers, as well as radio, television and advertising properties.
Cooper instructed his supporters to buy Gannett stock and turn over their voting rights to him. "The goal is control, not profit," Cooper said.
The attempt to buy the $3.5 billion company fell a few billion dollars short.
Nevertheless, Cooper remains a strong attraction when he speaks on the metaphysical and unsolved-mysteries convention circuit.
Last September, Cooper was slated to appear at the Extraordinary Experiences Research Expo in Los Angeles to present two lectures. The first seminar was titled: "Conspiracy Is Not a Conspiracy--Everything Is Out in the Open." The Expo's promotional material says, "Cooper's world-renowned expertise in this field will reveal nothing is hidden."
Ninety minutes after the first seminar ended, Cooper was scheduled to hold a workshop on the history of brotherhoods and how they change the world. "Cooper will disclose the very latest information that is hidden from the public eye," one flier says.
Hiding is something Cooper and his followers know well. Efforts to interview Cooper in May in St. Johns were rebuffed. Signs were posted, warning the press to stay away from Cooper's office.
Moments after an interview was sought, Cooper's followers placed sheets over the large window facing Commercial Street.
Cooper did not emerge from his broadcast bunker.
But a flier detailing Cooper's latest video was available.
"Introducing! LUXOR," the promotional material said.
According to that material, Cooper has determined that people entering Luxor, a new Egyptian-themed Las Vegas hotel and casino, will "get a barrage of symbology they will never understand." The barrage is linked to an ancient Egyptian "Mystery Religion."
Tourists, gamblers and their children will all be on the road to becoming Freemasons, but won't know it, the flier said. "Without their knowledge, all will receive the three degrees in six acts. They will leave wearing the mental aprons of Freemasons without portfolio," the ad said.
The Luxor video, according to Cooper's flier, "beckons and repulses, imparting feelings of euphoria alternating with impending doom." The video will be perfect entertainment "for those studying the emerging New World Order."
The good news: The videotape revealing this threat costs only $35.
A CURE for All Our Problems!
For more than 35 years, Arizona political maverick Evan Mecham has waived the constitutionalist flag high and wide. For most of that time, he carried the standard without fanfare and with scant support.
In fact, he generally was vilified by establishment Republicans, minorities, gays and, of course, liberals.
It was none other than a fellow Republican, J. Fife Symington III, who led the charge that gutted Mecham's turbulent governorship by publicly announcing support for Mecham's removal from office and his impeachment.
But just seven years later, Governor Symington has seen the light and now uses "states' rights" rhetoric that could come from Mecham's 1982 book, Come Back America.
In the early 1980s, Mecham was calling for the return of federal lands to state control, getting the federal government out of education, putting states in charge of welfare and eliminating income taxes. Mecham was forging a platform to turn the nation back from Roosevelt's New Deal "socialism" to a Jeffersonian democracy as long ago as the 1960s.
Removed from office in April 1988, his Glendale Pontiac auto dealership sold, Evan Mecham appeared to be permanently cut out of Arizona political life. He was largely remembered as the governor who rescinded the Martin Luther King paid holiday in Arizona.
It is forgotten that Mecham revoked the paid holiday only after receiving a legal opinion from former state attorney general Bob Corbin--an opinion holding that the holiday was illegally created by Mecham's predecessor, former governor Bruce Babbitt. A strict constitutionalist, Mecham says he had no choice but to repeal the holiday.
It's this literal view of the Constitution--both federal and state--that has brought Mecham political fortune and disaster. Mecham's political career has had more ebbs and flows than a desert wash. Once again, the waters are rising.
Mecham finds himself in the middle of a surging tide of constitutional enthusiasm sweeping through the country. Mecham now is leading a nationwide effort to put an independent constitutionalist in the White House in 1996.
"Let's just get back to the Constitution and elect a president who doesn't owe their election to special interests and to the world elitists," Mecham says.
Perhaps because of his long-shot, much-derided but ultimately successful campaign for governor in 1986, Mecham earnestly believes that a constitutionalist candidate can win the White House.
