Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now I Know Why People Want to Run for the Arizona Legislature

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2010 at 2:05 PM

The Arizona Republic ran a AZ Fact Check story today (although I'm not entirely sure what AZ Fact Check is, outside of being a section of the Republic that does what newspapers should probably be doing anyway) on whether Gov. Brewer once hit someone on Interstate 17 while drunk on scotch.

While I suppose that's a story, considering Brewer voted for or signed into law a series of increasingly tough penalties for driving intoxicated, it happened in 1998. She then held an office different than the one she's running for now, so it's hard to judge her for trying to beat a charge back then.

Driving drunk is clearly wrong, but 12 years seems like deep to dig for dirt.

What was notable to me in the article was this section:

Brewer was released because, according to the arresting officers, she was protected from arrest by her status as a lawmaker in session. Brewer did not ask for immunity, nor did she mention that she was a senator, according to reports.

"It wasn't my decision," Brewer said. "I never asked for legislative immunity."

Brewer said lawmakers arrested on charges of "serious" crimes should not be exempt from arrest.

"We are no different from anybody else in this state," she said. "We all, I think, are citizen legislators."

The Arizona Constitution does exempt lawmakers from arrest during the legislative session - with the exception of cases involving treason, a felony or breach of peace.

A similar provision exists in the U.S. Constitution. It arose as a way to protect lawmakers from retaliation by political enemies, who might otherwise arrest them on trumped-up charges to keep them away from their duties.

Wait, what?

I suppose I understand the logic of that provision, but if I won a seat to the Arizona Senate, could I steal candy bars or whatever item comes in under the limitation of making the act a felony and be immune to arrest until after the session closed (when hopefully the cops have forgotten about the whole thing)?

This is the greatest perk EVER. Sure, being a part of the Legislature is a terrible gig as far as pay goes, but to be untouchable (as far as misdemeanors and non-treasonous acts go) would be amazing. Wrong ethically to exploit that loophole, but amazing.

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