By Daniel Stefanski |
Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs has had a rocky start to her tenure as Arizona’s newest chief executive, and her personnel decisions and lack of transparency with legislators continue to backfire and frustrate her policy objectives.
Late Wednesday night, news broke that Governor Hobbs’ nomination for the Director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety, Matthew Stewart, was asked to resign. Stewart’s selection to this position was announced by then-Governor-elect Hobbs on December 27, in a press release. Hobbs issued a quote with Stewart’s (and others) introductions, saying, “These are some of the best minds Arizona has to offer, and I am proud that they have chosen to serve the people of Arizona by my side.”
As of this week, though, Stewart will no longer be serving by Hobbs’ side. In a press release, Senator Jake Hoffman, the Chairman of the Committee on Director Nominations, unveiled his understanding of the reasons behind Stewart’s dismissal, including that Stewart “received a letter of reprimand for ‘insubordination and unauthorized absence’ while serving as a DCS Training Operations Supervisor in 2020.”
Hoffman also revealed that Stewart “has also made some questionable moves on consulting contracts,” and had recently “fired non-appointed, openly-gay employees of DCS, who have now filed complaints against him.” This last assertion, Hoffman wrote, “prompted the forced resignation.”
The Director Nominations Chairman did not mince words about the sudden turn of events with Hobbs’ failed DCS nominee, writing, “It is disgraceful that Katie Hobbs either did not conduct a thorough review of Mr. Stewart prior to offering him the position as DCS Director, or she thought she could sweep his history under the rug.” He also touted the value of his committee, saying, “This unfortunate series of events proves precisely why the Senate Confirmation process is so vitally important for the people of Arizona….it seems clear that Hobbs is not conducting her own vetting process, so my colleagues and I will continue to serve as the necessary and constitutional check and balance on the Executive Branch that the citizens of our great state need and deserve.”
Several of Senator Hoffman’s colleagues agreed with his thoughts on this embarrassing episode for the Hobbs’ administration. Senator Anthony Kern tweeted, “Mirroring the disaster of the Biden Administration; Katie Hobbs isn’t nominating appointees because they are qualified to lead our state.”
Senator Justine Wadsack responded, “It’s a good thing the AZ Senate is vetting Hobbs’ Director nominees. Her choice for DCS Director was so bad, she forced him to resign! But she should never have appointed him in the first place! The AZ Senate is taking these Directors seriously, protecting the people of Arizona.”
Governor Hobbs addressed the Stewart news on Thursday, stating, “The Department of Child Safety has a critical mission protecting Arizona’s most vulnerable population, our children. As a social worker, I take the leadership of this agency very seriously, and while I thank Matthew Stewart for his work with the agency over the last month and a half, he will not be moving forward in the cabinet appointment process. Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the Governor, and this is a decision that was made for the best interests of all parties involved.”
Legislative Democrats didn’t have much to say on this latest debacle for Governor Hobbs. The Arizona Senate Democrats Caucus quote-tweeted Senator Hoffman’s press release, saying, “REMINDER: It’s never too late to take us up on our suggestion of a longwinded email sent to the 9th floor…”
Since President Petersen commissioned the Committee on Director Nominations, it has held two meetings, considering four of Governor Hobbs’ nominees to lead state agencies. The panel has voted to recommend two of those individuals, opposed one (who was later rejected by the Senate), and held another one for future vetting. According to Senate sources, Hobbs’ office has only transmitted eleven of her nominees to the state legislature as is her constitutional obligation.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.