School-voucher, initiative bills spur Gov. Doug Ducey recall effort

Gov. Doug Ducey (Photo: Cheryl Evans/The Republic)

An effort is afoot to recall Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in response to his signing legislation that expands the state’s school-voucher program and a separate measure adding hurdles to the citizen-initiative process.

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez , The Republic | azcentral.com

Leonard Clark, a gadfly and fixture at the state Capitol, filed paperwork for what is sure to be a long-shot recall effort with the Secretary of State’s Office on Friday.

“This time, he’s gone too far in trying to alter Democratic process that our founders set up,” Clark said Monday. “You don’t tamper with the initiative process. On the education front, the way he did it, he arm-twisted people, and it was rushed through. He didn’t just con the Legislature, he’s conning the people who voted for him. I’m just really frustrated.”

Organizers of the “Con of Cons Doug Ducey AZ Gov. Recall Committee” would need to collect 376,604 signatures by Aug. 5 to ask voters if they want to unseat Ducey, who is up for re-election next year. Ducey’s spokesman declined to comment on the effort.

The recall effort will almost certainly be hampered by a lack of money, especially given Ducey’s access to funding from the business community and “dark money” groups inside Arizona and across the nation.

But it also comes as the governor has taken heat from critics who say his efforts to fund public schools fall far short of what is needed.

Some of these critics argue last week’s passage of a huge expansion of the Empowerment Scholarship Account program — which Ducey helped ensure with behind-the-scenes work and a late-night signing of the bill — will further sap public schools’ financial resources. The program directs tax dollars that would otherwise go to public districts to scholarships that can be used at private and religious schools.

In his recall application, Clark cited Ducey’s late-night signing of legislation Senate Bill 1431, which makes all K-12 students eligible to receive public funding for private school tuition, curriculum and educational-related expenses such as therapies. The legislation caps enrollment of the program at 30,000 in 2022.

Hours before Ducey signed the legislation, the Goldwater Institute’s chief executive officer wrote in an email blast that the enrollment cap would be removed. “We will get it lifted,” Darcy Olsen wrote on behalf of the institute, which is one of the architects of the legislation.

Clark also cites Ducey’s support of House Bill 2404, which was promoted as a way to fight fraud in petition-signature gathering by banning the paying of circulators per signature. Instead, they would most likely earn an hourly wage. Critics denounce the measure as an attempt to throttle the citizen-initiative process.

Clark, of Phoenix, wrote in his application that Ducey “has violated the very spirit of Arizona’s Progressive and Democratic constitution by his signing of h.b. 2404 into law an anti-Democracy initiative measure which takes away the will of the people. He has therefore shown complete and utter disdain for our founders and its western Democratic traditions.

“Gov. Ducey has also arm twisted the Legislature into passing a theocratic measure which would use our public tax dollars to indoctrinate favored religions into school children and therefore violate certain provisions of the U.S. constitution such as the 14th amend. and Establishment clauses. Doug Ducey this is your indictment by the people of AZ!”

Follow the reporter on Twitter @yvonnewingett and reach her at yvonne.wingett@arizonarepublic.com or 602–444–4712.

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This article was originally published on azcentral.com at 1:05 p.m. April 10, 2017. Read it here.

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