Goldwater Fights Pima County Mandate Violating Right To Bear Arms

Goldwater Fights Pima County Mandate Violating Right To Bear Arms

By Elizabeth Troutman |

An Air Force veteran and nonprofit represented by the Goldwater Institute are suing Pima County over its “illegal” firearms mandate.

Pima County wants to fine residents $1,000 if they fail to report a lost or stolen firearm to the government within two days.

State law prohibits local governments from regulating firearms. A Goldwater press release says the county Board of Supervisors appeared to be aware of the law when they passed the ordinance. 

Goldwater is suing on behalf of veteran Chris King and Pima County-based Arizona Citizens Defense League to stop the mandate.

“The new reporting ordinance isn’t just illegal—it takes aim at the wrong people,” Goldwater staff attorney Parker Jackson said. “Rather than target criminals who steal firearms, the new requirement revictimizes law-abiding gun owners who experience the loss or theft of a firearm. Some may not even realize they are victims until much later.”

King, a county resident and NRA-certified firearms instructor, said he values his right to bear arms in Arizona. 

“When my apartment was burglarized, both my wife and I were on active-duty out of state, and I didn’t even discover my firearm had been stolen until a week later,” King said. “We’re a nation of laws, and Arizona law clearly prohibits local governments from imposing regulations contradictory to the laws of this state. Why do Pima County officials think they’re above the law?”

The city of Tucson made a similar attempt to limit the right to bear arms, and the Arizona Attorney General found it illegal. 

Public records obtained by Goldwater show that the Pima Board of Supervisors, led by District 1 Supervisor Rex Scott and Board Chair Adelita Grijalva, has been preparing for this fight for more than two years by coordinating with left-wing activist groups, attorneys, and other elected officials, according to the news release. 

“These are fundamental constitutional rights, and the state legislature has repeatedly reinforced and protected those rights from local interference through laws prohibiting local governments from implementing almost any form of firearm regulations,” Jackson said.

Elizabeth Troutman is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send her news tips using this link.

Bill Requiring Boards Of Supervisors To Timely Fill Legislative Vacancies Signed

Bill Requiring Boards Of Supervisors To Timely Fill Legislative Vacancies Signed

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bill to enhance efficiency in legislative appointments was signed into law by the Arizona governor.

Earlier this month, Governor Katie Hobbs signed SB 1278, which “prescribes requirements relating to the timeline for the county board of supervisors and precinct committeemen to fill a legislative vacancy, [and] requires the state party chairperson to fill a legislative vacancy if the county board of supervisors fails to fill the vacancy.”

According to the fact sheet for the legislation, SB 1278 “prescribes a timeframe for the county board of supervisors to fill a vacant legislative office by requiring the county board of supervisors to make the appointment within: a) 10 calendar days of receiving the names of the nominees if the Legislature is in session…; or b) 21 calendar days of receiving the names of the nominees if the Legislature is not in session.”

Senator J.D. Mesnard, the sponsor of the bill, issued a statement to mark the success of his proposal. He said, “We’ve had a number of instances this legislative session and last where state lawmakers were either removed or resigned from office for one reason or another. When this happens, business at the Capitol can be brought to a standstill until a replacement has been appointed. The process to appoint a new lawmaker can sometimes drag out and county board of supervisors have taken entirely too long to fill a vacancy in many situations.”

Mesnard added, “My bill, SB 1278, was just signed into law this week and requires government to be more efficient when filling these roles by establishing in statute reasonable timelines and protocols to designate a replacement in a prompt fashion to prevent a lengthy disruption to the legislative process. This new law will ensure the legislature is working as proficiently as possible for the people of Arizona when these situations arise.”

In February, Mesnard’s proposal passed the Arizona Senate with a 27-0 vote (with three members not voting). It was amended and approved in the Arizona House in early April with a 59-0 vote (with one vacant seat). The Senate then concurred with the House’s changes with a 28-0 vote (with two members not voting) before sending it to the Governor’s Office for Hobbs’ decision.

SB 1278 will go into effect 90 days after the end of the 2024 Arizona Legislative Session.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Wadsack Proposes Bill Removing BOS Ability To Choose Legislative Replacements

Wadsack Proposes Bill Removing BOS Ability To Choose Legislative Replacements

By Daniel Stefanski |

There might not be much runway left on this legislative session for Arizona legislators, but some legislators are already planning the introduction of a bill that could be introduced next year.

