State Capitol News
Mon October 31, 2011
Brewer ousting Independent Redistricting Commission panel members may cause legal ramifications
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – An attorney for the Independent Redistricting Commission all but vowed today to sue Gov. Jan Brewer if she attempts to oust panel members based on her list of allegations. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.The letter from Mary O'Grady follows queries that Brewer sent last week to all five commissioners, laying out allegations they had broken the law. Brewer said she wants answers because the Arizona Constitution allows her to remove any or all of the panel members. O'Grady said that is true. But the attorney said that requires a specific finding of misconduct or violation of the law. And she told Brewer it is up to the court -- and not the governor -- to determine if the violations alleged have occurred. Press aide Matthew Benson disagreed.
(The constitution prescribes a specific oversight responsibility for the governor when it comes to redistricting. That's the authority she has invoked at this time.)
Nor does Benson believe that his boss has to wait for some court ruling.
(If she believes that gross misconduct, for example, may have occurred, then its her responsibility to provide those allegations to the IRC members and see how they respond. That is all that has happened at this point.)
Three of the commissioners -- chairwoman Colleen Mathis and the two Democrats -- say they have acted legally. The two Republicans say THEY have done nothing wrong because they disagreed with what the other three have done. But O'Grady said Brewer needs to back off, saying the commission was created to be independent of politics and that -- quote -- its independence must be respected and defended. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.