Republican representatives are calling on Arizona House of Representatives’ Rules Committee Chair T.J. Shope to release HB2012. Shope, who is single-handedly preventing a vote on the bill by the 60 members of House Representatives, has outraged GOP activists by his intransigence.
Rep. Bob Thorpe asked Rep. Shope to release the bill, and told Shope that Gila County GOP Chairman Gary Morse also wanted the bill released. Both Thorpe and Shope share Gila within their districts.
“This isn’t my first disagreement with Shope over a Republican bill that he held in Rules,” explained Thorpe. “The legislative process is for bills to be heard and voted upon within committees and on the floor. Unlike other committees where public testimony and a vote on the merits of the bill occurs, the Rules Committee has only one job — to ensure that a bill is Constitutional and in proper format.”
The bill proposed by Arizona GOP activist, Archie Dicksion, would prohibit precinct committeemen from voting more than two proxies at the political parties’ state, county and legislative district level meetings.
Dicksion told the ADI that “members of the state legislature that are now coming forward to support this legislation are to be commended. It is encouraging to see that at least some of our elected representatives are stepping up to support their constituents, and those actions will not be forgotten come election time.”
“Hundreds of activists throughout the State of Arizona have made it clear that they want proxy abuse stopped,” stated Dicksion. “Legislative District 26 and Apache County Republican Committee have each passed a resolution calling upon our elected representatives to move this bill forward to stop proxy abuse. I find it difficult to believe that Chairman Shope is taking this action on his own. So, the question is: who if anyone is behind his actions?”
According to activists, power brokers in both the Republican and Democratic parties, recruit associates to become precinct committeemen for the sole purpose of having a vote on party issues and candidates. Those associates then sign a proxy over to the power brokers’ operatives and control the outcome of elections.
Activists argue that the proxy abuse leads to weakened get out the vote efforts and candidates that do not reflect their values, but the values of the powerful.
“This problem goes far beyond HB2012, because there are many other bills that are being held in the Rules Committee for political reasons, which violates both the letter and the spirit of the Rules Committee,” said GOP activist Jose Borrajero. “According to the AZ Legislature’s own information manual, https://www.azleg.gov/alisPDFs/BillToLaw.pdf on page 51, the role of the Rules Committee is described as follows: “Legislators on the Rules Committee, aided by advice from the nonpartisan Rules Attorneys, function as a sort of legal review panel for proposed legislation. Among other things, the Rules Committee reviews each bill for constitutionality and proper form. A bill goes to the Rules Committee after it has cleared its regularly assigned committee(s).”
“Clearly, the Rules Committee is not intended to engage in partisan or political activism,” continued Borrajero. “There are plenty of other opportunities within the legislative process for that to occur. Shope’s practice of killing perfectly legal and proper bills, while condoned under current practice, is contrary to the role of the Rules Committee and should be stopped immediately and permanently.”
“If Chairman Shope fails to move this bill forward,” said Dicksion, “he will be placing himself and his opinion in direct opposition to the provision in the Republican Party platform that decries ballot harvesting and upholds the sanctity of the vote.”