Arizona GOP Congressmen Lobbied Jan Brewer And State Senators To Remove Redistricting Chair
WASHINGTON -- Arizona Democrats have accused four of the state's Republican representatives of pressuring state senators to oust the state's redistricting chairman for personal gain.
A day after the state Senate voted to remove Redistricting Chairman Colleen Coyle Mathis, the five-member committee's only Independent, Arizona Democratic Party communications director Jennifer Johnson told HuffPost the Republican push to oust Mathis was only about protecting incumbents.
"Quayle didn't want to primary with Schweikert," Johnson said, referring to freshmen GOP representatives Ben Quayle and David Schweikert, who would be in the same district under the redistricting proposal. "He wants a nice easy going district. They're used to getting their way, they [Republicans] run everything in this state."
Schweikert, Quayle and fellow GOP representatives Paul Gosar and Trent Franks had called Republicans in the state Senate to gauge support for the Mathis' removal, according to a Arizona Capital Timesreport from last Wednesday that credited the information to an anonymous senator.
The congressmen also discussed the removal effort with Gov. Jan Brewer (R) during a conference call and urged the governor to go through with the removal process, according to the Capital Times report. The article said the effort was spearheaded by Franks, who has a history with Brewer dating back to their service together in the Arizona House in the 1980s. Under the Arizona constitution, Mathis could not be removed unless Brewer first recommended the move to the state Senate.
When the state Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to remove Mathis, it cited her "substantial neglect of duty" and "gross misconduct." Brewer also wrote Mathis last week, saying the proposed map "fails to recognize the important and distinct rural population in Arizona and the respective communities of interest."
Mathis' attorney said on Wednesday that she plans to contest the move, and accused the governor of not following due process.
Arizona picked up one seat as a result of the 2010 Census and now has nine congressional districts. The commission's proposed lines would create four Republican districts, two Democratic districts and three competitive districts.
Brewer's office did not deny on Wednesday that she has been in contact with the congressional delegation, but she dismissed concerns that any wrong doing had occurred.
"Absolutely the governor has been in contact with the delegation in recent weeks," said Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson. "They have voiced their concerns, and they were similar to those of the governor."
Benson didn't enumerate the specific concerns the congressmen expressed about the proposed maps and denied having knowledge of whether members of Arizona's congressional delegation had been in contact with state lawmakers.
The four Republican representatives did not return request for comment regarding the allegations.
However, on Wednesday, Chris Baker, a consultant on Schweikert's campaign, told The Hill, "He's spoken to a lot of legislators. In terms of encouraging people to go into a specific direction, mostly what he does is just let them know what he thinks."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Redistricting Chairman Colleen Coyle Mathis had been impeached. In fact, she was removed by Gov. Brewer with the Senate's support.