Commentary

Recovery should be our biggest priority right now. Conservative posturing is a distraction.

May 4, 2021 9:37 am
Mark Brnovich inauguration

Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Few need a reminder that we are in the middle of an economic contraction and a sustained public health emergency. But apparently, some Republican officials do. Communities across Arizona are in desperate need of support, with many residents struggling to find work and some still battling COVID-19, and yet conservatives have maintained distracting — if not entirely counterproductive — postures on a host of partisan issues.  

Instead of focusing on recovery, Attorney General Mark Brnovich continues to push a partisan agenda, launching several attacks against climate change reform, immigration policies, the American Rescue Plan and technology companies. While his constituents suffer, Brnovich is busy pushing Trump-era talking points.  

Just this month, Brnovich sued President Biden over an executive order to fight the climate crisis, arguing that it was a “massive expansion” of federal regulations. Despite polls showing that the vast majority of Arizonans believe that state and federal governments need to take more action in combatting climate change, Brnovich is keen to seize on an opportunity to fight the administration’s agenda from Day One.  

Brnovich also recently extended a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for its pause on deportations. He dangerously conflated immigrants with criminals in his announcement, claiming that the DHS was allowing people “that have been convicted of crimes” or “accused of crimes” to stay in our communities. But there is, of course, no evidence to support his statement. On real matters of law enforcement, including soaring violent crime rates situating Arizona among the highest in the nation, Brnovich remains predictably quiet.  

Our AG has even attempted to block the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, suing the U.S. Treasury over a state tax provision and potentially delaying much-needed relief. This is not the time to play partisan politics and lean on tired conservative positions on tax policy, and it is certainly not the time to hold up access to critical funds.  

And over the past year, Brnovich has filed a number of lawsuits against technology companies, mirroring much of the anti-tech Republican posturing taking place across the country, largely fueled by Trump- and Bill Barr-driven allegations of “anti-conservative bias” online. These frivolous, taxpayer-funded lawsuits are not only a waste of time, but a waste of precious resources in our state’s top law enforcement office. One such lawsuit, being led by Brnovich’s counterpart in Texas, is costing taxpayers $43 million alone. We should be concerned that our state is wasting similar resources on issues that couldn’t be further down the priority list of hard-working families across our state.  

This partisan agenda makes clear that Brnovich is more concerned with furthering a Trump-era agenda and exacting political revenge than he is with delivering real leadership for Arizonans.  

Arizonans appreciate that resources and capacity are strained in government offices at all levels during this turbulent time. Using these limited resources to sue the administration and bicker with technology companies is irresponsible. As more and more residents receive their COVID-19 vaccinations and we all continue the hard work toward recovery, policymakers must adjust their focus and address the real issues facing our communities. 

Arizona voters are increasingly realizing that conservative principles no longer serve the best interests of our state, evident in an historic election for Democrats this past cycle. As new officials take up office, and other Democrats plan for critical statewide and local elections in the months and years to come, we should remember that the Brnovich playbook must be left behind. Giving credence to this partisan agenda, during a critical phase of recovery, should be avoided.

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Julie Gunnigle
Julie Gunnigle

Julie Gunnigle was the Democratic nominee for Maricopa County attorney in 2020. A former prosecutor in Illinois and a native of Arizona, Julie now lives in Scottsdale and works as the director for politics and civic engagement for Arizona NORML.

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