State Senate President Russell Pearce and the Republican-controlled Legislature couldn't be bothered today to change one word in state law to extend unemployment benefits to 15,000 out-of-work Arizonans.
But Pearce has had the copious free time to compose a lengthy, five page letter to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne arguing that his anti-recall committee should be allowed to take corporate and union donations.
Oh, and Pearce wrote the missive on his official state Senate letterhead, meaning that he's shilling for his anti-recall group on the people's dime.
The letter, which you can read, here, asks Horne to render an opinion on two issues that the Arizona Secretary of State has already decided: Pearce's desire to solicit corporate and union donations, and whether or not the group attempting to recall him, Citizens for a Better Arizona, violated campaign finance laws by not reporting its first $10,000 to the SOS's office.
Both matters have already been addressed by State Elections Director Amy Bjelland, who has informed the attorney for Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall that CBA did not violate state statute, and that Pearce's group cannot take corporate or union dough.
In fact, after CBA began circulating its recall petition, Bjelland initially informed the group that it had to file a notice with the SOS after reaching the $10,000 mark, which the committee did. But Bjelland's office later determined that this was not necessary. In raising that issue again, Pearce is simply wasting taxpayer time and resources.
As for accepting corporate and union donations, it is highly ironic that a man who has blamed the recall effort on "outsiders" is raising money out-of-state, and wants corporate cash to boot.
Union cash, too. Though off the top of my noggin, there's only one union I can think of that would cut a right-wing menace such as Pearce a check: the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, headed by Pearce's fellow nativist Mark Spencer.
Pearce argues in his letter that the First Amendment rights of corporations are being violated, a la the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United ruling. Which means that Pearce is saying that Arizona's statute, which he could conceivably change as Senate president, is unconstitutional.
Not that Pearce actually typed or dictated this letter himself. He's not a lawyer, and he's not that smart, to be blunt. A russet potato has a higher IQ.
Recall organizer Randy Parraz, whose group submitted signatures last week in hopes of forcing a special election, was outraged that Pearce wrote his letter using official state Senate letterhead. He criticized Pearce's effort to run an end game around the Secretary of State's office, for which Bjelland, a Republican, works.
"It contradicts everything it says in the law," Parraz noted of the Pearce correspondence. "What is it about the law that he doesn't understand?"
The Attorney General's office issued the following statement regarding Pearce's letter, which was released today.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Like all formal opinion requests, this will be assigned to the Solicitor General's Office, under the leadership of Solicitor General David R. Cole," Horne is quoted as saying in the statement. "The Solicitor General's Office will analyze this question under the law, without regard to politics.
"A letter will be issued based on the analysis of the Solicitor General's Office, without permitting politics to enter into the process at any point. The public expects these kinds of questions to be answered on a purely legal basis, without intrusion of politics, and that is what we will do."
Horne promised an opinion within 30 days. His statement regarding Pearce is significant because Horne, of course, is a Republican. According to a spokesman for the AG's office, Solicitor General Cole, a Horne appointee, is also a Republican.
Not that this damns the AG's office out of the gate. There are Republicans, and then there are Republinuts. Though State Elections Director Bjelland is a GOPer, she's not a nut, and has interpreted the law correctly in these instances. Let's hope Cole does the same.