State House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) considered sending armed Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers after two conservative legislators during remarks on the State House floor, despite State Representative Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) telling multiple members of House leadership and their staff that there would not be enough legislators present for a vote to hear election integrity bills.
“This is sadly just another in a long list of examples of systematically failed leadership and near-total dysfunction in the House under Rusty Bowers,” Hoffman told The Arizona Sun Times. “Leadership knew full well they would not have the votes to pass partisan bills, yet they chose to play games with one of the most important issues facing our state – election integrity. Any claim that leadership was unaware they would be missing votes is at best pure fiction, and at worst intentionally misleading.”
Arizona House leadership has sent DPS after legislators before. Hoffman told The Sun Times that years ago, another legislator said he could not stay late one evening and left. But House leadership needed him for a key vote on a bill, so they sent DPS after him, including a helicopter to track him, which landed near the road he was driving on. The helicopter brought him back to the state capitol to vote, leaving his car by the side of the road.
Last year, when Democrats refused to come out of their offices for a key vote on historic tax cut legislation, conservative lawmakers asked Bowers to place security guards at the doors to the building to prevent them from leaving, but he refused. When the Democrats next deserted the building, reportedly hiding in a union office, conservatives asked him to send DPS after them and he also refused.
Texas made headlines last July when the Republican-controlled House sent law enforcement after 60 Democratic legislators who fled the state to avoid voting on election integrity bills.
Instead of sending DPS officers after the legislators, Bowers could have retained the bills on the calendar for a future date – a simple procedural move under House Rule 12 that doesn’t require a vote. A source at the state capitol who is familiar with the workings of the House told The Sun Times that the moves by Bowers regarding the election integrity bills were deliberate, in order to make conservative legislators look bad.
Bowers has repeatedly claimed there was no fraud in the 2020 election. In February, he used a technical maneuver to kill a sweeping election integrity bill from State Representative Mark Finchem (R-Mesa). He refused to convene a special session of the legislature to audit the election last December. A recall petition was started against him for this reason. Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who also denies there was fraud in the 2020 election, started a PAC to fund Republicans who agree with him on this, and said Bowers was one of the first candidates he was looking to fund.
Bowers has been in office for almost 30 years. Although the legislature has term limits, he alternates roles in the House and the Senate when he reaches the limits of either. In 1992, Prop. 107 established term limits in the state constitution for state legislators, permitting them to only serve four terms.
The three key election integrity bills at issue were SB’s 1260, 1362, and 1013. The trio of bills ultimately fell short of the needed votes to pass.
SB 1260, sponsored by State Senator J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler), would require county recorders to remove voters from the rolls upon discovering they have registered to vote in a different county, and provides a mechanism for people to return ballots that were mailed to their residence for prior residents. It failed in the House on a vote of 28-23.
SB 1362, also sponsored by Mesnard, provides specific instructions to handle voters who show up on Election Day with early ballots, including requiring them to provide identification and signatures. It failed in the House on a vote of 28-23.
SB 1013, sponsored by State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Apache Junction), directs the Arizona Secretary of State to submit a request to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission requesting that Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirement be placed on the state’s federal voter registration forms. It failed in the House on a vote of 28-23.
Both Hoffman and Parker received perfect scores from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club last year.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.