By Corinne Murdock |
The Arizona Capitol was astir on Wednesday after House leadership entertained the notion of dispatching law enforcement to track down two Republican members needed to pass three election integrity bills. Ultimately, the idea was nixed, the legislators never came back, and the three bills failed — but leadership and the two lawmakers are at odds as to who was to blame.
House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) and Majority Leader Ben Toma (R-Peoria) contemplated dispatching Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers to locate State Representatives Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) and Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) in order to pass three bills: SB1013, SB1260, and SB1362. Though the bills failed, all three will be reconsidered.
Hoffman accused Bowers and Toma of engaging in intimidation tactics. On “The Conservative Circus” radio show, Hoffman claimed that Bowers knew days in advance that he was missing multiple Republican votes for certain election bills, but decided to wait to utilize law enforcement on the day of voting. He said that was why Bowers and Toma were to blame for the three election integrity bills’ failure.
“The bottom line is that Rusty Bowers and Ben Toma knew they were missing Republican votes yesterday, yet they decided to put up election integrity bills up for vote so that they would fail,” said Hoffman. “Rusty Bowers chose to play petty political games with critical election integrity bills, and then attempted to wield the power of tyrants to send armed men to his own conservative members to clean up his mess.”
Hoffman said that Bowers issued disparate treatment in sending DPS after him, noting that Bowers refused to send DPS after Democrats last year who staged a walkout during budget voting.
“Last year when Democrats all over the country, including right here in Arizona, were weaponizing their legislative attendance to try to kill election integrity legislation, when they were running and hiding in an attempt to prevent a quorum, the conservatives were the ones who asked Rusty Bowers last year to send DPS in a legitimate government role to bring them back to the capitol, and he refused to even consider it every single time it was brought up,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman claimed that Bowers and Toma were “playing games” with election integrity bills. He insisted that the pair forced every House representative to sit around for an hour as they planned to send officers to his and Parker’s homes.
In response to Hoffman’s accusations, Bowers explained that Hoffman and Parker walked away from the House floor to influence voting in the Senate. He blamed Hoffman and Parker for the failure of the three election integrity bills.
“House rules permit us to compel members back to vote,” stated Bowers. “Let me be clear, sending DPS was discussed but was never deployed in any fashion. Any notion otherwise is a lie. Because we were missing votes, 3 election integrity bills failed on the House floor.”
Parker made light of media coverage of the situation. She alluded to live reporting from Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl, who relayed that Parker and Hoffman were called “Bonnie and Clyde” by those on the floor and stated falsely that DPS was dispatched.
“Bonnie and Clyde? Is the same press that called us ‘fiscal hawks’ last year now comparing us to bank robbers? More like Robin Hood & Lil John standing up to King Rusty & Sheriff of Nottingham Toma,” wrote Parker. “Just wait until the budget comes out & the real bank robbers are exposed!”