Steve Smith's "Save Joe Arpaio's Ass Bill" Passes State House, and, Oh, It's Unconstitutional
Just doin' what Constantin wants me to. Got any dung I can eat, Kavanagh?
Here's yet another sign worshippers at the font of all things Sheriff Joe know that their boy is doomed by the current recall effort: Their willingness to resort to futile, unconstitutional trickery to keep Arpaio's career on life support.
See also: -Russell Pearce-Inspired Recall Bill Unconstitutional, Say Experts -In the Legislature, Five Reps Did One Man's Bidding -Why Sheriff Joe Actually Is Nervous About the Recall Effort Against Him
The latest stab at propping up Sand Land's 21st Century version of Augusto Pinochet is actually an old idea, proffered by the same wingnutty idiot who has suggested it heretofore.
I speak, of course, of Constantin Querard-puppet and all around human cockroach Steve Smith, a Republican Representative from Pinal County best known for his greasy hair, his dumb effort to build a border wall with private donations, and his willingness to gag on any of the wrinkled appendages belonging to the bloated corpus of recalled, disgraced state Senate President Russell Pearce.
Last year, Smith ran a bill in homage to Pearce, which would have created a recall primary for any recall election, thus ensuring that free, unfettered recall elections envisioned by Arizona's forefathers would be both unfree and fettered, if they occur in the future.
Smith's Senate Bill 1449 ("the cockroach" was in the state Senate then) was ultimately held in conference committee, and there expired.
As I wrote at the time, the measure was unabashedly unconstitutional, according to elections law and constitutional experts, because Article 8 of the Arizona Constitution states that if the needed signatures are obtained, "a special election shall be ordered to be held as provided by law, to determine whether such officer shall be recalled."
Scour Article 8 as much as you will, it's pretty obvious that the constitution is speaking of one election. Indeed, section 6 of the article plainly states that, "general election laws shall apply to recall elections."
There is no primary envisioned, and as ASU constitutional law Professor Paul Bender told me last year when I queried him about the matter, if such a change is to be made, it has to be done via a constitutional amendment approved by the electorate.
"The legislature can't do it itself," he told me.
Nevertheless, the ever-slithery Smith has introduced the bill again this session, from his new digs in the state House, in the form of HB 2282, which was approved by the lower chamber yesterday.
Now that Pearce has been relegated to the elephant's graveyard, first by the successful 2011 recall, and in 2012 by a GOP primary for state Senate wherein Bob Worsley bested Pearce by double digits, Smith's evil weed of a bill can render him no assistance.
But Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is looking down the double-barrel of a recall that's already gathered more than a third of the needed signatures and is sure to retire him permanently to his Fountain Hills villa if it makes it to the ballot, needs all the help he can get.
Not that such legislative monkeyshines require an additional dose of obviousness, or illegality, but Republican Representative John Kavanagh offered an amendment to the Smith bill which made it retroactive to January 1.
So now it heads to the Senate, where it's likely to be approved, and no doubt later made "law" by our governor, "GED Jan" Brewer.
Thing is, Kavanagh may have helped screw Smith's pooch once more with his amendment, as such "special legislation" is also unconstitutional, according to Article 4, Part 2, Section 19.
Meaning that this pathetic Hail Mary attempt to save Joe's keister is headed right for the judicial septic tank.
"I diagnose a bad case of rectal blindness," quipped elections law expert Tom Ryan. "That is, I don't see it getting its ass past the Arizona Supreme Court."
Ryan should know. Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few years, you'll recognize him as the crusading Chandler attorney who defended the Pearce recall against legal challenges and a sham candidate by the name of Olivia Cortes.
In 2012, he denounced Smith's bill. When I called him today, he was not amused by its revivification.
"It's clearly unconstitutional," said Ryan. "They are adding requirements to the constitution that are going to be rejected by the Arizona Supreme Court. I can say that with the highest degree of confidence...They know what they're doing is trying to handcuff the Sheriff Joe Arpaio recall."
Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for a Better Arizona and one of the recall's main backers, saw the Smith bill as a sign of Republican desperation.
"They are scared to play in an area where it's not a primary," observed Parraz. "What are they fearful of? If Arpaio appeals to people, why do they want to have a recall primary, so he can bully people out?
"This is a really a reflection of how far they are willing to go. They want to change the constitution to save Arpaio. It shows they're scared."
Parraz stated there would "definitely" be a court challenge to it, if the proposal becomes law.
Ryan, who may be involved in that legal challenge, noted the hypocrisy of the so-called "constitutional conservatives" pushing the bill.
"We fought like crazy as a state to have initiative, referendum and recall as part of our constitution," he said. "These guys all profess to be originalists and protectors of the constitution, and here they are tearing down one of the protections voters have."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.