Cathi Herrod's Center for Arizona Policy Hates Gays, Abortions, and Likes to Tell Politicians What to Do

Days after Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062, which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against gays and others based on a business owner's "sincerely held" religious beliefs, Cathi Herrod retreated to the studio of a friendly TV talking head: fellow conservative, former pastor, and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

The theme of that episode of the Fox News show Huckabee might have been summed up as, "What's all the fuss about?"

Huckabee compared the bill's language with that of the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton to set a high bar for the government's ability to burden the free exercise of religion.

For example, the RFRA is one reason Native Americans aren't prohibited from using the hallucinogenic plant peyote in religious ceremonies.

Arizona passed its own version of the RFRA in 1999, Huckabee explained, and what Herrod's Center for Arizona Policy proposed with 1062 was a "very relative minor change to a bill that was non-controversial in 1999, [and] 1993 at the federal level."

The bill would've allowed a kosher deli to refuse to cater an event with bacon-wrapped shrimp, Huckabee claimed. Though how a customer would compel any business against its will to serve bacon-wrapped shrimp is perhaps known only to the Fox host.

Of course, Herrod agreed, claiming an unnamed "small minority" was able to make hay out of it.

"The [governor's] veto was really for a bill that didn't exist," Herrod told Huckabee in her lisping, child-like voice.

The law would have protected businesses from having to "forgo their religious beliefs" in the marketplace: Like the baker who didn't want to make a cake for a gay wedding or, as in a famous New Mexico case, a photographer who didn't want to shoot a same-sex wedding.

Never discussed was that New Mexico has a law protecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community from discrimination, though Arizona doesn't.

Discrimination against gays in Arizona is legal, except in cities such as Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, which have adopted ordinances protecting LGBT people.

Significantly, Herrod also mentioned the Hobby Lobby chain as a company that would be affected.

Three weeks after Brewer's veto, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases dealing with the same issues as 1062, one of them involving Hobby Lobby's Christian owners, who object to providing certain types of birth control under the Affordable Care Act because they believe that such forms of birth control induce abortions.

Since Herrod's appearance on Huckabee, Salon.com has reported that the Center for Arizona Policy received generous donations from a foundation backed by Hobby Lobby's owners.

Huckabee didn't inquire about a pecuniary motive for Herrod. However, he did ask if Herrod was a homophobe, a hater. Did she want to see people "destroyed or discriminated against"?

No on all counts, Herrod replied, rarely blinking her wide-open eyes. She just wanted all Americans, "whether you have faith or no faith," to be able to "live out our convictions."

This indirect reply to Huckabee's question was disingenuous. In fact, the Center for Arizona Policy is a throwback to Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. It's a juggernaut of theocracy, intent on imposing its beliefs on public policy and making Republican politicians in Arizona march in lockstep with CAP's war on gays, women, pornography, and public education.

Herrod's organization does this by combining political power with religious zealotry, perpetual lobbying, and successful fundraising efforts that put nearly $2 million in its kitty in 2011.

A network of churches and church-goers at CAP's beck and call also helps, as does the group's genius for messaging, which turns religious bigotry into religious liberty and a constant battle against abortion into a concern for women's health.

SB 1062 revealed the chinks in CAP's armor and created fresh wounds. But history and the underlying political reality of Arizona argues against the group's political demise.

During the lead-up to CAP's 1062 debacle, CNN anchor John Berman grilled Cathi Herrod on his morning show, asking her repeatedly whether, based on the language of the bill, a gay couple could be denied access to a restaurant.

Herrod dodged the question. But the guy doing her bidding in the Legislature, state Senator Steve Yarbrough, a primary sponsor of SB 1062, had no problem answering a similar query.

In mid-January, Yarbrough replied in the affirmative when Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer wondered about possible 1062-inspired acts of bigotry.

Fischer paraphrased Yarbrough's admitting the legislation "could also be interpreted" as "allowing motel operators with vacant rooms to refuse to rent to gays."

Indeed, a year earlier, Herrod and CAP had lobbied hard against a Phoenix ban on discrimination in public accommodations toward LGBTers.

The ordinance passed the Phoenix City Council 5 to 3, over the objections of naysayers such as Herrod, who suggested that the "bathroom bill," as it was tagged, would be a green flag for sexual predators.

The passage was a blow to "religious freedom," Herrod wrote in a CAP "Action Alert" e-mailed to the organization's followers on February 27, 2013.

