The Arizona Republic’s disingenuous endorsement in the State Treasurer race

The Arizona Republic fka The Arizona Republican never fails to disappoint with its endorsements for Republican candidates and the occasional Democratic candidate who is acceptable to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Republic is so predictable I can project their endorsements even before the candidates have emerged from the party primaries.

The Republic’s endorsement of Kimberly Yee for State Treasurer is disingenuous because the editors suggest that this “rising star” in the Republican Party “would bring a more measured approach and steady hand to the serious business of managing the state’s money.”

Yee  has no interest in being State Treasurer.

Kimberly Yee is only running for State Treasurer to serve  as a launching pad for her run for governor in 2022, just as Doug Ducey ran for State Treasurer to serve as a launching pad for his run for governor in 2014. Yee will spend the next four years building her campaign for governor in 2022, not managing the state’s money. You know it, I know it, Yee knows it, and so do the editors of The Republic. But they will not say this. I just did.

Arizona needs a State Treasurer who is committed to doing the job to which he is elected and paid by the taxpayers of this state. That is Democratic candidate Mark Manoil.

The Republic disingenuously editorializes, Why ‘boring’ should be part of the Arizona treasurer’s job description:

The treasurer holds the state’s checkbook and the money bag, which includes Arizona’s portfolio of about $15 billion. The office manages the state’s investments and makes sure the bills are paid on time.

The treasurer is also in charge of the Arizona’s Permanent Land Endowment Trust Fund. K-12 education is the largest beneficiary of the trust.

This statewide elected office also can be a springboard for the politically ambitious.

Doug Ducey used his term as treasurer (elected in 2010) to oppose a statewide school funding initiative and build enough political support to win the governor’s race in 2014.

His successor, Republican Jeff DeWit, used his position to support Donald Trump, who subsequently named DeWit as chief financial officer of NASA. DeWit also inserted the office into state politics by vocally opposing Ducey’s successful push for Proposition 123, which increased withdrawals from the Land Trust to restore some K-12 funding the courts said was owed to schools.

For the record, Jeff DeWit was correct in his position. The GOP-controlled Congress had to pass a post hoc amendment to Arizona’s Enabling Act in order to effectuate the “unconstitutional” Prop. 123 and allow Governor Ducey to steal money from the education Land Trust rather than raise taxes or cancel corporate welfare tax cuts to fund public education.

The current treasurer is Eileen Klein, former president of the Arizona Board of Regents who was appointed by Ducey to finish DeWit’s term. She is not running.

Who are the candidates?

Two qualified candidates are running: Democrat Mark Manoil and Republican Kimberly Yee.

This is a big improvement over 2014, when DeWit ran unopposed.

This time, voters have a choice.

Manoil is an Arizona native and a former Maricopa County Democratic Party chairman. He ran unsuccessfully for the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2004 and 2006.

He earned an MBA and law degree from Arizona State University, and has been an attorney in private practice for 30 years. He wrote the book “How to profit from Arizona property tax liens.”

He was co-chair of a City of Phoenix task force on improving blighted neighborhoods, which made recommendations that were unanimously approved by the Phoenix City Council in 2015.

During the Great Recession, Manoil’s home was foreclosed, his car repossessed and “we suffered along with other Arizonans,” he said. The experience taught him about priorities, he said, and left him with empathy for those who struggle to make ends meet.

Yee was also born in Arizona. She won a seat in the Arizona House in 2010, becoming the first Asian American woman elected to the Arizona Legislature. Yee moved to the state Senate in 2013, where she rose to majority leader.

She is a solid fiscal and social conservative, and is considered a GOP rising star. She earned a reputation as a hard-working state lawmaker – and showed her independence by providing the vote to stop a GOP-favored payday lending bill in Senate.

Yee was communications director for Republican former Treasurer Dean Martin, who served before Ducey. She also worked in California for the administrations of GOP governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson.

Yee has a list of endorsements representing Republican power in Arizona, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and current and former GOP office holders.

How are they different?

Both Manoil and Yee support continued prudent management of the state’s finances, but they have widely differing views on how the next treasurer should use the microphone that comes with the office.

Manoil would pound home his concerns about Arizona’s over-reliance on sales tax and push to repeal or reform a 1992 state constitutional amendment (Prop. 108) that requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes.

