He takes himself very seriously, but what Sen. Steve Farley doesn’t know is that Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and lobbyist Michael Racy believe he is a joke. At least that is how it appears according to emails between Racy and Huckelberry.
Emails obtained through a Request for Information by the ADI show that the highly paid Racy and Huckelberry view the senator as a buffoon. While the bombastic Farley does not enjoy a good reputation at the Capitol, his constituents in Pima County have elected him time and time again.
Huckelberry’s snide attack on the senator has spurred angry whispers among disciplined democrats, who are too smart to let their disgust show.
Those same attacks have caused some representatives to consider applying Governor Doug Ducey’s ban on state government agencies hiring lobbyists to lower levels of government including counties and cities. While that ban would likely help residents of those communities, who send their representatives to the Capitol every year in the hope that they represent the people and not special interest, a ban would be soundly opposed by groups like NACO and ECCO.
According to Arizona Open Books, Pima County has spent a total of $756,265 for Racy’s lobbying services since 2013. For their money, Racy is working to raise the taxes they pay on gas, and push through the I-11. The I-11 route preferred by County big wigs would be routed away from Tucson, through Avra Valley, and facilitate the import of goods built with cheap labor.
Racy also worked this last legislative session to kill a bill brought by Rep. Vince Leach at the request of Supervisor Ally Miller which would have required truth in bonding. That bill was killed by NACO because counties would be required to tell residents the true costs of bonding.
“What I find disturbing is the idea that the County Administrator has at his disposal the better part of $1 million taxpayer dollars to hire a lobbyist, when all he needs to do is pay a visit to legislators himself; but then it seems that face-to-face communication may not be a skill set he possesses. I don’t know of a single legislator, including Sen. Farley, who doesn’t have an open door policy,” stated Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem.
“Whether Sen. Farley has been effective is less of an issue, than the fact that he was the elected representative of his constituents and he works within a rough and tumble system that is designed to filter ideas is to his credit,” continued Finchem.
Finchem asked, “The hired hand of the rubber-stamp Pima County Board of Supervisors has a fairly easy way of it, so what use does he have of negotiation skills, other than delivering sweetheart deals for political allies?”
“At the very least Mr. Huckleberry owes the Honorable Senator Steve Farley a public apology no matter how sincere, and acknowledgement that he is a representative elected by the people,” concluded Finchem.
Pima County residents echoed Finchem’s concerns. The overall sense the ADI got from those who had seen the emails was that Huckelberry had nerve to attack a lawmaker, who makes only a fraction of Huckelberry’s salary, and at least tries to represent his constituents’ interests.
What is most ironic about Huckelberry’s attack on Farley is that the email exchange below is focused on Farley’s efforts, although unsuccessful, to increase the gas tax despite widespread opposition to it across the state. The residents of southern Arizona do support the tax sought by Huckelberry and clearly Sen. Farley was responding to his constituents.
Huckelberry mocks Farley’s efforts and sarcastically writes that the senator is “A real profile in courage.” The question is now: does Huckelberry have the courage to mock the senator to his face?
|2016 (07/01/15 – 06/30/16)||Total: $274,130.00|
|2015 (07/01/14 – 06/30/15)||Total: $232,882.50|
|2014 (07/01/13 – 06/30/14)||Total: $149,127.50|
|2013 (07/01/12 – 06/30/13)||Total: $100,125.00|