"Center for Arizona Policy is assessing the impact and what next steps to take in order to protect the residents of Phoenix from this deceitfully crafted law," Herrod wrote at the time.

Actually, CAP already had a bill in play, SB 1178, which would have broadened the protections of Arizona's version of the RFRA, "regardless of whether the government is a party to the proceeding."

As with SB 1062 in 2014, Yarbrough was the primary sponsor of 1178, which passed both the House and Senate with little fanfare.

However, Brewer vetoed the bill in May 2013. Sending it to her was a violation of her dictate that she would sign no law until she got a budget that included her Medicaid-expansion plan.

Fast-forward to 2014. The language of 1062 was different from that of 1178, but the intent was the same.

Echoing the language of corporate personhood used in the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision (language that would play a significant part in the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court), 1062 defined a "person" as "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly, or institution or other business organization."

Herrod's rhetorical reliance on the case from New Mexico, where the photographer was successfully sued for not photographing the wedding of a lesbian couple, revealed 1062's true purpose: allowing discrimination against gays and shielding that discrimination from future court action.

This time, the LGBT community and its allies responded to the challenge with righteous fury. Organizations such as Equality Arizona, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Secular Coalition for Arizona sounded the alarm.

SB 1062 passed the state Senate, then the House, encountering significant pushback from Democrats. Media outlets from around the country began paying attention, and an eclectic array of demonstrators showed up nightly at the Arizona Capitol, demanding that Brewer veto the bill (See "Gays Bash Back," March 20).

Though Brewer had a week to make a decision after passage, the groundswell of those against the bill already was reaching hurricane force. It included corporate leaders, business associations, U.S. senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, several Arizona gubernatorial candidates, three Republican state senators who had voted for it, and even former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

When it looked as if Arizona could lose the February 1 Super Bowl in Glendale, Brewer acted three days earlier than she needed to, blasting the proposed legislation as divisive and unnecessary.

"Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value," Brewer said in her veto statement, "so is non-discrimination."

In fact, Herrod's contention that the bill wasn't discriminatory doesn't wash. Her group's agenda always has been anti-gay.

In a position paper on homosexuality published on CAP's AZPolicypages.com, the group promulgates the idea that gays engage in aberrant behavior, rejects any biological basis for homosexuality, and criticizes "advocates of homosexual behavior" for trying to "force society to accept the [gay] lifestyle as normal, healthy, and equal to heterosexuality."

CAP also buys the shibboleth that gays can be transformed into heterosexuals through prayer therapy.

The 2011 version of this paper, archived on the anti-CAP website stopcap.org, claims, "There are many documented cases of homosexuals modifying their behavior and becoming heterosexual through ministries such as Exodus International."

The reference to the Florida-based organization since has been removed from the policy paper, probably because the ministry dissolved in 2013, with its president, Alan Chambers, issuing an apology to the LGBT community, saying he was sorry that his ministry "promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation."

Chambers went on to write that he was saddened that so many gays "have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God's rejection."

In 2011, CAP also referenced Exodus International as a "resource" for those "dealing with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction."

It now directs such individuals to the Restored Hope Network "coalition of ministries," according to its website, "serving those who desire to overcome sinful relational and sexual issues . . . particularly homosexuality."

CAP's benighted beliefs about homosexuality shouldn't be surprising. In 2001, the organization vehemently opposed the Arizona Legislature's repeal of antiquated statutes that outlawed sodomy, oral sex and "open and notorious cohabitation," among other things.

Once the repeal passed the Legislature, CAP rallied the faithful and lobbied then-Governor Jane Hull, a Republican, for a veto. Hull received many calls and letters urging her to let the 100-year-old laws stand.

Yet common sense prevailed. Hull signed the repeal, explaining, "At the end of the day, I returned to one of my most basic beliefs about government: It does not belong in our private lives."

Herrod, then CAP's lobbyist and second fiddle to group president Len Munsil, told the Arizona Republic that the statutes "set a standard that favored marital relations over cohabitation and same-sex relationships in our state."

Truly, the bugbear of same-sex marriage looms large in CAP's world.

Munsil, who led CAP from about 1994 to 2006, claims responsibility for drafting the 1996 statute that declared "marriage between persons of the same sex is void and prohibited."

In 2006, the same year Munsil ran for governor as the GOP nominee against incumbent Janet Napolitano, CAP backed Prop 107, a constitutional same-sex marriage ban that ultimately failed at the polls, with 52 percent voting against the prohibition.

Many believed the measure failed because, as written, it also would have banned domestic-partner benefits in the state.

The same year, voters also decided Munsil was too extreme, handing Democrat Janet Napolitano a 50-to-41 victory.

The symbolism was telling. Voters rejected Munsil, a clean-cut, family-values candidate, in favor of an unmarried Napolitano, whom many observers assume is a closeted lesbian.

As Napolitano herself had pointed out before the election, there already was a law — Munsil's law — prohibiting same-sex unions. A constitutional amendment was unnecessary.

But Herrod, then CAP's interim president, would lead another charge to amend the state constitution in 2008, this time with a simplified version that wouldn't affect benefits for domestic partners.

The refined initiative, Prop 102, was referred to the ballot by the Legislature on the last day of its session with the help of notorious shenanigans by state Senator Jack Harper, a CAP supporter who cut off gay Democrats' filibuster of the resolution.

Prop 102 prevailed by a 56-to-44 vote.

In a YouTube interview for CAP's legislative ally Alliance Defending Freedom, Herrod called the passage of Prop 102 "one of the greatest victories" ever for the Center for Arizona Policy.

"Arizona went from the only state in the country to defeat a marriage amendment, in 2006, to pass a marriage amendment, in 2008," she said proudly.

Nevertheless, the LGBT community remained a frequent CAP target. In 2012, Herrod was blamed for single-handedly killing an anti-bullying bill sponsored by state Senator David Schapira.

According to Democrat Schapira, Frank Antenori, the Senate Republican whip at the time, used an obscure rule to keep the bill — which addressed bullying in schools and didn't mention gays — to delay a vote.

"[Antenori] held it until the very last day to transmit bills over to the House," recalls Schapira, now out of the Legislature and running for the Tempe City Council.

"When I asked him to release it, he said Cathi Herrod had told him it was a 'backdoor gay bill — no pun intended,' and that, therefore, he was not going to release it."

Antenori, who is also out of the Legislature now, remembers things differently.

"I never said that," Antenori replies when asked about the alleged "backdoor" comment. "I did tell [Schapira] that [Herrod] had heartburns with it. And several members had concerns because they saw it as a cloaked social engineering-slash-liberal indoctrination bill."

In any case, Schapira finally got the bill to the floor for a vote, and it passed. But it was minutes past the deadline for House consideration. The bill was dead.

At a press conference soon after the bill's demise, Schapira berated Herrod, saying even Republican staffers regarded her as a "terrorist," and he went on to call her a "legislative terrorist."

In an online memo to CAP followers, Herrod suggested that Schapira's bill was part of an agenda by gay-rights groups "to gain access to our public schools" so gays could "teach the anti-bullying training to our students."

Schapira still becomes angry when discussing the episode. He says the only legislators who had a problem with the bill parroted CAP's talking points to him or admitted that they wouldn't vote for it because Herrod didn't want them to — or both.

Neither Herrod nor CAP have made bones about their willingness to discriminate against others.

A volunteer application for CAP on file with stopcap.org makes this clear.

"As a religious institution," it states, "CAP is permitted and reserves the right to select volunteers on the basis of religion."

The application also requires that the applicant sign a statement of faith, affirming that his or her views comport with CAP's.

During a panel discussion at the 2012 National Religious Freedom conference in the nation's capital, Herrod defended her right to discriminate.

"I'm a licensed attorney with the state of Arizona," Herrod told her audience. "Two different times our State Bar of Arizona tried to enact provisions that would prohibit me from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression — both in the oath I'm required to take and in my ethical rules."

Herrod concluded, "Obviously, that type of provision would violate my religious beliefs."

And yet CAP also shows that it is possible to serve both God and Mammon.

In the aforementioned Salon.com story, according to documents obtained by reporter Eli Clifton, an executive for Hobby Lobby is the "largest contributor" to the National Christian Charitable Foundation, which in turn has supported both CAP and its ideological ally, Alliance Defending Freedom, also based in Arizona.

"In 2011," Clifton writes, "the National Christian Charitable Foundation contributed $9,606,281.88 of the Alliance Defending Freedom's $36,379,373 grant revenue. That same year, the NCF contributed $236,250 of the Center for Arizona Policy's $1,662,355 in grant revenue.

"Overall, from 2002 to 2011 the NCF contributed $1,481,343 to the Center for Arizona Policy and $31,024,584.30 to the Alliance Defending Freedom."

This is a significant find for Clifton, a fellow with the Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalistic enterprise of liberal magazine The Nation.

This is because, as a nonprofit 501(c)3, CAP doesn't have to disclose its top donors to the public, though it does have to disclose them to the IRS.

And the Salon.com piece documents a link between CAP's expertise in pushing extremist laws through the Legislature and its source of revenue.

CAP's religious mission dovetails with its ability to raise money. The group's website brags that since 1995, more than 120 CAP-supported bills have become law, 60 during the last five years of Herrod's tenure.

This, of course, helps justify Herrod's annual salary of more than $170.000.

Hobby Lobby's religious objection to Obamacare — specifically providing forms of birth control that it believes (wrongly, according to some sources) induce abortions — probably would have been protected under 1062.

CAP went down a similar path in 2012, when it backed House Bill 2625, legislation sponsored by state Representative Debbie Lesko that allowed certain "religiously affiliated employers" to drop contraception from medical coverage mandated under Obamacare.

Brewer signed the bill into law, but it apparently doesn't protect Hobby Lobby, as the federal government regards Hobby Lobby a secular entity, citing the company's articles of incorporation, which don't state a religious purpose.

Long before left-wingers dubbed the right's attack on contraception and the option to choose as the "war on women," the Center for Arizona Policy was doing everything in its power to end access to abortion in Arizona.

CAP originally was incorporated in 1988 as the Arizona Family Research Institute in close association with evangelical organization Focus on the Family, then led by religious extremist Dr. James Dobson.

According to AFRI's application for a 501(c)3 exemption (which allows for receipt of tax-deductible contributions), the group's stated purpose was to "educate the general public about various issues related to the family."

Its first president was Trent Franks, a former Republican state legislator and future congressman often seen as a candidate devoted to a single issue: the eradication of abortion.

In documents included as part of AFRI's application (on file with stopcap.org), the IRS posed a series of questions to AFRI about its purpose, inquiring about the importance of the abortion issue to the group.

It replied that abortion "is not the only issue" with which it was concerned.

"In fact," AFRI's lawyer noted in a 1989 letter to the agency, "[AFRI] has been more involved with pornography issues since its inception than abortion."

And it is true that the organization has addressed numerous "pro-family" issues over the years.

On the center's website, a list of "CAP-supported bills that became Arizona law" includes everything from a statute banning cloning and the creation of "human hybrids" to requiring filters for Internet porn on library computers.

The group also backed a failed initiative in Scottsdale to restrict strip clubs, and it periodically attempts to restrict adult businesses via legislation, though its zeal for such blue-nose bills has waned somewhat in recent years.

CAP also takes credit for the creation of "covenant marriages" in Arizona, which are more difficult to get out of than ordinary marriages.

It opposes gambling of all forms, including the lottery, advocates for "school choice" and "judicial reform," and rails against gay rights and sex education.

But the group's antipathy to the right to choose, as enshrined in Roe v. Wade, is equal only to its abhorrence for the LGBT community.

In 1992, while still AFRI, the organization helped put an abortion ban on the Arizona ballot as a citizens' initiative.

The effort would have amended the Arizona constitution to prevent all abortions, except those in the case of rape, incest, or a dire threat to the mother's life.

Arizona Prop 110 failed stupendously, 69 to 31 percent.

So the organization, which changed its name to Center for Arizona Policy in 1994, began a scorched-earth war of attrition against abortion that continues to this day.

In 1995, Munsil began his 10-year-plus run as CAP's president, with Herrod starting as a volunteer, then becoming its full-time lobbyist.

CAP scored significant victories on the abortion front, including requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions, a ban on partial-birth abortions (though this was overturned by the courts), and a law prohibiting physician assistants from performing surgical abortions.

But pro-choice Democrat Janet Napolitano's accession to governor in 2003 was the beginning of a six-year dry spell for CAP. Napolitano vetoed a string of CAP-sponsored bills that would have limited access to abortion.

Munsil and CAP fumed that Napolitano was "out of touch" with mainstream Arizonans.

However, Munsil's disastrous run for governor in 2006 signaled that he was the one who was out of touch. (Munsil currently is president of Arizona Christian University in Phoenix.)

Election year 2008 saw a shift in CAP's fortunes. The electorate approved a revised constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

And the election of Barack Obama as president meant his supporter Napolitano soon would be on her way to Washington.

In 2009, Napolitano was tapped to be Homeland Security secretary. Her successor, Jan Brewer, a Republican and avowedly anti-abortion, was much more to CAP's liking.

During Brewer's governorship, CAP arguably attained the zenith of its influence over public policy when it came to abortion.

A new CAP-backed partial-birth abortion ban became law and was upheld by the courts.

With Brewer's signature practically in its pocket, CAP scored laws requiring a 24-hour wait for abortion-seekers, mandatory ultrasounds, and a law preventing all non-doctors from performing abortions.

Even CAP proposals that state lawmakers believed would be overturned in court were approved, such as a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and a law preventing Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funding.

And, as anticipated, both efforts later were overturned in federal court.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona CEO Bryan Howard claims CAP's anti-abortion efforts have turned back the healthcare clock a decade in Arizona, forcing Planned Parenthood to limit some of its services and making women travel farther and endure hardships to get the medical attention they need.

"CAP can frame this any way it wants," Howard tells New Times. "But the practical effect is that it's harder for women in Arizona to get reproductive healthcare than it used to be. That's primarily through CAP's leadership."

Howard says Planned Parenthood's Flagstaff office has seen a 40 percent dip in patients coming from northern counties. The new restrictions caused Planned Parenthood to shutter its Yuma clinic.

CAP has adopted a strategy of incrementally limiting access to abortion, birth control, and prenatal services, says Howard, and it and Cathi Herrod have "legitimized dishonesty" in the legislative process.

"Herrod frames everything in a very disingenuous lens of affecting women's health," he observes.

Herrod's my-way-or-the-highway attitude on abortion and other issues has ticked off Arizona Republicans as well.

Campaign and policy guru Chuck Coughlin helped Jan Brewer get elected in 2010, and in 2012, put together the coalition that successfully passed the governor's Medicaid expansion.

Coughlin accused Herrod of attempting to undermine Medicaid expansion via the effort to refuse federal funds to Planned Parenthood, a move already deemed unconstitutional by the courts.

"I said to Cathi at the time, 'There are some people who are pro-life, like the governor, and there are some people who are anti-abortion, and that's you,'" Coughlin says.

He adds, "CAP's policy is to prohibit abortions — but not to care for those [children] once they are born."

Chuck Coughlin notes that, to some degree, CAP has become the victim of its success.

"We're one of the most anti-abortion states in the country," Coughlin says, "one of the states where it's most difficult to receive an abortion, and that's really [CAP's] agenda.

"Now they're moving into other areas, where it's uncertain ground, where the policy matrix is a bit more complicated."

Such as with SB 1062, which pitted ideology and religion against the economic interests of the state.

Many Republican lawmakers will talk about Herrod and CAP only off the record, for fear of reprisal.

"Herrod has a lot of influence over a lot of elected officials in different levels of government," one GOPer says. "So if you vote 'no' on a bill she wants, you're gonna catch a lot of crap from everyone from [former U.S. Senator] Jon Kyl to [Maricopa County Attorney] Bill Montgomery."

This legislator describes Herrod — a middle-aged woman with two grown children and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin — as a "true believer who surrounds herself with true believers."

And as you might expect from the leader of a powerful evangelical organization, Herrod is comfortable speaking from a pulpit, citing chapter and verse to the faithful and describing her and CAP's work in biblical language.

In a 2011 video interview with a representative of Focus on the Family's public policy arm CitizenLink.com, she was asked about the role that she and CAP have in the political process.

"As a mother, I am to awake and arise like Deborah in the Old Testament and make a difference," she said, likening herself to one of the judges of Israel.

"We are called to be involved in this work," she added. "We are called to be a salt and a light. [Note: a reference to Jesus Christ's Sermon on the Mount.] We are called to expose the evil deeds of darkness and to stand for righteousness. So I am involved because God called us to this work, and because I'm a mom concerned about my two children."

Says another Republican legislator of Herrod, "The evangelical Christian hook is real. Cross her and you're a heretic, and that gets to become a religiously laden label that carries money and influence."

Particularly in a Republican primary, which depending on how a district is carved, may render the general election contest superfluous.

"Low voter primary turnout dictates that smaller groups can take control of an election cycle," Coughlin says, explaining CAP's influence in the GOP, which he first encountered in the 1990s.

"They were very effective at delivering their voter pamphlets to churches and delivering that constituency based upon a solid record of legislative bills that they've advocated for or against in any given season," Coughlin says.

CAP asks legislators to answer questions concerning morality and legislation, and it publishes the replies. For those who answer incorrectly or not at all, there's hell to pay.

"Their survey really puts you in a box, and then if you don't stay in that box, they'll use it against you," says a GOP legislator. "Like they did against John McCain and Jeff Flake when they voted for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act [which protects LGBT citizens from job discrimination]. CAP did a hit piece on them saying, look, they said they would never vote for it — they're liars."

Legislators are rated by their votes on CAP bills in voter guides distributed online, via mail, and in churches. At a fundraiser three years ago, Herrod bragged of distributing 275,000 voter guides in time for Election Day.

CAP also has a solid get-out-the-vote effort, making an estimated 100,000 calls reminding evangelicals to cast ballots.

It controls a veritable army of God, with ballots in their hands.

For several years, CAP also had its own political action committee, which donated money to particular legislators. But this PAC was abandoned after 2008.

Subscribers to CAP's e-mail blasts are kept abreast of the progress of bills of concern to evangelicals, provided talking points, and encouraged to contact their legislators via phone or e-mail.

Meanwhile, Herrod and her staff walk the halls of the state House and Senate like they own the place.

This doesn't necessarily engender good feeling in the legislators who are the objects of Herrod & Co.'s attentions.

Ex-state Senator Carolyn Allen takes guff from no one. The straight-shooting former legislator from Scottsdale is famously the only Republican state lawmaker who voted against Arizona's anti-immigrant legislation, Senate Bill 1070.

In 2004, she actually resigned as president pro tem of the state Senate rather than, as she put it, be "bullied" by Herrod and others into supporting a resolution asking Congress to pass a national same-sex marriage ban.

"I consider myself a Christian," Allen tells New Times. "And [CAP] purports to represent all Christians, and I do not believe that's accurate."

Allen refers to Herrod as the "church lady" and is proud of never having allowed the CAP president in her office. She believes Herrod had and still has too much access in the Legislature.

State lawmakers with less spine than Allen do Herrod's bidding because of their fear of getting "primaried" by a Republican backed by CAP, she says.

"The church lady's conduct is not very Christian-like," Allen says. "She is a bully . .  .  She wants people to understand there is a price to pay if you don't vote for her bills, and she will see to it that you have a pretty mean primary."

For Republican legislators who want to retain their offices, it's a serious threat. In the state House, three GOP representatives broke ranks to vote against SB 1062. They are expected to feel Herrod's wrath in this year's primary.

Ditto three Republican Senators who voted for 1062 but later reversed themselves and asked Governor Brewer to veto the bill, thus giving the governor added cover to exercise the option.

All the same, there are some legislative issues Herrod cannot control. Antenori told New Times that Herrod was not happy with his efforts regarding expanded gambling and liquor sales.

"No member should be intimidated by anybody," the Tucson Republican says, adding, "If they don't have the guts to stand up to them, they don't belong up there."

Groups such as the Secular Coalition for Arizona accuse CAP of violating strictures that federal law places on 501(c)3 groups. SCA and others have complained to the IRS, asking that it audit the nonprofit and claiming that, according to IRS rules, CAP has exceeded a vaguely defined limit on lobbying.

The IRS has acknowledged the letters but has taken no action. An IRS spokesman declined to comment on any complaints about CAP.

CAP itself didn't respond to requests for an interview with Herrod.

Asked about the IRS complaint against CAP, Equality Arizona President Rebecca Wininger, often Herrod's foil on issues related to gay rights, said she doubted that Herrod and CAP were breaking the rules.

"I bet she's pushing it right to the line," Wininger says. "I don't see her as the type of woman who's going to jeopardize her organization and their power base by doing something illegal."

As for affecting CAP's influence, the LGBT community's victory in the struggle over 1062 has been a boost for its morale, an opportunity to organize and raise money for anti-CAP forces.

But Wininger is realistic. She hopes for a Democratic governor and/or a possible tie in the state Senate after the fall elections. These are the changes that can lessen CAP's influence.

"Everyone wants to blame Cathi Herrod and CAP," Wininger says. "But I have no doubt that if Cathi Herrod and CAP went away, tomorrow another group would pick up the reins — until the voters of Arizona rise up and say, 'No more!'"

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons