The recent response by the Fred DuVal campaign to an advertisement featuring the son of a businessman killed by terrorists in New York reinforces the fact that DuVal is unprepared and unqualified to be governor of Arizona.
DuVal’s chosen defense – claiming he had nothing to do with the lobbying effort to pardon convicted Puerto Rican terrorists – only raises more concerns. For some reason, DuVal believes distancing himself from the actions of the organization he led relieves him of accountability. The victims see it differently.
The advertisement features Joe Connor describing how his father was killed by FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation) terrorists in the late 1970s, and the same terrorists were then granted clemency by President Clinton following an aggressive lobbying campaign facilitated by the Interagency Group of Puerto Rico, which was co-chaired by DuVal.
The DuVal campaign does not dispute that DuVal knew what was going on (a subsequent congressional investigation confirmed that he received multiple emails about the campaign to release the terrorists), but claims that he simply did not involve himself in the troubling issue. At the time, numerous media sources reported that the clemency for16 terrorists was intended to benefit the New York U.S. Senate campaign of Hillary Clinton, for whom DuVal is a longtime ally.
As Edmund Burke famously observed: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” And yet, fully aware of the aggressive efforts of the organization he led to release unrepentant and murderous terrorists from prison, DuVal’s best defense is silence – the very silence that allowed the lobbying effort to succeed, setting the terrorists free.
Taking positions of leadership then disclaiming responsibility is par for the course for DuVal. For example, when seeking to defend his repeated votes to increase the tuition of Arizona university students, DuVal claims it wasn’t his fault, it was the Legislature’s. Apparently, he was very happy to have the title of chairman of the Board of Regents, but he wasn’t so keen on being accountable for the responsibilities of the office. He held the regents position during a very difficult period for the state of Arizona. With a looming budget deficit, it appears that there may also be difficult times ahead for the state leadership.
And in his well-publicized lobbying career, DuVal has been employed by an impressive array of major corporations. This work included being hired by UBS to obtain state business in New Mexico in 2004 (while DuVal was also serving as director of Governor Bill Richardson’s 2004 Democratic convention fundraising committee). But when this business became the focus of a “pay for play” scandal that ended Richardson’s political career, once again DuVal, in his words, “was not called upon to get involved.”
What does it say about the fitness of a prospective leader that, when faced with difficult challenges in the past, his chosen course of action was to either do nothing or choose to not get involved? In the recent past, Arizona governors have stepped to the forefront to address numerous policy or public health challenges. Resolving the state’s mental health treatment and funding structure is one such issue. The crisis in child protective services is another, and the world Ebola outbreak raises the specter of potential public health challenges in the months and years ahead. These problems are not addressed and solved by those who are “not called upon to get involved,” they are solved by officials who aggressively step forward in troubled moral and political situations to provide leadership.
Arizona could be in for an even more difficult four years if the state were to encounter challenging issues only to have as its leader an individual with a long record of positions in which he chose to “do nothing” rather than step forward and lead. And for Fred DuVal, no example looms larger than when his getting involved might have meant taking a principled stand against the release of convicted terrorists.
– Amy Frederick is president of the 60 Plus Association.