Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ringers 2010 - Redistricting Commission Edition

As most politically active folks know, one of the reasons, perhaps the most important reason, for the decennial national census is to reapportion Congressional and state legislative representation.

Here in Arizona, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission draws the new maps (subject to preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice, thanks to provisions of the Voting Rights Act).

The five-member Commission is formed every 10 years from a pool of applicants screened by the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments.  After the screening process winnows the field of applicants down to a manageable number, four members are appointed by legislative leaders (2 Democrats, 2 Republicans).  The fifth member (an Independent) is selected by the four legislative appointees.

The next screening meeting, one where public comment on the applicants is accepted, is Tuesday, November 16.

The applications can be viewed here.

One of the applicants caught the eye of a friend of the blog (I admit, I completely missed this one in the tumult of the election season) and brought him to my attention.

David Harowitz of Tempe.

He's a Republican and a lawyer, with an office at 7517 S. McClintock, #107, in Tempe.  Remember that address.

When asked to list all of his political activities for the last ten years, he answered "Other than trying to be informed and voting, I have not been involved in any political activity."  Remember that.

When asked "6.  Is there any possible conflict of interest or other matter that would create problems or prevent you from fairly and impartially discharging your duties as an appointee to the Independent Redistricting Commission?", he marked "No."  Remember that, too.

When asked "7.  Are you now an officer, director, or majority stockholder, or otherwise engaged in the management, of any business enterprise?", he marked "Yes" and later explained "I am the President, director, and sole shareholder of David J. Harowitz, P.C., a law firm I founded.  I am the primary administrator and attorney.  I have served from 1980 to the present."  Remember that.

He later signed the application form and had his signature notarized, attesting that his answers were "true and correct."  Remember that.

Where to start, where to start?

How about that address, 7107 S. McClintock, #107?

It's the address of HY Processing, according the the records of the Arizona Corporation Commission, and he is listed as the agent of that organization.  In itself, that isn't a problem - "agent" is part of what a lawyer does. 

What is a problem however, in light of his answer to question 7 on his application, is that he his also listed as a "member" of HY Processing, along with his wife Stacy and Steven and Linda Yarbrough.

He is also the agent of the Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization Inc. (ACSTO).

ACSTO's website touts Harowitz' involvement with the formation of the organization and reveals that Steve Yarbrough is the executive director of the organization.

Steve Yarbrough is Harowitz' former law partner, as noted in Harowitz' application (seemingly, one of the few things he was up front about). 

Yarbrough was a key actor in the East Valley Tribune's series titled "Rigged Privilege."  The series delved deeply into the misuse and abuse of the state's school tuition tax credit program, pushed by Yarbrough from his position in the Arizona legislature (currently a state representative, soon to be a state senator) and benefitting Yarbrough and his partners, including Harowitz, through HY Processing.

It seems that he lied, both by commission and omission, when he attested that his only management involvement with a business enterprise was with his own personal law firm.  "What does the 'H' in 'HY Processing' stand for, Mr. Harowitz?"

Additionally, his glossing over of his heavy involvement with, and benefit from, Steve Yarbrough's business enterprises could render false his answer to question 6.  It may not rise to the level of "conflict of interest" in a technical sense (lawyers are better at splitting verbal hairs than I ever will be), but he seems to have a clear financial interest in protecting his partner Yarbrough during redistricting.

I don't know if this will be enough for the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments to pass over Harowitz' application (and this being Arizona, certain folks may consider all of this to be a recommendation for Harowitz' candidacy).

Certainly, his application should be evaluated in light of his rather flexible relationship with the truth.

Tuesday's meeting (10:15 a.m., room 345, Arizona State Courts Building, 1501 W. Washington, Phoenix) will play a huge part in the determining the political course of Arizona for the next decade. 

If you find yourself able to attend, do so.

1 comment:

dawnt said...

Thanks for keeping an eye on this. Redistricting is not a sexy topic, but it is critical to our future.