Hell yes! Manoil just earned my vote. I have advocated for the repeal of the anti-democratic and fiscally irresponsible “Two-Thirds for Taxes Amendment,” Prop. 108 (1992) for many years. It empowers a tyranny of a minority of anti-tax zealots and the lobbyists for special interests who have prevented long overdue tax reform and modernization in Arizona. A quarter century of GOP tax cuts has resulted in a structural revenue deficit in Arizona which cannot be remedied without tax reform and modernization, and the necessary prerequisite first step is to repeal Prop. 108.

He says decades of cutting taxes hurt public education and left young people facing high debt from college loans because universities raised tuition after severe reductions in state funding.

Manoil has innovative ideas, such as community banking, in which the state partners with banks and credit unions to offer banking services in small, rural communities. North Dakota successfully has used this model for more than 100 years, he said.

Blog for Arizona’s Pamela Powers Hannley and her husband are the leading advocates for community banking in Arizona. She has made a solid case for this in the Arizona legislature, but has been thwarted by the banking special interests.

Yee has suggested this would hinder free enterprise.

Bullshit! Yee is defending the monopoly power of “too big to fail” Wall Street banks, you know, the geniuses who gave us the financial crisis and Great Recession of 2008, and who have been working with Republicans in Congress to remove any constraints on casino capitalism which led to to the crisis, so they can do it all again.

Both Yee and Manoil oppose Prop. 126, which would ban taxes on services. Yee, who stresses her opposition to raising taxes, nevertheless says the measure “ties the hands” of future lawmakers. Manoil, who says Arizona needs to restore taxes cut during GOP control, calls Prop. 126 a “bad public policy” and says it “prevents flexibility.”

Manoil is correct.

Both Manoil and Yee have concerns about Prop. 123, which was approved by voters in 2016 to settle a lawsuit over underfunding of schools. It accelerated withdrawals from the state Land Trust for ten years.

The end date creates a fiscal “cliff” that could result in voters being asked to simply continue the higher payouts from the trust rather than cut school budgets.

Yee says that is not a good idea because it would erode the principle. She said during an Arizona Republic/azcentral.com debate that “we should fund education out of the general fund.”

Manoil said, “We need a treasurer to call out the Legislature” and make an issue of what he calls a “violation” of the state trust. He favors broadening the tax base to raise revenue.

Jeff DeWit did this, correctly, and the GOP power structure in this state attacked him for pointing out that Governor Ducey’s Prop. 123 was unconstitutional as proposed.

So, who’s best in this race?

If you are looking for a treasurer who is ready to engage in political advocacy and sharp-edged jabs at the Legislature, Manoil is your guy.

Manoil has creative ideas and a vision for Arizona that would enrich the debate over public policy. We urge him to find an office or public service role that involves shaping policy.

But the state treasurer should be focused on the day-to-day – sometimes mundane – job of money management. Bankers aren’t supposed to be exciting.

Yee would bring a more measured approach and steady hand to the serious business of managing the state’s money. We think she is better fit for this office.

As I pointed out at the top of this post, this may be the most disingenuous endorsement the editors have ever made.

It is Mark Manoil who will be “focused on the day-to-day – sometimes mundane – job of money management.” He is not seeking another office. He will also advocate for tax reforms to correct the legislature’s fiscal mismanagement of this state in order to increase state revenues to pay for long-ignored needs in education, health, safety and infrastructure. Yee had her chance to do this while serving in the Arizona legislature, and she failed to do it.





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3 responses to “The Arizona Republic’s disingenuous endorsement in the State Treasurer race

  1. Frances Perkins

    Yee’s motivation for running is, and has always been, Yee’s ambitions. Service to actual people is entirely secondary. I had a lot of dealings with her when she was a member of the House Education committee during Goodale’s chairmanship. Every crackpot idea was brought forward, and she wanted them all heard by the committee. Actually they ideas were all from Goldwater or Herrod.

  2. Sanda Schuldmann

    For better or worse, most don’t bother with newspapers anymore. And their endorsements have little to no value!

  3. You’re correct in your analysis. Don’t worry, however, bec. the Republic’s endorsement means less and less today than it did 4 years ago and 4 years before that.
    They’re down to a bare-bones staff, it’ a wonder they have time to endorse anyone.