Hobbs Celebrates Breaking Veto Record After Killing Bipartisan Bill

Hobbs Celebrates Breaking Veto Record After Killing Bipartisan Bill

By Corinne Murdock |

As the community mourned, Gov. Katie Hobbs celebrated killing a bill legalizing more homemade food sales with an email campaign applauding herself for issuing the most vetoes in state history. The bill would have the greatest impact on small business owners in the “cottage food” industry, such as street vendors.

State Rep. Alma Hernandez (D-LD20) voiced her frustration with Hobbs’ lack of support for the bill, HB2509, on Twitter. Hernandez, who trained at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that Hobbs’ rationale for the veto flew in the face of public health professionals’ opinion. 

“People are NOT dying from street food poisoning. This is personal. Not only do many Hispanics depend on this to make a living but many fear being reported and fined,” said Hernandez. “When my father was injured and could not work, my mother made cakes from home to ensure we could put gas and food on our table. This does nothing in the name of ‘health & safety.’ It goes against my community.”

State Rep. Consuelo Hernandez (D-LD21) added that the veto denied recognition of the popular practice of Latino communities relying on tamale sales for income. Hernandez called Hobbs’ celebratory email “cruel.”

In Hobbs’ letter explaining her veto, the governor claimed that the bill would increase risk of food-borne illness, as well as limit quality control preventing food contamination from hazardous chemicals, or rodent or insect infestation.

Sen. President Warren Petersen (R-LD14) arranged for a veto override next Tuesday. 

“We will put it up for a vote. #freethetamales,” wrote Petersen.

House Speaker Ben Toma (R-LD27) assured that an override motion was prepared for next week.

The bill would be the legislature’s first override vote of the session.

Hobbs vetoed a total of 11 bills on Tuesday, raising the record to 63 — five more than the record set by former Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano. 

The other bills Hobbs vetoed were SB1091, SB1101, SB1262, SB1455, SB1565, HB2379, HB2394, HB2474, and HB2691.

Critics shared images of the celebratory email Hobbs’ team issued following this latest round of vetoes. 

Former senior policy advisor to former Gov. Doug Ducey, Christina Corieri, noted that she was one such small business owner-hopeful impacted by Hobbs’ veto. 

After issuing the vetoes, Hobbs told her critics that she was delivering “sanity, not chaos” to the people. 

“I will gladly work with anybody who will be a partner in addressing the real problems Arizonans face, but I refuse to play political games with our state government,” tweeted Hobbs. “I’m proud of the bipartisan accomplishments we have achieved and encourage leaders in our legislature to continue to come together and pass real solutions that will grow jobs, build roads and bridges, invest in education, and deal with our water crisis.”

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

Trans Arizona Democratic Party Leader Advocated For Gun Violence

Trans Arizona Democratic Party Leader Advocated For Gun Violence

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona Democratic Party (ADP) Vice Chair, Brianna Westbrook, signaled support for gun violence following the Nashville, Tennessee school shooting last Monday.

Westbrook indicated support in a call for violence against “transphobes” on Monday following the Nashville, Tennessee school shooting. Westbrook liked a tweet from Gov. Katie Hobbs’ now-resigned press secretary Josselyn Berry.

Berry had tweeted a GIF of a woman walking forward with two guns raised with the caption, “Us when we see transphobes.”

Westbrook identifies as a transgender woman and is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. His former name was Mike McDanel. 

This wasn’t the first incitement to violence from Westbrook. Following the summer of Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots, Westbrook concurred with fellow activist — Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona board member Chris Love — that blue alerts shouldn’t exist. Blue alerts are issued when a suspect poses an imminent or credible threat to law enforcement, or an officer is missing.

Westbrook’s response to the Nashville school shooting isn’t unique among trans activists. In the aftermath of the tragedy, other transgender activists have issued public responses ranging from apathy to celebration. Three children and three faculty were killed by the shooter, a woman who sometimes identified as a transgender man.

Other transgender activists have appeared to call for more bloodshed.

The shooting occurred days before a planned “Trans Day of Vengeance,” scheduled to occur on April Fool’s Day. The event was planned by the Trans Radical Activist Network (TRAN); a day after the shooting, the group issued a statement that it would continue the event as planned. However, the group canceled the event on Friday, citing a “credible threat” of violence.

The organization, who subsequently made their Twitter account private following backlash on the event and their remarks, indicated that the shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was a victim as well. TRAN erroneously referred to Hale as “Aubrey.” 

“Hate has consequences,” wrote TRAN. 

