Arizona’s county sherriff’s are not exactly known for setting the standard for effective law enforcement and loyalty to the Constitution — indeed, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is currently under federal investigation for widespread mistreatment of Latinos and other violations of the law. Nevertheless, an Arizona senate committee just approved a unconstitutional billwhich would require federal law enforcement officers to provide advance notice to Arpaio and his fellow sheriffs before taking action in their counties:
A Senate panel voted Thursday to fire a warning shot of sorts over the heads of federal law enforcement agencies: Don’t come around here unless you get local OK.
The legislation, crafted by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, would require employees of those agencies to first notify the sheriff of the county “before taking any official law enforcement action in a county in this state.”
The only exception would be if the notification would impede the federal officer’s duties. But even then, HB 2434 has a requirement to notify the sheriff “as soon as practicable after taking the action.”
The Constitution simply does not allow states to order federal officials to do anything. Under our Constitution, federal law is “the supreme law of the land,” so when Congress enacts an otherwise valid federal law and empowers federal officers to enforce it, the states have no power whatsoever to limit that enforcement or place conditions on it.
Disturbingly, the bill may also be connected to a radical anti-government group known as the “Oath Keepers.” The Oath Keepers is a right-wing group that pushes local law enforcement to pledge to defy federal “orders” the Oath Keepers believe are unconstitutional. Their website is riddled with paranoid rhetoric about government officials “disarm[ing] the American people,” “confiscat[ing] the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies,” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.” In early 2008, the Oath Keepers’ founder warned that a “dominatrix-in-chief” named “Hitlery Clinton” would impose a police state on America and shoot all resisters. After Democratic primary voters chose President Obama over Clinton, the Oath Keepers simply rewrote their paranoid fantasy to include a taller, African-American lead. Rep. Gowan, the lead sponsor of this bill, is listed as a member of the Tucson Oath Keepers on their Meetup page.
So, while merely notifying local law enforcement of federal actions may seem like a minor imposition, the bill makes sense in the context of a broader Oath Keeper agenda, because it gives local sherriffs advance notice of which federal actions they wish to defy.
By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, March 16, 2012
Senate President Russell Pearce will not be able to get financial help from corporations to keep him in office, at least not directly.
In a formal legal opinion, state Solicitor General David Cole rejected the contention of Lisa Hauser, an attorney who represents Pearce, that the prohibition on those donations that applies in regular candidate races is inapplicable in recall elections.
Cole said the law is clear that neither corporations nor unions can make contributions designed to “influence an election.’’ And he said a bid to oust a sitting legislator from office fits that definition.
Cole wrote the decision rather than Attorney General Tom Horne, who had recused himself because of his political ties to Pearce.
Under Arizona law, a formal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office can be cited as legal precedent, much like a court ruling. The fact that this opinion was signed by Cole and not Horne does not change that.
Hauser said a campaign committee formed to aid Pearce had accepted a small corporate check — she said it was about $1,200 —but returned it when state Elections Director Amy Bjelland questioned the legality of the move. It was Hauser who then sought the formal opinion.
“If that’s the AG’s opinion, unless we go to court to change it, it is what it is,’’ she said. But Hauser said that is unlikely to happen.
If nothing else, she said, the opinion clarifies that corporate and union money will be off limits not only to Pearce but to anyone who decides to run against him.
“We just want to make sure everybody’s playing by the same set of rules,’’ Hauser said.
But Cole pointed out there is a loophole of sorts in the law.
He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that corporations and unions have some of the same free-speech rights as individuals. While that does not disturb state or federal laws prohibiting contributions directly to candidates, there can be no laws which bar either type of organizations from forming or contributing to separate efforts to elect or defeat any particular candidate.
The only requirement is that these committees be completely independent of — and have no connection of any sort to — the candidate.
Randy Parraz, one of the recall organizers, said his committee has not accepted either corporate or union money. But Parraz will not disclose who paid for the successful petition drive, at least not yet.
“A lot of this has to do with people’s fear,’’ he said, intimating that those who helped with the recall might be the subject of some sort of unspecified retaliation. He said some people gave just $25 because the sources of contributions at that level and below do not need to be detailed.
“We’re going to comply,’’ he said. “We don’t feel compelled to have to disclose at this point.’’
