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Outgoing Senate president defends fundraising effort to retain GOP majority

Outgoing Senate president defends fundraising effort to retain GOP majority

Senate President Steve Pierce places a boot on the dais to symbolize Arizonans resolve in tough times during the opening day of the 2012 session, Jan. 9, 2012. (Photo by Ryan Cook, RJ Cook Photography)

On Nov. 7, I was voted out of the presidency of the Arizona State Senate, effective with the start of the 2013 session. The senators who voted against me defined themselves.

Former Senate President Bob Burns started the Republican Victory Fund during his term in office. I have the original guidelines of the independent expenditure committee, and none of my critics ever asked about them. They only made up what they wanted to be told of the IE.

The committee sat unused and unfunded during Russell Pearce’s term as president. With redistricting, we decided the independent expenditure needed to be used to help candidates, and so we began the fundraising.

We started in February, independent of the House IE fund, because we saw the need to keep the Republican majority in the Senate. While fundraising, not one senator ever came forward to help in any way. I spent nine months working diligently to raise over $700,000 to help elect candidates who would keep a majority for the GOP in the Senate.

No one offered help, but so many knew where the money should be spent and so many criticized the IE committee.

There was definitely a possibility that, because of the redistricting and close races, the Senate could be split 15-15, or the Democratic candidates could take away the majority from the Republicans. We spent countless hours, days, travel and meetings to have funds donated by the business community leaders, the national Republican Party donors, and others who stated they wanted the Republican Party in Arizona to continue the path on which we were headed while I was president of the Senate. They appreciated my efforts as president to help turn the tide in a new direction.

The Arizona Republican Party had raised under $4,000 to help in the re- election of candidates. They argue it was more, but not one penny was spent in any Senate campaign by the AZ GOP.

We met with Karl Rove in Florida, and he guided me in my efforts to do what was right for new candidates and our party. Some of the funds I raised even benefited those who voted against me for president.

My goal was genuine, unselfish, and truly spent to help in any way possible to keep the majority. Everything I did was checked and cross- checked by three attorneys to be sure I was following procedure for the IE. I only knew three of the people on the IE board and had no knowledge of where the funds were headed.

As a result of the effort, the Senate Republicans won a majority, though it is a smaller margin than we had seen in the past.

I am a conservative Republican, born and raised in Arizona. I have been applauded for being able to work across the aisle and with the Governor’s Office on issues, including passing the budget. More than once I met privately with the governor to get the budget passed and end the session. No one knew, not even majority staff.

I have the respect from the business community, agriculture and education communities, many Republicans and Democrats, Hispanic organizations, and have felt very humbled by their belief in my goals and abilities. I have an incredible wife and family who sacrificed their time with me so that I could undertake an endeavor that I believed was necessary and important.

The people who voted against me for president define themselves. They obviously want to take the Senate and our beautiful state in a different direction than one focused on the economy and jobs. Going into the organizational meeting, I had the votes. The one person who lied to me and obviously took a “gift” to change his vote definitely defines himself and his integrity.

I am disappointed, of course. Extremism by a vocal minority was rampant, uninformed, vindictive, and disappointing in the process.

However, I have so many respected individuals and groups from across our wonderful state who still have asked me to continue what I have been doing for the good of the state. I will continue what is the right thing to do. I feel so proud of helping candidates to get elected, and I hold my head high and have a tremendous amount of respect for myself and my supporters.

More than some, I still have my vote, my supporters, and my belief in where Arizona wants to go, and the will to help get us there.

— Senate President Steve Pierce is a Republican from Prescott.

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