Lately, I've been taking certain Republic columnists to task for using tactics that I consider to be unprofessional. I understand that they are writing opinion columns and I understand that they are trying to be provocative, but even if they were turning in assignments for a high school Journalism class, they would not be allowed to engage in name calling, vilification or fallacies.
They also wouldn't be allowed to just make stuff up. Take the latest column by Laurie Roberts. She is chastising the Republican led Legislature and throws in this hand grenade.
This year, the Legislature eliminated the state’s longstanding resign-to-run law.
What? Those of you who follow the legislature will recognize this sentence as a complete fabrication. It's not simply wrong, it's simply made up.
In order to understand the state's resign-to-run law, think about John McCain running for President in 2008. He was four years into his Senate term and ran for President, lost to Barrack Obama and then...returned to the Senate to complete his term.
Now contrast that with Andrew Thomas who was the County Attorney and ran for Attorney General. Thomas had several years left on his term, but unlike McCain, Thomas resigned from his County Attorney job in order to run for AG. Then when he lost the AG race, he was out of both jobs.
Why did Thomas resign while McCain didn't? Because the state has a resign-to-run law and the federal government doesn't. Thomas had to resign in order to run, but McCain followed federal law and remained in office.
Without the resign-to-run law, some elected officials like, say, Brenda Burns or Gary Pierce who were elected to four year terms for the Corporation Commission in 2010 could have run for the Congressional District 9 seat in 2012. If they had won, they could have resigned from the ACC and gone to Congress. If they had lost, they would have simply stayed at the ACC and finished out their terms.
Neither of them chose that option....because it's illegal.
All bets are off if the candidate's term ends at the same time as the other office begins and if the candidate waits until the last year of his term. That means that if Brenda Burns wants to run against Kyrsten Sinema in 2014, she can make a formal announcement in 2014, and turn in nominating petitions in June of 2014 and not trigger the resignation requirement. This is because if she loses, she can't go back to the ACC.
That's the Arizona resign-to-run law and when Laurie Roberts says that it has been "eliminated" she is simply making it up. The most obvious explanation for why her statement is false is that the Resign to Run law is enshrined in the State Constitution, so Legislators couldn't "eliminate" it even if they wanted to.
In reality, the legislature made a small clarification to the law in order to answer this question..."at what point do you need to resign?" There's no question that you have to resign in order to run, but when does that start? It certainly starts at the point when you turn in your nominating petitions. And the law in the past said that you resign at the point where you make a formal announcement. Naturally, this has led to a game in which candidates say that they are "considering" running. Then when they were in the last year of their term, they issued a formal announcement.
The legislature clarified the law so that the rule is that you have to resign when you actually file your papers. The law is still very much in effect. So if Joe Arpaio wants to run for Governor, he will have to resign in June of 2014 when he turns in his nominating petitions.
The law is very much intact--but it's hard to vilify the Republican Legislature by saying that they clarified, or tweaked the resign-to-run law. Roberts had to claim that they "eliminated" the law--which is simply untrue.
You may be able to get away with that stuff at the Arizona Republic...but you wouldn't get away with it in any high school Journalism class in the country. After all...high schools have standards.