Bjelland confirmed that for this unusual election — the first ever for a statewide or legislative office — the first campaign finance reports do not have to be filed until Oct. 27. That is only two weeks before the vote.
In a separate event Monday, Parraz attempted to deliver a letter to Pearce at his Senate office asking him to resign.
That is one option he has under state recall laws. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors would then choose a replacement.
But Pearce said he has no intention of quitting and believes he will win the recall and be able to serve out the balance of his two-year term.
By: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, Published in East Valley Tribune.com, July 12, 2011
Mark down July 8th as a day history was made in Arizona.
In a swift affirmation of Arizona’s fast-growing and powerful new political movement, Secretary of State Ken Bennett notified Gov. Jan Brewer that the once seemingly invincible architect of the state’s controversial SB 1070 “papers please” immigration law has officially been recalled. Bennett confirmed that the recall petitions delivered by the Citizens for a Better Arizona “exceeds the minimum signatures required by the Arizona Constitution.”
“Let’s make no mistake about it,” said Randy Parraz, co-founder of the Citizens for a Better Arizona. “Russell Pearce has been recalled.”
According to Bennett’s statement, Pearce has two options: Resign from office within five business days, or become a candidate in the recall election. Either way, Pearce becomes the first state senate president in recent memory to be recalled in the nation.
“No one expected this or picked up on this political earthquake,” said Parraz, one of the main organizers behind the extraordinary grassroots campaign, which electrified a bipartisan effort in Pearce’s Mesa district. Parraz credited a “dramatic shift” over the past six months due to Pearce’s often extremist leadership in state senate.
“We had people pouring into the office,” Parraz said, citing the role of Republicans, Democrats and Independents in the door-to-door canvassing initiative, “and they told us: Russell Pearce is too extreme for our district and state.”
Beyond his self-proclaimed key role in the state’s notorious SB 1070 law, Pearce oversaw a near circus-level of extremist and reckless legislation in the Arizona senate this past spring, including draconian cuts in education and health care. Mired in various scandals, Pearce infamously accused President Obama of “waging jihad” on America. And last month Fox News Phoenix explored his widely denounced connections to neo-Nazi hate groups. In a recent interview with FOX News, Pearce dismissed the recall effort as the work of “far left anarchists.”
In truth, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that an additional one third of the necessary signatures had been properly collected and verified.
Within 15 days, Gov. Brewer must set the date for the recall election, which presumably will take place in November.
And while no single candidate has emerged to claim the frontrunner’s position, one thing is clear: The Citizens for a Better Arizona has galvanized a new era in Arizona politics.
By: Jeff Biggers, CommonDreams.org, July 11, 2011
The Republicans who control the Arizona Legislature are back at it. The Senate just passed a bill that would bar presidential candidates from the ballot in Arizona unless they submitted extensive paperwork proving they were natural-born Americans.
That means, specifically, a sworn affidavit stating citizenship and age; a long-form birth certificate showing date and place of birth, name of hospital and doctor, and witness signatures; and a sworn statement listing a candidate’s places of residence for the last 14 years. The bill was amended slightly before passing: if a candidate doesn’t have the long-form certificate, supporting evidence like baptismal or circumcision records or notarized affidavits from witnesses could also suffice.
Even that will not necessarily be enough to get on the ballot. Arizona’s secretary of state would have to agree that the records satisfied the requirements. If not, he or she could establish a committee to investigate and submit documents “for forensic examination.”
Whatever happens, nobody is going to pull one over on Arizona. Representative Carl Seel, who has sponsored the same legislation in the Arizona House, insists that this has nothing to do with President Obama or the absurd claims that he’s not an American citizen. Instead, he calls it an “integrity measure,” meant to ensure that the state would never elect candidates who are ineligible.
The base political motivations behind all of this should be clear. But if Arizona’s Republicans are really so devoted to the idea, they should put their own papers where their mouths are.
Senate President Russell Pearce and every senator who voted for the bill and every House member who plans to, should gladly and swiftly post their sworn affidavits along with their birth certificates, baptismal and other records online for the world to see. If this is really a question of integrity, what are they waiting for?
By: The New York Times, Editorial, April 14, 2011