House Democrats Play Politics With Property Rights

Yesterday, in a very ironic twist of events, Democrats in House Judiciary argued against the very platform they purport to stand for. 

Criminal justice reform.

In an astonishing display of intellectual dishonesty, Democrat members attacked legislation that reforms the state’s civil asset forfeiture laws that would require the government obtain a criminal conviction prior to forfeiting an individual’s property.  Not only is this one of the most important areas of criminal justice, it is an effort for which democrats themselves have advocated and voted.  In fact, just three years ago when more modest reforms were being proposed, many democrats stated they would like to see the legislation go further to include a criminal conviction.

Their public objections to the bill teetered on the bizarre.  They claimed because the bill prohibits the Attorney General from funding employees with RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) funds that would force government to cut other areas of government such as public defenders.  A clear demonstration as to why a built-in profit motive is grossly immoral.  They also argued that the bill would eliminate law enforcement’s ability to seize assets of criminals and therefore hurt victims of crime.  A patently false statement that would have been easily dispelled had any of the Democrats bothered to read the actual bill.  Perhaps the most strange argument was that under current law, advocates of the bill could simply file a “1487” a mechanism in state law that allows a lawmaker to request an Attorney General opinion as to whether a local county or city is breaking the law and then withhold state shared revenues if they were found in violation.  The most blatantly obvious problem with this – law enforcement isn’t breaking the law.  They can lawfully seize and forfeit an individual’s property without even charging them with a crime.  That is in fact the reason for the bill in the first place.

Their arguments had themselves turned in knots.

This new-found alliance between democrats and prosecutors has them abandoning the people they claim to advocate for the most – minorities and the impoverished.  Afterall, their philosophic truth council the ACLU has been stalwart advocates for the overhaul of the forfeiture system both in Arizona and around the country, in part because the backward laws disproportionally harm minority and low income populations.  Considering how instrumental the ACLU was in passing Arizona’s 2017 reforms, it is curious they didn’t have more sway with House Democrats this time around.

It is quite clear that the discussion of SB1556 has eroded into the politics of personality.  House Judiciary Democrats being happy to sell out completely on their principles of criminal justice reform and defending the most vulnerable persons in the system to stick it to a bill sponsor they don’t like.  Or perhaps they have flip flopped on the issue because in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they now support taking people’s property without due process.

Considering we are living in a time when many Americans and Arizonans are concerned with government overreach and oppression, it is unconscionable that lawmakers would consider protecting a system of legalized government theft.  Hopefully, House Democrats will remember who they represent and vote YES today on SB1556.

Lawmakers Must Pass Business Protection Bill to Address COVID-19 Liability and Enforcement Concerns

This week the Arizona Legislature lurched back into action, coming together for the first time since March to pass a slate of bills before calling it quits. Normally more action (and bills) at the legislature means bad news for taxpayers, but this time there was a very good reason to have lawmakers come back: Covid-19 liability. 

After Governor Ducey correctly decided to end the shutdown earlier this month, businesses have been eager to reopen, yet are uneasy on how to do it right.  Businesses are very concerned that even with their best efforts to implement policies and procedures that keep employees and customers safe from Covid-19, they are vulnerable to sue-happy trial attorneys and opportunists looking to make a buck on class action lawsuits. 

If the state is to recover economically as quickly as possible, the legislature must pass legislation that limits the liability exposure for businesses.  Current tort law in Arizona entitles an injured party to damages if they can find the other party was simply negligent in their duties by a preponderance of the evidence, a fairly low evidentiary standard. 

Proposed legislation currently being crafted by Senator Eddie Farnsworth and Representative John Kavanagh would likely raise this bar to require a business or non-profit was grossly negligent by clear and convincing evidence.  This change would only be applied to suits directly related to the Governor’s Executive Order addressing COVID-19.

Additionally, many Arizona businesses took exception to Ducey’s forceful approach to enforcement, threatening fines and revocation of licenses for violations of his Executive Orders.  Any bill that moves forward should either remove or significantly limit the draconian (and often unconstitutional) danger of excessive fines or punishment. 

Businesses will undoubtedly do what they can to follow recommended safety guidelines for employees and customers.  But if they must contend with the looming anxiety of being sued for a fortune without adequate protections under the law or of having their right to operate their business legally at all, our economy will suffer.

