Katie Hobbs’ Silence on the Texas Border Fight Is Deafening

Katie Hobbs’ Silence on the Texas Border Fight Is Deafening

If all else fails, run and hide. That seems to be the motto for Katie Hobbs anytime she’s confronted with a challenge. We saw it during her 2022 gubernatorial campaign when she refused to debate Kari Lake. We saw it when she ducked reporters asking for her reasoning behind refusing to debate Kari Lake. We saw it when she hid in a restaurant bathroom after another reporter asked her why she didn’t like discussing politics. And now that she’s governor, it should come as no surprise that Hobbs has chosen the same approach when it comes to the border crisis.

During the last three years, the Biden administration has completely abandoned its constitutional duty to protect each state from invasion, and Texas had enough. The state moved to defend itself from an unprecedented flow of illegal immigration due to the federal government’s negligence. And it has so far been supported by governors from 25 states who signed a joint statement standing with Texas.

Given Arizona’s dangerous situation at our own border, you would think Governor Hobbs would sign on or at least have something to say. But once again, she has chosen to run and hide. Meanwhile, our state’s Republican-led legislature joined in support when Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma signed onto a different letter with more than two dozen state attorneys general to urge the Biden administration to enforce our nation’s immigration laws or allow Texas to do so. And Republicans have also introduced legislation to provide local, county, and state law enforcement with support to defend our border. But Hobbs would rather ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

Keep in mind that Hobbs’ silence comes at a time when the situation at our state’s border continues to grow more volatile. In just the past few months, we’ve seen:

    • report of suspected armed “gotaways” traveling with a migrant group about 70 miles from Phoenix.
    • report revealing thousands of “special interest aliens” from mostly Middle Eastern countries apprehended while crossing the border illegally in the past two years.
    • dramatic rise in the number of “gotaways,” who have escaped detection from law enforcement.
    • major fentanyl bust at Arizona’s southern border.
    • surge of illegal immigrants in the Tucson Border Sector.
    • The apprehension of 21 sex offenders at the southern border.
    • flood of illegal immigrants at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport during the holidays.
    • report of 10 IEDs discovered along the Arizona/U.S.-Mexico border.
    • An increase in cartel violence near the Lukeville Port of Entry.
    • An assault against a Border Patrol agent who was arresting several illegal immigrants near San Luis, Arizona.

And then of course, there was Hobbs’ initial failure to deploy the National Guard to the border during the Lukeville crisis back in December—a decision which she had no choice but to reverse just a few days later.

The reality is that all of this reflects Hobbs’ record of open borders. She advocated to remove the shipping container barrier at our border, she vetoed bills like HB 2675HB 2469, and SB 1408, which would have protected Arizona’s families from drugs and crime, and she pushed for $40 million in state funding to pay for illegal immigrants’ college tuition.

Now, Arizona is ground zero for the crisis at our southern border, and we cannot afford to hope it just magically disappears. It requires action. It’s time for Governor Hobbs to step up, put partisan politics aside, and ensure the security of Arizona’s southern border. Unfortunately, she’s probably hiding in a Rally’s bathroom.

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Arizona Free Enterprise Club Urges ACC to Stand Against ESG Plans

Arizona Free Enterprise Club Urges ACC to Stand Against ESG Plans

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – A coalition of grassroots advocacy organizations, led by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, wrote a letter to the members of the Arizona Corporation Commission, urging them to reject the Integrated Resource Plans submitted by APS, TEP, and UNS.

The Plans were driven by political agendas to get to “Net Zero” by 2050, which is a radical and cost-prohibitive environmental goal to fundamentally transform and restrict the energy options available to consumers. States and countries that have unwisely committed to Net Zero have experienced rolling blackouts, continually request their customers to use less, and eventually make haste to reopen reliable sources of generation they had closed down.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego recently sent a letter to the Commission, praising “APS’ commitment to provide customers with 100 percent clean, carbon-free energy by 2050.” She added that “customers across all sectors, including the City of Phoenix, have set similarly ambitious goals to reach net-zero emissions to complement those of the utility.” Similarly, Governor Katie Hobbs has set the state on a path to adopt the Net Zero scheme, including when she joined the U.S. Climate Alliance last summer.

“Liberal activists and politicians in Arizona are seeking to harm our energy future, freedoms, and choices by forcing their radical and failed ESG policies on consumers,” said Scot Mussi, President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club. “I encourage our Commissioners to reject these Plans to preserve energy abundance for our children and grandchildren.”

