Backlash over Barto’s ‘silent protest’ of
By Linda Bentley | July 15, 2009
‘You have betrayed the state of Arizona and everybody will know it by the end of the day’
PHOENIX – NumbersUSA sent out a special message to its members in Arizona asking them to “Blast state reps. that helped derail anti-sanctuary bill.”
According to Van Esser, chief of membership services for NumbersUSA, before adjourning on July 1, the Arizona House defeated HB 2280 authored by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, aimed at cracking down on illegal alien ‘sanctuary’ laws while aiding enforcement through expansion of the state’s trespassing law.
Approved earlier in the day by the Senate, the House voted 26-15 in favor of the bill, five votes short of the 31 needed for passage.
Although Democrats were expected to oppose the bill, three Republicans – Reps. John McComish, Andrew Tobin and Russell Jones, joined them, while 19 members of the House refused to vote at all.
Six of the Republicans refusing to vote, Reps. Nancy Barto, Rich Crandall, Adam Driggs, Bill Konopnicki, Lucy Mason and Doug Queland, left the building so they would not have to go on record as being against HB 2280.
The original legislation, passed by the Senate a few days earlier as SB 1175, was derailed by Driggs’s refusal to hear it in his House committee.
Pearce then placed the bill’s language in HB 2280, which had already passed the House and required only a “concurrence” vote.
Esser noted certain Republicans have fought good enforcement legislation for years, “while at the same time denying their anti-enforcement nature.”
He said it was now time to hold those Republicans accountable.
Anna Gaines, a precinct committeeperson in Barto’s Legislative District 7, sent Barto an e-mail with the subject line: “Today you walked away from any future office!”
She called Barto a disappointment and said, “Your action of walking away today will make all of us work harder to elect those who will serve us, not their own self interest.”
Gaines said she would personally work to defeat any campaign Barto might undertake and stated, “Somewhere along the line you forgot you serve us … You have betrayed the state of Arizona and everyone will know by the end of the day.”
Gaines’ two-paragraph July 1 e-mail prompted a two-page response from Barto on July 7.
Barto thanked Gaines for her e-mail “in response to my missing a key immigration vote – outlawing sanctuary cities in the state – HB 2280. I did, and for good reason.
“What is it about Sen. Russell Pearce’s 2280 that caused so many of his own party to come down on the opposite side of this bill that it failed in a majority-controlled Legislature? (all emphasis in original) Are we open borders bleeding hearts?
“Quite the opposite. Since 2006 I and others who oppose this bill voted for key legislation aimed at stopping illegal immigration in the state including two bills prohibiting sanctuary cities … employer sanctions … ending public benefits, laws requiring proof of citizenship to operate a business … stopping illegal day laborer hiring, putting … the AZ Nat’l Guard on the border and others. So, accusations that I am ‘soft on illegal immigration’ are false on their face ...”
Barto continued, “I oppose HB 2289 and would have voted ‘no’ had I chosen to be present … but my absence was a silent protest in it coming to the floor in the first place.
“Secondly, my duty to protect citizens’ health care decisions, promoting the AZ Healthcare Freedom Act, conflicted with final votes as I had four national TV and radio interviews later that day … so I left the Capitol at about 5 a.m. to rest and prepare for a 7:30 a.m. FOX interview.”
Barto called HB 2280 “an example of poorly conceived public policy,” claiming it removed officer discretion while elevating enforcement of federal immigration law above other crimes.
She also repeated the pro-open borders mantra that crime victims and witnesses will not report crimes out of “fear of deportation.”
As indicated by the e-mails forwarded to Sonoran News, Barto was receiving quite the backlash over her walk-out and responded to everyone with the same e-mail, further raising the ire of recipients, including Gaines.
Gaines wrote back to reiterate, “You were elected to voice our concerns, not yours, which are painted by the brush of the pro-open borders religious and business community.”
When Gaines accused Barto of being influenced by her daughter’s affiliation with the Interfaith Council and its open-borders agenda, Barto wrote back to say her daughter works with inner-city kids for a Christian ministry and was not part of Interfaith and said, “I am appalled at this accusation.”
Barto claimed she has voted for immigration reform bills vehemently opposed by Interfaith.
Her record, however, indicates otherwise.
Back in 2006, The Arizona Conservative, a conservative internet blog, announced it had withdrawn its endorsement of Barto, citing, “State legislative seats are highly contested.
People donate a lot of time, money and support to elect candidates. The citizens of this state deserve legislators who will actually vote on bills. In this past legislative session, Barto merely voted ‘present’ on a number of bills. This is unacceptable.”
During the 2006 legislative session, Barto voted “present” on House Bill 2577 (illegal aliens; employment; verification) and failed to vote during the third reading.
Barto refused to vote on HB2580 (illegal aliens; serious felonies; bail).
Barto voted “present” on Feb. 6 on HB 2582 but then refused to vote on March 9, while finally voting “yea” a few days later.
She voted “present” on HB 2837, an anti-sanctuary bill, later voting against it.
Initially Barto voted “present” on another bill, dealing with illegal aliens and trespassing, but later voted against it.
In conclusion, The Arizona Conservative stated, “Arizona has a shameful history of legislators – gutless wonders – hiding in bathrooms, hiding under desks and refusing to cast votes. It will be a shame if Barto, or any other elected official, is selected to serve the voters and refuses to vote on bills again. We do not elect people to office to sit on their hands.”
Since then, voting “present” and not voting has become the hallmark of Barto’s legislative career as she considers a run for the Senate.
Photo by Linda Bentley