Michele Reagan, the co-author of the GOP Voter Suppression Act (HB 2305) who is running for Secretary of State, is having a really bad week in the press — and it’s only Tuesday.
The Republic’s E.J. Montini hammered Ms. Voter Suppression in his column today. Reagan runs from Pearce’s words. What about his beliefs?:
Folks like Secretary of State candidate Michele Reagan. All of a sudden Reagan doesn’t like Pearce.
(Republicans never liked Pearce, apparently, except back when they loved him.)
Not long ago Pearce said something on his radio show that sounded like he was okay with sterilizing women on Medicaid. Once word of the comments went public, candidates began scurrying like a certain type of insect when the lights go on.
Reagan quickly sent out a tweet saying, “The obnoxious comments made by Russell Pearce were both disgusting and offensive. Let it be known, he is NOT the voice of my GOP. #Resign!”
Before the primary election Reagan make a big push to get the endorsement of Pearce’s buddy and law-writing partner Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach. It was Kobach who did most of the legal work that produced Arizona’s infamous SB1070, which Pearce pushed through the legislature.
When Kobach endorsed Reagan over the summer she proudly told the Republic’s Mary Jo Pitzl, “I voted for SB1070.”
Reagan also supported election legislation [HB 2305] that I thought had more to do with voter suppression than with reform. Legislation that Kobach (and Pearce) also probably liked.
So when she says that Pearce is “NOT the voice of my GOP,” what does it mean? That she disagrees with Pearce because he said that awful stuff out loud? After all, he’s always thought that way.
Reagan is also on the losing end of two AZ Fact Checks in recent days, a rare two-fer. Ouch!
Reagan, who has a penchant for sending nastygrams via twitter, demonstrated her lack of basic knowledge for the job title she seeks. Fact Check: Reagan tweet wrong about independents on early voting list:
WHO SAID IT: Michele Reagan.
TITLE: State senator.
THE RACE: Arizona secretary of state.
THE COMMENT: “Impossible! IND’s (independents) can’t be purged from the PEVL (permanent early-voting list) because they aren’t even on it. #NoClue”
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING AT: Whether secretary-of-state candidate Michele Reagan is correct that independent voters aren’t on the permanent early-voting list.
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Reagan (@VoteReagan) responded to Goddard’s tweet by saying, “I’ve always been supportive of INDs voting in primaries. (They are why I won and why I will win the General. #RetireAlready)”
Goddard (@TerryGoddardAZ) then fired back: “Happy to hear it although surprising considering your #HB2305 would’ve purged so many INDs. (When is discrimination okay? #SB1062)”
Reagan tweeted in response, and later deleted, the statement that is the subject of this Fact Check: “Impossible! IND’s can’t be purged from the PEVL (permanent early-voting list) because they aren’t even on it. #NoClue”
Each Arizona county maintains a permanent early voting list, made up of registered voters who have requested early mail-in ballots. Individuals can register to vote under one of Arizona’s four recognized parties — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Americans Elect — or choose not to designate a party.
People registered with the four recognized parties automatically receive their ballots; voters not registered with a recognized party are included on the list but have to select a partisan ballot in order to cast an early vote. Permanent early-voting list members who are not a member of one of the state’s four recognized parties do not automatically receive a ballot for the primaries.
* * *
In 2012, a number of election-related bills were rolled into House Bill 2305, which Goddard referenced. They included bills that Reagan had sponsored, such as a measure that required elections officials to remove voter names from the permanent early-voting list if the individual had not voted in two consecutive primary- and general-election cycles. That measure was expected to greatly affect independents, who tend to vote in smaller numbers in primary elections. For example, there are currently 387,716 independents on Maricopa County’s permanent early-voting list. Just 60,239 of them cast an early ballot in this year’s primary.
The bill’s passage triggered a statewide referendum, resulting in it being put on hold until voters could decide its fate in fall 2014. Fearing voters would reject the election changes, the Legislature early in 2014 repealed its own bill.
* * *
BOTTOM LINE: In Arizona, there are hundreds of thousands of independents on the permanent early-voting list, or PEVL; 387,716 in Maricopa County alone. Reagan was incorrect in her tweet and took it down shortly after it was posted.
THE FINDING: Zero stars: False
And then there is Ms. Voter Suppression’s support for payday lenders, one of the big issues in the 2008 election (just ask Jonathan “Payday” Paton). Fact Check: Reagan backed payday loans:
WHO SAID IT: Terry Goddard.
THE RACE: Arizona secretary of state.
THE TARGET: Michele Reagan, Republican state senator and nominee for secretary of state.
THE COMMENT: “#TBT fighting predatory payday lenders. My opponent said of predatory lending: ‘It doesn’t seem like a rip-off to me.’ “
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING AT: Goddard’s record on payday lending and whether Republican secretary of state candidate Michele Reagan expressed support for payday lenders.
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Before 2000, Arizona prohibited loans with interest rates higher than 36 percent. That year, the state legalized what it called “deferred presentment transactions” — better known as payday loans — for 10 years. Despite efforts in 2008 and 2010 to extend the loans’ legality, they became illegal in July 2010.
The Reagan quote cited by Goddard comes from a December 2009 article in the Arizona Capitol Times, while she was a member of the Arizona House. With the sunset approaching, the newspaper queried Republican lawmakers on their plans to extend the loans or let them expire.
“They’re providing a service that people seem to enjoy,” Reagan said. “It doesn’t seem like a rip-off to me.”
She reiterated her support for the loans in a second article in January 2010, saying the interest rates make the loans seem like a worse deal than they are.
“It costs more to bounce a check,” she said. “So, if you need a bag of groceries and the two options are go to write a bad check or go to one of these places, it’s actually a benefit and cheaper (to borrow from a payday lender).”
* * *
Then-Majority Whip Andy Tobin, who is now running against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in eastern Arizona’s 1st Congressional District, sponsored a bill in 2010 to extend and regulate the payday-loan industry. Tobin withdrew the bill in committee, and the Legislature made no other efforts to extend the loans’ legality.
When AZ Fact Check asked Reagan about her earlier comments on payday loans, she said she never had the opportunity to vote on them as a state senator because Arizona voters abolished them in 2008.
In 2007, as a member of the Arizona House, Reagan voted for Senate Bill 1446, which would have repealed the 2010 termination date for payday loans. It passed the House but was held in conference committee.
Goddard, Arizona’s attorney general from 2003 to 2010, harshly criticized payday loans. He publicly opposed 2008’s failed Proposition 200, a measure backed by the payday-loan industry that would have permanently extended the loans’ legality and capped their interest rate at 391 percent. In 2009, he sued a national payday lender that deceptively advertised to Arizonans; Goddard’s successor, Tom Horne, settled the suit in 2011.
Shortly before the payday-loan statute expired, Goddard announced Operation Sunset, a campaign to enforce the ban on payday loans. Other states that had banned such loans saw them continue, masquerading as legal business models.
Goddard sent payday lenders a letter warning that his enforcement team would ensure payday loans did not continue under a new name and promising that his response would be “swift and aggressive.” Several payday lenders left Arizona.
BOTTOM LINE: As attorney general, Goddard fought against payday loans and prosecuted lenders who continued providing them after they became illegal. Reagan voiced support for the loans at least twice before they expired.
THE FINDING: Four stars: True
Bzzzzt! Oh, game over! Thanks for playing. It’s no wonder Goddard led by double digits in the last poll.