The letter argues that the proposed resource plans are irredeemably poisoned by political precommitments and would make the grid unreliable and cost ratepayers billions.

It further states, “The Commission has a constitutional obligation to ensure just and reasonable rates and a statutory duty to ensure adequate provision of service. That means ensuring reliable, affordable, and plentiful energy in the state, which should be the mission of this Commission. But these ideological environmental commitments do the opposite, and for that reason, they should be rejected.”

Representatives for Heritage Action for America, EZAZ, and Heartland Impact joined the Arizona Free Enterprise Club as co-signers of the letter to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

You can view the letter here.

Gilbert’s Office of Digital Government Is Part of a Clear Pattern to Control Conservative Speech

Gilbert’s Office of Digital Government Is Part of a Clear Pattern to Control Conservative Speech

Government officials throughout our country are in deep need of some education on the First Amendment. And the latest ones are currently serving in the Town of Gilbert right here in Arizona.

Last week, AZ Free News released an investigative report on Gilbert’s Office of Digital Government (ODG) and its Orwellian monitoring of employees’ online speech. For over a decade, the ODG, which is made up of approximately a dozen employees, has been working to ensure that Gilbert’s 30 official digital accounts—along with the personal online posts of all Town of Gilbert employees—align with a progressive, liberal agenda. And how much do you think this is costing taxpayers in Gilbert? Over $1.1 million each year in salary alone, with Chief Digital Officer Dana Berchman making over $200,000 annually.

When asked about the allegations in the investigative report, the town responded that it “will not tolerate divisive, offensive or culturally insensitive posts from employees purporting to represent the Town.” That’s interesting. Who decides what’s divisive, offensive, or culturally insensitive? The employees within the ODG? Dana Berchman herself?

It’s hard to think of an issue more divisive than our last presidential election, and yet Berchman, who interned for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, regularly used her personal social media profiles to promote then-presidential candidate Joe Biden while urging people to vote out then-President Donald Trump. You can go see for yourself on Dana Berchman’s X (formerly Twitter) profile. Oh no. Wait a minute. Within hours of the AZ Free News report breaking, Berchman and Gilbert Town Manager Patrick Banger made their profiles private. What does that tell you?

The reality is that what is happening in Gilbert demonstrates a clear pattern—from the federal government to local governments to our schools—to control, censor, and manipulate speech. And it’s all geared toward targeting conservative thought and traditional American ideals.

We saw it back in July 2021 when then-White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” Read that again. She said that the federal government was flagging “problematics posts” FOR Facebook. But Psaki didn’t stop there. The next day, she turned around and said that if you’re banned from one social media platform, you should be banned from them all.

Then there’s what happened to Ann Atkinson who served as the executive director of the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Barrett Honors College. Last February, Atkinson organized an event on “Health, Wealth, and Happiness” as part of a series from the Lewis Center focused on connecting students with professionals who can offer career and life advice. Speakers for the event included conservatives like Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk, but the mere mention of these names caused many of the Barrett Honors College faculty to have a meltdown. Despite fierce opposition from these faculty members, the event did take place and was a great success.

So, how did ASU respond?

The university fired Lin Blake, the event operations manager at ASU Gammage and dismantled the Lewis Center in June, which terminated Atkinson’s position.

Stories like these—involving censorship of conservatives—can be found all across the nation, and now it appears Gilbert is no longer immune. The town’s residents should continue to push back against the ODG until the Gilbert Town Council takes action. And every American should stand behind them. Freedom of speech is foundational to our nation, and any attempts to control it are incredibly dangerous. After all, if the government can get away with this, what could that look like if your preferred political party isn’t in power?

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

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A Complicated History, an Uncertain Future: The Arizona Commerce Authority, Part I

A Complicated History, an Uncertain Future: The Arizona Commerce Authority, Part I

A contentious fight is brewing in the Arizona legislature, the possible reauthorization of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA). Governor Hobbs has made the reauthorization a top priority of her administration this session, mentioning it in her State of the State address. But the debate has an ironic element considering the history of its inception.

In 2011, the state was crawling out of a crippling recession, having lost literally hundreds of thousands of jobs and even selling off the state Capitol buildings to dig out of a deficit. The legislature, in collaboration with the Brewer Administration, introduced an omnibus bill sold as a “jobs package” which refashioned the bureaucratic Department of Commerce into the Arizona Commerce Authority, and incorporated both new targeted tax credit programs and incentives, as well as phased in corporate income and commercial property tax cuts.

Democrats a Decade Ago Opposed the ACA

The bill at the time was uniformly opposed by Democrats, including then Representative Katie Hobbs. Republicans mostly coalesced around the bill, with a handful of key conservatives voting in opposition of the legislation, largely in protest of the corporate welfare and multi-million-dollar “deal closing” fund with no legislative oversight. For those unfamiliar with the deal closing fund, it is a large pot of money appropriated to the Director of the Commerce Authority to throw at corporations to convince them to relocate to Arizona.

After the ACA was passed and signed into law, it would seem that only a few conservative voices and the Club itself would prove prophetic at the lack of oversight and inevitable gift clause violations, which is a constitutional protection from the government subsidizing private industry.

Predictions of Initial Critics Come to Pass

In 2016, the ACA received its first independent evaluation by the state auditor general in anticipation of its first agency sunset review. Unsurprisingly, their report flagged multiple problems at the ACA, with a couple being major gaps in reporting and a gross exaggeration of “created” jobs.

Our organization and a few others highlighted these issues at the legislature, but our concerns fell on deaf ears as the ACA received a cushy 8-year extension. Now the ACA is up for review again, and low and behold like Groundhog Day, the latest 2023 auditor general report includes the same problems as before plus additional ones, including junkets that use taxpayer money to schmooze CEOs with Super Bowl tickets, bottles of wine, and a lavish food budget as blatant Gift Clause violations.

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

This year’s fight over the ACA is more complicated than before. Minutes before the director was to take the podium to advocate before the House Commerce committee, Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes released her own legal opinion of the Authority’s CEO forums and unequivocally determined they are in fact unconstitutional and warned the agency to cease all such expenditures or face litigation.

Though the Commerce Authority was able to duck direct challenges of Gift Clause violations in the past, not least in part because the jurisprudence surrounding the interpretation of the Gift Clause circa 2011 or 2016 was less clear, they no longer enjoy that benefit. The Arizona Supreme Court has recently made very clear what expenses are and aren’t subsidies with a two-prong test. First, the expenditure must provide a public benefit. If it does, then the public expense must be far exceeded by the benefit provided. Importantly, the court reiterated that anticipated economic development, job growth, and expected increased tax revenue are indirect benefits that are irrelevant to the analysis. Considering all these programs are justified by expected future economic development—regardless of the public benefit—they are subsidies, as Attorney General Mayes concluded.

The unlikely allyship between AG Mayes and Senate President Warren Petersen (leading the effort in the legislature to reform and consolidate the ACA) means the process will not be an exercise in rubberstamping. The Authority will not be able to rely on the muscle of the business community alone, sailing through a perfunctory review of its defects. And that’s good news for taxpayers and advocates of transparent and accountable government.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

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Hobbs Can’t Stop the Wildly Popular ESA Program, so Her Plan Is to Regulate It Out of Existence

Hobbs Can’t Stop the Wildly Popular ESA Program, so Her Plan Is to Regulate It Out of Existence

If any business owner saw 450% growth in one of the company’s products or programs during a 15-month period, they would be ecstatic. And it’s safe to say that whatever that program was doing must be working. But for Governor Katie Hobbs and her allies in the teachers’ unions, who have never been known for their math skills, it’s a completely different story when it comes to the ESA program.

Back in July 2022, when then-Governor Doug Ducey signed universal school choice expansion into Arizona law, 13,400 students were enrolled in the ESA program. That number has now grown—as of January 16, 2024—to an astounding 73,415 students—a near 450% growth. Clearly, the program is in high demand, and it is definitely working. But after signing the Republican budget bill last year, without any cap or restrictions on ESAs, Hobbs is now trying to push a barrage of regulations that would effectively dismantle the popular program.

Earlier this month, our current governor announced her plan for the ESA program. And despite the fact that Hobbs is a product of private schools herself, her proposed changes will turn private schools into de-facto public schools and cause children to lose their scholarships, forcing them out of their current school.

Among the regulations promoted by Hobbs and the teachers’ unions is a requirement to attend public school for at least 100 days in order to qualify for the ESA program. So, let’s get this straight. Parents who already know that they do not want to send their children to public school—or that the public school won’t be able to meet their child’s needs—will have to send their kids to a public school for an arbitrary number of days in order to participate in the ESA program. That’s interesting, given the fact that there is no such requirement for families who want to switch school districts or move to a public charter school. Why should students who want to attend private school, just like our governor did, be treated any differently? Maybe it’s because Hobbs and the teachers’ unions are desperate to do anything they can to boost the declining enrollment in our state’s public schools?

Another of Hobbs’ proposals requires manual reviews of purchases over $500. This likely came from a false expenditure claim by Save Our Schools Arizona, who lied in a viral post on X that the Arizona Department of Education approved a reimbursement for a $500 Lego set. The fact is that under the current Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, every single ESA purchase is already reviewed. If Hobbs wants to look at anyone for frivolous spending, perhaps she should start with her friend and former Democrat Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman whose tenure was ripe with approving odd expenses.

But perhaps the most absurd change Hobbs and the teachers’ unions want to make is to prohibit so-called “price gouging” by implementing price controls on private schools. This is absolutely hilarious considering the fact that for decades, teachers’ unions have pushed for billions more to be poured into public schools, which they got, and Arizona taxpayers are now giving district schools more money than ever before, at nearly $15,000 per student—more than double the cost of ESAs. Not once did Hobbs or any teachers’ union raise the concerns of price inflation associated with dumping more money into the system even though Arizona always seems to be another billion dollars away from “fully funding” education. And yet now that Arizona has universal ESAs, they decide we need price controls, but only for private schools. It’s hard to tell which is worse, their greed or their hypocrisy.

The reality is that ESAs strengthen ALL schools because competition delivers the best product—leading to better students, families, and communities. That’s why the program has become so popular—and why Hobbs knows she has to hide behind a flood of regulations rather than pushing for a repeal or cap on it. Now, it’s up to Arizona lawmakers to make sure her plan for ESAs is dead on arrival.

Please SUPPORT and DEFEND School Choice in Arizona

Arizona is the battleground for school choice in our country, and Katie Hobbs—together with the teachers’ unions—would like nothing more than to undo all the progress that has been made.

Will you reach out to your legislator and let them know you support ESAs and school choice, and consider it a top voting issue?

The Arizona Supreme Court Should Strike Down Taxpayer-Funded Union Release Time

The Arizona Supreme Court Should Strike Down Taxpayer-Funded Union Release Time

When you’re hired to do a job, it stands to reason that you should actually do the job you’ve been hired to do. Think about it. If a company hired you to be a writer, and you never did any writing for the company, you probably wouldn’t keep your job too long. That is, of course, unless you work for the government.

For quite some time now, federal, state, and local governments across the country—including right here in Arizona—have been engaging in the practice of “release time.” If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it means that certain people are hired to do a specific job for the government, but instead of doing that job, they are “released” to work full-time for their union. This could be someone like a teacher, for example, who instead of teaching students, spends all his or her time doing work for the teachers’ union. But here’s the thing, even though these employees don’t actually work for the government, they still get a paycheck from the government—all funded by your tax dollars.

Is this practice unfair? Yes. Is it unconstitutional? Absolutely.

That’s why the Goldwater Institute has been challenging this practice in our state in a case that has made its way to the Arizona Supreme Court called Gilmore v. Gallego. In this case, the City of Phoenix entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a union called the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 2384, Field Unit II (AFSCME). Under the agreement, the City must provide AFSCME with the following to the tune of $499,000 annually:

    • Four full-time release positions for union members where they can engage exclusively in union activities.
    • An annual bank of up to 3,183 release time hours permitted to be used for union purposes.
    • 150 release time hours provided for union members to attend seminars, lectures, and conventions.
    • Up to $14,000 the City will reimburse the union so union members can attend employee-relations skill training.

This is outrageous! So, in support of Goldwater’s lawsuit, the Free Enterprise Club and the Grand Canyon Legal Center filed an amicus brief for two distinct reasons.

First, under the MOU, all employees are being charged the cost of the release time, whether they are members of the labor union or not. This is a direct violation of the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution. Freedom of speech not only includes the right to speak freely, but also includes the right to choose not to speak. And in this circumstance, the City of Phoenix is forcing non-union members to pay for a union to engage in speech that they may not necessarily agree with.

Second, if the release time is being funded by the City of Phoenix, then it violates the Arizona Constitution’s Gift Clause, which prohibits the government from giving money to private organizations without getting something in return. Clearly, release time does not serve a public purpose. In fact, the unions actually bargain on behalf of the private financial interests of government employees against the public. As a result, the government employees may receive a benefit in the form of a higher salary, but taxpayers receive no such benefit. Instead, taxpayers only receive higher taxes.

For both these reasons, the Arizona Supreme Court should strike down this illegal practice in our state. No government employee should be getting paid to conduct union work. Instead, the state’s highest court should restore some common sense and ensure that government employees are only paid to perform the duties of the jobs they were hired to do.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.