Friday, August 08, 2008

County Supervisor secretly records meeting with constituents

In a story that broke on Thursday in the AZ Rep's Political Insider, Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock (R-SD1) secretly (and bizarrely) taped a meeting with representatives of community groups from his district.

From the article -
Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock secretly videotaped a sometimes-testy sit-down with four advocates from Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, the Arizona Advocacy Network, and ACORN.


"That’s something you would expect of the old Kremlin," said Linda Brown, executive director of the advocacy network. "It’s a tactic of an adversarial approach towards the citizens you are representing. It certainly doesn’t show good faith. I think most voters would be shocked that our own elected officials -- these are people that serve at the pleasure of the citizens, for the citizens -- are conducting themselves in a way that is, in essence, spying on representatives of the community."

Brock told the Insider that he wanted the meeting recorded in case something "irregular" happened.

"I just wanted to protect myself, the county, the sheriff, and other elected officials ... from anything that might be irregular," he said. "My only instruction was to video(tape) the meeting in case something got out of hand."

A call to Brock's office has yet to be returned (to be fair, he may not be dodging the call - I placed the call late on a Friday afternoon. His weekend may have started early.)

I spoke to one of the meeting attendees, Linda Brown, ED of the Arizona Advocacy Network. She reiterated what was said in the Republic's piece, that until the end of the meeting (when the mics were uncovered) the meeting was a "positive" one where the representatives of the different groups told Brock a little about their groups and their own backgrounds. They also expressed concerns about the "climate of intimidation" created by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his anti-immigrant sweeps.

They recounted incidents of families not attending church or parents not bringing their children to school; Brock followed up by noting that people now flee when the County's health services van shows up for immunization clinics (he later back off from in any way implying that there is anything even remotely resembling a 'climate of intimidation' in the county.)

Ms. Brown found the attempted secrecy and deceptiveness of Brock's actions to be unusual (to put it mildly) and somewhat unethical (to put it tactfully.)

By all accounts, Brock's move was also rather amateurish - the recording was accomplished by taking mics that were designed for tabletops and placing them on the floor under the table in front of each of the community activists. They were found when one of the activists accidentally kicked a mic.

Maybe Brock is auditioning to play the bad guy in a sequel to the Get Smart movie...he is probably looking for a job to transition to after this fall's election, anyway. :)

Ed Hermes, the Democrat challenging Brock this fall, stated that it was "clear that Brock went to great lengths to cover up" the fact that he was recording the meeting, and that it was "unfortunate that he [Brock] could't be upfront and honest" with members of the public.

I found Brock's quote from the article to be a telling one - his first priority was to protect other elected officials, not to help his constituents or his community.

Based on the original AZ Rep piece, the writer of the article (Yvonne Wingett) was able to view the recording of the meeting. Perhaps it will be posted on the County Supes' website - after all, even though the fact that it was being recorded was kept secret from most of the participants, the meeting itself took place in a public meeting area of the county complex and was streamed live to the offices of all of the Supervisors.


No comments: