Election Integrity: Courage Needed in Arizona in Fight for Election Reform

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

While it is true that the powers that be in Arizona are actively blocking and suppressing resolutions on election integrity, it is also true that many precinct committeemen are either not properly educated in basic civics or lack the courage of their convictions. It becomes yet another case where Republicans manage to shoot themselves in the foot and fail to use the tools available to them.

There is no doubt Republican Legislators in Arizona are actively ignoring, blocking, or suppressing pleas from precinct committeemen (PCs) in the state to use their Constitutional powers to demand election reform. Republican legislators have failed to use the "power of the purse and their power to choose 2024 presidential electors as leverage to get Governor Hobbs to sign election reform bills," according to Karen Weser, an Arizona voter. Weser contacted UncoverDC on April 4 via email to express her concerns.

Weser answered the call to help her fellow Republicans by volunteering to call precinct committeemen to explain the power of censure to hold Republicans accountable. She made phone calls and provided PCs with censure forms. She also explained the procedure for submitting the form. Once completed and signed, PCs can present their forms to members at legislative district (LD) meetings.

Weser's email states, "PCs and even some Chairs were willing" to fill out and present censure forms but "party leadership and the legislative leadership are working to stop the censures from coming forward." Weser added that even though some "PCs realize this is their last chance to get election reform, they seem to be afraid to use their power of censure to get Republican legislators to use every legal means possible to prevent the next election theft." She wrote that many PCs embraced her suggestion to submit the forms, but others seemed too fearful to follow through.

Christian Lamar Does the Work: Civics 101

Christian Lamar also contacted UncoverDC, confirming that precinct committeemen in the state are being blocked left and right from introducing censures and other resolutions— from members of their own party. Lamar currently serves as Member-at-Large for the AZGOP Executive Committee.

For example, Lamar's tweet below shows one of the many documented examples of GOP leaders in the state who have blocked censure from PCs. LD26 Chair Forrest Woodwick sent a pre-emptive, "information-only-no-discussion" letter to PCs with his reservations about censure. 

PCs are Giving Their Rightful Power Away

UncoverDC spoke with Lamar about Woodwick's letter on Wednesday to help dissect the arguments outlined in the letter. Lamar's overriding message is that PCs are relinquishing their rightful power when confronted with pushback. He believes many of them back down because they do not understand basic civics and the tools available or are simply "afraid of being wrong." He fears that citizens in the state are allowing their power to be slowly stripped away, and time is running out. Lamar explained that while many PC positions have been filled, it is courage that is needed now:

"The power needs to be returned to the people, and the people are not aware that the government is taking away our power." More importantly, Lamar said, "Many times, PCs are afraid to stand up to their LD chair. And that is mostly by design because the party does not teach precinct committeemen the power that they have. We need our precinct committeemen to find courage. We need them to hold the government accountable. We have the power to do this. We just have to have the will to do it." 

Using the arguments in Woodwick's letter, I asked Lamar to punch holes in Woodwick's ideas so that current and future PCs would be better armed in the future to steel their conviction went confronted with pushback.

Number one, Woodwick's letter leaves the impression that PCs should not sign a letter of censure in the first place "because the censure is designed for a PC to sign the form." He states that only certain people are allowed to sign the form, and PCs would be "violating parliamentary procedure and potentially disenfranchising other PCs in the District." In fact, both Lamar and Weser state PCs may fill out and submit their censure forms in LD meetings where, as Woodwick also states, there is then "debate and a vote on the motion to accept the censure."

Woodwick Letter

About point number two in the letter, Lamar noted Woodwick used the word "shall" as if to mean the law is somehow immutably written in stone. Lamar explains this notion is "incorrect. The legislature writes the law. The legislature can change the law. The statute is not going to be protected. It is not in the Constitution, which means the legislature can act to change the law. The Constitution is the higher authority."

Lamar and his volunteers across the state are trying to help PCs understand "basic 6th-grade civics" so that they can use the tools available to them to assert their power. "The legislature also writes the budget. If we focus on the overall Title 16, which is all of the election statutes in Arizona. And then, the legislature compels the county to follow the law with the county's state-shared revenue in the budget. That will ensure that the laws are being followed because if the county doesn't follow the law, they will lose the money they received from the state."

Lamar supplied UncoverDC with a four-page list documenting refusals by the Republican state legislature in 2023 and the AZGOP to "get tough on Hobbs," all featured in the gallery below. Lamar lists multiple instances of outright blocking or suppression of legitimate action by PCs in the form of phone calls, conversations, and written correspondence:

[gallery type="slideshow" size="medium" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" td_gallery_title_input="Lamar 2023 Refusals" ids="50627,50629"]

Even Shelby Busch seems to be working against the rightful tools of precinct committeemen. Even though Busch has been an avid advocate for election integrity in Arizona, she used her position as Maricopa County's 1st Vice Chair to table LD22's motion to Censure. Siding with AZ State Senate President Warren Petersen and State Senator Wendy Rogers, Busch voted against holding the AZ State legislature accountable for not forcefully exerting their budgetary and electoral college positions per the state and federal Constitutional authority.

Lamar put out a press release on April 4 to expose the institutional resistance to election integrity reform. He believes the "Republican AZ State legislature is avoiding to work towards preventing election fraud and protecting election integrity." Lamar calls for specific action requiring all counties to comply with election law referencing Title 16 of the Arizona Revised Statutes by adding a condition that would tie conditional funding if counties do not follow election statutes. He also asks the legislature to appropriate funding only after "at least 3 meaningful election integrity bills" are negotiated and signed by Hobbs.

Lamar's press release also does the important job of educating fellow Arizonans and, more importantly, PCs in the state about the evidence of blocking and suppression that is going on in Arizona. Of the 20 Legislative Districts in Maricopa County, half of them addressed election integrity resolutions, and many were either blocked or "interfered with."

April 4 Press Release/https://christianforarizona.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/PressRelease-RepublicanAZStateLegislature-is-Refusing-to-do-their-job-04042023.pdf

Lamar's letter, dated March 18, 2023, reminds state leaders of their duties and several valuable links to educate Arizonans about the responsibilities and authority held by the Arizona State Legislature. He reminds Arizonans that the institutions (the legislature, etc.) ultimately belong to the People. "AZ Precinct Committeemen," says Lamar, "Are the legs/arms/body of the Arizona Republican Party."

Christian Lamar Letter/March 18, 2023

Lamar's letter also responds to a number of false statements from Republican legislators he says are "meant to confuse our wonderful AZ citizens & our spectacular AZ Precinct Committeemen on what the Republican AZ state legislature is refusing to do." One of his responses addresses how the legislature can use the budget to get counties to comply with election statutes. Lamar also provides a short "Nuts and Bolts" overview of the AZ legislature's "authority to issue and enforce legislative summons or subpoena," well worth the three-minute read.

Arizonans are incredibly lucky to have conservative activists willing to spend time educating citizens on state laws, legislative authority, and constitutional rights. Fear as a response to power is often the result of a lack of knowledge or not having the proper tools to fight confidently. The 2020 election saw a resurgence in citizen activism, especially in states like Arizona that have a robust precinct committeemen structure. The next step for Arizonans will be to emulate leaders like Christian Lamar and properly arm themselves with the right tools. However, the key going forward will be for citizen activists to muster up the courage to speak truth to power. In the end, activism without courage is just words without action.

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