Update to MAGA Fascist Star Chamber Committee Approves One Nominee, Rejects Another.
The Arizona Mirror reports Hobbs scraps nominee for state health department after GOP senators rejected her:
Gov. Katie Hobbs withdrew her nomination of Dr. Theresa Cullen to lead the Arizona Department of Health Services after a contentious hearing last week in which Senate Republicans rejected her nomination.
Republicans on the newly created Committee on Director Nominations voted not to confirm Cullen because of actions she and the Pima County Board of Supervisors took to curb the spread of COVID-19. The new panel, which exists solely to consider the people Hobbs appoints to lead dozens of state agencies, is led by Sen. Jake Hoffman, a Queen Creek Republican who heads up the Arizona Freedom (sic) Fascist Caucus.
“Her actions and her decisions saved countless lives during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hobbs said in a statement announcing the withdrawal of the nomination. “Dr. Cullen’s leadership during those tumultuous years directly resulted in more Arizonans being alive and with us today.”
Hobbs decried the committee for “vicious personal attacks” that she said “detracts from the important work we have in front of us.”
Hoffman pressed Cullen during the committee hearing, saying she was responsible for an increase in depression and suicide among children due to school closures that occurred early in the pandemic, before vaccines were developed. Hoffman also alleged that “thousands” of jobs were lost due to a program in Pima County that sought for businesses to be compliant with COVID-19 regulations.
“While I am deeply concerned that Dr. Cullen has chosen not to proceed as the nominee for AzDHS director, I understand and respect her decision,” Hobbs’ statement Tuesday said, saying the way “some Republicans” on the committee treated nominees “was nothing short of harassment.” The governor added that they “should be ashamed of their behavior — we all should.”
The Arizona Mirror confirmed with the Governor’s Office that Senate President Warren Petersen received a letter from Hobbs as the full Senate began its meeting to vote on Cullen’s appointment.
As Petersen began the process to vote on the committee’s recommendation, Senate Democratic Leader Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, attempted to make a procedural motion to end the vote entirely, stating that Hobbs had withdrawn the nomination.
Petersen said he had not seen the letter yet and was unaware and that the Senate needed to receive notice in order to do so. [Incompetence].
The Senate eventually voted on the committee’s recommendation and rejected Cullen to lead the state agency.
Former Arizona Department of Public Health Director Will Humble tweeted,
“So I don’t know who they’re going to get that would be better than her because of just her attention to detail and the depth at which she thinks about things.” @kjzzphoenix @hankdeanlight @markwbrodie 2/3 https://t.co/QlC8h4JwuL
— Will Humble (@willhumble_az) February 16, 2023
Humble added that @cullen_theresa insists on accountability.
"That’s how you make an organization like @AZDHS effective… by building accountability into the decisions and the operations of the staff, and that’s what she would have done.” 3/3 https://t.co/QlC8h4JwuL
— Will Humble (@willhumble_az) February 16, 2023
“Despite the pressing need for a leader like Dr. Cullen in this position, it is now clear that the majority in the State Senate will continue to play politics rather than prepare for whatever public health threats may arise in the future,” Hobbs wrote in her letter to Petersen. “If the Senate’s Director Nominations Committee and Senate Republicans are unwilling to acknowledge the skill and expertise of Dr. Cullen, there may be no public health professional in the State they would endorse.”
Hobbs’ office also listed 38 medical associations and hospitals that all wrote letters in support of Cullen.
Laurie Roberts writes, Gov. Katie Hobbs came unarmed to a knife fight with the Arizona Senate:
Gov. Katie Hobbs suffered her first major defeat as governor on Tuesday, as the Arizona Senate rejected a key appointment to her Cabinet.
Just minutes before the vote, Hobbs tried to stop it from happening by withdrawing her nomination of Dr. Theresa Cullen to head the state Department of Health Services. But either she was too late [no, she was not] or Senate Republicans were too determined to draw first blood.
It’s a mystery why Hobbs didn’t take defensive maneuvers to minimize the carnage after Cullen’s disastrous confirmation hearing last Thursday.
In withdrawing her appointment on Tuesday, Hobbs lashed out at Senate Republicans, saying their treatment of Cullen was “nothing short of harassment.”
She’s right. But Cullen’s preparation for her trip fantastic through the Senate gauntlet was nothing short of non-existent.
That’s on Hobbs.
.@CmurphyH : "We were prepared for a legitimate hearing and what this was was an ambush.”
— Will Humble (@willhumble_az) February 16, 2023
Todays @PublicHealthAZ blog has my toned-down thoughts about last week's Director Nominations Committee 'hearing'.
