Guest Editorial



russell pearceAs many of our members promised in their campaigns last fall, Republican Leadership in the Arizona State Senate is focused on jobs, the economy, balanced budget, education reform, TORT reform, safe neighborhoods, border enforcement and strict interior enforcement. The Legislature has already passed and the governor has signed a jobs bill that also promises broad tax cuts. We are committed to finalizing our state budget in the first 60 days of the session. It will be a budget that finally gets our fiscal house in order, after years of irresponsible spending. We are holding budget meetings with Senate and House leadership and members and the governor’s office nearly every day. In addition, we are moving through hundreds of important bills that will have a positive impact on Arizonans. Needless to say, we are busy.

That is why it is so disappointing I have to spend large parts of my day responding to the falsehoods of the media. Despite the recession, with chronic high unemployment in our state, media outlets such as the Arizona Republic seem to be focused on distractions. Case in point: their allegations that I have put together a “blacklist” of people who are not allowed in the Senate.

Anyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel the people need to be present when we are conducting the people’s business. Those who are interested in the future of our state and who want to interact with their political leaders are always welcome. Those whose goal is to cause disturbances and threaten the safety of our members, staff and public are not welcome. Capitol Police and DPS work tirelessly to provide a safe and secure environment for the public. It is an insult to these peace officers that newspaper articles attempt to lump lawbreakers and agitators with our citizens who are simply trying to follow the political process.

Members of the press have taken reckless accusations of a blacklist as Gospel. They have filed records requests for a blacklist that doesn’t exist. They’ve hounded members and law enforcement to reveal a blacklist that doesn’t exist. Even with all the facts on the table, reporters won’t admit the truth. On Feb. 28, Arizona Republic reporter Ginger Rough wrote in a news piece (not an editorial) that I “continued to insist” there was no blacklist. That sounds more like a reporter trying to advance an agenda rather than report the facts.
Police arrested four people at a news conference held by Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema. She told Senate security she feared for her safety. We have had thousands of protesters at the Capitol, some with hateful signs encouraging violence, vulgar language, and yes, throwing bottles and other objects.  These incidents have brought renewed attention to an unusual trend here at the Capitol. Rallies, protests and disturbances disguised as a press conference and held inside our building. A press conference is for the press. Newspapers, TV and radio stations show up to ask questions of lawmakers and report on what those lawmakers said. Since when is a news conference a place for beating drums and angry threats from the public? 

The fact that I had to issue a memo detailing the concept of a press conference was slightly amusing. What’s disturbing is the media felt the need to report this “news” and even question why protests shouldn’t be a part of a press conference.  Protesters have always been a part of our culture, but they should be peaceful and they need to be outside and not in the building beating drums, with bullhorns, yelling and screaming. 

After the tragedy in Tucson on Jan. 8, commentators were almost unanimous in their judgment that this event should lead politicians to treat each other and the public with respect and civility. How sad that just a few weeks later, there are those who quickly defend the actions of these lawbreakers, and question my efforts to protect the people who work so hard in this building, trying to improve the future of our great state.