Arizona has attracted nationwide attention in the months since November’s presidential election amid GOP speculation of election fraud and inconsistencies.
Now, state Republican lawmakers are advancing a bill that would restrict Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs from certain authorities, the Washington Examiner reports.
“The attorney general’s sole discretion”
The proposed legislation specifically focuses on dispossessing Hobbs of her power to represent the state in all election-related lawsuits.
If proponents are successful, that duty would instead fall to state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, until 2023, when the terms of both officials are set to expire.
“The legislature intends that the attorney general make all strategic decisions regarding election litigation and be allowed to intervene on behalf of this state if the attorney general determines, in the attorney general’s sole discretion, that the intervention is appropriate,” the bill states.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has voiced his support for the measure and it has already been approved by the appropriation committees of both the state House and Senate. It is expected to be passed along party lines through budget reconciliation.
Evidence suggests there is no love lost between Hobbs and Brnovich. One report indicated that Hobbs has inundated the State Bar of Arizona with more than a dozen complaints about the attorney general and his staff.
“Meddling with the Constitution”
Such behavior has drawn sharp criticism from Republican lawmakers like state Sen. Vince Leah, who is among those petitioning for a restriction to the secretary of state’s authority.
“I would say the unprecedented attack on the attorney general, the chief deputy, and many high-level attorneys is uncalled for,” Leah said, according to the Examiner. “This is really disconcerting and should be disconcerting to the people of Arizona.”
On the other hand, Democrats have denounced the effort as a partisan power grab, with state Rep. Randy Friese arguing that it amounts to “meddling with the Constitution.”
Maricopa County has become the scene of political contention since the beginning of an audit into the results of November’s election. Hobbs and her Democratic Party allies have been vocal in their condemnation of the process.
Republicans, however, continue to insist that a thorough review is necessary to ensure election integrity in a state Biden won by a very thin margin.