Former Attorney General Terry Goddard this weekend accused now AG Tom Horne of taking part in a Republican “intimidation campaign” against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The announcement was odd, and so was the timing – given that Horne’s investigation has been ongoing for more than a month.
Horne began investigating the IRC after Arizona Capitol Times published a report that questioned whether the commission violated state open meeting and procurement laws when it awarded a contract to a mapping consultant with a track record of working for highly partisan Democrats and related causes.
Contrary to Goddard’s assertions, Horne has not been conducting the investigation before the public. He has released zero details, aside from confirming noncritical information that has no bearing on whether the commission broke state law. One such tidbit was confirmed last week when Horne acknowledged to me that his office would conduct its first interview with an IRC commissioner – Republican Richard Stertz. His cooperation with the investigation seems to be anything but forced, and his fellow Republican on the panel, Scott Freeman, has given every indication that he, too, is willing and ready to speak with Horne attorneys investigating the matter.
Goddard is right that the investigation detracts from the commission’s core mission of drawing legislative and congressional lines. Still, it would seem that the rest of the IRC – Democrats Jose Herrera, Linda McNulty and independent Colleen Mathis – have had plenty of time to help out with the investigation, (whether its roots are in partisan politics or not) or at least help clear the air.
A complete and thorough investigation of the IRC could exonerate its members as easily it could castigate them. Findings that open meeting and procurement laws were broken would do little to inspire confidence in the all-volunteer commission. Likewise, having individual commissioners resist and stall the inquiry at all costs leaves onlookers with no other alternative but to draw their own suspicious conclusions.
Indeed, Horne may be a partisan, and the commission has a job to do. But let’s not forget that Horne is an elected official charged with the task of conducting such investigations and that the IRC members could decide in an instant to help finish the investigation by agreeing to interviews with the AG’s office.