Arizona Republicans want to impeach Attorney General Kris Mayes | Phoenix New Times

One ‘sham’ impeachment, please: Arizona Republicans target Kris Mayes

A GOP-chaired oversight committee said the Democrat attorney general abused her power. Mayes said it's a “partisan stunt.”
Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes called the recommendation that she be impeached a "sham."
Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes called the recommendation that she be impeached a "sham." Elias Weiss
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A group of Arizona House Republicans is calling for the impeachment of Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes based on allegations that she abused her power, neglected her duties and “committed malfeasance.” 

House Speaker Ben Toma created the House Committee on Executive Oversight in late March, specifically to examine the duties and powers of the attorney general, to investigate allegations against Mayes and to make corresponding recommendations to the House amidst allegations from Republicans that Mayes was unconstitutionally picking and choosing which laws to enforce. 

Mayes, along with all the Democrats assigned to the committee, refused to participate in its meetings, calling the entire undertaking a “sham.” Republicans on the committee chided the Democrats for skipping out. 

In a letter to Toma on May 28, Rep. Jacqueline Parker, the San Tan Valley Republican who chaired the panel, recommended that the House adopt a resolution to impeach Mayes for “malfeasance in office.” 

It’s unclear whether the House will take any action on Parker’s request. But even if the chamber did draft articles of impeachment and approve them — something Republicans can do with a simple majority — there is virtually no chance Mayes would be removed from office. That’s because a conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds supermajority; Republicans hold only a one-seat majority in that chamber. 

“The people of Arizona deserve better from the state’s chief legal officer,” Parker said in a statement. “I hope all House members will thoroughly review the Committee’s report and findings and agree to impeach Attorney General Mayes and consider other measures outlined in our report to prevent future weaponization of the AG’s office.”

In the report, the committee accused Mayes of:

  • unjustifiably threatening the Mohave County Board of Supervisors with criminal and civil penalties if they voted a certain way
  • abusing the legal system to attack her political opponents when she launched a prosecution of GOP members of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors for their failure to certify the 2022 election on time
  • abusing her power by issuing a consumer alert about emergency pregnancy centers they said was “filled with deception, fraud, and misrepresentations”
  • misusing public resources by hosting town hall meetings “to threaten public nuisance lawsuits against farmers and advocate for ballot measures relating to groundwater use”
  • refusing to defend Arizona’s laws when they’re challenged in court, specifically Arizona’s Save Women’s Sports Act, which bars transgender student-athletes from playing on the sports team that matches their gender identity
  • hindering the committee’s work by failing to produce records in a timely fashion and refusing to speak before the committee

Richie Taylor, a spokesman for Mayes, told the Arizona Mirror that the attorney general will continue to fight the fentanyl crisis, prosecute elder abuse cases, protect Arizonans from consumer fraud, fight for reproductive rights, and work to safeguard groundwater supplies, despite attacks from “radical Republicans” in the legislature. 

“The investigative report released today by the sham House ad hoc oversight committee isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” Taylor said in an emailed statement. “This partisan stunt by far-right members of the Legislature makes a mockery of real legislative oversight. It is based on nothing more than political and policy disagreements that legislators like Rep. Jacqueline Parker have with Attorney General Mayes.”

click to enlarge A woman in black with long brown hair
Republican State Rep. Jacqueline Parker is the chair of the Arizona House Committee on Executive Oversight.
Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0/via Wikimedia Commons

‘A sham and a joke’

The committee accused Mayes of harassing the Mohave County Board of Supervisors for a letter she sent to them in November, informing them that state law doesn’t give them the authority to order a full hand count of ballots in an election, something they were considering at the time.

The committee spent much of its April 18 meeting hearing from the heads of crisis pregnancy centers, who took issue with Mayes’ consumer alert warning Arizonans that emergency pregnancy centers are operated by anti-abortion groups and accusing them of tricking women into coming to their clinics and then pressuring them not to have abortions. The heads of the centers adamantly denied this. 

During that same meeting, Parker and Republican Rep. John Gillette of Kingman accused Mayes of colluding with Planned Parenthood to drive more women to their clinics to obtain abortions in an effort to bolster their bottom line, even though no one who spoke during the meeting provided any evidence of that. 

Taylor told the Mirror at the time that Parker’s allegations were “ridiculous.” 

“These comments from Rep. Parker are outrageous and absolutely unacceptable from a member of the Legislature,” Taylor wrote in an email. “There is zero truth to her assertions. 

The committee also heard from parents of girls who participate in school sports who were angry over Mayes’ refusal to defend in court Arizona’s 2022 ban on transgender girls playing on the sports teams that align with their gender identity. The AG said the law was unconstitutional and she wouldn’t defend it.

That law is not currently being enforced amidst a court challenge filed by two transgender athletes. 

The town hall meetings that Mayes hosted in rural Arizona, which the committee said were a misuse of public resources, were aimed at protecting rural citizens and family farmers from big corporations like a Saudi-Arabian owned company that was sucking up copious amounts of Arizona’s water to grow alfalfa to ship back to the Middle East, Mayes said. 

She added that she began hosting the meetings to gather evidence for a possible public nuisance lawsuit against foreign companies that Mayes said are over-pumping groundwater. 

“It’s clear I’m the top threat to extremism in Arizona, and because of that, they want to remove me from office,” Mayes said in a campaign email sent May 29. “They’ve tried lawsuits, and they continue to lose. They try attacking me and the public sees right through it.

“Now, they want to ‘impeach’ me to remove me from office. The use of quotation marks is intentional, because this is a sham and a joke. It makes people doubt real investigations and it damages the reputation of the legislature.”

This story was first published by Arizona Mirror, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.

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