Tom Horne's Redistricting Investigation Blasted by ex-AG Terry Goddard

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I missed ex-Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard's recent appearance on Horizon, wherein he criticized current AG Tom Horne's investigation of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, particularly Horne's grandstanding statements to the media about the probe. 

Oddly, I caught it as I was checking out the far right Sonoran Alliance Web site, where Webmaestro Shane Wikfors told his fellow conservatives that Goddard's comments would make their "blood boil." 

Why Goddard's even-tempered and gentlemanly remarks would make anyone's blood boil is a puzzle. Indeed, if anything, the appearance makes you wish that Goddard had prevailed over Governor Jan Brewer in 2010. 

Though I was critical of Goddard as a gubernatorial candidate and as AG, I can't help but think that Goddard is a throwback to a somewhat more civil era that the extremist one we dwell in now. It's too bad that Sand Land's scabrous, wingnutty political climate shuts out the sort of reason and high-mindedness that Goddard exemplifies.

One thing that Goddard and host Ted Simons did not cover is the fact that Horne's office has a serious conflict of interest in its investigation of allegations of Open Meetings Law violations by the AIRC. 

As I've pointed out in a previous blog and in this week's column, the Arizona State Bar's ethics rules preclude Horne from investigating a former client, which the AIRC was for several months until the AIRC hired its own lawyers, former Solicitor General Mary O'Grady and current State Bar President Joe Kanefield.

"If [the AG's office] ever gave them advice about open meetings issues, there are certainly questions about whether they should be making this big of a deal about whether or not there was a violation," Goddard told me, when I asked him about the issue recently.

"An even more profound question," he added, "is why is Tom Horne trying so desperately to try the case in public?"

To intimidate the commission and placate the extreme right, which as Goddard indicates in his Horizon appearance, wants no maps drawn at all. Any change in the political boundaries could threaten the Republican supermajority in the state Legislature. Though in reality, I don't see anything threatening the GOP's overall hold on this state.

Not only is Horne conflicted, we now know, as I reported in the column this week, that he and AIRC commissioner Rick Stertz had at least one ex parte communication via text message prior to the probe's beginning. That's despite the fact that Stertz, who was appointed to his post by state Senate President Russell Pearce, has denied any such communications.

At present the Arizona GOP is at war with the AIRC, and will do anything to obstruct its goal: to rewrite Sand Land's political map as necessitated by the 2010 census figures and to gain pre-approval of that map from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The AIRC could do its job much better without all of these Republican monkeyshines. But the GOP will not relent, and if Horne can somehow criminalize the AIRC's actions, he will score major kudos from the ultra-conservatives, whom he must placate to continue his political career.

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