Starting and running a business is inherently risky.  Individuals stake their livelihoods on a concept they hope and believe will be successful in the open market.  The risk and uncertainty created around COVID-19 has the ability to cripple our job creators.  After the forced closures of thousands of businesses in Arizona, many of them will not reopen.  For the ones that do step into this brave new world, they must have assurances that a slew of lawsuits or a government crack-down won’t force them to close their doors again, this time for good.  

Arizona Free Enterprise Announces 2020 Candidate Endorsements

Today the Arizona Free Enterprise Club announced its first slate of candidate endorsements for the 2020 election cycle.    

The endorsed candidates represent individuals who align with the organization’s principles and key policy goals.  Club President Scot Mussi stated, “It is critical Arizona has leaders and policy makers who are able to articulate and stand up for free market principles and pro-growth policies.  This slate of candidates has proven they can and will.”

U.S Senate

Martha McSally

U.S Congress

Tiffany Shedd, CD 1

Brandon Martin, CD 2

Paul Gosar, CD 4

Andy Biggs, CD 5

David Schwiekert, CD 6

Debbie Lesko, CD 8

Corporation Commission

Eric Sloan

State Legislative Races

Judy Burges, LD 1 House                                                      

Quang Nguyen, LD 1 House                                                     

Deborah McEwen, LD 2 House

Joel John, LD 4 House

Regina Cobb, LD 5 House

Leo Biasuicci, LD 5 House

Sylvia Allen, LD 6 Senate

Walt Blackman, LD 6 House                            

Brenda Barton, LD 6 House

David Peelman, LD 7 House

Neal Carter, LD 8 House

Vince Leach, LD 11 Senate

Mark Finchem, LD 11 House

Bret Roberts, LD 11 House

Warren Petersen, LD 12 Senate

Travis Grantham, LD 12 House

Jake Hoffman, LD 12 House

Sine Kerr, LD 13 Senate

Gail Griffin, LD 14 House

Becky Nutt, LD 14 House

Nancy Barto, LD 15 Senate

Steve Kaiser, LD 15 House

Justin Wilmeth, LD 15 House

Kelly Townsend, LD 16 Senate

Jacqueline Parker, LD 16 House

JD Mesnard, LD 17 Senate

Liz Harris, LD 17 House

Suzanne Sharer, LD 18 Senate

Anthony Kern, LD 20 House

Shawnna Bolick, LD 20 House

Rick Gray, LD 21 Senate

Kevin Payne, LD 21 House

Beverly Pingerelli, LD 21 House

David Livingston, LD 22 Senate

Ben Toma, LD 22 House

Frank Carroll, LD 22 House

Michelle Ugenti-Rita, LD 23 Senate

John Kavanagh, LD 23 House

Tyler Pace, LD 25 Senate

Rusty Bowers, LD 25 House

Kathy Pearce, LD 25 House

Tatiana Pena, LD 27 House

Maricopa County

Stephen Richer, County Recorder

Allister Adel, County Attorney

Steve Chucri, Board of Supervisors District 2

Bill Gates, Board of Supervisors District 3

Pinal County

Chuck Gray, Board of Supervisors District 2

Steve Miller, Board of Supervisors District 3

Jeffrey McClure, Board of Supervisors District 4

David Malton, Board of Supervisors District 5


Jerry Weiers, Mayor

Ray Malnor, City Council, Sahuaro District

Ian Hugh, City Council, Cactus District


Mike Auerbach, City Council

Queen Creek

Leah Sellards Martineau, Town Council


Mark Stewart, City Council


David Seibert, City Council, District 1

Open Letter to Governor Ducey on Extending Shutdown Nightmare

Dear Governor Ducey:

As a free market organization that represents entrepreneurs, job creators and hardworking taxpayers throughout the state, the Free Enterprise Club has defended many of the actions that you have taken to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Dealing with a crisis in real time is always going to be difficult, especially when information and data is incomplete. There was an incredible amount of uncertainty and risk in mid-March, and a shutdown of the economy–while drastic–was understood.

To say that the press conference announcing the extension of the stay-at-home order was a disappointment would be an understatement.  Your decision was confusing, provided no certainty for the thousands of small businesses that are on the verge of bankruptcy, and shifted the rationale for why we started the shutdown to begin with.