"This thing is just happening so fast it is going to explode," he says.
Mecham vows he will not be a candidate this time around. But he is trying to convince scores of constitutional organizations scattered across the country to unite, at least long enough to nominate one independent candidate for president.
Worked out in detail last month at the Mid-American Constitution Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, the national constitutionalist plan involves formation of a grassroots group called the Constitutionally Unified Republic for Everybody, or CURE. The group will be subdivided into state groups, under the name Take America Back.
The members of each Take America Back group will select delegates to attend a national CURE convention, where a presidential candidate will be nominated early next year.
According to Mecham, who is leading the unification movement as chairman of the Constitutionalist Networking Center, some of the leading contenders for the nomination are former U.S. representative William Dannemeyer of California; Charles Collins, a conservative businessman from Florida; and California state Senator Don Rogers.
Mecham is convinced the public will vote for an independent candidate; he points to Ross Perot's 1992 run for the presidency.
"You don't need a party," says Mecham. "We've been brainwashed into thinking you have to have a party to do anything. But that isn't it at all. That's the way they have kept control, is through parties."
They play a big role in Mecham's world view and political philosophy.
Internationally, they are conspiring to disarm America and turn U.S. troops over to the control of the United Nations. Mecham says President Kennedy started the process through a State Department directive titled "Freedom From War." President Bush accelerated the move toward a one-world government, controlled by the United Nations, by engaging in the Persian Gulf War.
Nationally, they undermine the Constitution by illegally passing laws that give the federal government powers properly reserved to the people and the states. Mecham says this shift in power is being systematically undertaken by "elitists." As evidence, he points to the book Tragedy and Hope by the late Dr. Carroll Quigly, a former Georgetown University professor and mentor to President Clinton.
"He tells how they took over the education system, the entertainment industry, the principal parts of the media, the banking system, thus controlling the economy and thus controlling the country," Mecham says. "And that's working to put everything into a one-world socialistic superstate in which the United States ceases to be an independent country."
They can be found on the Trilateral Commission. And they work at the Council on Foreign Relations. They can be Republicans or Democrats. They are lots of places.
They may even have been responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, Mecham implies. Many people at the Mid-American Constitution Conference are having a hard time believing the government's explanation concerning the bombing, Mecham explains.
"There is a general feeling that it is as phony as a three-dollar bill," Mecham says.
And locally, they corrupt public officials and run drugs into the country, destroying the lives of children and crippling the work force.
Once they saw that he was trying to stem the drug flow into Arizona, they decided he needed to be removed from the governor's office, Evan Mecham says.
Freedom of Press, Punch and Shove
Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack burst into national prominence in February 1994 when he filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Brady Bill. Before that, Mack was just a rural county sheriff whose biggest headache was environmentalists protesting construction of telescopes on nearby Mount Graham.
A conservative Democrat in his second term, Mack was incensed by the Brady Bill, which mandates a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases so local law enforcement officials can conduct background checks on the buyers.
"I can ill-afford to spend the time and money that I have now [for] fighting crime, and I'll be damned if I'm going to do background checks on honest Americans," declared Mack.
Mack was one of six sheriffs across the country to legally challenge the Brady Bill. But his suit was the first to lead to a decision--and that ruling propelled Mack to national fame.
A Tucson federal judge shot down part of the Brady handgun-control law in June, ruling that local police and sheriff's offices can't be required to check the backgrounds of gun buyers. U.S. District Judge John Roll held that requiring a "reasonable background search" violates states' rights protected by the Tenth Amendment.
Mack became an instant hero of the gun lobby, appearing on talk shows from Virginia to Alaska, and even holding a Donahue show debate with Sarah Brady about the federal law named for her disabled husband, who was shot and paralyzed during a failed assassination attempt on President Reagan.
Mack has become used to publicity.
"So, no photographer today?" asks Mack, greeting a reporter in his basement office in downtown Safford, a dusty farming town 160 miles southeast of Phoenix.
Assured that a photographer will be in touch shortly, Mack shakes off disappointment and gestures the reporter toward a chair.
