In a recent Arizona Republic opinion piece, columnist Rob Robb complained that State Senate Republicans are abusing their authority, and should be strip of their subpoena power. In his rant, Robb makes a number of unsubstantiated assertions that appear to be specious, or simply a matter of his personal opinion — not grounded in fact.
By the way, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change of pace if the Republic was as tough on President Biden’s flurry of unconstitutional executive orders, or the lawless behavior of the Liberal Democrats and their ANTIFA and BLM agitators, as it is in criticizes our underpaid duly elected Republican lawmakers?
In other words, I will not waste my time, or your time, addressing Robb’s obviously amateur legal musings, that were no doubt inspired directly by Maricopa officials. I will, and must address his assertion that Legislators should be stripped of their subpoena authority.
Arizona State Legislators should not only retain their legal subpoena authority, but they should prudently exercise it as often as circumstances and statute dictates.
Legislators represent the interests of the Arizona people. As we see state agencies, cities, towns and counties (which are political subdivisions of the state) and the private companies that service them, become more opaque in their dealings, it becomes more imperative that our Legislators push back against any and all efforts to limit their oversight authority, by the way, the same authority granted to Congressional Legislators in DC.
In March 2017, as Chairman of the House Federalism Committee, I had arranged for a discussion of issues surrounding Hacienda Healthcare and the massive software failure and associated costs to Arizona’s benefits program. However, former DES Director Jeffries’ appearance before my committee was blocked after Governor Doug Ducey, through House leadership, made his opposition to Jeffries’ appearance clear. [RELATED ARTICLE: Ducey Shuts Down Testimony By Jeffries, Loftus On DES Debacle]
At the time, I knew that there were deep pockets and powerful people, including my own House Speaker, who were going to pushback, but I had an obligation, for the good of Hacienda Healthcare patients and the taxpayers, to shine needed light onto these problems.
When the news broke of the horrific rape of a Hacienda patient, I had to wonder just what those who had impeded our efforts might be feeling. Guilt? Remorse? Would Rob Robb and the Republic defend government’s successful efforts to protect the bad actors? Perhaps if the Legislature had exercised its subpoena authority, we could have gotten to the bottom of this and have protected this young lady from sexual assault.
Once again, we couldn’t rely on our inept Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. And let’s be honest, even if we once again had a strong, competent AG, who was willing to take a resolute position on important issues, there are limits to what the AG can do. That no doubt explains why Brnovich instead goes after politically expedient low-hanging-fruit, fluff, like robo-callers, or auction integrity, or to bankroll more civil asset forfeiture dollars from our impoverished citizens in order to backfill his office budget and furnish his plush offices.
Speaking of asset forfeiture, when I brought together the ACLU, the Institute For Justice, and the Goldwater Institute to address civil asset forfeiture abuses by AZ government agencies, including the AG and county attorneys, once again I ran into a brick wall. In that situation, Brnovich actively tried to torpedo my Legislative efforts, rather than recognize and respect our Constitutionally mandated separation of powers. Wielding subpoena authority would have been a very useful tool.
I will not address specific allegations surrounding our recent flawed Presidential election. However, our voters have legitimate concerns, no matter how much the Republic and Rob Robb-want to dismiss and marginalize them as folly.
The People deserve government transparency. The People deserve answers. The State Legislature represents the People, and retaining the authority to protect the People’s interest is paramount.
Subpoena authority is one of the few Legislative tools for enlisting compliance, and one which is used rarely and only when necessary. It is truly unfortunate that the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors’ intransigence has now made its use necessary — and unavoidable.
Bob Thorpe represented the Northern Arizona citizens of LD6 in the State House from 2013 – 2020 until he was termed out after 8-years.