They are none of our Business

The AZ Republic’s Sunday oped was exultant over the business community possibly “getting its mojo back” due to things like the SB1062 veto and the large contributions that Republicans who went with the Medicaid expansion are getting.

Needless to say, they’d have you believe none of what is wrong with Arizona can ever be laid at the feet of business leaders even when the ed board has to admit (grudgingly) that it really is their fault, as in here:

All of which led to the Mother of All Image Nightmares, Senate Bill 1070 and the cascade of international scorn directed our way over the state’s anti-illegal immigrant policies. Business sat on the sidelines, reacting only after it was much too late.

Actually the AZ Chamber cut a deal with then-Senate President Russell Pearce to strip out employer enforcement language and then went silent so the Republicans could use it to win in 2010. That’s not really sitting on the sidelines.

And, then, in February, came the (again, international) uproar over Senate Bill 1062. This time, business energized just in time.

What brought this about? Lots of things. But the waning ability of the business community to ride herd on the ideologues has been a contributing factor.

Business influence waned partly because of campaign-finance laws that brought wagonloads of unexpected, unpleasant consequences.

Arizona’s system of publicly financing campaigns was enacted with the best of intentions: to free candidates from debts to “special interests.” In practice, however, it also freed many of them to indulge their deepest, darkest ideological fantasies. We are bearing witness to what happens when people who make laws act as though they answer to no one.

Oh man, they will not give this up, will they? Not for nothing, though, but how does Cathi Herrod of Center For Arizona Policy, who seems to make a lot of laws in AZ, get her funding? Not from Clean Elections. How about the Goldwater Institute or ALEC? Not exactly private funding all the way, since both groups feed off the public trough to at least some extent, but neither of them get a cent from Clean Elections. Truly amazing how AZ Republic editorials continue to insist that unwashed yokels collecting $5 contributions are ruining everything in Arizona.

In years past, a practical, influential and, yes, self-interested cohort of Arizona business leaders brought a stabilizing influence to the Legislature. For a time, especially after voters approved publicly funded campaign financing in 1998, that leadership went silent. Now, it seems to be returning.

Many of them, including Arizona Chamber of Commerce Glenn Hamer, lobbied the governor to veto SB 1062. Now, Hamer and Greater Phoenix Chamber President Todd Sanders are among the prominent voices at the Capitol fighting ideological purists out to defeat the Common Core education standards.

The courts have helped. The Arizona Supreme Court recently gave the green light to increase allowable campaign contributions. As a result, the Republican lawmakers who bravely broke ranks last year to support Medicaid expansion — which business interests advocated — are dramatically outraising almost all other incumbents at the Legislature.

And business interests are looking more closely at candidates’ records, paying more attention to votes than rhetoric. They’re recruiting challengers.

Business leaders say they have had enough. They are “riled up,” as one put it, and are determined to halt the self-defeating, economic death march toward perceived ideological purity.

Right, they were timid little bunnies until last year. Why, they were practically nonexistent at the State Capitol until the US Supreme Court told them the coast was clear! Now that they can finally(!) show up with their bundles of self-interested-yet-totally-altruistic dollars, everything will be fine now, won’t it? I wouldn’t know. I’m just one of the unwashed yokels.

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