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State Senator Jake Hoffman speaking on the floor of the Arizona State Senate at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, March 1, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Hobbs Violated Law by Circumventing Committee

Executive Deputy Director roles undercut state constitution

By Steve Kirwan, June 12, 2024 5:00 am

In an effort to prevent Senate oversight of state department heads, Governor Katie Hobbs named “Executive Deputy Directors” (EDDs) to run state agencies in violation of the State constitution. That was the argument of Senate Republicans since Hobbs’ refusal to refer nominees to the committee, and is now the finding of the Superior Court of Arizona. The ruling was issued in Maricopa County on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, vindicating the Republican position.

Hobbs used the EDD appointments as a tactic to combat early rejections of several of her nominees by the Republican-led Senate Committee on Director Nominations. The ruling deemed that the current leaders of these agencies are “de facto” and “in violation of Arizona law.” However, Hobbs is not likely to comply with the ruling and provide nominations for committee directors to the committee until after final arguments in late July or early August.

“It is also not lost on the Court that the Executive Deputy Directors are the same individuals that the Governor previously nominated and forwarded to the Senate for review, but withdrew when she greatly frustrated with the Senate,” the ruling stated. “One of the EDDs – Joan Serviss – had even previously been considered and rejected by the Senate’s DINO committee.”

Committee Chair Senator Jake Hoffman (R-LD15) commended the court’s ruling, stating, “I look forward to continuing our confirmation hearings in the near future now that much-needed clarity on the law has been provided by the courts to Hobbs and her staff. If Katie wishes to continue her petulant insults against me and to play petty political games, so be it; but I’m going to continue faithfully fulfilling my duty to the people of this great state to ensure that we have a sane government that works for every Arizonan.”

Unsurprisingly, Hobbs’ office shot back that the committee acted on partisan politics by turning down some of the Democrat Governor’s agency nominees.

In a public statement, the Governor’s office responded, “Arizonans want sanity, not the chaos of indicted fake elector Jake Hoffman’s sham committee that he abuses to force his radical political agenda on Arizonans. Governor Hobbs stands ready to work with anybody in the Senate who is serious about putting the political games aside and delivering for everyday Arizonans, and as she’s said from day one, she remains open to a fair and timely process for confirmation of nominees.”

The office also indicated that Hobbs would likely challenge the ruling, stating, “We believe the ruling is wrong on the law and will be appealing it. While the case remains pending, we will continue to ensure state agencies can perform their vital functions and serve Arizonans.”

It’s unclear whether the court will allow Hobbs to continue using EDDs during any possible challenge. In the meantime, the governor appears to have no downside or cost for failing to follow state law.

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