Arizonans may get a chance to see who provided Gov. Jan Brewer some of the information for her book and what they told her.
Immigrant rights groups challenging what’s left of SB 1070 have served the governor with a subpoena demanding that she produce all documents she considered, reviewed or relied upon in writing “Scorpions for Breakfast.” The book is subtitled “My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border.”
The attorneys want any communications she had with anyone about what went into the book, whether in formal interviews, notes of conversations, emails, formal statements or anything else “regarding the substance and/or content of the aforementioned book.”
And just to cover all bases, the subpoena demands any communications she had with Jessica Gavora, who Brewer said helped her write the book, though her work is not credited.
The subpoena comes as challengers seek to void one of the last remaining key portions of the bill. It requires police to question people they have stopped about their immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in this country illegally.
Most of the other challenged provisions have been voided by federal courts.
But the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid by the Obama administration to have this section declared unconstitutional on its face.
That, however, left the door open for two other attacks.
One is challenging how the law is applied. Opponents contend the law is being enforced in a racially discriminatory fashion and are building a case to take before U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton.
The other is the allegation that the law is unconstitutional because it was racially motivated.
To this point, the subpoenas that have gone out to lawmakers and other supporters have sought documents that contain certain selected words, ranging from “Mexican,” Hispanic” and “alien” to “illegals” and “wetback.”
But Omar Jadwat of the American Civil Liberties Union said the documents the challengers are now seeking from Brewer can also help them make their case.
“Her book is all about SB 1070, her decisions in terms of signing it, the process that led up to it,” he said.
At the same time, Jadwat said, legal questions of racial animus go beyond whether someone calls people “bad names.”
“It’s a question of whether there is sufficient evidence to show there was an improper motivation and a discriminatory intent behind the passage of the law,” he said.
Jadwat said Brewer suggests in her book she received a lot of information about the passage of the law. He said these would be relevant to factors courts look to in deciding if there was any racial or ethnic animus.
Victor Viramontes of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which also is working to void the law, said what Brewer was thinking — and being told — is relevant, as she signed SB 1070 into law.
“The documents she considered in and around signing the law are relevant to our challenge to it,” he said.
“The scope of the subpoena asks for the documents related to the book because the book is the topic of the challenge: SB 1070,” Viramontes said.
Jadwat said it does not matter if the words that appear in the 228-page book Brewer published in 2011 do not paint a picture of any improper motive.
“The version she tells in the book is one version of the facts,” he said. “But the underlying evidence is going to be even more probative.”
The subpoena asks that the documents be delivered to ACLU’s office in Atlanta by Dec. 19.
Gubernatorial press aide Andrew Wilder had no comment on the subpoena, saying it has been turned over to Brewer’s attorneys.
Gavora appears to be an integral part to what went into the book.
In an interview with Capitol Media Services before the book was finished, Brewer described working with — and paying — Gavora for the help.
“We’re working collectively together; we’re talking back and forth,” Brewer said of their collaboration.
“She hears me and I hear her, and we write it, and I write and she gives me a copy of what we’ve all come up with,” the governor explained. “And then I rewrite it and re-edit it, and then we have got to check all the facts and make sure that everything is correct – and colorful – and that I don’t slam anybody too hard.”
But she did slam at least one person in the book: President Obama, saying he was “condescending” to her in the lone face-to-face meeting they had in 2010 over border security.
The meeting at the White House took place after she signed SB 1070 into law but before the Obama administration sued to overturn it. Brewer said in her book she sought the meeting to explain to Obama “exactly what it taking place down there in Arizona and that we need to have our borders secured.”
She described his response as “patronizing.”
“He thinks he can humor me and then get rid of me,” Brewer wrote. The governor said she did “give him a piece of my mind” and asked him to come to Arizona to see the border for himself, something he did not do.”