July 14, 2024

Joe Biden arrived in Arizona on Thursday, and he was not very far from the porous southern border which he never seems to visit.

At last report, he once again had no intention of going there. He continues to show his priority isn’t protecting America, the one main duty that he’s supposed to uphold. 

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But he’s not doing anything about the border crisis that he helped cause; instead, he made an angry, confused speech where he botched the Declaration of Independence, then set off to yet another fundraiser. 

But there was a greater question going on when he arrived: where the heck was the Democratic leadership of the state? The question trended on X all day. 

On Wednesday evening it was announced that Gov. Katie Hobbs would be vacating her position as governor until late morning Thursday and Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican and the fourth in line, would be taking over.  But the reason was not explained, and it wasn’t clear where the second and third person —Secretary of State Adrian Fontes and Attorney General Kris Mayes—even were.

Now, some speculated that they like many others were trying to avoid being seen with Joe Biden because they didn’t want to get tarred by being with the unpopular fellow. 

But it was a bit more involved than that, as the statement from Yee revealed, and as Rebecca Downs at our sister site Townhall laid out, referencing the Arizona Capitol Times. 

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 “I will refrain from naming directors to the 13 agencies that currently have vacancies and will not call the Arizona Legislature into session to confirm them,” her statement mentions.

“That being said, I do hope when the Governor returns to Arizona, she will promptly name qualified directors to these important state agencies and remove the legal uncertainty that exists for all of the regulatory actions taken by the agencies,” her statement goes on to read. “I expect to see a swift resolution to this matter, so we can get back to getting the work done for Arizona taxpayers. The people of Arizona deserve leaders who follow the rule of law.”

So what was all that about? Yee and Hobbs have been involved in a battle over the directors of those agencies. Hobbs is upset that she hasn’t gotten who she wanted to be confirmed through the Senate as directors of the various agencies. So she removed the folks who she had in as interim directors and then reinstalled them as “executive deputy directors” so they could operate as directors without being approved. 

But then Yee refused to accept the replacements because they weren’t confirmed directors under the law,  

State Treasurer Kimberly Yee said she did not allow those tapped by the governor as heads of two state agencies to sit at a meeting this week of the State Board of Investment. That panel reviews the $30 billion in investments of the treasurer and actually serves as trustee for certain funds. [….]

“I believe she is thumbing her nose at the law,” the treasurer said of the governor. Yee said Hobbs should understand that, with the two having served in the Senate at the same time.

“We expect Treasurer Yee to stop playing political games,” responded Christian Slater, the governor’s press aide. He contends the law allows these deputies to serve as designees, saying the treasurer should “seat the duly authorized board members and ensure government keeps working on behalf of Arizonans.”

But Yee, who had made a short-lived bid for governor in 2021 before withdrawing from the GOP primary and deciding instead to seek reelection for her own office, said the issue goes beyond the members of the investment board. She said if there are not Senate-confirmed people heading agencies “then we really do have some rogue people sitting in top positions, making executive decisions, and who are not elected, for a very long time.”

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So because of that, that means that the governor’s two representatives to the State Board of Investment are effectively locked out. Right now it’s Yee and two of her appointees making the decisions. 

Yee’s move also changes the legal landscape for the whole dispute.

Hobbs’ actions in naming “deputy executive directors” — a position that doesn’t even actually exist in state law — puts the Legislature in the position of having to file suit if it wants to have the moves declared illegal. In the interim, though, her appointments remain.

Now, however, the tables are turned: If Hobbs wants the heads of the two agencies to serve on the Board of Investment, she would have to get a legal ruling to overturn Yee’s decision to exclude them.

So Yee theoretically could have replaced the directors in her time as “governor.” But she held off, saying she thought they could work out the situation. 

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