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Arizona Freedom Caucus plans to sue Hobbs over executive order protecting LGBTQ employees

By: - January 10, 2023 7:05 am

Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, speaks at a Jan. 9, 2023, press conference. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

The Arizona Freedom Caucus, an offshoot of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Monday that it plans to sue Gov. Katie Hobbs for executive orders she issued in her first week on the job. 

Arizona Freedom Caucus Chairman and Queen Creek state Sen. Jake Hoffman accused Hobbs of attempting to legislate via “executive fiat.” Hobbs had issued four executive orders at the time.. 

“If Katie Hobbs wants to legislate, she needs to get her butt out of the Governor’s Office and run for the legislature and come back and join us and do that job,” Hoffman told reporters on the grassy lawn in front of the state Senate. A woman in the crowd shouted back that Hobbs was “illegitimate” in response to Hoffman’s statement. 

Hoffman and the Arizona Freedom Caucus also vowed to “stand in (Hobbs’) way in every step of the process” if she continues to use executive orders. 

“You can bet your ass that will happen,” Hoffman said. 

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The executive order that so enraged the Arizona Freedom Caucus is Hobbs’ first, part of her “First 100 Days Initiative,” which outlines the first 100 actions she plans to take in her first 100 days. 

Under the new order, the Arizona Department of Administration will reinforce nondiscrimination laws for state agencies, guarantee equal employment opportunities and establish updated procedures by April 1. New contracts and subcontracts with the state also have to include provisions to prevent discrimination. The provisions are aimed at ensuring there is no discrimination against LGBTQ workers.

The executive order by Hobbs amends two previous executive orders from 2003 and 2009 under Republican Govs. Jan Brewer and Doug Ducey. When asked about the fact that Hobbs’ order is amending previous Republican executive orders, Hoffman said it did not matter and that the “executive branch does not get to create law that does not exist.” 

Hoffman also dodged questions from the press about if he agreed with members of the public who showed up to the press conference and called Hobbs an “illegitimate” governor, a claim that has been made by Kari Lake, who was widely seen as the favorite to win the governor’s race but lost by 17,000 votes. Standing behind the members of the Arizona Freedom Caucus were counter protesters who showed up to oppose anti-LGBTQ bills at the legislature

The Arizona Freedom Caucus also wouldn’t provide information on who was filing the suit, when it would be filed or who would represent the group in its litigation. 

“We need actual protests!” anti-LGBTQ activist and provocateur Ethan Schmidt yelled over Hoffman, claiming that the entire election was “rigged.”

***CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified Jake Hoffman as a state representative. He previously served as a representative, but in 2022 was elected to the state Senate.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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