The office is small, containing one desk, a couple of chairs and a sliding glass door separating Mack from his secretary, Ida.
Mack is dressed in a white, open-collar, western-cut shirt closed with snaps. His gold-plated eyeglass frames accent the sheriff's badge pinned to his pressed shirt. Together, those accessories provide a sharp contrast to Mack's jet-black, precisely combed hair.
On the wall hang numerous awards--some dating to his Safford High School football days. Others commemorate his recent burst on to the national scene as a staunch advocate of the right to bear arms.
Mack plunges into a lengthy lecture on the Constitution--reading chapter and verse from a pocket-size booklet containing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He requires every deputy to be familiar with the booklet, and to carry it at all times.
"I have sworn an oath in the name of God . . . to uphold and defend this document," Mack says.
His passion for the Constitution, he explains, is focused particularly on the First and Second amendments, which deal with freedom of the press and the right to bear arms.
"Freedom of the press and the right to keep and bear arms are the basic fundamental protections that the colonists held most dear," he says.
The discussion turns to the two books he's written in the last year, one on gun control and the other on the relationship of God, government and freedom. Mack says he is working on a soon-to-be-published autobiography and is toying with a run for Congress.
"I think I could beat [Representative Jim] Kolbe," he says.
He pulls a yellow legal pad from behind his desk and begins reading passages from his handwritten autobiography. He wonders aloud why success has followed him from childhood sports to today.
"The reason I went out for sports is I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to have a claim to fame," he says.
He credits his poise under the media spotlight he's enjoyed the last year to his drama training as a youth.
"I couldn't of never handled all these cameras and microphones in my face all the time, had it not been for my presence on stage," he says.
Mack's office is cool, dark and comfortable as the sun reaches its yearly pinnacle; it's the summer solstice. Outside, the temperature is close to 100 degrees.
As Mack discusses his life in two lengthy interviews, an old man lies beneath a desert tree, 20 miles to the south, 2,000 feet off U.S. Highway 191. Seventy-eight-year-old Frank Rodriguez had gotten lost in the desert. His life either had, or was just about to, come to an end.
Rodriguez had wandered from his campsite three days earlier--a Sunday--with his walking stick and two cans of beer. He left camp while his brother-in-law, Louis Herrera, was scouting the area for future hunting spots.
Herrera returned to camp Sunday evening to find Rodriguez gone. After searching the area, he drove to Safford and told the sheriff's office that Rodriguez was missing.
A search party was organized that night and continued until 4:15 p.m. the next day--Monday--when Mack called off the search after a Department of Public Safety helicopter failed to spot Rodriguez.
Mack says he suspended the search after less than 24 hours because tracking dogs traced Rodriguez to the highway, where the man probably got a ride. Mack's office called for, but then declined, assistance from the Greenlee County Sheriff's Office, which volunteered to send its horse-mounted search-and-rescue team. While Rodriguez's family members continued the search, Mack returned to Safford and conducted business as usual.
On Thursday, Mack shifted gears and restarted the search, using Greenlee County's mounted rescue team. This time, the sheriff personally took charge of the operation riding horseback through the scruffy desert searching for the old man.
By 6 p.m., a bruised and battered Sheriff Mack was back at the chow wagon, his lip busted open and his back and neck bruised. His white horse had reared and tossed him to the ground.
"I've told the family that if he's out there, he's dead," Mack said Thursday evening.
The next morning Greenlee County deputies found Rodriguez's body, face down, beneath a tree, less than a half-mile from the camp. He hadn't been dead too long. The body was intact. No bugs. No ravens or vultures or coyotes had gotten to it yet.
"He looked like he had been dead at least two or three days," says Mack, indirectly acknowledging it was possible Rodriguez had been still alive when Mack called off his search on Monday.
The off-and-on search may fan the flames of an effort to remove Mack from office. It's the second attempted recall against Mack in two years.
The first recall effort--which started after the unsolved murder of a Safford woman raised questions about Mack's handling of the investigation--stalled a few hundred signatures short of triggering a special election. Backers claim they were intimidated and threatened by Mack supporters.