Twitter users who shared images of the poster, even with the attempt to raise awareness or issue a warning, had their accounts suspended. This included the accounts of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Daily Wire host Michael Knowles, who quoted the Bible in response to the threats of violence. 

Some media were also banned if they attempted to share their reporting on or speak to the planned call to arms.

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

‘Transracial Black’ Woman At Gov. Hobbs’ Signing Of Hair Discrimination Ban

‘Transracial Black’ Woman At Gov. Hobbs’ Signing Of Hair Discrimination Ban

By Corinne Murdock |

The “transracial” woman who stirred national controversy about eight years ago for falsely claiming to be Black attended Gov. Katie Hobbs’ signing of a ban on hair discrimination last Friday.

Rachel Dolezal, who now goes by Nkechi Amare Diallo, formerly served as the president of an NAACP chapter in Washington, as well as an Africana studies professor at Eastern Washington University. The truth of Dolezal’s race came to light after her parents came forward to disavow her claimed identity, following her Black rights activism and claims to police and media that she was the victim of racially-motivated hate crimes.

Hobbs signed the executive order — titled the “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act, or “CROWN” Act — on Friday. The California-originating model legislation prohibits public schools and state employers or contractors from discriminating against employees’ hair texture and protective styles, such as braids, locs, twists, knots, and headwraps.

“Black women, men, and children should be able to wear their natural hair with pride and without the fear of discrimination,” tweeted Hobbs, echoing a line from the executive order.

Dolezal wasn’t included in the published version of the photo posted by the governor. 

California lawmakers passed their version of the CROWN Act in 2019. New York, New Jersey, Washington, Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Illinois all followed suit in passage of their version of the model legislation.

The Arizona legislature last considered a version of the CROWN Act in 2021 under HB2593 from former Democratic State Rep. Aaron Lieberman. The legislation didn’t make it to committee.

Reactions to Hobbs’ executive order were mixed, mainly along party lines. 

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC) questioned Hobbs’ priorities: making time for an executive order declaring the professionalism of certain hairstyles while other issues such as the border crisis continue unsolved.

“We don’t have a budget or a secure border, inflation is raging, our elections are a laughingstock and our schools are a parent’s worst nightmare. But at least there’s this,” tweeted AFEC.

However, some criticism came from within Hobbs’ own party. Talonya Adams — the woman impacted by racial discrimination under Hobbs when the governor was Senate Minority Leader in the legislature — indicated that Hobbs’ executive order was an attempt to placate the Black community.

In a since-deleted tweet, Adams questioned Hobbs’ decision to prioritize a social issue like hair discrimination over other, more pressing issues like the homeless crisis or offering an explanation of the Oman trip.

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

Gov. Hobbs’ Veto Streak Kills Bill With Strong Bipartisan Support

Gov. Hobbs’ Veto Streak Kills Bill With Strong Bipartisan Support

By Corinne Murdock |

Last week, Gov. Katie Hobbs’ veto streak killed a bill with strong bipartisan support. It was one of the 15 bills vetoed by the governor so far: SB1184, SB1248, SB1523, SB1524, SB1525, SB1526, SB1527, SB1528, SB1529, SB1530, SB1531, SB1532, SB1533, SB1534, and SB1535. 

The bill that earned strong bipartisan support was SB1248, which originated from HB2529 by State Rep. T.J. Shope (R-LD08). SB1248 would’ve repealed the mandate for regulated health professions seeking an expanded scope of practice to undergo a statutory sunrise review. It passed 21-9 in the Senate, with five Democrats and all Republicans voting for it; in the House, it passed 42-18, with 12 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting for it. Hobbs vetoed the bill last week. 

Talonya Adams, the woman twice vindicated in court for racial discrimination faced under Hobbs, said the legislature’s override of Hobbs’ veto “jeopardized her relevancy.” 

“A principled [government] comprised of co-equal branches will eventually check a branch that exploits its power, with a [two-thirds] veto override,” said Adams.

So far, the legislature hasn’t overridden any of Hobbs’ vetoes. 

In a letter explaining her decision to veto SB1248, Hobbs argued that fixing part of the problem with scope of practice expansion wasn’t sufficient for her since the government couldn’t ensure that these expansions would result in “equitable access to care.” She argued that the legislature needed to ensure equity in health care. 

“Without the sunrise application process, provider groups could fast-track their priorities through the legislative process without adequate attention to why the change is necessary, or if it will impact communities with the greatest needs,” wrote Hobbs. 

The same day that she vetoed the heavily-bipartisan legislation, Hobbs pledged to work with Democratic leadership to “find real solutions” to current state issues.