It was more like a prosecution than a hearing to determine qualifications of a candidate for an important job. ➡️ https://t.co/dn6g32Fg8q pic.twitter.com/knceVW9cNp
— Will Humble (@willhumble_az) February 12, 2023
Typical Laurie Roberts. Republicans behave badly and she blames the Democrats for their bad behavior. She should be condemning the MAGA Fascist Covid deniers and anti-science anti-vaxxers in the Senate, where the only blame lies.
Just to be clear, Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers killed the nomination of someone who is eminently qualified for the job because she followed the best practices of medical science, and she is not an anti-science Covid denier and anti-vaxxer nutjob like the Republicans who voted against her nomination and the MAGA/QAnon crazy base.
Hobbs should’ve known they wanted a fight
It’s been clear since Hobbs narrowly won the election that Arizona’s MAGA Senate would be bringing out the long knives.
In previous Republican administrations, gubernatorial nominees have generally floated through the confirmation process.
Because IOKIYAR. Some nominees did not even get a hearing in violation of law.
Indeed. For example, Don Herrington was director of @AZDHS for 18 months in clear violation of ARS 38-211E without being confirmed (max is 12 months).
In fact, Ducey never even sent his name to the Senate. Where was the concern back then, eh? pic.twitter.com/w9UvGdPFJ2
— Will Humble (@willhumble_az) February 9, 2023
This year, Senate President Warren Petersen set up a special committee [Star Chamber Committee] to vet Hobbs’ appointments. He tapped [Coup Plotter and fake GQP elector] Sen. Jack Hoffman, the Queen Creek Republican who heads the far-right Arizona Freedom (sic) Fascist Caucus, to serve as its hatchetman, er I mean, chairman.
It was a given that Cullen’s three-and-a-half-hour confirmation hearing would be an inquisition.
Cullen couldn’t answer key questions
She became Pima County’s health director shortly after pandemic began and played a key role in county’s response to COVID-19: the business lockdowns, the school closures, the push to get people immunized, the masks.
Hoffman repeatedly pressed Cullen about her recommendations to close schools, given the decline in learning.
“Do you believe at a macro level that the benefits of your recommendations to close schools outweighed the costs?“ he finally asked.
“I don’t know,” Cullen replied.
Note: Studies on the impact of closing schools have shown inconsistent results, and researchers are still debating what the future impact may or may not have been on children. [So fair answer.] Studies have shown that there is some learning loss for children in lower socioeconomic situations, but most students saw smaller setbacks that could likely be gained back.
He asked about the county’s two lockdown orders. She couldn’t recall the details of one of them.
He pressed Cullen on a website created by her department – the one that listed businesses that did not comply with COVID-19 rules. Cullen’s response was all over the place. [This was a bugaboo of the anti-science Covid deniers, anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers.]
First, she said she didn’t create the site, then she acknowledged that she was responsible. Then she noted that the site had “little purpose” and that she had concerns about it all along but had no choice in putting it up.
Prepared to head DHS, not prepared for this
Rep. Janae Shamp, R-Surprise, asked Cullen about a 2021 comment she made to the Arizona Daily Star, calling it the “ultimate arrogance and privilege to think that you don’t need to get immunized” for COVID-19.
She was right.
Cullen’s response was hardly inspiring: “In certain times of surges, I made recommendations, and I made comments that I would not make today.”
The committee voted 3-2 along party lines to recommend that her nomination be rejected. On Tuesday, it was.
Gee, what a surprise.
Cullen had the support of the medical community and with 27 years in public health, she had the credentials to do the job.
It’s worth mentioning that Pima County had the third-lowest rate of infection in the state on her watch, and the second-lowest death rate, according to DHS data.
In short, she was supremely prepared to oversee the Department of Health Services.
She just wasn’t prepared to undergo the grilling before a political panel that was positively delighted to stick it the state’s first Democratic governor in 14 years.
A GOP Senate isn’t the only one to blame
[Typical Laurie Roberts “bothsiderism” when there is one side that is completely out of control and a threat to our democratic republic.]
She should have been prepared. By the Governor’s Office. It’s not as if you couldn’t guess what questions Hoffman would be asking.
The Treatment Cullen received from these MAGA Fascist Covid deniers and anti-science anti-vaxxers would have been exactly the same regardless. Duh!
In trying to pull back Cullen’s nomination on Tuesday, Hobbs was fuming, saying the panel’s treatment of her nominee “was nothing short of harassment and those who participated in it should be ashamed of their behavior – we all should.”
“As long as Republicans choose politics over the people of Arizona, some of the most talented and qualified candidates will choose not to enter state service, and it is the people of Arizona who will suffer most because of these political games,” Hobbs said.
And as long as the Governor’s Office comes unarmed to a knife fight, the Senate is going draw blood. Every time.
Dr. Cullen didn’t deserve what happened to her. But Republican senators aren’t the only ones to blame.
So Laurie Roberts gives them a pass with her “bothsiderism.’