The second recall petition was launched after Mack appeared on a CNN talk show last spring. Debbie Campbell, who initiated the latest recall, says Mack angered some Safford residents with his antigovernment rhetoric.
Campbell also believes the sheriff is spending too much time outside the county, promoting his constitutionalist agenda.
The latest recall effort has generated immense controversy in this remote town, with vicious letters on both sides of the issue appearing in local newspapers. Sheriff Mack's father has stepped into the fray, verbally lambasting Campbell. She has filed reports with Safford town police complaining about the elder Mack.
Campbell, a 44-year-old mother of five, also has sought a restraining order against a local resident who is a friend of Mack's father. The man, Ronald E. Stone, dresses in full militia gear, including a pistol, and accosts Campbell while she circulates petitions. He has walked up to her, clicked his heels and shouted "Heil, Hillary!" while giving the Nazi salute.
The biggest thorn under Sheriff Mack's saddle is Chuck Rosa, a local newspaper publisher. When it comes to Rosa's Wild West News, Mack does not exhibit First Amendment tolerance. Instead, he says things like: "I don't owe him or his newspaper anything."
This is how Sheriff Mack has handled a real-life First Amendment issue in his county:
Rosa, who devotes most of his eight-page paper to police news, often reprints conversations picked up over a radio scanner. Frequently, those conversations involve the police and the public.
Mack refuses to release any more radio and telephone logs to Rosa, which, even Mack acknowledges, are legally a matter of public record.
Lawyers for the First Amendment Coalition, which represents many media outlets throughout the state, say Mack is illegally withholding the records.
"There is no question these are public records," says First Amendment Coalition lawyer Sarah Porter.
But Mack says some members of the public are afraid to call his office because they don't want their names to appear in the Wild West News.
Mack says his duty is to the members of the public first, and if they don't want their names in the paper, he will do everything he can to keep their names out.
"He [Rosa] demanded to have a copy of all our dispatcher radio logs, which will have more names of people who call in," Mack says. "I told him absolutely not."
Mack despises Rosa, whom he calls "a sick individual," and his newspaper, which takes frequent potshots at Mack.
"His whole newspaper is nothing but a vendetta," Mack says. "That's all it is. There's nothing worthy about it. It provides no service to the community."
Rosa can't get his hands on the public records because he doesn't have enough money to file a lawsuit challenging Mack's refusal to release the records.
"Mack says he supports the Constitution, but he certainly is abridging the Constitution in keeping these public records from me and keeping public information from the citizens of Graham County," Rosa says.
Rosa hasn't let lack of public records stop him from covering the sheriff's office. He was the first reporter on the scene when Rodriguez's body was discovered. He was confronted by a sheriff's deputy while approaching the area and told to leave the scene immediately.
Rosa refused, and a shouting match ensued, which Rosa taped. Rosa says Graham County Sheriff Deputy Dwayne Elders shoved him, punched him in the chest and struck Rosa's camera, jamming it into his face, while he was attempting to photograph Elders.
Elders has confirmed that he physically forced Rosa from the scene, Mack says.
Rosa wants criminal assault charges filed against Elders; he also wants $250,000 to settle his impending lawsuit against the county.
"I'll take payments," Rosa says.
Mack wants criminal charges filed against Rosa for interfering with a police investigation.
"I told the deputy he should have arrested Rosa and not wasted any time with further warnings or any type of physical confrontation," Mack says.
Graham County Attorney Jack Williams says he plans to transfer investigation of the constitutional shoving match to another county.
The Patriot's Standard-bearer
Long before Air Force Captain J. Fife Symington III went to Thailand during the Vietnam War, Republican Evan Mecham was honing his plan for a nationwide constitutionalist revival.
At the core of Mecham's plan was the Tenth Amendment, which leaves to the states and the people those powers not specifically granted to the federal government. Mecham labored tirelessly on the topic.
Such matters weren't high on Symington's personal agenda. In the early 1980s, Symington was busy managing real estate developments and obtaining multimillion-dollar loans from Southwest Savings and Loan, where he sat as a director.