It wasn’t until last week that Hobbs allowed bills to pass unscathed by her veto stamp: SB1103 and SB1171. Hobbs said she signed these two bills because they were “good,” indicating that all other past legislation wasn’t. 

SB1103 from Senate President Warren Petersen (R-LD14) allows the legislative body of a municipality or county to authorize administrative personnel to approve construction plans without public hearing. The intent of the legislation was to expedite home construction approvals in an effort to counter the ongoing housing shortage. 

SB1103 passed 59-0 in the House and 25-3 in the Senate. Only Minority Leader Raquel Terán (D-LD26), Minority Caucus Chair Leah Alston (D-LD05), and State Sen. Anna Hernandez (D-LD24) voted against it. 

SB1171 from State Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-LD13) aligned Arizona tax law with changes made to the federal tax law by Congress. The legislation passed without any opposition in either the House or Senate. 

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

State Sued Over Alleged Illegality Of Early Ballot Signature Verification Process

State Sued Over Alleged Illegality Of Early Ballot Signature Verification Process

By Corinne Murdock |

The state is facing a lawsuit filed Monday over an alleged violation of state law with the early ballot signature verification process outlined in the secretary of state’s Election Procedures Manual (EPM). The plaintiffs requested special action relief due to an alleged lack of an equally plain, speedy, and adequate legal alternative remedy for their grievance. 

Statute requires that envelope signatures match those on the voter’s registration record. If not, the county recorder must contact the voter and confirm that the voter personally completed and signed the early ballot affidavit. 

However, the current EPM — written by Gov. Katie Hobbs in her former capacity as the secretary of state — instructs county recorders to validate early ballot affidavits if they determine the signature matches any signature in any election-related document available to them. The lawsuit argued that the EPM’s allowed materials aren’t legally considered “registration records” and therefore not lawful comparative references for conducting signature validation. 

“[T]he signatures encompassed within the EPM’s errant instruction cannot be used either to effectuate the registration of an individual or to lawfully amend an existing registration,” stated the lawsuit.

Arizona law doesn’t explicitly define the term “registration record.” However, the lawsuit argued that the natural understanding of the term relates to a document effectuating or amending voter registration that contains voter-supplied information required by federal and Arizona law, as well as a signed certification attesting to the provided information. 

“A properly executed and submitted registration form, as may be amended and updated by the registrant from time to time, ‘constitute[s] an official public record of the registration of the elector,’” stated the lawsuit. “Accordingly, the ‘record of the registration of the elector — i.e., her “registration record,” consists of the complete and facially valid federal and state forms submitted by that individual, and any amendments thereto made by the submission of new forms, an early ballot request form, a response to an Active Early Voting List notice, or a provisional ballot envelope.”

Citizens may register to vote using forms provided by the federal or state government; both forms require full name, residential address, date of birth, a government-issued ID number, political party affiliation if applicable, and a signed, sworn attestation of eligibility (including U.S. citizenship). An Arizona voter registration form also requires telephone number, location of birth, occupation, father’s last name or mother’s maiden name, age, proof of citizenship, and statements affirming residency, status of any other existing registration, and any absence of disqualifying felony conviction. 

The lawsuit stated that the named defendant, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, has gone beyond his lawful jurisdiction and gone against statute by upholding Hobbs’ EPM. Fontes refused to heed lawmakers’ requests to reject Hobbs’ EPM earlier this year. 

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Arizona Free Enterprise Club (AFEC), a nonprofit social welfare corporation specializing in limited government that includes election integrity; Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections, a Virginia-based nonprofit social welfare corporation specializing in election integrity; and Dwight Kadar, a Yavapai County resident and elector. 

AFEC President Scot Mussi told AZ Free News that Hobbs’ EPM essentially rewrote state law to make invalid voting easier. 

“The current election procedures manual adopted by the Secretary of State has rewritten state law regarding signature verification for mail-in ballots,” said Mussi. “The result is a process that invites questionable methods and opportunities for abuse during the signature review process. It’s time for the courts to bring this illegal EPM practice to a halt.” 

Early ballot voters aren’t required to prove their identity through documents or additional personal information, like a birthdate or Social Security number. The sole validator for early ballot voters is the affidavit form signature on the exterior of the envelope housing the ballot. By signing the affidavit form, a voter attests under penalty of perjury that he has not voted and will not vote in any other jurisdiction, that he has registered to vote in the correct county, that he understands that multiple voting is a felony, and that he personally voted the ballot enclosed and signed the affidavit. 

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