This past week the editors of the Arizona Republic editorialized about our hapless Secretary of State, Michele Reagan: Our View: Reagan needs some quality control:
* * *
This is not a glamour job. It is all about attending to details in an efficient, transparent manner so elections run smoothly and voters have confidence in the process.
* * *
Reagan needs to tighten up her operation, impose some cross-checks and quality control.
Arizonans care about their elections. Reagan had better show she understands that.
It took Republic columnist Laurie Roberts to point out the obvious. Another day, another Michele Reaganscrew-up:
Problems were perhaps inevitable in an office where rank-and-file career employees – people who know how to run an election – were basically run off their jobs in order to make room for political pals.
But they also point to a larger problem. This secretary of state seems to spend more time playing politics than reprising her role as the state’s top elections chief – a position that would seem to call for fewer partisan maneuvers, not more.
Yet I can’t think of a secretary of state who has played more politics than Reagan, who apparently has visions of the ninth floor (read: governor’s office) dancing in her head.
Why else would she have promptly switched sides on the “dark money” issue once she was elected and said that contrary to her previous views, no dark money disclosure is possible?
Why else would she have had her elections director, Eric Spencer, rewrite Arizona’s campaign-finance laws in a wholesale political move to reduce disclosure, increase dark money spending, decriminalize certain kinds of political corruption and legalize a litany of bad ideas that’ll make it easier for our leaders to get down to the business of funny business?
Perhaps had the secretary of state’s office spent less time lobbying the Legislature for politically calculated changes to the law and more time digging into how to actually run an election, Reagan might not have these problems. Might not need to deflect blame and try to quietly fix them rather than immediately alerting the state to the problems in order to reduce the possibility of harm.
Meanwhile, we await Reagan’s “full-scale statewide review” of what went wrong with the presidential primary.
When we are saddled with an elected official who is so incompetent and incapable of performing the essential functions of the job, there are only two options: resign, or be removed from office — by impeachment or recall.
Reagan will not resign, and she is protected from impeachment by the GOP culture of corruption in Arizona. A citizens recall is the only option, and that is not a good option.
There has never been a successful recall of an official elected statewide. (Governor Ev Mecham was impeached before his recall election could be held. The fallout from that impeachment for Republicans who voted for impeachment is why none of them will not vote to impeach Reagan now).
Michele Reagan is the subject of an ongoing inquiry by state Attorney General Mark Brnovich. The Arizona attorney general has hired outside counsel for Reagan inquiry:
Attorney General Mark Brnovich has appointed a former federal prosecutor to lead the investigation into the Arizona secretary of state’s failure to mail publicity pamphlets in advance of last month’s special election.
Michael Morrissey, who worked in the public-integrity unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona and is now in private practice, will act as independent counsel, Brnovich announced Thursday.
The attorney general sent Secretary of State Michele Reagan a letter notifying her of the appointment and offering suggestions on steps her office should take for the upcoming Aug. 30 primary to ensure the problem is not repeated.
Brnovich opted for an outside investigator after Reagan’s office complained about Brnovich’s public criticism of Reagan. Reagan’s elections director, Eric Spencer, said the criticism created a conflict, because the AG represents Reagan’s office.
Brnovich, through a spokesman, defended his inquiry, saying the voters deserve answers and assurances that a mailing snafu won’t happen again.
Morrissey will be totally independent of the Attorney General’s Office, spokesman Ryan Anderson said, “and will reach his own conclusions and produce his own report.”
He’ll also act on his own time frame, although Anderson added it’s widely known the next election is the Aug. 30 primary, suggesting it would be good to have answers by then.
Last month, the Democratic Party and voting rights advocacy groups sued Arizona over the fiasco of the Presidential Preference Election held in March. Democrats sue Arizona over voter access. The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating Maricopa County in the PPE election fiasco.
This past week, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit seeking court supervision of Arizona elections because our hapless Secretary of State is too partisan and too incompetent to be trusted with the fair, impartial and competent administration of elections. Lawsuit Filed to Protect Voting Rights in Maricopa, Arizona Following Recent Presidential Preference Primary Election Fiasco. To read the full complaint, click here.
The Arizona Republic reported, Long lines at the polls spark another lawsuit:
Elections officials in Maricopa County and with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office should be barred from conducting future elections without judicial oversight, a lawsuit filed Thursday claims.
The suit, from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, cites the long lines at Maricopa County polls during the March 22 presidential-preference election and alleges the hours-long waits disenfranchised voters.
The suit, filed on behalf of two voters who were stuck in those lines or were discouraged by them, seeks judicial oversight for all elections up to and including the 2020 presidential-preference election. It also asks the Maricopa County Superior Court to determine that the voters’ civil rights were violated.
“We need to ensure that all eligible voters are allowed to participate in our democracy and do not face unnecessary barriers to the ballot box,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Washington D.C.-based group.
The suit names Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and Secretary of State Michele Reagan.
The claims are state claims brought under the Arizona Constitution and Arizona election law seeking injunctive relief. While the complaint references the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the complaint does not allege any claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. (I assume that this was a strategic decision to avoid removal to federal district court, and to seek a speedier remedy in state court).
Arizonans have lost confidence in state elections officials to conduct elections in a fair, impartial and competent manner. Secretary of State Michele Reagan should resign, or be removed from office.
Hopefully the latest lawsuit will lead to court supervision of upcoming elections for the primary and general elections.