Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal-leaning watchdog group, released a report today naming the worst governors in the nation -- and not surprisingly, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer made the Top Ten.
Good ol' Brewer isn't one to disappoint.
Although she didn't rise to level of "ringmaster" in CREW's circus-themed examination, she did earn the title of "clown."
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And it wasn't because she embarrassed herself -- and Arizona -- by sticking her knobby finger in the face of the President of the United States. Or because she -- a staunch right-wing Republican -- erroneously gave a resounding endorsement to President Barack Obama during a live interview at the Republican National Convention. And her "worst governor" status isn't even linked to Brewer's draconian anti-immigrant policies -- such as denying driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants authorized to work or signing SB 1070 into law.
Indeed, there are other reasons the government watchdogs gave Brewer that unenviable title.
From the CREW report:
Brewer's inclusion stems from: (1) improper intervention in the state's redistricting process; (2) awarding of unnecessary bonuses; (3) spending excessively on travel; and (4) advocating for new voter identification restrictions.
Improper Intervention in Redistricting Process
CREW notes that after Arizona's bipartisan redistricting commission drafted new maps that would have made Democratic candidates competitive in a majority of the state's congressional districts, Gov. Brewer successfully urged the state Senate to impeach the commission's chairwoman, Colleen Mathis, a political independent, based on allegations that the commission had failed to meet constitutional criteria.
Gov. Brewer said the commission had produced a "flawed product" and improperly prioritized constitutional requirements in an effort to make districts more competitive. In addition, Gov. Brewer reportedly wanted to remove the two Democrats on the commission but wasn't able to muster enough state Senate votes to do so.
The Arizona Supreme Court eventually reinstated Ms. Mathis, finding she had not committed the "substantial neglect of duty" or "gross misconduct" the state constitution requires to justify her removal.
In June 2010, by executive order, Gov. Brewer moved to eliminate the state commerce department and replace it with a public-private entity called the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA).
In November 2010, she announced that Don Cardon, the director of the old commerce department, would head the new authority. On August 30, 2011, the ACA board, which is appointed and headed by Gov. Brewer, awarded Mr. Cardon a three-year contract. The contract called for Mr. Cardon to receive a $117,000 raise over his old commerce department salary, bringing it to $300,000.
In addition, he received a $50,000 signing bonus, a monthly $1,000 car stipend, six weeks of paid time off a year, and an extra $30,000 allowance paid by private donors to cover additional expenses.
A few months later, on January 11, 2012, Mr. Cardon announced he was resigning from the ACA. Gov. Brewer, who chairs the agency, supported the agency's executive committee's decision to give him a discretionary bonus of $60,657. The state paid the bonus, though Team ACA, a nonprofit fundraising organization associated with the ACA and also headed by Mr. Cardon, said it would reimburse the state for the bonus and half of Mr. Cardon's salary.
ACA justified the bonus by saying Mr. Cardon helped create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in new investments. Those numbers included jobs businesses had promised to create but that did not yet exist, and capital investments projected but not yet made.
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Excessive Spending on Travel
Gov. Brewer and two members of her staff spent roughly $32,000 on a European trade trip in May and June of 2012. Gov. Brewer and her chief of staff flew business class. In addition, the delegation spent more than $3,500 on meals and Internet access and incurred $4,160 in cancellation fees after switching hotels.
Taxpayers paid for more than half of the trip.
Team ACA, the nonprofit fundraising group set up to raise money for the ACA's budget and a state promotional account funded by private donations paid for the rest. The nonprofit's board includes representatives from businesses, including Arizona-based Apollo Group, Alliance Bank of Arizona, and JP Morgan Chase. Team ACA has only disclosed some contributors, and watchdogs have criticized it for failing to disclose information about its donors and contribution amounts.
In 2004, voters approved a measure known as Proposition 200, with support from then-Secretary of State Brewer. Among other requirements, Prop 200 required voters to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote and photo identification at polling stations.
The law was challenged in federal court by a coalition of voting rights groups, and in October 2006, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily suspended the law pending further litigation. Later that month, then-Secretary of State Brewer appealed the hold to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court vacated the appellate court's hold and sent the case back to the lower courts without ruling on the merits.
In October 2010, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law's proof of citizenship requirement. The state appealed the decision, and in June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the law's proof of citizenship requirement was unconstitutional.