Want to help ensure that the state's new immigration law actually takes effect?
Now you can -- with your dollars.
Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday issued an executive order establishing a special defense fund to accept private donations to pay the legal costs in fighting challenges to SB 1070. The move comes just days after Attorney General Terry Goddard said his office, while it will fight the lawsuits, will not defend Brewer who is named as an individual defendant.
But gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said the idea actually has been percolating for several weeks when the state began getting unsolicited checks from individuals who want Arizona to win the legal dispute playing out in federal court.
So far, he said, the governor's office has received checks totaling about $10,000 from close to 300 individuals from more than 40 states.
"They are averaging fairly small size, some as small as $20, $10,'' he said. "Some are $250.''
He said, though, there is no single large donor.
Brewer on Tuesday hired John Bouma, chairman of the Phoenix law firm of Snell & Wilmer, to represent her in federal court. Senseman said Goddard "declined to represent the governor,'' forcing her, as a named defendant, to get her own lawyer.
That's where the donations come in.
Goddard admitted turning down Brewer -- sort of.
"I am counsel for the state, I am counsel for almost all the state boards and commissions,'' he said. "But I am not counsel for the governor by law.''
Anyway, Goddard pointed out that two of the five lawsuits name both Brewer and him as individual defendants.
"In order to avoid any possibility that we might have divergent opinions about how best to enter a defense, it was probably best to start with separate counsel,'' Goddard said. "So it wasn't a rejection.''
Senseman said Brewer is just as happy not to have Goddard representing her.
"Given his various statements that have, at times, favored the legislation and at other times opposed it, the governor's much more confident that she will provide the most vigorous defense available,'' he said.
The key part of the legislation requires police to ask those they have stopped about their immigration status if they reasonably suspect the person is an illegal immigrant. The lawsuits charge this is an illegal intrusion by the state into federal immigration policy and say the law will result in racial profiling.
Wednesday's announcement by Brewer comes less than 24 hours before state Treasurer -- and gubernatorial hopeful -- Dean Martin is scheduled to propose a new "border security support fund'' with state Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman.
"What we're planning is something we've been working on for weeks now,'' Martin said. "So it's obvious that the governor's scrambling to try to look like she's doing something, copy what basically we've been working on.''
But the Martin-Goodale plan is somewhat different: It would use donations not to defend SB 1070 but instead for what he called "actual border security efforts.'' Martin said that could include more law enforcement in the region and even building stretches of fence if there were enough cash.
Martin said he, too, has some unsolicited donations. He did not have a figure but said it is less than the $10,000 Brewer has collected.
He said some of the donors seem interested in helping the state offset any lost tax revenues because of boycotts.
"They would like to support Arizona but can't get here,'' Martin said.
Senseman denied Brewer's plan is in any way related to what Martin was working on or was designed to undermine his Republican primary bid to oust her.