State Rep. John McComish (Legislative District 20) is one of several Republicans who refused to vote in favor of a bill calling for an end to the “sanctuary city” policy whereby cities refuse to go after illegal aliens. That led to an exchange with Rob Haney, the chairman of the Maricopa County GOP and an advocate of the bill to outlaw sanctuary status. Today, Haney made public a letter he sent to McComish:
Dear Representative McComish,
I was elected as Maricopa County Republican Chairman by conservative precinct committeemen who wanted someone to speak out clearly within the party to represent their opinions. These PCs believed they were being ignored by most of Arizona’s congressional delegation who were advocating for amnesty and other liberal agenda items, such as closing gun shows and Campaign Finance Reform. They also believed that too many Republican state legislators sided with former Governor Napolitano to pass Democrat budgets and legislation and were not representing the conservative beliefs of the PCs.
Your comments in defense of those Republicans who opposed Sen. Pearce’s bill to end sanctuary cities have been addressed previously by Sen. Pearce here.
Your position on my job responsibilities echos the comment of Senator Kyl after the defeat of the amnesty bill he championed. The bill was defeated through the leadership of party officials and Republican activists who publicly opposed the bill. I was proud to be one of those officials. Senator Kyl stated that the party had exceeded its role. He further stated that the party exists to get Republicans elected, not declare positions on issues. Sen. Kyl’s position is a common misconception by many party incumbents.
I disagree with both of you. The party does exist to elect Republicans, raise money, provide volunteers & resources, etc. But the party must first be guided by our Constitution and the party platform, otherwise our existence is unjustified. Too many Republican officials have supported incumbents who have shown themselves to be unworthy of the Republican name. This has led to disastrous election results in 2006 and 2008. I cite Senator Specter and “Jumpin” Jim Jeffords as only two examples of many.
Republican activists and party leaders must oppose legislation which is unconstitutional, and support legislation which is critical to the very survival of our party and country. Certainly, the Democrats will not. They are advocating for the same legislation as these wayward Republicans. Only party activists prevented passage of the amnesty bill. Only party activists gave us Prop 200 over the objections of our entire congressional delegation. Only party activists gave us employer sanctions over the objections from members of our state and federal delegation. Only party activists stopped the attempt to close the gun shows, and fought against the loss of Constitutionally guaranteed free speech which occurred because of the Campaign Finance Reform bill. This egregious bill was introduced by a Republican Senator, passed by a Republican congress and signed by a Republican president. There are many more examples of party officials and activists finding it necessary to speak out against Republicans who stray from Constitutional and platform principles. Here is a famous party official you will recognize. Tom DeLay: “John McCain has done the most to hurt the GOP”
I would not meet my responsibility as a party leader if I were to ignore the Constitution and platform for the benefit of someone with an “R” after their name who fails to advance a Republican agenda. I will continue to give voice to Republican activists who feel their elected officials have let them down and no longer represent them.
I will not offer an apology where none is warranted, and certainly I will not resign as you request. Instead, I would urge you and others who did not support Sen. Pearce’s bill to realize that the illegal alien invasion has a massive detrimental effect on a myriad of issues. To grant wholesale citizenship to those who would swell the ranks of the Democrat party is political suicide. I urge you to make anti-sanctuary legislation a top priority next session.
Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio, County Attorney Thomas and all the law enforcement agencies which are on record as supporting Sen. Pearce’s bill deserve nothing less than our commitment to achieve these objectives.
You state that you believe the “County Party has some rules regarding endorsements that require 60% approval of the EGC.” You also believe that as a result of these rules, I should obtain 60% approval before I publicly take sides in a policy dispute.
The bylaw to which you refer requires a 60% approval by the EGC members in order for the EGC to endorse a candidate in a primary election. There is no bylaw which restricts the Chairman’s freedom of political speech. In any case, I was representing my own beliefs and not those of the EGC.
A third point you make is that as county party leader I have voluntarily placed restrictions on my free speech. Again, I must disagree. It is wholly inconsistent to believe that I have less freedom to speak after my election than I had before my election. I am confident that our Founders drafted their First Amendment, contemplating that this freedom of speech protection would apply to all citizens, including Republican Party Officials.
My hope is that in the coming session, Republican State legislators will back strong anti-illegal immigration legislation so that party officials will not feel compelled to speak out in opposition. I believe that you can play a positive role in advancing that legislation as we move forward– focused on passing laws in support of the Constitution and the Republican Platform.
Rob Haney, Phoenix, Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Party