Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has cut state funding for an attorney representing the ousted chairwoman of the state's independent redistricting commission.
The East Valley Tribune reported over the weekend that Brewer had decided to stop paying for Paul Charlton to serve as the attorney for Colleen Coyle Mathis, who Brewer removed as redistricting chairwoman last week. Brewer contends that Mathis violated the state's independent redistricting process by holding too many closed sessions and by preparing a congressional district map draft that did not follow guidelines for compact districts and keeping "communities of interest" together. The Republican-controlled state Senate voted to affirm Brewer's decision to dismiss Mathis last Tuesday.
"Colleen Mathis is no longer a state employee,'" gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said Friday. "Under what grounds would we continue funding her legal defense?'"
Mathis and the full commission contend her firing on Tuesday was illegal. They want the Arizona Supreme Court to rule that the governor exceeded her legal authority in dismissing Mathis and the Senate acted illegally in ratifying Brewer's decision.
But Benson said his boss stands by her action, believes it was authorized, that Mathis is out, "and the state is not in a position to fund her legal activity."
Charlton told The Huffington Post last week that he and Mathis believe that she is still the redistricting commission chairwoman, because Brewer did not follow proper "due process" in her dismissal. The spokeswoman for the redistricting commission said the agency was unclear what Mathis' exact legal status was.
The commission's attorney filed an appeal to Mathis' removal with the state Supreme Court Friday, and has asked the Court to rule on Mathis' current status and to overturn her dismissal.
The Arizona Capitol Times reported Monday that the Supreme Court will announce an initial decision on whether Mathis currently remains the chairwoman pending the appeal on Tuesday, and then a full Supreme Court hearing on November 17 will decide whether or not Mathis is in fact fired or will continue to serve as chairwoman.
Mathis' removal has touched off a political firestorm in the state, with Democrats charging that Brewer acted to protect Republican interests. The map draft -- which created a new district -- has four Republican-leaning seats, two Democratic-leaning seats and three toss-up seats. The draft map also placed Rep. Ben Quayle (R) in the same district as Rep. David Schweikert (R), with Schweikert having represented most of the new district in the past.
Brewer's spokesman told The Huffington Post last week that the governor did talk to the state's Republican congressional delegation before making her final decision. Quayle's spokesman has called an allegation by State Rep. Matt Heinz (D-Tucson) that Quayle's mother, former Second Lady Marilyn Quayle, called Brewer before the final decision "a lie."
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