Taxpayers from throughout the state could end up underwriting a bid by ousted Senate President Russell Pearce to get back in the Legislature.
Rep. Steve Montenegro points out that the Arizona Constitution requires lawmakers to pay the reasonable expenses of any public official who is recalled. In this case, Pearce spent more than $260,000 last year in his unsuccessful bid to remain in office. Montenegro said other legislators are concerned about ignoring that mandate.
"We certainly don't want to set a precedent that ignores the constitution," said Montenegro. "And I think that's where many of the members base their concerns that you don't want to just ignore a constitutional responsibility. And so I think that's where the research is being done as to what needs to be done to proceed."
But Pearce didn't spend his own money on the race, getting his cash from private donors and political action committees. That means if the state gives him that money, he can put it into his campaign to get his seat back this year. That annoyed Sen. Steve Gallardo.
"The idea that we're going to give Russell Pearce $261,000 after the voters in his district recalled him is just rewarding someone with bad behavior," Gallardo said. "That's exactly what we're doing here."
Pearce said he is not part of the reimbursement effort and said he's not sure he would take the money even it were offered.