Legislative Update

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An Arizona Capitol Times reporter provides a mid-week update on news from the Arizona State Legislature.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas defended himself and his record at a raucous press conference today. Thomas was disbarred yesterday for abusing his prosecutorial powers while in office. Thomas today said that he will try to run a voter initiative to fight corruption, and he said that he has a contract to write a book. At one point today Thomas compared himself to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Thomas did not say if he's decided to appeal his disbarment.

Ted Simons: Things were no less eventful at the state capitol where Tucson representative Daniel Patterson resigned after the House Ethics Committee voted to expel him over numerous allegations including domestic violence and trying to trade votes for sex. Here with more on our weekly legislative update is Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Always good to see you. Thanks for joining us. We have been talking about this Patterson thing for a while. Resigns. Was that really a surprise?

Jim Small: You know, I think it was kind of split. I think some people thought he was going to stick it out to the bitter end and we would see him on the floor making a defiant speech. There was another camp of people who thought he wouldn't go that far, he would walk right up to the edge and resign which is ultimately what he did today.

Ted Simons: I heard there might have been some attempts to get him to stay on. He actually tried to he keep his salary until the end of the year. What's that all about?

Jim Small: There was some talk. I think he had tried to get some payment for some legal fees and get his salary and some stuff like that. It's not going to happen. It's kind of a moot issue at this point since he did resign today.

Ted Simons: And he apparently one of the reasons he said he quit is because the House had become, to him, a hostile work environment. There's a lot to be said for that particular allegation.

Jim Small: That was one of the claims in what he said for the reason of his resignation letter was the House had become a hostile work environment with what's going on with Democrats calling for him to be ousted, saying that they are scared, saying they think he would be a violent person. He's repeatedly said that's not the case, that he is not violent and not a danger to anybody else. But they took away his office, they took away his access to almost every part of the building, shoved him into a little unused office up on the third floor, kind of behind an unused conference room. So, you know, in that respect it certainly had become difficult for him to do his job. Although I think, you know, that was kind of a bed he made. He was lying in the bed he made more than evening else was putting him in that position.

Ted Simons: As well it sounds as though the Committee, the Ethics Committee that voted to expel him weren't looking as much, although I guess they noted the domestic violence charges, but they were looking at how he dealt with fellow lawmakers. Correct?

Jim Small: Yeah. The complaint was originally about his domestic violence issue. That was kind of what sparked it and in the complaint it mentioned this was part of the latest thing in a pattern of disruptive behavior on his part. And the ethics committee was investigating not just the domestic violence thing but the way he had comported himself throughout his tenure at the legislature, as -- whether this was a pattern and that was really what they focused on. So for the past four years how had he handled himself and treated his colleagues and staff members, how had he, you know, just really behaved himself or not behaved himself as it were at the Capitol.

Ted Simons: Elected as a Democrat, changed to an Independent. Who replaces him?

Jim Small: It will be an Independent. The Pima County Board of Supervisors will have to -- supervisors will elect a panel of voters to vote on the nominee. Interesting thing there is no requirement that any of these Independents be Independents for long. They could register today. They could be Democrats today or Republicans today, register as Independents, be on this panel, be appoint, nothing saying whoever gets appointed doesn't change their registration once they are in office.

Ted Simons: Wow, all right. As far as the session is concerned, are we closing in on a sine die here?

Jim Small: I think we are closing in on it. It remains to be seen how quickly we are closing in. I know Republican leaders wants to end next week. Ideally they would like to get done middle of the next week, right around the 100th day. It all depends on the budget. I don't know that they are quite there yet. Talked to some people today and they are making progress but they are not quite ready to have a budget done. So it will be, maybe the week after, I think, maybe more optimistic look, so end of April.

Ted Simons: Last question. We have talked so much this week about the Andrew Thomas and the disbarment and that story keeps going on here. What kind of fallout, reaction at the Capitol? Obviously, this is county stuff but you are there. They are there. What's the reaction?

Jim Small: Strangely, for something as big a story as that is, there hasn't been much reaction and I think it's largely because of all the circus at the Capitol, the Daniel Patterson thing, right at the end right session and kind of hitting that home stretch where they are considering a lot of bills and a lot of controversial bills and things that are -- people's attentions and I think their emotions are wrapped up in their legislative work. Not a whole lot of people are, you know, going out and making a stand certainly in the Andrew Thomas.

Ted Simons: Not a lot of marching in support of Andrew Thomas and Joe Arpaio?

Jim Small: None. I can't think of a single person who I have seen who is proactively come out and said, boy, I think Andy Thomas got a raw deal here. Although I have no doubt there are people that feel that way.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Jim Small: Absolutely.

Jim Small:Reporter at Arizona Capitol Times

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