However, as the brief points out, A.R.S. § 19-202 was not passed consistent with the methods for amending the Arizona Constitution
SCOTTSDALE – Attorney Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, held a press conference this week to announce the progress in the case of Citizens to Protect Fair Election Results (CPFER) against Respect Arizona, a group seeking to recall Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
CPFER filed the complaint for special action and writ of mandamus in March with an application for preliminary and permanent injunction.
Arpaio was sworn in for his sixth term on Jan. 7, 2013 after handily winning reelection in November 2012.
Within days of Arpaio being sworn into office, a political group called Respect Arizona was formed for the sole purpose of forcing a recall of Arpaio.
After filing paperwork to initiate the recall election process around Jan. 31, 2013, Respect Arizona launched an aggressive campaign to raise money to pay for signature gatherers to collect the requisite 335,317 valid signatures to effect a recall election.
The group created a website www.recallarpaio.com for the sole purpose of funding the recall.
However, as Klayman points out, the recall is unconstitutional since it was initiated before Arpaio had been in office for six months, as required by the Arizona Constitution.
CPFER said, “The recall is nothing more than an attempt by Respect Arizona to nullify the constitutional right to vote of every citizen who helped reelect Arpaio.”
According to Klayman, Respect Arizona wants a do-over because it doesn’t like the election results and it is misusing the recall process to try, without legal authority, to overturn a fair election won by a candidate whose policies they don’t like, as well as collect donations based on false pretences.
CPFER claims Respect Arizona is violating citizens’ right to vote, misusing the recall process for fundraising purposes based on false pretenses and obstructing Arpaio’s authority to enforce the laws of Arizona.
The group is asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment proclaiming the extra-legal recall untimely, null and void, and enjoin the state government defendants from recognizing the recall as legal and to prevent Respect Arizona from proceeding any further with this or any other meritless recall.
Article 8, part 1, section 3 of the Arizona Constitution states, “No Recall petition shall be circulated against any officer until he has held his office for a period of six months, except that it may be filed against a member of the state legislature at any time after five days from the beginning of the first session after his election.”
A.R.S. § 19-202 states, in pertinent part, “The commencement of a subsequent term in the same office does not renew the six month provision.”
However, as the brief points out, A.R.S. § 19-202 was not passed consistent with the methods for amending the Arizona Constitution and operates in direct conflict with the law.
As Article XXI of the Arizona Constitution provides, there are only three means in which the Arizona Constitution can be amended.
The common thread for all three methods is it must be approved by Arizona voters.
No such method of amending the Constitution was employed when legislators enacted A.R.S. § 19-202.
In fact, it was passed by the Arizona legislature without any sort of voter approval, rendering the law invalid.
Rather that A.R.S. § 19-202 facilitating the Arizona Constitution, it directly conflicts with it and clearly impedes on the election process.
The motion for declaratory judgment states the law “allows for organizations, such as Respect Arizona, to hastily file frivolous, harassing and obstructionist recall petitions immediately after election results, and furthers their misuse of the process to overturn a fair election that was won by a candidate whose policies they do not like, or for ulterior means such as fundraising.”
In addition to such abusive recalls violating the constitutional right to vote by Arizona citizens, they cost Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars, as they raise funds for illicit groups such as Respect Arizona.
CPFER’s brief not only asks for attorney’s fees but asks that the court order Respect Arizona to return all the contributions it received under false pretenses.
Referring to Respect Arizona as “a vigilante group that hates the sheriff,” Klayman said even if Respect Arizona were to withdraw or be unsuccessful in collecting signatures by the end of May, the case could move forward, since the issue is likely to come up again in the future.
He cited Roe v. Wade as an example, pointing out the case still moved forward even though she had already given birth.
Klayman said this issue effects all elected officials in the state and should be of great concern to judges, if groups like Respect Arizona can simply recall a judge because it didn’t like a decision he issued without regard to the Constitution.
He said the Constitution is clear that one must be in office for a minimum of six months before a recall may be initiated and the Arizona Constitution is the supreme law of the state of Arizona.
Meanwhile, Respect Arizona claims to have 200,000 signatures, which is 135,317 shy of the minimum required and only eight more days to collect them.