Home>Governor>AZ Sens Hoffman and Petersen Respond to Gov. Hobbs’ Attempt to Circumvent Oversight

Governor Katie Hobbs speaking with the media after the grand opening of Homebase hosted by Native American Connections in Surprise, Arizona, February 2, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

AZ Sens Hoffman and Petersen Respond to Gov. Hobbs’ Attempt to Circumvent Oversight

Hoffman cites ‘stunt’ to avoid senate confirmation

By Steve Kirwan, September 26, 2023 1:03 pm

In an apparent end-run around Arizona law requiring “the consent of the Senate” for all state-level political appointees, Governor Katie Hobbs has created new “executive deputy director” positions, filling them with the same nominees previously blocked by the Republican-controlled State Senate.

Governor Hobbs has repeatedly accused the state Senate of creating a “political circus,” but Senator Jake Hoffman (R-15), Chairman of the Committee on Director Nominations, has a different take. Yesterday, Sen. Hoffman described the Governor’s action as a political “temper tantrum,” and vowed to maintain a proper and legal oversight process for approving department heads.

“With this latest stunt, Katie Hobbs has doubled down on her commitment to weaponizing the government of Arizona to enact her extreme far-left agenda. The people of our state deserve highly qualified, non-partisan individuals to lead these agencies, instead, Hobbs has chosen to nominate partisans and ideologues,” said Chairman Hoffman. “Hobbs is the only person to blame for her nominees struggling to succeed under actual due diligence. She should have done her homework prior to making her nominations, yet she chose not to and is now attempting to blame everyone else except herself for her failures.”

State Senator Jake Hoffman, pictured here at the Arizona Capitol building in Phoenix, March 2, 2023, had strong words for a maneuver by the governor. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

He continued, “If the Governor wishes to limit her own authority by forgoing rulemaking and other director-required activities in the absence of confirmed directors, we certainly welcome this limitation of her power,” said Chairman Hoffman. “Hobbs has made it abundantly clear that she has no intention of working constructively with the Legislature the voters gave her. Instead, she’s choosing to throw petulant temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. The only ones who stand to lose in the wake of her childish games are the citizens of Arizona. I’m incredibly disappointed, but I’m certainly not surprised.”

Senate President Warren Petersen (R-14) also released a statement assuring Arizona residents that he would continue following State law in the face of the Governor’s “unlawful move.” He acknowledged that these appointees could serve without the Senate’s approval, but only for one year.

State law clearly delineates the Senate’s role in confirming agency directors. A.R.S. 38-211 states, “When it is provided by law that a state officer shall be appointed pursuant to this section, the governor shall nominate and with the consent of the senate appoint such officer as prescribed in this section.” Additionally, “the governor shall nominate a person who meets the requirements of law for such office and the nominee shall assume and discharge the duties of the office until rejection of the nomination or inaction of the senate.”

In President Petersen’s press release from yesterday, he states, “This move by the Executive Branch showcases another prime example of an elected official who believes they’re above the law and will go to extreme measures to bypass the requirements of the law when they don’t get their way. The law is very specific on who is to run our state agencies. Without directors fulfilling these obligations, the legality of every decision made by these state agencies is dubious, and litigation against the state would surely prevail.”

He added, “Our members of the Committee on Director Nominations will continue to be professional and stand ready to resume the confirmation hearings created to critically vet her appointments in order to protect the people of Arizona from government overreach and tyranny from unelected bureaucrats. “The process is working. Because of the committee’s thorough vetting, we have been able to recommend several directors for appointment and have also rejected those who proved they were not competent to serve. We are prepared to receive a new list of nominations. If they are competent and not hyper-partisan, they will have no problem getting confirmed.”

It is unclear what measures, if any, are available to force the Governor to follow the oversight law. The Arizona Globe reached out to Senator Peterson’s office for comment and will update this article.

Meanwhile, this issue led to some fireworks on Twitter. Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services wrote about the dust-up in the Arizona Daily Star/Tucson.com. What read like a pretty neutral article to the Arizona Globe led pugilistic Senator Justine Wadsack (R-17) to knock “the lying Liberal media praising the Arizona Governor for intentionally circumventing Arizona Laws.”

Fischer fired back at Sen. Wadsack, writing, “Somebody needs to read the whole story and not just the post which is designed in 280 characters to distill the issue to its essence – and get people to read the details — before blasting the ‘lying liberal media.'”

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