(The Center Square) – Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is no longer working with the Arizona Senate Committee on Director Nominations, announcing she’s pulling all of her current agency nominees.
Hobbs accused Republican leadership of orchestrating a “political circus” and taking a long time for the Senate to confirm her picks.
“In January, you and your members expressed frustration at the speed at which my Office was submitting our official nomination packets for your review,” she wrote in a letter to Senate President Warren Petersen. “We responded by submitting all of the paperwork within a matter of days. You have reciprocated with a process design to slow walk nominees and create a political circus that is beneath the dignity of the Arizona State Senate.”
In total, 13 nominees are “withdrawn and reassigned,” and the administration said they are going to use other methods to make sure the agencies are being led appropriately, according to a news release.
Petersen argued that “the process is working” in a statement reacting to the governor’s decision.
“This move by the Executive Branch showcases another prime example of an elected official who believes they’re above the law and will go to extreme measures to bypass the requirements of the law when they don’t get their way,” Petersen said. “The law is very specific on who is to run our state agencies. Without directors fulfilling these obligations, the legality of every decision made by these state agencies is dubious, and litigation against the state would surely prevail.”
Hobbs Spokesman Christian Slater specifically criticized Sen. Jake Hoffman, who chairs the vetting committee, by saying he is politicizing the process.
“Extremist Jake Hoffman is more interested in using his committee to pursue his radical political agenda than give a fair hearing to Governor Hobbs’ cabinet nominees,” Slater said in a statement. “Time and again Governor Hobbs has worked in good faith with the committee to have nominees fairly reviewed, but Hoffman has refused. It’s time to put an end to the political circus that puts Hoffman’s radical agenda first at the expense of everyday Arizonans.”
In response to the decision, Hoffman said Hobbs is blaming “everyone else except herself.”
“If the Governor wishes to limit her own authority by forgoing rulemaking and other director-required activities in the absence of confirmed directors, we certainly welcome this limitation of her power,” he said in a statement. “Hobbs has made it abundantly clear that she has no intention of working constructively with the Legislature the voters gave her. Instead, she’s choosing to throw petulant temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. The only ones who stand to lose in the wake of her childish games are the citizens of Arizona. I’m incredibly disappointed, but I’m certainly not surprised.”
The Republican majority Senate established the committee earlier this year to act as a checkpoint before putting Hobbs’ nominees before a whole Senate vote. Some nominees, like Housing Department nominee Joan Serviss, were rejected by the committee. In addition, Dr. Theresa Cullen was given the thumbs down by the committee to lead the Arizona Department of Health Services in February, and her nomination was then pulled by Hobbs.
Per Arizona statute, agency heads are maxed out at a year before they require Senate confirmation. It’s unclear what the Hobbs administration’s plan is going forward past that mark.