Arizona Senator Justine Wadsack tweeted Sunday, “I plan to introduce legislation that removes the power of the County BOS from choosing people to replace legislators who are Expelled or Resign. We must put the power in the hands of the PCs, who’s authority currently ends at presenting (3) candidates for the BOS to choose from.”

Wadsack explained her reasoning with a follow-up post, writing, “The Precinct Committeemen (PC) know who they want. Each PC represents their precincts & therefore know what THE PEOPLE want. The County BOS knows who to appoint based on what the political machine wants. It’s time to change the process to fit the needs of the people.”

The Senator received support for this bill from one of her colleagues in the House of Representatives, Austin Smith, who tweeted, “The opponents of something like this are TOTALLY ok with politicians having the final say picking their representatives and senators. Where are the champions of Democracy now?

When cautioned against proceeding with this idea with a Democrat governor, Smith responded, “Likely won’t need to the governor, may need to send this to the ballot as a constitutional amendment.”

The issue of selecting replacements at the Legislature during session became inflamed last month when Senator J.D. Mesnard took to the floor of his chamber to address the Maricopa County Supervisors’ ongoing consideration of two legislative vacancies in both the House and the Senate. Mesnard’s frustrations boiled over on the Senate floor as he laid out his charge against the Supervisors’ alleged delay in filling the two vacancies for 19 (Senate vacancy) and 20 (House vacancy) days. He informed his colleagues that “the length of these vacancies is the longest, while we’ve been in session, in half a century – 56 years!” The East Valley lawmaker also said that 8.76 days is the historical average to fill the vacancy.

Senator Mesnard spoke on behalf of the 120 Republican precinct committeemen who rearranged their schedule back in April to nominate the three individuals to fill the open House seat. He bemoaned the fact that such a lengthy delay was not previously an issue, and he hinted that maybe his colleagues should take future action to change the statute to force the county board of supervisors to act with more urgency when filling vacancies during a legislative session. He stated that the “Board of Supervisors should have held a special meeting to hasten what should be an important priority for them.”

Both of the vacancies for the Legislature were filled by the Maricopa County Supervisors soon after Mesnard’s address on the Senate floor. However, that didn’t stop Republican legislators from plotting a change in the law on this front.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Cochise County Pushes Court Of Appeals To Address Hand Count Audit Authority

Cochise County Pushes Court Of Appeals To Address Hand Count Audit Authority

By Terri Jo Neff |

As the Arizona Legislature considers a bill clarifying the right of a county to tabulate ballots by hand, the Arizona Court of Appeals has been asked to decide how many ballots can be audited by hand if a county uses a machine tabulator.

The question before the appellate court is whether Arizona’s 15 counties are restricted to performing a hand count audit of only a very small percent of machine tabulated ballots, or if a county’s Board of Supervisors (BOS) have authority to demand a higher audit percent—even 100 percent—of those ballots to check the accuracy of the electronic tabulation.

The issue dates back to October 2022 when the Cochise County BOS approved a Resolution to have County Recorder David Stevens conduct a  hand count audit of all ballots cast in-person on election day at the county’s 17 voting centers. The Resolution was challenged in court by the Arizona Alliance of Retired Americans (AARA).

Cochise County came out on the losing end of the case, which cost taxpayers nearly $90,000 in attorney’s fees to AARA. Now, the matter is in front of the Court of Appeals, with the county seeking to be vindicated for its hand count audit plan.

AARA filed its answering brief to the appeal last week. It asks for the county’s appeal to be dismissed as moot.

“Not only is the 2022 election over, but the mandatory audits prescribed by law have been conducted, and the election results were canvassed and certified,” AARA’s brief argues.

But if the Court of Appeals decides to weigh in on the question of whether Cochise County had authority to order a full hand count audit – of the early ballots, election day ballots, or both – then AARA argues the answer is no.

“Appellants are only legally authorized to conduct hand count audits in accordance with these statutorily prescribed procedures and cannot require a hand count audit of all ballots,” the brief argues. “Hand count audits must start with small, random samples for a limited number of races, and expand only on an individual race basis and only if hand counts repeatedly differ from electronic tabulations by more than a designated margin for error.”

