As the Chairman and co-founder of the Recall against Senate President Russell Pearce, I feel compelled to respond to the many distortions, personal attacks, and outright lies that have been circulated about our historic effort, including the recent piece by State Senator Andy Biggs.
Many people have asked those of us who organized the Recall, why a recall? Why now? Let me start by saying that Citizens for a Better Arizona is a coalition of Arizona citizens who are concerned about the direction our state politics has taken in terms of priorities, civility, and Arizona’s national reputation. Our committee is made up of several Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. When Russell Pearce was elected Senate President in December of 2010, our concerns were heightened because of Pearce’s history of being a divisive, ideologically driven legislator. On the first day of Pearce’s Senate Presidency, members of CBA delivered a letter to him telling him that the priorities of everyday Arizonans were education, economic growth, health care, and job creation. He was put on notice that he would be held accountable for the placement of these priorities during the legislative session.
It quickly became apparent that as Senate President, Pearce did not share these priorities. The first weeks of the session saw extreme legislation such as “birther” bills, bills allowing guns on school campuses, bills calling for nullification of federal laws, bills turning teachers and doctors into immigration agents, and other social-issue legislation that did
nothing to improve our schools or economy. Under Pearce, we had an official state gun before we had a state budget!
When the budget finally came, it included hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to education and health care, while at the same time increasing funding for the private prison industry that had contributed so heavily to Pearce’s campaigns. We felt that a message needed to be sent that legislators who placed their pet ideological agendas ahead of the well being of the state would no longer be tolerated - and so on January 31, 2011, we pulled petitions to initiate the recall of Senator Pearce. We felt that our state, which had dropped into the lowest rankings of the states in terms of education, housing foreclosures, and economic forecasts, could not withstand another year of Pearce’s failed leadership.
Senator Pearce’s actions during this campaign have only underscored our contention that he is unfit to lead our state.
His claim that he was unaware of the sham candidacy of Olivia Cortes, even as his family members and staunchest supporters were propping up her campaign, would be laughable if it weren’t such a brazen display of dishonesty from the man who has been called the most powerful politician in Arizona. He has launched scurrilous and untrue personal attacks about the organizers of the recall, the 10,300 voters of his district who signed the recall petitions, and the decent man who was drafted by Mesa Republicans to run against him. Pearce claims that the recall is the work of “outside far left forces” who have “raised millions of dollars to remove” him from office. However, the recent financial filings of the parties in the recall belie that claim, and expose Pearce himself as the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from monied special interests. Pearce raised more money just from PAC’s and lobbyists than our organization took in total. I can assure the voters of Mesa that the recall has been the work of everyday Arizona citizens from across the political spectrum, and that no outside special interests are involved.
Whether Pearce is removed from office or not, we hope two messages are sent loud and clear to our elected officials in Arizona. The first is that ordinary citizens are paying attention and will no longer sit idly by while you pursue your personal agendas at our expense. The second - and perhaps more important - is that extraordinary things can be accomplished when people from various political beliefs come together, find common ground, treat each other with civility, and work hard to seek pragmatic solutions to our problems.
Chad T. Snow, Chairman