After turning against Mecham in 1987, Symington won the governorship by projecting himself as a moderate Republican--a man who cared about the environment and education, but who also understood the fundamentals of business.
Once elected, Symington steadily shifted to the right, becoming a champion of private education and abandoning environmentalism. In place of moderation, Symington vigorously adopted Mecham's call for a states' rights revolution.
That change in emphasis occurred as the federal government was investigating the governor in regard to alleged wrongdoing at Southwest Savings and Loan.
As strange as it might have seemed a few years ago, Symington has become a standard-bearer for the entire spectrum of Arizona's states' rights true-believers--the Coopers as well as the Mechams and the Macks.
He has legitimized the fight against federal control.
Here are some of the ways he has done it:
Six weeks ago, Symington told the Arizona Republic that House Speaker Newt Gingrich promised to hold congressional hearings on Symington's long-running battle with U.S. District Court Judge Carl Muecke, giving the governor a national platform to push his states' rights agenda.
Symington is angry at Muecke for his appointment of "special masters," who oversee the state's prisons to make sure inmates' constitutional rights, and the orders issued in federal lawsuits about those rights, are honored. The governor wants the feds to stop telling the state how to handle prisoner access to law libraries, inmate legal assistance and the prisoner Christmas packages.
The state Legislature, prodded by Symington, will cut off funding for Muecke's special masters on July 13, setting up a showdown between the governor and the federal judge. Symington could find himself on the receiving end of a federal contempt-of-court charge.
In May, Symington told reporters that Gingrich offered to hold hearings on the matter prior to the July 13 funding cutoff.
"As I told the speaker, July 13 [the possible hearing date] is a fairly critical date here because we have a state and federal conflict, and he's been very interested in that all along," Symington told a Phoenix daily newspaper. "He's watching."
John Cox, a Gingrich spokesman, says the speaker's top assistants have no idea what Symington is talking about.
Cox says he asked Jack Howard, a special assistant to the speaker, about Symington's expected hearing. "He's [Howard] not familiar with a hearing on special masters this summer," Cox says.
The Governor's Office refuses to return New Times phone calls.
But Symington has certainly fought other states' rights battles.
Launched with great fanfare last summer, the Constitutional Defense Council was expected to be Symington's battering ram in the war to blast away at federal laws that violate Arizona's sovereignty. The council was armed with $1 million in taxpayer funds to roll back the federal government's intrusion into powers reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment.
The CDC "will wage aggressive legal warfare against federal mandates that flout the Tenth Amendment and cloud the future of our state," the governor said.
The first anniversary of the CDC's formation comes up July 17. So far, it has failed to file a single lawsuit. The potential cases the council is reviewing are either so mired in technicalities that states' rights become secondary, or the cases are already being handled by the state Attorney General's Office.
"Clearly, we would have preferred a very clean Tenth Amendment issue," says Phoenix attorney Roger Ferland, who has been hired by the council to research and possibly file litigation involving the federal clean-air and clean-water acts.
The problem, Ferland says, is that the federal laws are written in such a way to make it difficult to find a direct violation of the Tenth Amendment. "You can't go out and find those on the street," he says.
Symington does not just fight against the federal government's overstepping of constitutional bounds. He tries to change constitutions that impinge on his own powers.
Angered with the Arizona Corporation Commission's regulation of utilities, Symington last year threatened to change the state Constitution to remove powers granted to the commission.
"If we have to change the Constitution to change the Arizona Corporation Commission, then we'll change the Constitution," Symington promised. So far, the Constitution has not been changed.
And when Symington did not like how Attorney General Grant Woods conducts his office, he attempted to move the entire civil division of the Attorney General's Office under the governor's control.
"We don't really have to work with him," Symington said, shortly after the attorney general criticized Symington's antifederal positions.
"If we need to, we'll change the laws," Symington added.
In an interview last spring with a Phoenix Gazette reporter, Symington gave indication of his dedication to the Constitution and the cause of states' rights.
"In the end, I don't think power is just found in the law and what is given to you under the Constitution," Symington said. "The real power is in an idea you are capable of selling or pushing successfully.