Once it became clear that the current edition of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) was actually *independent*, unlike the first version set up after the 2000 census, Arizona Republicans have pulled out all the stops in a desperate attempt to gain control the independent redistricting process.
A good summary of recent events from the NY Times' Marc Lacey is here.
Over the summer, they tried to flood AIRC meetings with "grassroots" tea party types who blustered and shouted and whined and threatened and more in an effort to bully the AIRC into submission. Just about all that the effort accomplished was to inspire an increased law enforcement presence at the AIRC's meetings and hearings.
As summer turns into fall (though fall in AZ is hotter than the hottest part of summer pretty much anywhere else in the US), the Republicans are turning to less subtle schemes (not that mobs of tea party types are exactly "subtle" ).
This past week, AZ Attorney General, Republican Tom Horne filed a motion in Maricopa County Superior Court to compel the Independent chair and the two Democratic members of the AIRC to cooperate with his "investigation" of the commission.
Horne has touted the testimony of the two Republican members of the commission as the basis of his investigation.
This past week, he made an appearance on PBS' Horizon program and began to make the rounds of Republican clubs and organizations to publicize his part in the attacks on the AIRC. His move to publicly assail the AIRC seem calculated to both intimidate the AIRC and to bolster his 2014 bid for governor.
Thursday night, Horne "briefed" the LD8 Republicans at their monthly meeting in the auditorium of the Civic Center branch of the Scottsdale Public Library.
Not having met my BS quota for the week even after watching the R presidential debate Wednesday, I decided to attend the meeting.
State Sen. Michele Reagan at the LD8 Republican meeting, September 8, 2011
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne at the meeting of the LD8 Republicans, September 8, 2011
Quota met, and not just from Horne.
When Horne wasn't dog whistling for his base (trashing the Tucson school district's ethnic studies program or repeatedly justifying non-enforcement of civil rights laws with "it's not a crime to not speak Spanish!"), he was puffing up himself on the basis of his use of his office to distract and undermine the AIRC.
His talk was basically a rehash of the talking points he spouted on Horizon ("Terry Goddard is trying to intimidate me!"), but state Sen. Michelle Reagan (R-LD8) was a revelation.
She looked her constituents straight in the eye and lied to them about the redistricting process.
She stated that the recently released grid maps were crafted to create competitive districts, when in fact, they were designed solely based on population.
She stated that the AIRC "was out to destroy" LD8 because it is so overwhelmingly Republican, when in fact, I've never heard the AIRC say anything about any current individual district.
She stated that the Democrats were "giddy" and "in cahoots" with the AIRC, when in fact...oh wait - she used the word "cahoots"? Is Reagan a 21st century elected official, or an extra from a 1940s B Western?
She then used the lies as the foundation of her appeal to the audience. She wanted them to submit comments to the AIRC in support of protecting "communities of interest."
For some reason, I don't think she is interested in protecting south Phoenix or Guadalupe. :)
Then on Friday, Republican blogger/custom press release writer Greg Patterson put up a post at his blog, Espresso Pundit. While the post is one that, on the surface, appears to criticize
There aren't many lies of commission in it, but it's loaded with misinformation and lies of omission.
Among the things that he states is that the current districts were drawn by the first incarnation of the AIRC, which is true.
As far as it goes.
What he doesn't say (the "lie of omission" part) is that the first AIRC wasn't truly independent. The "independent" chair was widely known to be a Republican in everything but registration and one of the Democratic members was there solely to protect then-state senator Jack Brown in the northeastern part of the state. Once that goal was met, that particular member went along with pretty much anything the Republicans wanted.
There it is - the grand Republican scheme for gaining control of the redistricting process.
The most dangerous part of the scheme is Horne's use of his office for partisan gain.
The thing is, it doesn't just endanger the AIRC or the state.
Tom Horne is basing his "investigation" on the testimony of one of the Republican members of the AIRC who has some serious problems when it comes to telling "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
Between things like that and his blatant misuse of the office, he could be setting himself up to be the first AG in Arizona history to be disbarred while in office.
One other observation from Thursday's meeting:
Horne boasted about how he promised to "strictly enforce all laws" during his campaign for Attorney General last year and that he has done so.
However, he made no mention of an investigation into the AIRC application of Rick Stertz, the truth-averse appointee of Senate President Russell Pearce.
In Horne's defense, perhaps what he really meant to promise was to strictly enforce all laws against non-whites, non-rich, and/or non-politically connected Arizonans.