KINGMAN - Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne made a stop in Kingman Wednesday evening to update local Republicans on some of the items his office is working on.
Horne first gave members of the Kingman Republican Forum some details of his current battle with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The commission is made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and one registered Independent.
Horne said he has received reports that the chairwoman of the commission, Colleen Mathis, was soliciting other commission members outside of regular commission meetings to vote to hire a particular consulting company, Strategic Telemetry.
According to Horne, Strategic Telemetry has only represented Democrats in the past. He said he was told by the Republican members of the commission that Mathis wanted the vote to be unanimous.
Mathis, who is a registered Independent, allegedly did not disclose her husband's ties to the Democratic Party.
"This is very important to the future of the state. There are a lot of consequences to the redistricting of the state. It appears that the commissioner didn't check very carefully before they chose the Independent they wanted to run the commission," Horne said.
In a June 29 Arizona Capitol Times story, Mathis was quoted as saying that Strategic Telemetry also worked for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and that the firm's public input manager was a Republican and a former member of George W. Bush's White House.
Horne said he has tried to talk to all of the members of the commission. The two Republicans members have already spoken with him, but the remaining members - the two Democrats and Mathis have refused.
The only remedy may be to remove them from office for malfeasance, he said.
The attorneys for the commission have stated in letters to Horne's office that he has no statutory authority over the commission, that he has not established a cause for an investigation, his office is disqualified from investigating the commission because of a conflict of interest (Horne's office gave the commission a briefing on Open Meeting Laws) and that the commission has the same legal privileges as legislators (a legislator does not legally have to disclose his notes during a session).
Horne also described his most recent lawsuit against the federal government.
In August he sued the federal government stating that the part of the Voting Rights Act that requires Arizona to pre-clear all voting district maps through the Department of Justice was unconstitutional.
Horne said the original Voting Rights Act was designed to ensure that Southern states gave blacks an equal chance to vote. The act was amended in 1975 and Arizona was added to the list because it didn't have a bilingual ballot in 1972. Arizona instated a bilingual ballot in 1973.
He called the 1975 amendment one of a number of horrible actions implemented by one of the worst Congresses in the history of the U.S.
"Thirty years later we're still subject to this severe penalty," Horne said referring to the pre-clearance requirement.
Horne said he is also still fighting the federal government over Arizona's requirement that voters show proof of citizenship before being allowed to vote. The issue was appealed to an en banc hearing of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where 11 judges instead of three judges heard the case.
Horne said the state is expecting a 6 to 5 vote in favor of the state, but if Arizona loses, he will take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Horne went on to say that in his eight years as Arizona Superintendent of Schools, he never broke a campaign promise and he doesn't intend to now.
He said he has made it a high priority of his office to defend the Arizona border and Senate Bill 1070.
SB 1070 requires law enforcement officers to question people who they believe may be in the state illegally about their citizenship status during an investigation. The federal government and several other organizations have sued Arizona saying it does not have the authority to take over a federal action.
Horne said he has filed a countersuit saying the federal government has failed to establish operational control over the Arizona border, which has led to what amounts to foreign invasion of Arizona.
He pointed out that when the Bush administration beefed up security in the Yuma sector of the border the number of border crossings diminished. However, the number of crossings in the Tucson border area has exploded.
"Eight to 17 percent of the people crossing the border have criminal records and these are vicious criminals. They're not limiting themselves to drug smuggling," Horne said.
He also said that there are places in Mexico where people from the Middle East are trained to speak Spanish and act "Hispanic," so they can cross the border without being noticed.
If President Barack Obama would just do with the Tucson sector what Bush did with the Yuma sector, the border would be more secure, Horne said.
He said if the federal government doesn't enforce its immigration polices, Arizona has the right under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to protect its borders.
The 10th Amendment states that powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people.
He also said that he has kept a campaign promise to protect the residents of Arizona.
He is working to compress the time between a person receiving a death sentence and the execution of that sentence. The endless appeals of death row inmates only draws out the pain for the victim's families, Horne said. He said the state has tried to join a federal program that would accelerate the review process, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Arizona's application for the program.
He is also working on keeping his promise to help honest businesses avoid running into conflicts with the law.
"The success of our society depends on businesses," he said.
He is also working on his promise to protect consumers by restarting the office's sting operations against businesses, such as car repair shops, that have a history of charging customers for more work than is necessary.
He is also continuing the office's fight against the abuse of seniors by businesses.
Supervisor candidate Sharon Holmes asked if Horne had received her open meeting violation complaint against the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.
Holmes filed the complaint last month. She alleges that the Board violated open meeting laws when two supervisors attended a town hall meeting held by Sen. John McCain at the County Administration Building in 2009 and the Board instituted new security measures last year.
"I think I'm aware of that complaint," Horne said.
Donna Crouse asked Horne if Phoenix really did have the second highest kidnapping rate in the nation and what he was doing about the Tucson School District's ethnic studies program.
Horne said he was aware of the comments made by the Phoenix police chief, but did not know where the situation currently sat.
He lambasted the Tucson School District, saying its ethnic studies program was taught by radical teachers who taught students, especially Hispanic students, that they were oppressed. He said he and Arizona School Superintendent John Huppenthal continue to fight the district on the matter.
Another person in the crowd asked if Obama could be impeached over the border security issue.
Horne said Congress would have to make that decision and he reminded people that they would have the chance to vote for a new president in 2012.
Richard Basinger asked Horne what he was doing to combat the federal healthcare reform bill.
Horne said he had joined Gov. Jan Brewer and several other states in a lawsuit against the federal government to have the law declared unconstitutional.
Another person asked about progress on the state's medical marijuana law.
Horne said he has always been opposed to the use of marijuana because he believes it is not good for society in the long run. However, since the voters approved the law, he would enforce it. The state was operating under the assumption that the federal government would not prosecute people who sold or distributed the drug while following a state law. That changed when several states, including Arizona, received a letter from federal Department of Justice saying that the department would prosecute anyone distributing the drug regardless of state laws.
At that point, Horne said he and Gov. Jan Brewer became concerned that state employees might be prosecuted for upholding the state law and halted the implementation of the law and asked for clarification from the DOJ. They are still waiting, he said.