State Capitol News
4:44 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

Brewer fights back against claims she acted illegally in firing redistricting commission chairwoman

Governor Jan Brewer is fighting back against claims by drafters of the redistricting initiative that she acted illegally in firing the chairwoman of the commission.

The governor says she had the right to oust Colleen Mathis over what Brewer said were violations of the Open Meeting Law and producing congressional district maps that did not comply with constitutional requirements. Last week three people responsible for crafting the initiative told the state Supreme Court they designed the measure to let a commissioner be fired only for serious misconduct. They said whatever Mathis did does not rise to that level -- and the justices should know that the way Brewer is interpreting the law is not what they had in mind in crafting it. Lisa Hauser, the governor's attorney, said what they intended does not matter.

"With an initiative you have a need to discern the intent of the electorate," Hauser said. "Because the voters really are the Legislature in this context. So trying to determine what the voters were thinking when they adopted something is what the court tries to do."

Hauser said it is legally irrelevant that the drafters had considered and rejected a different version which would have given the governor more power to fire a commissioner, as voters never saw that language. The court takes up the issue of the governor's action on Thursday. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.