Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thomas disbarred, Patterson resigns: A busy couple of days in AZ politics...

Tuesday and Wednesday were rather eventful days in Arizona politics.

...The most significant, at least locally, event was the disbarment of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and one of his former deputies, Lisa Aubuchon.  Another former Thomas deputy, Rachel Alexander, had her license to practice law suspended.

They faced an investigation into some of the activities Thomas engaged in, with the assistance of Aubuchon and Alexander, during his term as the Maricopa County Attorney.

To say the least, that investigation didn't go well for the trio.

While the legal community rarely hands out punishments to its own that are stronger than a couple of lashes with a wet noodle, when attorneys step far enough out of line...

Can you say "ton of bricks"?

Anyway, my favorite passage from the ruling (hat tip to a friend for noticing it) -

At some point in his career, a leak formed in the dike of Andrew Thomas’s ethical restraint. In short time, it rapidly grew...[w]ithin a few short years the hole had become a radical moral dislocation.

Thomas has called a press conference for Wednesday morning; expect him to continue playing the "victim" card.

Note:  This was written before the press conference.  He held the presser, and compared himself to Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.


As someone who has been disbarred (assuming the penalty is upheld on the inevitable appeal), he will be eligible to apply for reinstatement after five years.  Expect the video of this presser to be played at any hearing on that particular subject.

The Arizona Republic has coverage here.

...The Daniel Patterson mess is dragging on, but in a new direction. 

The House Ethics Committee met on Tuesday and accepted Patterson's response to the report on the investigation into his activities (domestic violence, misconduct in office, general creepiness, etc.).  However, nothing was done at the time, and it was looking like he would be a member of the lege for another week.

The the committee met again on Wednesday, and voted to recommend to the full House that it expel Patterson from the lege.

Patterson turned around and showed them - he resigned.  Finally.

There may be a lawsuit yet stemming from this - while making his exit from the lege, Patterson said that the lege was "hostile work environment".  

Which may be Patterson's way of laying some legal groundwork.

I hope he goes for it - if he sues, as the plaintiff he would have to testify under oath, and more importantly, be cross-examined under oath, about the events that transpired leading up to today's events.

Patterson changed his voter registration from Democratic to independent over a week ago, and by doing so, he may have seriously gummed up the process for replacing him. 

ARS 41-1202 states that when a vacancy occurs in the lege, the seat must be filled by a member of the same party as the person who vacated the seat.

The statute says nothing about what to do when a legislator is elected under a party banner, changes his registration in office, and then leaves office, nor can I find anything relevant in other parts of the ARS.

I made a few calls to folks who know a lot more about this stuff than I do, and the universal response was "Dunno.  Trying to figure it out too."  (OK, they used more words, and bigger ones, but this was the upshot of their answers :) .)

It's unusual for an officeholder to leave office before completing his/her term in office (it does happen, but the vast majority complete their terms); a very rare occurrence for an officeholder to change his/her partisan while in office.

The combination of the two conditions in the person of one (now former) legislator? 

Not just unusual or rare; nobody can recall it happening in Arizona before this.

Should create a bit of conundrum for the Pima County Board of Supervisors, who are tasked with filling the spot.

Still, it's a question of interest mostly to political geeks (like me) - no matter who is appointed to fill the vacancy left by Patterson, the lege will adjourn within a few weeks, and the appointee won't make a difference in the partisan balance in the House.  The Republicans will still have a 2/3 majority for the remainder of the session.

According to a story in the Arizona Capitol Times, Patterson re-registered as a Democrat before resigning, but the paperwork hasn't reached the SOS' office yet, so it isn't confirmed.

If he did re-register, things will be far more simple; if he didn't, things will be far more interesting.

...Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) announced that she won't run for another term in the Senate, choosing to trade the state capitol in Phoenix for a possible job in the Navajo County seat in Holbrook.

She cited "family" concerns in her announcement, but the fact is that her new district is far more competitive than her current one, and there is already a formidable Democrat in the race, State Rep. Tom Chabin.

In short, a return to the lege was a long way from being a sure thing, so a run for the Navajo County BOS isn't a surprise.

...Ed Ableser (D-Tempe) announced that he will seek the Senate seat in the new LD26.  The move sets up a likely general election contest against Jerry Lewis (R-Mesa), who gained his office in November's recall of Russell Pearce.

1 comment:

Dave K said...

I know that some are upset about Thomas comparing himself to King and Gandhi. I've always thought that it means very little for someone to use those comparisons to describe ones self. To do so is an indication of one's selfish nature and failed character. Those kind of comparisons are only meaningful when others describe you that way. I have not heard others do so regarding Andrew Thomas.