AARA’s brief ignores the policy issue of whether an expanded hand count audit process would be better than the current law it claims is controlling.

Cochise County has until April 17 to file a reply brief with the Court of Appeals. There is no deadline for when a ruling must be issued.

The supervisors in favor of the expanded audit were Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd, who took the position that “many voters” lacked confidence in the voting system. A 100 percent audit of in-person election day ballots was justified, they argued, to “enhance voter confidence.”

The Resolution passed on a 2 to 1 vote on Oct. 24, 2022. AARA and one of its local members sued the county the next week, seeking a court order enjoining, or barring, anyone from complying with the Resolution.

Judge Casey McGinley was brought in from Pima County Superior Court by  Cochise County’s presiding judge to hear the case. McGinley ruled one day before Election Day that the county and Stevens could not engage in the expanded hand count audit.

McGinley went one step further, ruling that there could also be no full audit of early ballots.   

According to McGinley, ARS 16-602(B) requires the audit of ballots casts at voting centers on election day to be “randomly selected.” Selecting 100 percent of those ballots from the start would render the statutory language and the mechanism for a limited expansion of the hand count audit superfluous, he noted.

McGinley further ruled that ARS 16-602(F) establishes 5,000 as the maximum number of early ballots which may be initially part of a hand count audit, despite contradictory language included in the EPM which states counties “may elect to audit a higher number of ballots at their discretion.”

In its appeal, the Cochise County defendants contend hand count audits based on a random sampling of ballots was intended to prevent election officials from auditing races for improper purposes. There would be no concern with how certain races were selected if 100 percent were audited, they contend.

If the Cochise County BOS loses on appeal, attorneys for AARA have asked for a new order requiring the county to pay the group’s court costs and attorney’s fees in connection with the appeal.

Cochise County taxpayers are also on the hook for the fees paid to the attorney for the supervisors and Stevens, including during the appeal.

Terri Jo Neff is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or send her news tips here.

Mohave County Cancels Meeting to Discuss Election Litigation Against Maricopa County

Mohave County Cancels Meeting to Discuss Election Litigation Against Maricopa County

By Corinne Murdock |

On Monday, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors canceled their upcoming special meeting to discuss potential election litigation against Maricopa County and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

The board didn’t offer an explanation for their decision to cancel the meeting. They first announced the special meeting last week. 

AZ Free News reached out to the board’s communications director for comment. He didn’t respond by press time. 

The county delayed certification of their election results amid expressed uncertainty over the validity of Maricopa County’s results. They certified their results about two weeks ago. Chairman Ron Gould stated during the certification that he was compelled under threat of arrest to certify the results.

“I vote aye under duress. I found out today that I have no choice but to vote ‘aye’ or I will be arrested and charged with a felony,” stated Gould. “I don’t think that’s what our Founders had in mind when they used a democratic process to elect our leaders, our form of self-government. I find that very disheartening.”

The board is facing an open meeting law complaint filed by a Kingman-based political action committee (PAC) for making a “political statement” during certification of the election results. The PAC, Real Change for LD5, named Chairman Ron Gould and Supervisors Hildy Anguis and Travis Lingenfelter in the complaint submitted to Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Chairman Ron Gould called the complaint “baseless” in a statement to Mohave Valley Daily News.

“The agenda states ‘discussion and possible action re: Approval of the Canvass of the election,’” stated Gould. “I am sure that the attorney general will agree that the phrase possible action would cover approval and denial.”

Behind the complaint is the PAC founder and chair, J’aime Morgaine. She sued Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) in 2018 after he blocked her from his Facebook page; the ACLU picked up the lawsuit after Gosar restored her access and she dropped it. However, the ACLU also voluntarily dismissed the case four months later.

That same year, Morgaine ran an unsuccessful bid for the State Senate. She lost in the general election to Sen. Sonny Borrelli (LD-30).

In a statement, Morgaine called the board members’ protest over the election results a “nasty habit” that undermined confidence in elections.

“The bottom line is this is an election integrity issue,” said Morgaine. “These supervisors have every right to be angry and protest in any personal capacity, but they do not have the right or legal authority to misappropriate Mohave County’s governing forum or taxpayer resources to perpetuate disinformation about Mohave County’s election integrity and undermine confidence in Arizona’s elections.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to