Hobbs-Hoffman battle escalates over governor’s nominees

Posted 2/27/23

PHOENIX – Gov. Katie Hobbs referred to Sen. Jake Hoffman as a “fake elector” after the Queen Creek Republican criticized the way her office is researching gubernatorial nominees …

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Hobbs-Hoffman battle escalates over governor’s nominees


PHOENIX – Gov. Katie Hobbs referred to Sen. Jake Hoffman as a “fake elector” after the Queen Creek Republican criticized the way her office is researching gubernatorial nominees that are coming before his committee.

Hoffman, the head of a special panel that reviews gubernatorial nominees, is using the forced resignation of Matthew Stewart as the newly appointed director of the Department of Child Safety to justify the intense questioning and investigations he is conducting into all of Hobbs’ picks.

"Sadly, it seems clear that Hobbs is not conducting her own vetting process,'' he said in a statement.

"So, my colleagues and I will continue to serve as the necessary and constitutional check and balance on the executive branch that the citizens of our great state need and deserve.''

Hoffman, who chairs the Senate Committee on Director Nominations, said there were "troubling events'' since Hobbs named Stewart in December, before she took office.

He said that included "questionable moves on consulting contracts'' and the firing of non-appointed, openly gay employees at the agency who he said have filed complaints against him "which prompted the forced resignation.''

The governor would not comment Thursday other than to stick to a prepared statement of her own that it was "a decision that was made for the best interests of all parties involved.'' And she brushed aside questions of whether her staff had not properly vetted Stewart before nominating him.

"This just wasn't the right fit,'' Hobbs said.

But she lashed out at the Republican majority on the committee which already has rejected outright her nomination of Pima County Health Director Theresa Cullen to head the Department of Health Services, refused to hold a vote on Elizabeth Ann Thorson for the Department of Administration and tabled Hobbs' choice of Karen Peters for the Department of Environmental Quality.

"The committee has made it very clear that they're not interested in seriously vetting my nominations,'' Hobbs said. "They're interested in carrying out their personal vendetta against me and using my nominees as proxy to do that.''

And the governor had particularly harsh words for Hoffman who chairs the panel.

"I don't think fake elector Jake Hoffman is interested in good government at all,'' she said.

That refers to the fact that Hoffman was one of the 11 names sent by the Arizona Republican Party to Congress as electors pledged to vote for Donald Trump after the 2020 election despite the fact that Joe Biden had won the popular vote and was entitled to the state's 11 electors.

"He's interested in creating a stage for his political theater,'' Hobbs said.

The governor said that all her nominees were selected by a "bipartisan transition committee that was focused on how to create the best government possible.''

"What these folks are doing in the Senate is serving to potentially grind government to a halt,'' she said.

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