Kyl co-taught 12 weeks total over three years

January 11, 2019 4:40 pm

Jon Kyl speaking at the 2018 John J. Rhodes Lecture hosted by Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University, in March 2018. Kyl spoke as part of his employment at ASU, for which he was paid $75,000 annually, largely to be a guest lecturer. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

*UPDATED to include information about 2015, provided by ASU after this piece was published

U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl struggled with the truth at times during his career as a senator, most famously when he lied on the U.S. Senate floor about Planned Parenthood, then defended his wildly incorrect (and inflammatory) speech as “not intended to be a factual statement,” launching a thousand memes.

Clearly, the lobbyist-turned-senator-turned-lobbyist-turned-senator-turned-lobbyist-again doesn’t view his financial disclosure statement as intending to be a factual statement, either.

In his required financial disclosure statement, which he filed earlier this month shortly after he resigned his appointed seat in the U.S. Senate, Kyl claimed that he was paid nearly $129,000 in 2017 and 2018 by Arizona State University for teaching “both undergraduate and law school classes.”

That is demonstrably not true.

It is true that he did teach, but he hasn’t done so since 2015.

The $75,000 annual salary that Kyl was paid for being a part-time employee of ASU (his official titles were Distinguished Fellow in Public Service in ASU’s College of Public Programs and the O’Connor Distinguished Scholar of Law and Public Service in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU) included the ex-senator co-teaching two seminars on tax policy for the law school.

ASU initially didn’t give any information about his teaching duties beyond stating that he co-taught the tax policy seminar. However, the university has since provided me with some information about the class.

Kyl co-taught LAW 791 in the fall of 2013 (he was hired in March 2013) and again in the fall of 2014 and 2015. His teaching partner in both instances was Adam Chodorow, whose expertise is in tax law.

In 2013, the pair co-taught a 1-credit-hour seminar that met once a week for eight weeks. The class was structured so that the law students would tackle four major issues facing the U.S. tax system in two-week blocs. Chodorow would discuss an issue one week, then Kyl and Chodorow would co-teach the following week’s session on that same issue.

In 2014, the tax policy seminar taught by Chodorow and Kyl was a 2-credit-hour class that appears to have met weekly for the entire 14-week semester. In the course description, Chodorow noted that Kyl would only be in attendance for four of the sessions.

The pair taught the same class in 2015, with Kyl again attending four weeks. During those four weeks, students were “lobby Senator Kyl twice in support of or opposition to specific reform proposals.” The course description mentions Kyl, but the course catalog does not mention him as an instructor. An ASU spokeswoman told the Mirror that was an error, and Kyl should have been listed in the catalog.

(The original version of this piece included the 2015 information, but noted it was unclear whether Kyl taught the class because he was not listed in the catalog. ASU provided information confirming he co-taught the seminar with Chodorow on Jan. 13, and the story has been updated to reflect that.)

What Kyl actually did during 2017 and 2018 was to be available as a guest lecturer, moderate a panel discussion and serve as in informal advisor to the Koch-funded School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

When he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to replace the late John McCain in September 2018, Kyl resigned his ASU position. What remains to be seen is if ASU will bring him back on staff now that he’s once again a private citizen.

One might think that the spotlight being shone on how much Kyl was paid and how little he did would steer ASU away from Kyl, but ASU President Michael Crow has never been one to let a little bad press get in the way of the ASU empire.

To that end, ASU is already “in discussions” to bring Kyl back on staff, Vice President of Media Relations & Strategic Communications Katie Paquet told me in an email this week.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.