Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Just before Independent Redistricting Commission Chair Colleen Mathis was booted out, Democratic state Rep. Daniel Patterson held a press conference to disparage the special session as not only illegal, but against the will of the people.
"The governor is serving tea-party extremists who don't want competitive districts," Patterson said.
The decision is illegal, Patterson said, because Gov. Jan Brewer called the session while she was out of state. She's currently on a book tour.
"The state Constitution makes it very clear that the governor must be in the state to act as the governor of Arizona," Patterson said. "The secretary of state and the Legislature cannot legally call a special session."
Without IRC leadership, it's possible the decision could "blow up in the face" of Brewer and the Legislature—if the federal government steps in and draw the lines itself, Patterson said, which "is in no one's best interest."
"That's a very possible result," Patterson said. "I don't think that's something any of us want."
On its face, the Legislature's action was "the height of hypocrisy," Patterson said, due to their allegations that the IRC violated the open-meeting law; Patterson said the Legislature's Republicans are often "cutting backroom deals" themselves, and allow little public comment on some bills. Patterson added that he was given "very little notice" of the special session itself.
"Unfortunately, this abusive of power is second-nature to them," Patterson said. "It's a blatant abuse of the powers of (Brewer's) office. It's reckless and irresponsible."
While he might not like the maps, Patterson said, it's not his place to interfere, since voters decided the IRC should draw the lines and keep politicians out of the business.
"Overthrowing a voter-driven process is the ultimate partisan approach," he said. "... Voters want politics out of this process."