Arizona AG Refuses to Investigate Complaint by Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas

The Arizona Attorney General's Office has decided not to investigate a complaint it received from the group trying to recall state Superintendent of Education Diane Douglas.

Leaders of the Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas filed their complaint on September 8 after learning about an e-mail Douglas' chief of staff, Michael Bradley, sent to the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators. In the e-mail, sent just hours after the recall effort officially began, Bradley asks about recall chairman Max Goshert, and questions whether as a non-profit, the AABSE can legally participate or advertise the recall effort.

“Basically what happened is we were forwarded this e-mail, a very intimidating e-mail, and we determined there were several possible violations of the Arizona Revised Statues, so we thought it was prudent to send to [Attorney General] Mark Brnovich,” Goshert explained to New Times earlier this month.
Ten days after filing, Goshert received the following response from the AG's office: “Based on a review of all information provided to our office, along with applicable statutes, it has been determined that this office will not initiate a criminal investigation in this matter.”

A spokeswoman for the AG declined to comment further, but leaders of the recall campaign aren't that worried about Brnovich's decision.

“We really appreciate the work done by [the AG] and his team,” Goshert says. “We appreciate all of the attention this has gotten, and while we still think [Bradley's e-mail] was an inappropriate action, we are glad that the investigation has been done and that proper attention was given to this matter.”

Another leader of the recall coalition, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution, echoes Goshert's sentiment: “If more state money doesn't have to be spent regarding [Douglas'] antics, then we're extremely pleased.”

When asked if the AG's decision could affect the recall effort, both men say no and are quick to add that the campaign is going really well.

“In 21 days...we've seen a lot of growth in our volunteer base: from 500 to 851 volunteers, and from 42 to 58 [organizing] teams,” Goshert says. He estimates they have collected tens of thousands of signatures and says her support is quickly waning.

Douglas surprised many last week when she asked the state Legislature to increase education funding, but Goshert and others believe it merely was a desperate attempt to win back public favor.

“She made a proposal to increase funding...however, so has Governor Ducey with this state land trust proposal and so have Senate President [Andy] Biggs and House Speaker [David] Gowan. Everyone has a proposal. Everyone is calling for action. No one is taking any action. That's the problem,” writes the coalition in a recent press release.

“Talk is cheap.”
As noted in the Arizona Republic, a statewide poll conducted earlier this month found that 46 percent of people said they would sign the recall paperwork, 28 percent said they would not, and 27 percent said they were unsure.

The coalition needs to get 366,128 valid signatures by the end of the year to get the recall question on the ballot.
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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser