Jan Brewer Appoints Jay Heiler to Board of Regents. Dems Not Happy

Governor Jan Brewer announced yesterday that she's appointed Valley PR honcho/charter school advocate Jay Heiler to the Arizona Board of Regents to replace outgoing ABOR Chairman Fred DuVal.

Heiler's education background includes work with the Great Hearts Academies, a network of charter prep schools in Phoenix, and he serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

See some of New Times' past coverage of Heiler here and here -- it's not pretty.

"Jay's extensive leadership in education, business, government and strategic planning makes him uniquely-qualified to serve in this role helping direct the future of higher education in Arizona," Brewer says in a prepared statement. "As founder and chairman of the Board of the Great Hearts Academies, he has hands-on experience helping our children reach their academic potential. His inspiration and creativity will be needed now more than ever as Arizona searches for ways to maximize the state's investment in higher education by improving its quality and broadening its reach."

Democrats aren't quite as impressed with Heiler -- who also served as chief of staff to indicted former Republican Governor Fife Symington, and recently served as communications director for Congressman Ben Quayle's Congressional campaign --as Brewer is.

Dems reference a 1993 New Times article about Heiler's rise from the newsroom at Arizona State University's State Press newspaper to becoming a powerful Arizona politico.

From our article:

The daily campus newspaper, the State Press, was doing little to discourage ASU's image. It was controlled by a few students who had dubbed themselves The Force. For the most part, no one paid much attention--either to the students or the newspaper; the editors tended to spout the liberal musings that had been common to college campuses since the 60s.

At first, few took note of the quiet coup staged at the State Press by Jay Heiler, Matthew Scully and, later, Len Munsil, three postpubescent Reaganites who took it upon themselves to put ASU on the right course--the far right course. By 1985, ASU had established itself nationally as a hothouse for a virulent strain of conservatism that would have made Joe McCarthy smile.

With blitzkrieg swiftness, Heiler, Munsil and Scully succeeded in making ASU famous for something other than football, keggers and righteous tans.

As editor of the State Press, Munsil refused to print meeting notices for the ASU gay and lesbian union. As a student senator, former editor Heiler supported a move that cut funding to student groups whose agendas were seen as unsavory. And columnist Scully helped to launch a national hate movement against a professor whose views he found objectionable.

According to Arizona Democrats, Heiler's appointment raises "serious concerns." They say "Heiler sought to alienate his audience instead of building an environment of tolerance and academic freedom. His statements in the past that gays and lesbians are 'queer' and an "aberration" are inappropriate for someone about to represent GLBT students on important issues such as discrimination and bullying."

Arizona Dems also cite Heiler's ties to Symington and an editorial he recently wrote declaring "war against our tribal communities."

See Heiler's editorial here.

"With so many qualified and respected people in our community who could have been chosen, Governor Brewer made a serious error in judgment selecting a crony with a demonstrated history of controversial statements," Luis Heredia, Arizona Democratic Party executive director, says. "Given Mr. Heiler's history, the public deserves to know if Mr. Heiler's attitudes toward the GLBT community have changed, or his thoughts on how tribal communities have invested their revenues in college scholarships."

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James King
Contact: James King