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Arizona Republicans unlikely to impeach Attorney General Mayes

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PHOENIX — It’s unlikely Arizona Republicans will be impeaching Attorney General Kris Mayes — at least not this year.

And the reason is that a key legislator says he isn’t ready to go down that path.

Rep. David Livingston acknowledged that a report prepared by a special House panel has called for her impeachment. And he told Capitol Media Services that he found much of the report “damning.”

But the Peoria Republican who has been in the Legislature since 2013 and chairs the House Appropriations Committee said he wants more information before he votes to take the first steps toward trying to remove the Democrat attorney general. That includes further investigations he is conducting into activities of not just Mayes but also Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Arizona Democratic Party related to campaign donations.

There are other Republicans who support removing her.

But all 31 of them in the House need to vote to proceed with impeachment. And that means they need Livingston’s vote.

Livingston, however, said he thinks it will take another six months to get the information he wants — long after the current legislative session ends.

The report by the all-Republican committee formed specifically to investigate Mayes — Democrats refused to participate — details a series of what it says are impeachable offenses Mayes has committed since taking office.

But even House Speaker Ben Toma, who formed the committee to investigate Mayes, told Capitol Media Services on Thursday he’s not sure even considering a motion to impeach her is ripe at this time.

“At this point I am even more concerned about being thorough than in rushing,” he said.

More to the point, the speaker said he is waiting for Mayes to provide the last batch of documents he has requested.

He isn’t the only one saying more information is needed.

“You’re really like a juror,” said Rep. David Cook, R-Globe. “You need to be presented all the evidence.”

What the committee put out, he said, is just one piece of that.

“What I want to see is what the attorney general would have to say in rebuttal and then review the facts of what’s going on,” Cook said. “And that’s not in front of me today.”

All that comes down to the question of whether there is the time — even for those who, unlike Livingston don’t want to wait six months — to receive and consider all that: Lawmakers are trying to end this year’s session on Friday.

And there’s something else.

“I don’t believe that a large percentage of people are even concerned about impeaching the attorney general at this point,” Cook said. “They want to make sure that the trains are running on time, that their kids are going to school and summer programs, and their jobs are secure for the future to pay their mortgages and what the cost of water and electricity and power is going to be in the future.”

Others have a different viewpoint. House Majority Whip Theresa Martinez said she is ready to bring formal charges.

“You can’t use ‘lawfare’ to attack your political opponents,” said the Casa Grande Republican. “And what she did to Cochise County and what she did to Mohave County was not OK.”

That refers to Mayes filings lawsuits and making threats to prosecute county supervisors who were balking at certifying the results of the 2022 election.

“If we don’t set boundaries, then she’s just going to run amok,” Martinez said, “And I just don’t think that’s appropriate.”

Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, said he is generally reticent to pursue such moves.

“I don’t vote to take somebody out of office because of their political party, because I disagree with them, because I find them obnoxious or offensive,” he said. But this, said Kolodin, is different.

“What I do vote to take them out of office for is undermining our constitution in this extreme of a way where she’s weaponized her office and she’s turned it into a tool of political persecution,” he said.

Even if the House marshals 31 votes for impeachment — all 29 Democrats are virtually certain to oppose — there’s another reality.

All that would do is send the issue to the Senate for a trial. And conviction would require a two-thirds vote of the 30-member chamber where there are only 16 Republicans.

Toma, however, said he won’t let the political reality that Mayes is virtually certain to escape conviction affect whether the House goes forward.

“Our duty is to initiate and pass impeachment should we go that route,” he said.

“I understand the math part,” the speaker continued. “I’m not trying to be evasive with that. But at some level I can’t be concerned with that.”

Mayes said she’s not concerned.

“I think there are a core group of reasonable Republicans who will not vote for that,” she said. “In the meantime, I’m going to continue to do my job and nothing is going to stop me.”

Among the offenses the committee report said are impeachable are:

  • Filing lawsuits and making threats against county supervisors over certification of election results, including the indictment of Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd from Cochise County;
  • Issuing a consumer alert about “crisis pregnancy centers” alleging deceptive practices;
  • Threatening to use nuisance laws against large farms in rural areas that are depleting groundwater supplies;
  • Refusing to defend a state law that prohibits those born as boys from participating in girls’ sports.

And then there’s a catch-all charge of “failing to adequately respond” to requests by the committee for information.