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Wednesday, June 5, 2024 | Back issues
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Arizona House Republicans call for impeachment of Democratic AG

In a 102-page report, Arizona GOP lawmakers outlined what they said were misdeeds by the state's Democratic attorney general and called for her impeachment. Democrats have blasted the document as a sham and a partisan stunt.

PHOENIX (CN) — Arizona House Republicans have called for the impeachment of the state’s Democratic attorney general in an investigative report released Wednesday morning. 

In the 102-page report, the state’s Ad Hoc Committee on Executive Oversight — made up exclusively of House Republicans — accused Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes of abusing her power, neglecting legal duties and malfeasance in office. The committee called on the House to adopt an impeachment resolution against Mayes and to consider legislation to prevent what Republicans called “further weaponization” of the office. 

“The people of Arizona deserve better from the state’s chief legal officer,” committee chair Jacqueline Parker, a Republican from Mesa, said in a press release. “We have seen and heard enough. I hope all House members will thoroughly review the committee’s report and findings and agree to impeach Attorney General Mayes.”

The Republican-led committee was created in April after Mayes threatened to file a public nuisance lawsuit against Arizona megafarms for overuse of groundwater. Committee members also took issue with a consumer alert Mayes put out warning Arizonans about crisis pregnancy centers, as well as her refusal to defend a law banning transgender girls from competing in school sports. 

The committee met twice in April to investigate those claims and others against the attorney general. House Democrats were invited to participate in the committee but declined, calling it a joke.

Mayes defended herself in a press conference before the committee’s first meeting, describing the committee as a sham.

Richie Taylor, Mayes’ communications director, added to the insults Wednesday. 

“The investigative report released today by the sham House ad hoc oversight committee isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on,” he wrote in an email. “This partisan stunt by far-right members of the Legislature makes a mockery of real legislative oversight.”

The complaints House Republicans outlined against Mayes were:

Public nuisance threats

Earlier this year, Mayes attended town halls across La Paz County to hear from water users who say their groundwater is being sucked dry by megafarms and corporations like Saudi-owned Fondomonte, which — despite losing its lease in Butler Valley in March — is still pumping water from other areas to grow alfalfa to feed cattle.

Mayes indicated in those town halls that she planned to bring public nuisance complaints against those corporations, apparently for drying up wells of small farms and private citizens. But the committee found Mayes had no authority to file such a suit, as Arizona law allows for nearly unlimited groundwater pumping. Members say her appearances and statements in those meetings amounted to using public funds to campaign for reelection. 

Crisis pregnancy centers 

Mayes released a consumer alert on March 13 warning Arizonans of the difference between licensed reproductive care facilities and so-called crisis pregnancy centers, often faith-based organizations that represent themselves as health care providers but instead try to dissuade patients from receiving abortions.

Mayes said the crisis pregnancy centers use secrecy and misinformation to lure pregnant women to receive their services, then use manipulation and underhanded tactics to delay and ultimately stop abortions. Committee members say the alert contained no supporting evidence and violates the state Consumer Fraud Act.

Transgender girls in sports

Parents of two transgender girls sued the Department of Education last year, challenging a 2022 law banning them from competing in girls’ sports. Without explanation, Mayes disqualified herself from defending the lawsuit and authorized Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne to hire private defense attorneys. Committee members say that choice was a dereliction of her duty. 

Threatening Mohave County supervisors

A day before Mohave County supervisors planned to vote on whether they should hand-count 100% of the ballots for the 2024 election — an act explicitly forbidden by Arizona law — Mayes wrote a letter to the supervisors explaining that a vote for a hand count would lead to criminal penalties. 

Committee members say Mayes overstepped her authority by threatening the supervisors with what they called an unsolicited and ominous letter. Supervisor Ron Gould, who sued the state in January to challenge the prohibition on hand counting, told the committee that Mayes “used the power of the state to affect the legislative process."

Suing Cochise County

In March 2023, Mayes sued Cochise County and its three supervisors — two of whom have been indicted on election interference charges — over a plan to transfer authority over elections from the supervisors to the county recorder.

A state judge denied Mayes’ motion for preliminary injunction in January, finding she made irrelevant allegations. As with her rounds at La Paz County town halls, committee members said the lawsuit amounted to electioneering using public funds. 

Failure to respond

Finally, members complain in the report that Mayes hindered the committee’s investigation by refusing to respond to information and records requests and refusing to testify at either meeting. They say the refusal amounts to negligence.

“I am deeply frustrated and disappointed by Attorney General Mayes’ lack of cooperation with our requests for more information and records concerning the many allegations that came to the committee’s attention,” committee chair Parker said in the press release. 

Neither Governor Katie Hobbs nor House Democrats have responded to requests for comment.

Follow @JournalistJoeAZ
Categories / Government, Politics, Regional

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