The goal post shifting might be the most frustrating aspect of the extended stay-at-home order. When the closures began in Mid-March, we were told that these extreme measures were necessary to accomplish two tasks:

  1. Flatten the Curve to ensure so we don’t see a huge spike in hospitalizations resulting in our healthcare system being overwhelmed.
  2. Provide an opportunity for our hospital system to ramp up and prepare for an influx of Covid-19 cases.

Both of these goals have been achieved by wide margins. The curve has been flattened. There has been no large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Arizona and hospitalization rates have been flat for a month. Our healthcare system took advantage of the time provided by increasing supplies of ventilators, beds and other essential PPE needed to combat the pandemic. And residents throughout the state sacrificed their income, jobs, businesses and mental health to do their part to stop the spread.

Yet now we have created a new arbitrary set of metrics for ending the shutdown. At the press conference you commented that a Fortune 100 company told you that public confidence is too low to open. That polling showed some people believe Arizona is just not ready to reopen. You claimed that another governor had a “bad experience” during their reopening (even though it is way too early to make any such declarations). It was also mentioned that we need better data trendlines than what we have seen.

It is easy to see why thousands of Arizona residents and businesses owners were furious after the announcement. These explanations offered no clear path forward and made it appear that the voices of large companies and wealthy restaurant owners speak for the entire business community, not the thousands of small businesses being wiped out because of the shutdown.  

Even more frightening for those waiting to reopen is that likely nothing will different by May 15th to satisfy your new criteria. The number of new daily Covid-19 cases will be roughly the same and hospitalization rates will remain flat. Public confidence won’t be improved. Doomsday modelers that have been wrong from the beginning will still be warning of dark days ahead if we end the shutdown. And your office will encounter the same opposition to reopening from the same politicians, media outlets and twitter pundits, most of whom have not lost a single paycheck or suffered any financial hardship during the pandemic.

Not surprisingly, citizens watching their lives be destroyed are becoming more defiant in the face of what they see as government overreach and abuse. The number and size of protests throughout the state are growing by the day. Restaurants and other small retail shops on the verge of bankruptcy are beginning to open despite warnings from law enforcement or concerns about losing their business license. Social unrest is becoming a real threat, something that is not carrying enough weight in the current decision-making process.

Now more than ever the residents of Arizona crave leadership. This is not a crisis that can be solved looking at polling numbers or crafting a snappy slogan. You have often spoke of “being bold” during your time in office—that is what Arizona needs today! It is time to lead, and here are a few suggestions:

  • Reopen Arizona Today! The debate has often centered around reopening our economy, but this is much bigger than that. This is about reopening society, and you need to lead on a plan that gets our state opened today. Most understand that our lives won’t go back to normal right away and that some activities (sporting events, concerts, large gatherings, etc.) will be delayed. But there is no reason that anyone wanting to get back to work should be denied that opportunity.
  • Provide Clear Guidelines for Businesses. Missing from your press conference was any clear guidelines for businesses on what to do when they reopened. This was rectified somewhat a few days later, but the reality is that businesses are as confused as ever on what do to. Providing simple guidelines will improve confidence for both employers and the public as places begin to reopen.
  • Trust our Judgement. The primary reason that the so-called “experts” and modelers continue to be wrong in their predictions is that they believe they can predict and control the actions of millions of people. They cannot and the more that the government or the Karens of the world try to impose their will on others, the more it will backfire. You must trust that citizens will make healthy choices and are better at protecting themselves and their families than the government. 
  • Provide the Facts on Covid-19. As Arizona begins to reopen, people should be provided with an accurate picture of the true risks associated with Covid-19. The data is overwhelming that there are at at-risk populations, primarily those over the age of 65 or with chronic health conditions. But it is also a fact, supported by evidence, that healthy children and adults under the age of 45 are at an extremely low risk of getting seriously ill. There is also little evidence to support the notion that major suppression/lockdown efforts have been any more effective at containing the spread of Covid-19 than lighter mitigation efforts. This information should guide our response and also help people make informed decisions on the lifestyle decisions they choose to make.

Governor Ducey, if you lead on reopening, people will follow. We urge you to take the reigns and lead our great state back to prosperity.