By Daniel Stefanski |
Republicans and Democrats might have had different motives for supporting a bill that would require Arizona governors to operate with more transparency with their inaugural funds, but they managed to come together to overwhelmingly pass the new policy out of the Arizona Senate.
SB 1299, which was sponsored by Senator Wendy Rogers, passed the State Senate on Monday with a 29-0 vote – with one Democrat not voting (Eva Diaz). Senator Diaz had previously voted for the bill when it unanimously passed the chamber’s Government Committee earlier in the month.
Senate Republicans were extremely pleased with the progress of the legislation. Soon after the bill’s passage in his body, President Warren Petersen tweeted, “Democrats and Republicans just voted out unanimously that the Governor needs to be transparent with her inauguration funds!”
The Arizona Senate Republican Caucus victoriously stated, “In an effort to address the shady practices of @GovernorHobbs with regards to her handling of her Inauguration Fund, @WendyRogersAZ sponsored SB1299, which would require the Governor’s Office to publish on its website, within 15 days after the inauguration ceremony, information detailing each organization that organized, supported or funded the ceremony.” The Caucus also touted the bipartisan support for the bill.
Bill sponsor, Senator Wendy Rogers, tweeted, “Proud to sponsor this vital bipartisan SB 1299 bill promoting #TRANSPARENCY.”
Democrats had no choice but to support a bill aimed both at transparency and at their same-party chief executive, whose actions around the fundraising, reporting, and future use of her Inaugural Fund generated red flags and questions around the state since the start of the year. Legislators in both chambers have sent letters to Hobbs about her Inaugural Fund – most recently about what her intentions might be when it comes to spending the massive amount of excess funds not used from the early-January inauguration events.
The headlines have not been gentle when it came to Hobbs’ actions (or lack thereof) with her Inaugural fund. On January 5, Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic wrote an opinion piece entitled, “Katie Hobbs keeps donations secret. Is this what she calls ‘transparency’?” And on February 2, Roberts wrote another opinion piece with the headline, “Gov. Katie Hobbs still hasn’t come clean on her inauguration fund.” Roberts wrote, “While governors always have raised money to help defray the cost of their inaugurations, Hobbs is the first to keep the leftover cash. Usually, it’s transferred into a public protocol fund, to be used for public purposes. Hobbs, instead, established a nonprofit account where the money can be used to fund political campaigns. A state government website was employed and now mum’s the word on how she intends to spend the $1.6 million or more in leftover funds…. Hobbs promises to be a ‘champion for everyone’ but my guess is that, as with all politicians, some ‘champions’ will have more access and influence than others.”
SB 1299 now heads to the Arizona House for consideration before a potential showdown with the inspiration for the bill herself: Governor Katie Hobbs.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.