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Maricopa GOP chair won’t resign over Brewer insult

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Gov. Jan Brewer (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

The chairman of the Republican Party in Maricopa County rejected a call for him to resign Thursday for comparing Gov. Jan Brewer to Judas because she wants to expand the state’s Medicaid plan, but he said he didn’t mean to disrespect the governor or her office.

A.J. LaFaro said in an email to The Associated Press that he didn’t intend to offend anyone at a House hearing on the expansion plan Wednesday evening. He called the reaction to his remark about Jesus’ betrayer a “classic example of things getting blown out of proportion,” and said his comments reflected his passion on the subject.

House speaker Andy Tobin said LaFaro stepped over the line from impassioned debate and should apologize and step down. Tobin and Brewer are both Republicans.

LaFaro gave lengthy testimony during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Brewer’s proposed expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, laying out his opposition and that of fellow GOP committee leaders. He said the governor’s decision to embrace a signature component of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law was a mistake, and that states should reject Medicaid expansion because it eventually will consume a huge chunk of the federal budget.

He ended his testimony by saying “Jesus had Judas, Republicans have Governor Brewer.”

Tobin said Thursday there’s no place for those kinds of comments in the state Capitol.

“I think we all should be treating each other with respect,” Tobin said. “The governor has a different viewpoint. It’s unfair for someone who’s not in her place to insult, and this is not a place to do that, and I won’t have it in our building, and I think he owes the governor a great apology.”

Brewer surprised many when she embraced the expansion during January’s state of the state address, coming after years of battling against the health care law. She has since gone on a statewide effort to drum up support, holding news conferences and enlisting business leaders and members of the medical community.

Still, she faces a tough road in the Legislature to enactment.

The governor’s plan calls for an assessment on hospitals to bring in about $250 million a year to pay for the state’s share of an expanded Medicaid program. The state can expect $1.6 billion a year in new federal funding, freeing health care providers of hundreds of millions of dollars in uncompensated care. The expansion would add at least 300,000 poor Arizonans to the nearly 1.3 million already on the plan, called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS.

On Thursday, LaFaro issued a long statement, then responded to a follow-up email by saying he wasn’t resigning and neither should Brewer.

“Being passionate and having the conviction to stand up for what you believe in doesn’t merit resignation,” LaFaro wrote. “I think this is a classic example of things getting blown out of proportion. We are all human and sometimes mistakes happen.”

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the governor has been around long enough to know people will sometimes call her names and act irrationally.

“She’s not concerned about it,” Benson said. “She’s concerned about getting her Medicaid plan over the finish line, and she’s not wasting any time over a party functionary nobody had heard of before Wednesday evening.”

6 comments

  1. While I understand emotions and tension are extremely high at the legislature now, I seriously do not see a problem with how AJ expressed himself. It is called First Amendment Rights folks. AJ was not reacting to the position of Governor, but the individual holding the office, and I have done the same thing and will continue to. Governor Brewer is NOT representing the full constituency and needs to be called on it. Unfortunately, Representative Heather Carter represents the District I live in, and her political views are also NOT respresentative of our District. Both the Governor and Representative Carter are representing the views of THEIR Dictator in Charge that resides in the White House in D.C. That, to me, is a poor excuse for SOLID, Conservative Constitutionalist views and do not speak for LD – 15, and I am sure much of the State of AZ. AJ – Congratulations for having the gumption to speak your views and stand behind them in this day of unpolitical correctness. All of you can see where political correctness has gotten us – to the dark side!

  2. Ms. Brickman, You lost your credibility when you attacked the President of the U.S. “THEIR Dictator in Charge” that resides in the White House. This works both ways and this time YOUR group were at the receiving end.

  3. Proact: my opinion is a fact and only representative of my feelings which I stand by. President Obama has become a dictator using his E.O. so freely that he has basically made Congress a ceremonial body. The President does reside in the White House, which is located in D.C. I am not attacking the office of the President which I have total respect for; but I am attacking the issues that your President stands for. AND, I will stand by my comment. Credibility, you say? I am not here to make friends. I am not here to make enemies. I am here to stand by the Conservative values of our founding fathers, and the Rule of Law. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are living documents that support the supremacy and sovereignty of our Country. That is what I stand for. My credibility and integrity are intact sir. There are others beside AJ and myself who feel the same way we do, but have not YET spoken up and spoken out. It is about time we all do. Political correctness has gotten us to where we are. I hope you are happy with the environment and legacy we have left to our children and grandchildren. I am NOT, and will continue to fight for the rights of every single LEGAL citizen in the U.S.A. until I and others have been heard. The Governor’s issues should be attacked at every moment if they do not stand for the people. I for one will fight her stance on the medicaid expansion; I will find her views on the issue of Common Core; and I will fight her views on any other issue, that does not represent the majority of the people of Arizona and her sovereignty. I am not fighting the Governor, but her stance on the issues. That is what this is all about. Let’s stick to the issue of WHY the issues are not feasible for the State of AZ and NOT attack individual people.

  4. correction (no edit button)

    Ms. Brickman, You lost your credibility when you attacked the President of the U.S. “THEIR Dictator in Charge” that resides in the White House. This works both ways and this time YOUR group was at the receiving end.

  5. Ms. Brickman — If a majority of the voters of LD 15 elected Heather Carter, then Rep. (or Sen.) Carter is the district’s representative, period, full stop. If her opinion differs from your or from those of your hyper conservative cabal of hysteria-mongers, get over it. Elections have consequences.

  6. Ms. Brickman, You have only yourselves to blame for the dictator-in-chief in the WH, the failures of the Bush cabal who took the United States to war in Iraq on a lies with NO facts or evidence, as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz created a media panic to pull the trigger. A many TRILLION $$ war on a credit card. A financial crisis that allowed the Wall Street casino gamblers to rob the nations wealth for their gain. Study the documentary “Hubris” or read the book by Michael Isikoff and David Korn. And who are we to believe and trust? The GOP?

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